“A 100-year old recipe for pie,” I think to myself as my fork sinks into a thick, creamy slice of Key Lime Pie. The tangy goodness coats my taste buds, and my gaze wanders through the floor-to-ceiling windows to the waves breaking on the beach. The prickles of sweat on the back of my neck are dissipating in the crisp AC. I let out a contented sigh. This moment — a quiet, refreshing lunch in The Seafood Bar at The Breakers — feels distinctly Floridian.
As Floridians, it’s not often we sit back and appreciate the wonders of our home state. Most of the time we breeze by the palm trees and sandy beaches, too busy planning our next out-of-state getaway. We forget to remember just how good we have it in our own backyard, but a few days of sunshine, seafood, spa (and a bit of history) in Palm Beach was the only reminder I needed.
Where to Stay in Palm Beach
Old-World Boutique Charm: The Chesterfield Palm Beach
Photos courtesy of Discover The Palm Beaches
There’s something about walking into a hotel lobby and immediately whiffing the scent of fresh cut flowers that charms my socks off (okay, sandals off). From delicate orchids and ornate displays of red carnations to floral patterned curtains and leafy green wallpaper, The Chesterfield Palm Beach brings the look, feel, and smell of a vibrant English garden to life.
Each of the 53 rooms are individually designed, so you can open your door to find a lush crimson striped headboard, snazzy palm tree, and leopard wallpaper, delicate pastel drapes, or in my most recent stay, mirrored French doors and walls adorned with cafe au lait-colored suede.
There’s no cookie-cutter approach at The Chesterfield, but, there are cookies. Turn down service features chocolate chip cookies and a handwritten reminder of tomorrow’s weather forecast. For even more sweets, you can make the Queen proud and carve out some time for a proper afternoon tea, equipped with loose-leaf teas, dainty scones, and finger sandwiches.
Spend your afternoon lounging by the flowery pool with a cocktail in hand or wander to the nearby Worth Avenue for some elegant beachside shopping.View Hotel
trivago Tip: The colorful garden decor offers endlessly Instagrammable backdrops. Snag your “Instagram husband” and strike a pose with the palms.
Where History meets Luxury: The Breakers Palm Beach
As soon as you drive through the grand entrance of The Breakers, you realize you’ve left normal life behind and are now in an alternate universe — a majestic resort universe, that is. Originally built by the quiet, but mighty industrialist Henry Flagler in the 1890s, the hotel rose from “the breakers,” the spot where the sea’s waves broke on the sandy shore. Since those days, every rebuilding and renovation of the property has contributed to the opulence that woos guests from around the world. That trend continues today, with an astounding 40 million dollars in renovations carried out every single year at the resort.
With over 538 guest rooms in the main resort, 25 boutique rooms in the Flagler Club, 11 boutique shops, 7 restaurants, 4 oceanfront pools, 5 whirlpool spas, and half a mile of pristine private beach, The Breakers is impressive enough by the numbers, but the true marvel of the experience is qualitative, not quantitative. A walk through the ornate lobby is like a stroll through an Italian daydream, a sip of a martini at the HMF bar is an elegant 1950s flashback, a trip to the spa is an escape to cloud 9, and a nap in a guest room is a serene rendering of sand and sea.View Hotel
trivago Tip: Vacation doesn’t mean you have to abandon all routine. Here’s your new one: sunset yoga in the 6,000 square foot indoor-outdoor fitness center and then an evening cocktail at The Seafood Bar. Grab a seat at the bar and you won’t know whether to look out at the sea in front of you or down at the bartop, which is a full aquarium filled with colorful exotic fish. (Bonus points if you spot the Nemo-esque clownfish swimming around.)
Palm Beach Restaurants
After an afternoon of beaching or shopping, meander to Bice, a lovely Italian restaurant nestled in one of the many quaint side streets on Worth Avenue. The beloved Bice restaurant, with locations in iconic cities around the world, began 90 years ago in Milano, Italy by Beatrice “Bice” Ruggeri. Only one heaping forkful of the creamy risotti ai frutti di mare (carnaroli risotto with mixed seafood and tomato) will make you question whether you’re in South Florida or Northern Italy. Relish in the meticulously attentive service and order a light, airy tiramisu with your post-meal espresso.
The Seafood Bar
As a huge fan of Mexican food and Tex-Mex, I thought I had experienced every possible variety of nachos until I encountered the Blue Crab Nachos at The Seafood Bar. The hunks of juicy blue crab, savory cheddar grits, fresh pico de gallo, and creamy guacamole atop a colorful batch of tortilla chips were a surprising flavor explosion of Southern meets sea. If you still have room after the massive portion of Floridian nachos (don’t worry, you can get a half size too), dive into the catch of day, a tray of oysters, some classic fish tacos, or go all out with a seafood platter. Gaze at the sea while you contemplate which creature from the salty waves will be your next bite.
Have you ever had diver scallops cooked to such perfection that they melt in your mouth like butter? Or a cut of grouper so tender and meaty that you’re full after a few bites? What about a pear and salmon crudo so artfully arranged that you spend five minutes just photographing it before tasting it? (Don’t worry, crudo is served cold already.) If not, take a mini trek off the island to 1000 North, located on the waterfront in Jupiter (approximately 30 minutes driving). Whether you head there for brunch, lunch or dinner, you’ll enjoy the laid-back, yet sophisticated ambiance and inventive, fresh cuisine. Whatever you do, don’t forget to order a side of the truffle fries.
Can’t-Miss Culture at The Flagler Museum
Give your Palm Beach excursion a little depth by adding in some historical context with a visit to The Flagler Museum, a gorgeous 75-room estate called Whitehall that Henry Flagler gifted to his wife as a wedding present. The essence of Palm Beach, and moreover, the whole development of Florida — lies in the story of Flager, a leading figure of the Gilded Age. From the railway he laid along the east coast to the gorgeous hotels he built for New York’s snowbirds, Flagler developed the foundation for Florida’s most significant industry: tourism.
At the museum, wander from room to room marveling at the over-the-top Beaux Arts style, brought to life by John Carrere and Thomas Hasting, two architects who also designed other iconic landmarks of the time, like the New York Public Library and offices of the Senate and House of Representatives. Finish the tour with a walk through Flagler’s own private railcar, No. 91. (Once you’ve seen the lovely layout, you’ll never want to drive down Florida’s coast in traffic again.)
trivago Tip: My personal favorite room of the house is Mary Lilly’s former drawing room. Unlike the bright gold leaf found in the other rooms, this one has softer aluminum details as well as an optical illusion. Carefully watch the wooden design along the perimeter of the floor as you enter and exit to see the change.
Whether you lounge on the beach with a good book in hand, head out on a catamaran for some scuba or snorkeling, or take bicycles for a spin around the island, Palm Beach is best explored in the sand, sea, and sunshine. When you’ve soaked up enough vitamin D for one day (or are starting to have a lobster-like glow about you) catch some shade with a saunter down Worth Avenue.
No matter if you’re committed to window shopping or ready to spend, explore boutiques filled with billowing white linen, beach-ready swimwear, and handmade jewelry. For more mainstream shopping, the Palm Beach Outlets are just a short drive away too. Either way, you’ll find breezy South Florida style at its finest.