10 Travel Secrets of the Palm Beaches

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Locals know about these spots and events, shouldn’t you?

West Palm Beach greenmarket

Sure, you may be familiar with Florida’s Palm Beach. But have you heard of the Palm Beaches? The surrounding communities have some secrets hiding in plain sight. While they are known for their pristine beaches, diverse cities and towns (39 of them), and great weather, they also have the best in food, attractions, and entertainment. These latter gems are often overlooked by visitors but locals certainly know where to go.

Easy to visit, the Palm Beaches are located about 60 miles north of Miami and broadly cover a 2,000-square-mile region. Some of the most popular of the 15 districts include West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, and Delray Beach. Here the 10 locally known secrets:

Flagler Museum: Palm Beach
This magnificent estate known as Whitehall was constructed by Henry Flagler in 1902 as a gift to his wife, Mary Lily Kenan. Flagler, along with John D. Rockefeller, was a founding partner in Standard Oil Company, and Whitehall was considered one of the grandest mansions of the Gilded Age. Much of the state’s agricultural and tourism base is owed to Flagler, whose Florida East Coast Railroad connected many coastal towns. The estate, on the National Register of Historic Places, houses the museum, which is open to the public for tours of its rooms and many exhibits.

Swank Farms

Ron Stern

Swank Farms

Swank Table Events: Loxahatchee
Each year, from November through May, the Swank Specialty Produce Farm transforms. Twenty acres of hydroponic and organically grown produce serve as the foundation for Sunday brunches as well as Saturday and Sunday night dinners. Each of these multi-course meals is prepared using the finest ingredients from Florida’s farmers, ranchers, artisanal producers, wine makers, and micro brewers. Local and nationally known chefs use the massive stage (with music in the background) as their prep area underneath an outdoor pole barn.

Each dinner benefits a local charity and many have a theme such as Argentine barbecue. This one features morcilla-stuffed whole hog with chimi and sides from the Swank Farm including grilled shishito peppers, kohlrabi slaw, and navy bean salad.

Delray Beach
This intimate resort destination on the Atlantic is about a 30- to 45-minute drive from Palm Beach. Named the most fun small town by several travel publications, this small city is chock-full of fun for the whole family.

If you visit during December, you’ll see the iconic 100-foot beautifully lit Christmas tree downtown. What’s even better is that you can go inside and look up in the tree’s canopy, which is filled with thousands of tiny, multi-colored lights.

Browse the plentiful restaurants, boutiques, and retail shops along Atlantic Avenue. You may have a hard time deciding where to eat as so many venues are enticing with music and aromas wafting into the street. One of the newest of these eateries is AVANT, whose ambiance reflects the New York guerrilla street art movement of the 80s. They feature globally-inspired cuisine consisting of small, shared plates and house-made desserts.

Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival: various locations
One of the signature events, the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival, just celebrated its 11th year and was held at various venues throughout the Palm Beaches. This year’s kick-off event was called Fire and presented by the Cheney Brothers at the elegant Breakers Resort Palm Beach. Food stations offered everything from grilled short ribs to sushi to chili as well as cherries jubilee and crêpes Suzette for dessert.

Overseen by the resort’s executive chef Jeff Simms and Master Sommelier Virginia Philip, the festival saw the return of many chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Robert Irvine, Marc Murphy, and Michelle Bernstein.

Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Hotel

Ron Stern

Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Hotel

Afternoon Tea at The Chesterfield: Palm Beach
Afternoon tea has been an English tradition since the mid-1800s, and The Chesterfield has kept that custom alive Monday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

The pastel colors, overstuffed couches, and a fireplace might remind you of an English manor house. Nibble on a selection of homemade sandwiches like roasted chicken salad or tomato and cheddar, freshly made scones with clotted cream, and a selection of pastries to go along with a pot of perfectly brewed tea. ($32)

Greenmarket: West Palm Beach
If you’ve ever visited a European greenmarket, you will find that knowing your butcher, florist, and cheesemonger is all part of the foodie experience. That was the idea behind the West Palm Beach Green Market, which started from humble beginnings and grew into a local institution.

Located on the West Palm Beach Waterfront, this über farmers’ market now has more than 90 vendors offering everything from French country cheeses, artisanal empanadas, pistachio croissants, fresh-cut coconuts, and cider donuts. In addition, dogs are welcome, and it seems everyone here has one.

Cycle Party Pub Crawl: West Palm Beach
Ranked as one of the best food and drink attractions in West Palm Beach, Cycle Party is a pedal-powered, libation-filled jaunt through the city. The 14-seat party bike allows you to get some exercise while visiting some of the area’s most popular pubs in the most scenic parts of downtown. People might stop and stare but you won’t care as you are in for one fun, wacky ride.

Brunch at The Breakers: Palm Beach
Voted as one of the Top 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in The United States by Open Table, The Breakers is one of the most famous culinary venues in South Florida. Seating is in The Circle, a magnificent architectural work of art with 30-foot ceilings adorned with colorful frescos and eight oval murals featuring famous works from the Renaissance.

Food stations staffed by immaculately dressed staff members offer Belgian waffles, hand-carved beef tenderloin, Alaskan king crab legs, and an entire station filled with 30 pastries and desserts. Truly, this is one of the most beautiful settings for a brunch anywhere. ($115 per person, plus tax and service charge)

Grandview Public Market: West Palm Beach
One of the most anticipated new projects in West Palm, The Grandview Public Market, located in The Warehouse District, will feature unique shopping and dining experiences. Some of the featured vendors include Clare’s premium chicken and wine shop, Grace’s Fine Foods, Celis Produce, and Rabbit Coffee. The market is on track to start serving food in January 2018.

Lynora's Italian Deli West Palm

Ron Stern

Lynora's Italian Deli in West Palm

Eclectic Eateries: various locations in the Palm Beaches
In 2016, Conde Nast Traveler readers voted the Palm Beaches as one of the Best Food Cities in the U.S., and there is always something tasty being made in the various districts around the county. Here are a few that will satisfy any food pilgrimage:

Lynora’s on S. Dixie Highway (WPB) is a converted gas station that has been repurposed into an Italian market and deli. The brightly colored caricatures on the façade and its slogan sum up their ethos: flour, water, salt, passion.  They have Old World pizza, sandwiches, lasagna, and some of the best tiramisu this side of Italy.

The trendy Clematis Street District in West Palm Beach is home to Pizza Girls. Sisters Jennifer Morales and Phoebe Reckseit set out to make the best artisan pizza that their imaginations could fathom. After sampling some of the finest pies from around the world, they came up with their own recipe for New York-style pizza that earns praise year after year from Zagat’s.

Right next door to Pizza Girls is Sloan’s Ice Cream, whose goal is to create an ice cream utopia for the young and young at heart. Stepping inside is like entering a young girl’s dream dollhouse with its vivid colors, red wall coverings, and crazy artwork. They make all their own cool, creamy, and delicious luxury ice cream that is.

With at least 18 craft breweries in the Palm Beaches, there is probably one you haven’t tried. Sons and Daughters Farm and Winery in Lake Worth produce organic beverages and wines made from some of the hearty local plants that grow in Florida – like hibiscus and the Hibiscus Sabdariffa tea. There are also other non-alcoholic alternatives like kombucha. The result is a line of healthy and refreshing seasonal drinks that you can sample individually or as a flight. Other varieties include mulberry, banana, and moringa.

There are many other little hidden gems that you will want to explore. Whether you come for a quick getaway or an extended vacation, you will discover why the Palm Beaches are one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in all of Florida.

Sitting pretty at the Hilton in West Palm Beach

Ron Stern

Sitting pretty at the Hilton in West Palm Beach

Where to stay:

Hilton West Palm Beach: Centrally located and within walking distance of downtown, this hotel features clean, comfortable rooms, excellent service, and some great food in their Manor Restaurant and Provisions Market.

If Palm Beach is your jumping off point to Florida, we have 50 other ideas in the state.

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FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored visit, however, all opinions herein are the authors.