Palm Beach was one of Florida’s original vacation destinations, created by railroad magnate Henry Flagler as a winter escape for the Northeast’s high society. It still serves as such, as evidenced by the row of beachfront mansions hidden from view behind manicured hedges. But there’s plenty in the area to appeal to those not among the 1 percent as well, from beautiful beaches to world-class museums.
What We Love
The Breakers: The interior of this hotel is an Italian Renaissance fantasy of marble columns and elaborate murals. It’s worth a visit for the impressive lobby alone, but stay for expertly mixed cocktails at HMF.
Henry Morrison Flagler Museum: Flagler’s 1902 estate offers fascinating insight into Gilded Age life. Stroll rooms filled with art and antiques, and peek into his restored private railcar.
Best Known For
Golf: Though many courses are private, PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens has five public courses. Or try a Jack Nicklaus Signature course at North Palm Beach Country Club.
Beaches: Florida’s Atlantic coast is lined with gorgeous white sand, with many stretches near Palm Beach. John D. MacArthur State Park is a quiet option, or try the livelier Lake Worth Beach at the tip of South Palm Beach.
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Who It's Best For
Culture Lovers: From the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach to the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach, the region is one of Florida’s premier centers for fine arts.
Shoppers: Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue is lined with pricey outposts of Chanel, Gucci, and Lilly Pulitzer, of course. Or hit a consignment shop like The Church Mouse, for major discounts on last season’s formalwear.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
High Society Brings High Prices: Palm Beach attracts the wealthiest of the wealthy “in season” (January through April), and it’s reflected in everything from hotel rates to restaurant menus.
Exclusivity Reigns: Much of the coastline along Palm Beach has restricted access, with just one small public beach in town. Head north or south for better sand and surf.
Susan Moynihan is a Florida-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Parenting and Woman’s Day.