As Jennifer Ash wrote in her book Palm Beach Chic, “It’s the eclectic mix of old and new, Spanish and Caribbean, of contemporary design and sun-faded WASP thrift, that makes Palm Beach chic.” Once mostly a holiday destination (Palm Beach “season” as it’s called, runs from Thanksgiving to Easter), this palm tree-lined paradise is now very much a year-round playground, with young families and professionals moving to south Florida in large numbers to escape the cold weather, demands of city living, and of course, the taxes. If you want to shop, see and be seen, then glamorous Palm Beach is the place for you.
But while it’s associated with old-school glitz and glamour, The Scout Guide Palm Beach editor Stacey Leuliette shared a little secret with us recently. “The old guard is celebrated here, but there is a new generation of Palm Beachers making it modern and relevant,” she says. “There are many parts of the island that will never change—and shouldn’t change, but there is plenty of exciting development and growth going on here in South Florida, despite all of our extraordinary iconic history and reputation for over-the-top galas and parties (which still very much take place), Palm Beach is actually a casual, carefree beach town.” Simply put, dressed up or dressed down, Palm Beach has plenty of sunshine, natural beauty, and local institutions to support—plus a community that is tight knit, loyal, and strong. Ready to book a flight to Florida? Here, Stacey shares insider tips for how you can make the most of a weekend in her beloved Palm Beach.
Where to Stay
The Colony Hotel (155 Hammon Avenue) is a boutique hotel that has been putting up the rich and famous since 1947. Today, it still epitomizes what life in Palm Beach is all about: colorful luxury (the hotel itself is pink!) and palm trees. Recently under new owners, Sarah Wetenhall has redefined The Colony Hotel and brought new life to the iconic institution at the end of Worth Avenue. If you’re looking for a larger, full-service resort experience, check into The Breakers (1 South County Road). This oceanfront behemoth, which has been owned and run by the Kenan family since its inception, is known for its incredible grounds and personal service. Last but not least, Stacey is looking forward to the much-anticipated opening of White Elephant Palm Beach. This beloved Nantucket institution will be opening a sister hotel on the island in 2020.
Where to Get Active
“Flagpole Beach” is popular near the center of town, but you won’t find it on Google Maps. Head to the end of Worth Avenue, close to The Colony, to find this gorgeous stretch of public property. Stacey prefers the dune beaches at the North End of Palm Beach, because they are a little quieter. “The farther north you go on the island, the more peace and quiet you will find.”
An avid rollerblader, Stacey recommends the Lake Trail as a scenic opportunity to get your heart rate up. The paved trail, which you can bike, walk, or rollerblade, goes around the entire island and along the intercoastal waterway, running a few feet from the water’s edge. When Stacey’s not on the trail, you can usually find her at The Yoga Society (225 Clematis Street), located across the bridge and owned by Holly Miller Weston, or at Squeeze Pilates (340 Royal Poinciana Way), located at The Royal Poinciana Plaza.
Where to Shop
Palm Beachers take shopping very seriously, so be sure to set aside ample time and energy to experience the local way of life. And prepare to be inspired—nowhere will you find more vibrant and colorful selections than Palm Beach’s famous shopping destinations.
Stacey’s first stop is what the locals call “The Royal.” The newly revitalized Royal Poinciana Plaza (340 Royal Poinciana Way) is a newly revitalized outdoor shopping center that exemplifies the work of the classic Palm Beach architect John Volk. Here, Stacey recommends shopping the swimwear at Zimmermann, trying on the gowns at Kirna Zabȇte and Serenella, and browsing the tunics and other must-have pieces at Roller Rabbit. She also suggests spending some time among the gorgeous home collection at The Grand Tour and savoring a cappuccino at The Royal’s Sant Ambroeus location.
Just past The Royal, along Royal Palm Way, are many more wonderful shops. Be sure to check out The Kemble Shop (94 Hibiscus Avenue) at the Palm Beach office of the world-famous Kemble Interiors, which is run by Mimi McMakin, and Amanda Lindroff (312 B South County Road), which features island-style home goods, with bold color and rattan as far as the eye can see. C. Orrico (336 South County Road) is an historic site by any Palm Beacher’s measure. Founded by three sisters who were dear friends of local legend Lily Pulitzer, it’s the first place Lily ever sold her clothing. On the same block you’ll find Rapunzel’s Closet (326 South County Road) for all of your Palm Beach dresses, denim, and accessories, and the newly opened St. Frank (330 South County Road), which carries one-of-a-kind home goods. Nearby, stop into Aristokids and PB Girls Club (309 South County Road # A) for anything you may need for the beach—including surf lessons.
Worth Avenue is the iconic Palm Beach backdrop, and one of the most luxurious shopping destinations in the country. Be sure to take a photo with its famous art deco clock tower at the end of the Avenue, and pay attention to the architecture and signage along the way—the Palm Beach preservation society works hard to make sure that the Palm Beach look doesn’t change as the city grows. You’ll find any and every designer and luxury brand you could want, but don’t forget to shop local. Some of Stacey’s favorite boutiques, CJ Laing (34 Via Mizner), The Launch Pad (150 Worth Avenue, Suite 131), a revolutionary concept with revolving trunk shows every few weeks. For all your fine china and entertaining needs, Mary Mahoney (336 Worth Avenue) is right off the Avenue.
If you’re shopping for your home and love the thrill of the hunt, don’t miss Antique Row across the bridge on South Dixie. This mile-long stretch boasts some of the world’s best and most sought after antique stores, and is a destination for interior designers from around the world. You’ll also want to visit the gift and home boutique HIVE (424 Palm Street), the fabulous creation of famed designer Sarah McCann of The McCann Design Group, as well as the newly expanded HIVE for Him, HIVE for Her, and HIVE for Kids (1609 South Dixie).
Where to Dine
When you’re shopping on Worth Avenue, Stacey recommends stopping into Pizza Al Fresco (14 Via Mizner) for lunch. “This is a really special spot for Palm Beachers,” says Stacey. “I recommend you sit in the secluded courtyard and indulge in pizza and a salad,” she adds. For a casual beach-day lunch, she suggests hitting local favorite Surf Side Diner (315 South County Road) for a burger and a milkshake.
Palm Beach is a social town, and cocktail hour is where it all begins. In fact, some say it never ends! Start your evening with a famous drink from Mazie’s (3815 South Dixie Highway) or The CPB Bar & Lounge at The Colony Hotel. HMF is another local favorite, located in the jaw-dropping lobby of The Breakers Hotel. Palm Beach is full of old-world style restaurants where the decor matters just as much as the food, including Stacey’s all-time favorite classic, Palm Beach Grill, situated at Royal Poinciana Plaza, where she recommends beginning your evening in the gorgeous, wood-paneled bar or at Honor Bar located just next door. “The food at both places is fantastic,” she assures.
“Everyone ends up at Buccan (350 South Country Road) at some point during the night, for the scene as much as the eclectic selection of small plates,” Stacey says of this favorite, where she recommends the brussels sprouts Caesar salad. Meanwhile, at Imoto (350 South Country Road), which is known for sushi and the swanky lounge area, Stacey likes to order the cucumber salad (it’s not on the menu, but you can ask for it). “Imoto always seems to have a fantastic mix of Palm Beachers, so if you like people-watching, this spot is for you,” she says.
Finally, Cucina (257 Poinciana Way), is an institution (Stacey’s been hitting the classic Italian restaurant with a gigantic bar that turns into a dance club at night since she was a teenager). Stop by after dinner, or have a meal and linger for a while just enjoying the vibe.
Photography by Nick Mele Photography. For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Palm Beach, Florida, follow The Scout Guide Palm Beach on Instagram.