Note the “like a diva” because no one we know admits to being one. But we all work hard and these days the world seems to be tipping on its axis so relaxing like a diva is becoming more of a necessity rather than a luxury.
West Palm Beach had humble beginnings. Henry Flagler planned Palm Beach to be a resort, and West Palm for the workers who would trundle back across the bridge to their little bungalows after providing services for the wealthy. Today West Palm Beach is a spirited destination bristling with unique local shops and top-shelf dining opportunities. In the evening the Clematis Street Historic District, which leads down to the waterfront and public dock, comes alive with folks strolling and people-watching from outdoor cafes. Families race through the fountains and chat on blankets spread on the grass.
In a town where the Saturday farmer’s market – GreenMarket – offers unlimited Mimosas for $10 and you can arrive by boat if you wish, and also boasts of the world’s largest croquet facility – The National Croquet Center – you might think you aren’t allowed in unless you’re wearing your grandmother’s pearls and your children are away at prep school, but that’s not the case. You can buy a Kitchen Sink Sundae for $44 at Sloan’s, and you can shop bed linens along with the Duchess of Windsor at Pioneer Linens, but you can also scarf down a huge slice of pizza at tiny Pizza Girls, indulge in a Hell Burger at Grease Burger Bar, and enjoy the free outdoor concerts, Clematis by Night, every Thursday.
And as always, going to the beach costs nothing.
Oh wait! Parking is $5 an hour if you choose the beach closest to West Palm: Palm Beach. There are public beaches with facilities and free parking a little further away, click here for more details on USA Today 10 Best.
South Ocean Blvd. and Worth Ave.
Palm Beach, FL 33480
- PARK/WALK: Parking is $5 an hour as mentioned above, you pay at one of those kiosk thingys. The walk is very short as you’re parking parallel to the beach, which is right there.
- GO/RINSE: We did not see any bathroom or shower facilities during our visit. We’re thinking that Donald and Rush really don’t want us lounging on their beach.
- CROWD FACTOR: Palm Beach doesn’t seem to be the type of “Man, we are TOTALLY parking our lazy selves on this beach for the duration – hey how much PBR did you bring?” beach destination, so probably not often crowded.
- GUARDS: Yes.
- IMBIBE: No.
- BEST FRIEND: Dogs are not allowed on Palm Beach County beaches.
- WE LOVE: Knowing that Jimmy Buffet owns a home here. HE would probably be fine with us lounging on his beach!
104 N. Clematis St.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
The Coniglio family has owned E. R. Bradley’s for 30 years, naming it such because of the affinity that Frank Coniglio felt with E.R., “The Greatest Gambler of all Time.” E.R. began his life in poverty and ended up one of the most wealthy, generous and revered men in history. Read more of the glowing love felt for this family and its all-are-welcome vibe (including several couples who actually got married at E.R’s!) on MyPalmBeach, click here. And as always on our blog, click the restaurant name above to go their site.
Our favorite part is how Frank started out as a bartender in Ocean City, Maryland (a short drive from where I grew up and spent many happy hours sunning myself) and was told to “get some good looking girls up on the bar dancing!” and how, despite the strict rules against all bar-top dancing at his restaurant now, you may still see an occasional girl dancing up on the bar…
- VIBE: Hip, beach-bar (the closest bar to the water in West Palm, right across the street from the intracoastal), casual, the place to be at the apex of all that goes on downtown.
- ARRIVE: By car or by foot. There are parking garages around the Clematis St. area, and on street parking if you can find a spot.
- SIP: Happy Hour is Monday through Friday 4:30-6:30 in the Tiki Bar.
- NOSH: Vast and varied menu including breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour and late night. We had to try the Maryland Crab Cakes (a well guarded Maryland family recipe) that was every bit as delicious and authentic as we’d imagined.
- LISTEN: Live music every day! Monday night is Reggae Night.
- WE LOVE: The location with the water view and people watching views and proximity to all the fun that Clematis St. offers.
1410 Georgia Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
With its understated elegance, on-trend with creative twists decor, modern mixed with old-world luxury, we almost didn’t want to use that word diva (with its Paris Hilton connotations) in our title. When visiting coastal Florida travelers usually spend most of their time outside of their bungalow, B & B or mom-and-pop. But as we mentioned earlier, there are times when one longs for pampering, to wrap a lovely room with its white faux fur throw around oneself and tell the world we’ll be back later…
Family owned and operated (the only type of places we stay and recommend) by Cheryl – who serves as Chairman of the Florida Bed and Breakfast Inns – and Kirk Grantham, this truly off-the-beaten-path circa 1925 gem offers a variety of boutique style accommodations including five Historic Inn bedrooms and suites with complimentary gourmet breakfast, six Historic luxury self-catering cottages with 1-3 bedrooms, five Art Deco self-catering cabana suites with 1-2 bedrooms. Award winning, with AAA Four Diamond designation, a Superior Small Lodging and Select Registry member, and part of the BedandBreakfast.com Diamond Collection, this has been the most luxurious stay for the Beaches, Bars and Bungalows team. (It was my birthday!)
- VIBE: Tropical, shady, stately without being snobby, chic without feeling chi chi, sumptuous, amazingly peaceful, plush, polished, exquisite attention to detail, I could go on and on…
- WALK: The residential neighborhood is eminently walkable (look at me, even my words are more elegant!) with sidewalks, shade trees, and eye-candy historic cottages everywhere you look in the Flamingo Historic District.
- DECOR: Each suite and cottage has its own character, which adds to the eclectic appeal where nothing is cookie-cutter. Click on their name above for a plethora of photos and tours of all rooms, cottages, and the property itself.
- SLEEP: With the oh-so-comfortable bed and luxurious bed linens you will know that you are in B & B heaven and will be reluctant to venture outside!
- EXTRAS: Where do I begin? Two shaded private-feeling swimming pools, the full course breakfast made in a gorgeous kitchen served by the family themselves (with my foot warmer under the table, Lucy the golden retriever), every little thing you could imagine needing or wanting in your suite (ours had the coolest BAR CART!), hammocks, lounge areas, bicycles. Spa robes! Tesla Destination charging station! Luggage airport weight scale! Dog friendly cottage option! Okay stop me now and just click here for the full list.
- RATES: Guest rooms in the Inn start at $199, a Sundance Cottage Style suite starts at $209. Cottages require a minimum night’s stay. Check the site as prices may change due to the season. Also on the site you’ll often find special discounts.
- WE LOVE: Do you really want me to start? How long do you have? Just enjoy the photos below and plan a quiet stretch of time to peruse their site and book your stay.
And just because everyone else seems to do a mirror selfie, and also to show you a glimpse into our little study off the bedroom which had a lovely antique wardrobe, writing desk, dresser and cozy couch (not sure where that photo went, look on their site for professional photos sans mirror selfies.)
We have to admit to being reverse snobs: before this trip if a place had “Palm Beach” in the name it never made our must-visit list. After all, have you ever seen “lesser known” “off the beaten path” “low key” or “laid back” attached to Palm Beach? We’re happy we bravely ventured forth to one of the Palm Beaches, aren’t you? And isn’t your birthday coming up?
West Palm Beach is on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, 81 miles south of Vero Beach and 46 miles north of Fort Lauderdale.