A famous winter escape for Manhattan millionaires and Hamptons heiresses, Palm Beach conjures up images of mega mansions, Lilly Pulitzer dresses and shiny sports cars gathered on the white sand beaches of Florida’s Gold Coast. But there’s more to this ritzy hideaway than meets the eye.
Stretching from the crystal-clear coastline to the Everglades, Palm Beach County is the largest county east of the Mississippi River, with myriad social scenes from which to choose. Whether you prefer the laid-back artistic vibe of Delray Beach or the grand historic ambiance of Boca Raton, Palm Beach has an array of activities and sumptuous stays to help you stay cool this summer.
Packages and Perks
Known as a warm-weather winter getaway, Palm Beach usually clears out by the beginning of May, making Memorial Day through Labor Day the perfect time to visit if you’re not fond of the see-and-be-seen scene. Fewer visitors also means less-crowded beaches, more parking spaces and seasonal packages at the region’s best hotels.
Known as the fabled “Pink Palace,” Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Boca Raton Resort & Club has a slew of special deals available for those looking to plan a summer getaway. Linger a little longer among the property’s 13 restaurants, seven pools and Four-Star spa when you book the Another Day in Paradise promotion, which provides a complimentary fourth evening to those who reserve a three-night stay between May and September.
Another storied stay giving out VIP summer privileges, Four-Star The Breakers Palm Beach has a Complimentary Daily Benefits package with perks ranging from free daily breakfasts and kid’s meals to fitness classes and unlimited tennis time with no resort fee. But the best part? You can enjoy all that this historic hotel has to offer (a private beach, four oceanfront pools and nine restaurants) for a gratis extra night when you stay for five.
Another bonus of visiting this luxe locale during the off-season is that getting a dinner reservation at the hottest restaurants in town is so much simpler.
For a taste of what’s new, head uptown to Jupiter for dinner at 1000 North, a modern steakhouse with some big names backing it, including local residents Michael Jordan and golfer Ernie Els. While the steaks and seafood are sublime, the restaurant’s creative cocktail program and exquisite wine list put it over the top.
In true Palm Beach fashion, the elegant eatery also keeps a private club upstairs, with a dedicated menu of bar snacks and desserts (ask for the wine and chocolate pairing), as well as spectacular views of the Jupiter Inlet and its Instagrammable lighthouse.
If you find yourself on a shopping spree in West Palm Beach, be sure to break for lunch in the comfortably chic dining room of The Regional Kitchen & Public House. Helming the restaurant’s show kitchen is executive chef Lindsay Autry, whom you might recognize from the finale of season nine of Top Chef. Her fresh, Southern-style cuisine makes for a great afternoon bite, especially the tasty tomato tart.
Of course, this upscale locale also boasts its fair share of sensational sips. When you crave a brew by the beach, stop by Five-Star Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, where a bona fide beer sommelier (aka “cicerone”) is on hand to help you pick the right pint. Assistant director of food and beverage Bryan Long prides himself on curating a creative craft draft program for the high-end hotel — you’ll only find local beers on tap here, 80 percent of which have never even left Palm Beach County.
For a slightly stronger tipple, make your way back to Boca Raton Resort for the new Drunken Monkey Tea Service. Available by reservation only on Fridays and Saturdays between 4 and 6 p.m. in the intimate Mizner’s Monkey Bar, this boozy afternoon delight highlights the various flavor profiles of four different signature teas, each enhanced with housemade syrups and infused liquors and served table-side by the lounge’s always-entertaining head bartender Ken Braun.
Almost as iconic as Palm Beach itself, Worth Avenue is the historic high-end shopping mecca of this exclusive island, with boutiques from brands such as Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue and Gucci, though more than 62 percent of the stores here are individually owned independent shops.
While this scenic street is always good for people-watching and window shopping, bargain hunters will want to head here between June 1 and September 1. Worth the Drive is the avenue’s yearly summer special, during which its storied restaurants —including Taboo, where the bloody mary was created and a favorite spot of JFK’s — serve three-course lunches for $20.18 and its stylish salons have nail and hair services for just $40.
Luxury retailers get in on the action, too, with deeply discounted prices on last season’s looks. We hear that Worth Avenue’s best-kept secret can be found at women’s boutique Shari’s Place, where the summer sales are so good, you might just walk away with a $1,500 dress for $150.
An Array of Activities
Sprawling across 356 acres of paradise, Boca Raton Resort & Club and its sister property Four-Star Boca Beach Club are local favorites for a reason. Offering two championship golf courses, a tennis school with 18 courts, a half-mile stretch of private beach, a marina and an art gallery, the properties give you plenty of choices when it comes to fun in the sun. In addition to the fantastic facilities, this resort also has a full roster of specialty fitness classes, “pop-ins” and artist-in-residence programs to save you and your brood from boredom.
This summer, the active set visiting the Club can enjoy a waterborne challenge with Paddle Diva. A household name in East Hampton, these lovely ladies have set up shop at this luxe Boca Raton hotel, so you can experience an hour-long stand-up paddleboarding adventure along the Intracoastal Waterway — an excellent excuse for working in a tan and a full-body workout.
Though it’s not a new addition, the FlowRider continues to be one of the property’s most popular activities. Here, kids of all ages can learn to surf alongside an experienced instructor without the fear of wiping out under the waves. If you’d rather watch the lessons from afar, grab a margarita and fish tacos at the California-cool Shaka Bar & Grill just across from the aquatic attraction.
Those who prefer to stay dry can take part in the Jimmy Connors Experience — a private 90-minute tennis clinic taught by the eight-time Grand Slam champ himself. In addition to your lesson, you’ll enjoy a 90-minute Q&A with the legend complete with photo ops and autograph sessions.
Or, you could join in on a designer workout with resident “pop-in,” SusanSweats. On Saturdays at 8 a.m., head to the Croquet Lawn to partake in a HIIT Shadowboxing class that’s guaranteed to help you burn off a few of last night’s cocktails.
For a more laid-back approach to your summer vacation, there’s also a jam-packed schedule of culinary events — including Corks & Conversations, an extremely popular winemaker and chef’s dinner series most recently showcasing vino from Chateau Lafite Rothschild — and live musical performances after sundown. Enjoy the best of both during the resort’s Memorial Day weekend Lobsterbash (May 27), featuring tribute band Live & Let Die: The Music of Paul McCartney.
Ever wish you could laze the day away on Palm Beach’s sun-dappled sands, but still take in Miami’s famed nightlife after sundown? Well, with the grand opening of MiamiCentral station along the Brightline high-speed train route on May 19, it’s a lot easier.
One of the Sunshine State’s most highly anticipated projects, the new stop will allow commuters to travel between the Magic City and West Palm Beach in just an hour, meaning no more fighting traffic, high-priced taxis and impossible parking to get to the Miami Heat game or a show-stopping concert any night of the week.
Connecting transit options from bike rentals and ride shares to buses and free trollies make getting around once you arrive much more efficient. And with service expected to expand to Orlando within the next few years, it will soon be possible to visit Disney World, the Gold Coast and South Beach without ever setting foot in a rental car.