Howdy! Today we get to take a peek at another part of Florida that I absolutely love! In addition to its amazing beaches there are many other beautiful parts to be discovered including great gastronomy, off the beaten path locations, historical spots and the many opportunities for travel as a living classroom. So, in short – it has it all. Oh, where are we going? To The Palm Beaches of course!
I recently had the pleasure of having Erick Garnica, the Senior Director of Leisure Sales and Eva Damato, the Leisure Sales Manager from The Palm Beaches Florida join me to discuss these fabulous destinations on Florida’s East Coast. And The Palm Beaches Florida – by the way – is the Official Tourism Marketing Corporation for Palm Beach County that represents all of 39 cities and municipalities on the southeast corridor of the state of Florida.
So come on! Grab a beach chair and a frosty beverage and let’s hit the beach(es)!
As we alluded to, The Palm Beaches area is located on the southeastern coast of Florida – bordered by the Atlantic Ocean as well as by Lake Okeechobee – which allows them to offer a vast array of amenities and activities that you can enjoy while visiting. They like to break it up into the north part of the county, the central west part of the county and the south part of the county. In total it is comprised of 39 cities and municipalities as well as 47 miles of beaches – so needless to say you are going to find a lot of water in this destination. Among the activities you can participate in are golf – thanks to over 160 golf courses which explains why they are known as Florida’s Golf Capital, fabulous night life, historical areas you can visit –they’re also known as a cultural capital, as well as great restaurants and eateries for your dining pleasure. So, as you can see there are a wide range of attributes that comprise this destination. And I would say that this is really an off the beaten path destination so to speak – in the sense that it’s not Miami, it’s not Fort Lauderdale and it’s not Orlando – but instead has its own flavor while complimenting each other very well. They have a lot of their own attributes so even though they’re in the same geographic location they are very different.
The Palm Beaches came about thanks to two visionaries – but mostly because of one person – Mr. Henry Flagler. Henry Flagler established a railway from the northern portion of the US down to the state of Florida where he arrived in the late 1800s. He saw what was there and how beautiful it was, he fell in love with it and felt that he had to do something about it. He decided to establish some sort of place where his friends could come and enjoy what he had seen. And so, he built the first resort in the destination and that is why they are known as America’s First Resort Destination – because of that very hotel. And speaking of history there’s some great historic tours offered here and there’s a number of people that we work with that do an amazing job at conducting these historic tours in The Palm Beaches. And you guys – everything is customizable so if you really have somebody who in your group who wants a very specific history, I can easily work with those partners to make that happen.
The Palm Beaches are in the middle section of the southeast corridor of the state of Florida – and are situated about 2 1/2 hours south of Orlando, about 30 to 40 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale and about 50 to 60 minutes north of Miami – so very accessible from those major cities and airports. The main airport is Palm Beach International Airport and has all the major air carriers flying in and out of it. This airport has actually won some accolades in the past years and also has a prime class lounge. This is the first airport of choice when arriving to The Palm Beaches. But – they do have other options like Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport which are all within 30-40 minutes to an hour away – and all of the major air carriers also fly into them as well. So, you guys – as I’m planning your trips, you’ll notice that I may say hey the Palm Beach International Airport is right there, but I may give you other options – like perhaps there is a non-stop flight into Fort Lauderdale or into Miami – I may offer you those options as well. Or perhaps the city you are visiting in the destination is closer to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport – like Boca Raton which is closer as it is about 20-30 minutes away – or Delray which is only 40 minutes –making it more viable to fly you into there.
And here is some fabulous news – a high-speed train started operating in January of 2018 connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach which is the city center of the destination. After a pause in operations because of COVID it is scheduled to resume service in November 2021. It is a modern, sophisticated train that consists of four cars and features leather seating and Wi-Fi. You can also purchase food items or there is a first class car that if upgrade you’ll have coffee and danish in the morning and after three o’clock it offers libations of beer and wine and something to eat. Ultimately this train will be arriving directly at the Orlando Airport and additional stops have already been announced in The Palm Beaches such as Aventura and Boca Raton. This is a great opportunity for people that are already traveling to Miami or Fort Lauderdale and want to come to The Palm Beaches area but don’t want to drive. They can take this train which makes it easily accessible.
The Key Cities
- North: The north part of the county has towns and cities such as Jupiter, Juno Beach, Tequesta, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Rivera Beach / Singer Island. Those are some of the big names that you’ll hear and may be familiar with. Eva said she likes to say that all of their cities have their own personality and the ones in the northern part of the county are great for those outdoorsy, active clients. So – anybody that wants to go explore the waterways or some of the state parks and the hiking trails or even bird watching – this is a great place to go ahead and do so. They’re very conservation focused, they’re very ecofriendly and it’s a super great local feel because you have locals riding their bikes down A1A along with guests that are staying in the hotels and everyone’s really there to enjoy the destination. Then in Jupiter you’ll find the lighthouse which is the oldest building in Palm Beach County, and you can climb the stairs to the top – about 115 – for more exercise! And for you golf fanatics – there are a ton of fun golfers living in Jupiter so don’t be surprised if you are eating at a restaurant and spot one! Fun Fact: Burt Reynolds lived in Jupiter at one point!
- Central West – The central west part of the county is home to West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Island, Wellington, Lake Worth, Lake Okeechobee and the Glades and Green Acres. The middle portion of the county is only about ten minutes away from the Palm Beach International Airport and it’s a great area if you’re not going to have a car because everything is walkable or bikeable. You can enjoy the city center – which is Rosemary Square – as well as downtown West Palm Beach where you can walk down Clematis Street until the end which brings you to the waterfront in West Palm Beach. Once there you just cross over the bridge and that takes you to onto Palm Beach. Palm Beach is a wonderful, beautiful island that houses the first resort that we mentioned earlier that Henry Flagler built called The Breakers. In addition, they have the Flagler museum which was Henry Flagler’s house at the time – so there is a ton of history just jam packed into the middle of the county in that central area. Fun Fact: You can bike the Lake Trail and then go over the bridge and grab a yummy smoothie at a place called Pura Vida – which you guys my know is my website theme!
- South: Here you will find Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Ocean Ridge and Gulf Stream. Now, as you head south there is Fort Lauderdale and Miami, so these cities are going to be the closest to some of those international airports. Delray Beach is a great city and a great spot for happening nightlife. You can dance, you can enjoy the restaurants and eateries and Atlantic Avenue is actually one of the avenues in this destination that you can go shopping, enjoy the restaurants and then keep walking and walking until your toes are in the sand – and Eva shared that’s one of her favorite things about Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. Then there is Boca Raton which has a beautiful history to it. Addison Mizner built it up and the Spanish architecture is beautiful – it’s just absolutely something to set your eyes on. Plus, there is the beauty of the bougainvilleas that are located around the different parks in different areas – as well as awesome restaurants to grab a bite to eat. Eva also shared that Boca Raton is what actually made her relocate to The Palm Beaches when she first visited there ten years ago!
The Palm Beaches are a multi-generational destination that has the ability to cater to different needs throughout the 39 cities that house over 230 hotels with close to 18,000 rooms. There are different levels of resorts and hotel properties all throughout the destination. You can find anything ranging from economical to mid-scale to upper-scale to luxury properties. But hotels and resorts are not the only type of accommodations available to you. There are also actual houses – i.e. – vacation rental – and there’s always an opportunity to do some glamping or something along those lines as well. That being said the hotels and resorts that we’re going to talk about are really going to be some of the more iconic ones you’ll find there.
- The Breakers: This was the first resort in the destination. It’s oceanfront and is located on 1/2 a mile of private beach. It is still privately owned – still family owned, and they just absolutely love to cater to their guests that join them. Plus, you can create experiences on your own – all within this property – so that’s just a fun aspect as well.
- Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa: This outstanding property – one of Eva’s favorites – represents the Palm Beaches so perfectly with its bright colors. They pulled in Slim Aarons – the big photographer – for artwork and they really just make it so fun and exciting. It’s colorful and it’s vibrant and super cool. They have cabanas. They have a champagne butler who jumps into the pool with your champagne on a surfboard. You can enjoy the ocean views in front of you while you eat at their restaurant Temple Orange which has amazing food. And bonus – they are dog friendly which means a great option for those that want to bring their pups with them on the road! As Eva declared – they just hit a home run for us.
- The Colony Palm: This is another oceanfront accommodation that is also dog friendly. They’re located just about one block away from the ocean – so very close to the beach – and have recently completed renovations. They have New York’s well-known Swifty’s – which offers locations both at the pool and indoor. It’s a very tropical vibe and is referred to as “the little pink house” because it was one of the first resorts in Palm Beach and everyone knew it as the pink house because – well – it’s a giant pink house. It is very much more of a boutique property that has great service standards and that genuine hospitality that has just trickled down throughout the different hotels and resorts since the late 1800’s.
- The Four Seasons: This property also got renovated recently as well. They have a wonderful kind of Florida feel with their wicker and teakwood and their light pinks and their light green’s. This one is also oceanfront and very family friendly. They do have a wonderful dining outlet with a nice private dining room for any guests that want to have parties for birthdays or any type of celebrations. They also have a beautiful pool that is centrally located overlooking the ocean making you feel as if you are one with the pool and the beach. Fun Fact: The Four Seasons is the first property in The Palm Beaches to go ahead and add a new team member and their team member is an Australian Labradoodle named Fort. Fort is their in-house therapy dog so if anyone is going to the Four Seasons, please make sure you take a picture with Fort and make sure you give him a belly rub!
- Singer Island: This is a Marriott property and is another great option that sits on the Atlantic Ocean. Singer Island is an all-suites property, so you have the option of a one or two bedroom suite which will have either a kitchen or kitchenette, making it a great option for long stay guests. Here you can enjoy kayaks, paddleboards and a host of other activities. They feature three dining outlets and per Eva are really doing a phenomenal job with their food presentations and the eclectic styles that they put on their menu. Fun Fact: During the pandemic when there were no guests, they took their lounge chairs and they spelled out inspirational messages on the beach like peace, love, #travel #tourism, we can’t wait to see you and things like that every morning and posted them on Instagram for all to enjoy.
- Boca Raton Resort And Club: And now we move over to Boca Raton and more Mediterranean inspiration. This particular property is also quite iconic and classical because it was built in 1926 thanks to the vision of Addison Mizner as we mentioned earlier. It’s a massive property – 1047 rooms. It is different experiences too – you have the main cloister of the property, then you have the Yacht Club, the Beach Club and the Villas. They have their own golf course on site as well as a spa that has those accents of Mediterranean, Turkish and Spanish influence and features an outdoor pool. This one along with The Breakers those are the historic, iconic properties that date over 125 years now. It’s very close to Mizner Park and the Mizner area and it’s all the influence and the inspiration of Addison Mizner – who was a true Palm Beach person as well.
Arts and Culture
There’s obviously a lot of arts and culture that we touched on earlier with the history here and there are some great places that you can actually go and visit so as we build your itinerary, we can add the places you want to see. The best part is that a lot of these places are just a bike ride or walk away. Whitehall is one of those iconic must-sees here. Henry Flagler built this estate for his third wife Mary Lily Kenan, and it shows exactly how this destination started thanks to all of the memorabilia and pieces that are collected and preserved in this museum from the Gilded Age of travel. You will see a lot of murals as well in this destination. In fact, a Brazilian artist by the name of Eduardo Kobra was commissioned to do several of those murals including one of Einstein taking in the rays which shows Kobra’s use of vibrant colors beautifully. Then there is the Norton Museum of Art which has great exhibits and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts – that recently underwent a renovation – where concerts are held as well as different types of performances. Then also in Delray there’s several art incubators and Eva raved that there is one really cool, eclectic – she calls it funky – type of museum – The Silver Ball Museum. It houses old pinball machines and it’s actually an arcade but on every single pinball machine they have the history of where it came from and what year it was it was made so basically, it’s another art form. They also have a lot of local artists showcasing their art as well. Fun Fact: Lilly Pulitzer got her start in The Palm Beaches – which makes sense since The Palm Beaches is known for its fluorescent bright colors and fun funky prints!
Food options are plentiful in The Palm Beaches. There is a Louie Bossi’s Ristorante Bar Pizzeria that opened up which is a great Italian restaurant. They have different sushi places and Eva mentioned one of her favorite restaurants is located on Palm Beach Island called Buccan (which also has sister restaurants Grato and Imoto that are great as well). There’s really some great diversity in the area as far as dining options. You can enjoy a larger, well known venue or find a little place off of the beaten path and have a great breakfast and enjoy a pupusa. There are some great options that you might not think that you can experience there, and you’d be wrong. They also get a lot of different Central and South American cultures as well as Caribbean, so you’ve got those cuisine options as well. And we can’t forget Restoration Hardware! Yes – that Restoration Hardware – the furniture company / art and design architectural store. Here they have built and grown the store into a beautiful three level shopping experience and when you get to the that third level you enter the RH Rooftop Restaurant where you get to walk out and get an almost full 360 views of West Palm Beach. Bonus – their lobster roll is great New Yorkers!
The Palm Beaches is home to many, many golf courses – over 160. And with golf courses comes lessons and training and PGA professional pros and you can find all of that there. They are home to the Honda Classic which is a huge, televised golf event and a big draw for golf players and fans. In addition to being very golf focused they also have tennis, a croquet center and – one of the coolest things that Eva said that they don’t really share with anyone – is their equestrian center. They are home to the International Polo Club located in Wellington – which is more into the interior of the destination. Every year they have the championship that takes place there – where participants from over 70 countries come to play. Eva explained that the season starts in the middle of January and extends until April and consists of a series of equestrian events – everything from polo to different types of equestrian activities – but it’s really unique and there’s very few places in the state that have this.
Water and Wildlife
Did you know that you can go on safari in south Florida? That’s right – Lion Country Safari – located in West Palm! Eva agreed that it’s amazing that they have such a place there and attributes it to their ecosystem being so great and that they’re not overrun or over developed. What a great opportunity here to teach children how important it is to be sustainable, so that when they travel, and they go places they understand how to respect it. They really learn so much from it – it’s not only entertainment for them but it’s also a great way to have them really experience why being sustainable is important and to teach them things like the importance of turtles and why they are important. Talk about travel as a living classroom folks – here is something tangible that they can absorb up close and in person. And if you are a water lover there are the Hakuna Matata Catamaran Cruises. There are sunset cruises where you can bring your own wine and charcuterie onboard, snorkeling cruises where you can jump off and snorkel during the day, happy hour cruises to get your evening started off just right and sightseeing cruises that take you up and down the intercoastal.
The Palm Beaches boasts of plenty of shopping – from town centers to outlets – there’s a little bit of something for everybody. You can go shopping on Worth Avenue – the main shopping avenue in Palm Beach – where the vias line the streets and there’s little hallways with more shops down them with an archway of bougainvilleas before you walk down them making you feel like you’re in the South of France or somewhere in Europe. It’s a place where you can totally escape and feel like you might not even be in the United States. What a great option for those of you that want that European experience but don’t want to travel that far. And Eva said that is really a little known aspect about the area and is thanks to the other visionary behind this destination – Addison Mizner. He was instrumental in designing a lot of the areas here – most in Boca Raton – but this area he thought of and designed because he had traveled extensively throughout Europe. That’s why you’ll see influences in the architecture from Spain and Italy and the Mediterranean. And speaking of that the architecture is amazing! In addition to those shops on Worth Avenue there’s the Palm Beach Outlets that has over 115 stores with all of the brand names at wholesale discounts, the Boca Town Center, Palm Beach Gardens Mall and more.
Erick also touched upon the topic on most traveler’s minds these days – and that is what safety precautions they are taking as far as COVID goes. They advised that throughout this last year – like many other destinations – they took the time to see what was happening and implemented certain procedures so that they can ensure the safety and peace of mind of travelers coming to their destination. They were one of the first destinations to be part of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council – an international organization that gives its seal of approval with everything on bio safety. The organizations cleanliness procedures are very strict, and a number of their hotel partners have already gone through this process, as well as the convention center and the Palm Beach International Airport. In addition to that they have the Palm Beaches Pledge where they decided that they would make sure that they were adhering to the six feet distancing guidelines, wearing masks and always sanitizing whenever there is the opportunity to do so. And Eva chimed in that it really is a wonderful place to be – the destination is safe and cares about its guests and community and being in The Palm Beaches is a very comfortable feeling.
Updated COVID-19 Information: As of this writing The Palm Beaches are open for visitors!
So, what do you think? Ready to head to The Palm Beaches? I know I am! There are so many little surprises that The Palm Beaches have that I think that we as consumers – me included even as your travel advisor – sometimes forget about these things so it is wonderful to take a look at what they have to offer again. And I want you guys to really consider The Palm Beaches as a destination whether you want something that is more family friendly or something that is going to be just for the adult – as this really gives you an opportunity to do both.
And Eva summed it up with her experience there saying that it’s been exceptional. She’s originally from Long Island and has been living there for ten years and really loves where she lives. It’s easy to get around and there’s plenty of things to do.
For more details on things to see and do in The Palm Beaches, where to stay, it’s price points and more – contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!