The Ultimate Guide to Palm Beach

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After spending time in Palm Beach the last few winters, it has truly become one of my favorite places to visit. I’m captivated by the architecture, beautiful restaurants and al fresco dining, expansive beach, stunning homes, and of course, the fantastic shopping! The weather in Palm Beach during February, March and April cannot be beat and it’s the perfect place to recharge.

Most recently, we spent two weeks in Palm Beach. It was our first trip since the pandemic began and while we were apprehensive about going, I am so glad that we did because it was just what we needed! We still practiced the social distancing and mask-wearing protocols that we follow in Boston, but soaking up the warm Florida sunshine was a such a delight.

I feel like I’ve finally explored PBI enough to write a full guide on where to stay, eat, drink, shop, and explore. A few years ago, I compiled my “24 Hours in Palm Beach” piece and while I still recommend all of those activities, I wanted to share a  more comprehensive overview of how you can best enjoy all that Palm Beach has to offer!

Have you been to Palm Beach? What are your favorite things to see and do?

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palm beach,

The A-Lyst for What to Do in Palm Beach

Where to Stay:

The Breakers: This is by far one of the country’s “grand dame” hotels. It’s truly exquisite both in architecture as well as amenities. When we stayed here, we spent most of the day poolside (there are multiple pools, which is great since they never get too crowded) and dining on property. We didn’t want to leave! You simply can’t beat the location of the hotel and its proximity to shopping and dining on Palm Beach Island and they have a complimentary chauffeured house car that will take you to their off-property restaurants like Echo and Flagler Steakhouse. If you choose not to stay here, definitely stop by for a pre or post dinner martini at HMF or the Seafood Bar (the whole bar is an aquarium!) or splurge on Sunday Brunch at The Circle. It’s unreal!

The Colony Hotel: I think of this hotel as the little sister to one of my favorite iconic properties, The Beverly Hills Hotel. From its pink hue to its island chic decor and modern retro vibe, this hotel is quintessential “Palm Beach”. When I stayed here during a trip with two of my best friends from high school, we spent the day poolside, used the hotel’s complimentary bikes to explore Palm Beach, and enjoyed meals on the terrace of Swifty’s which is adorned with a gorgeous hanging garden. This hotel is even closer to Worth Avenue than The Breakers and a bit less expensive! Most recently, we stopped by The Colony for its live music by the pool where we enjoyed a cocktail and bite to eat at sunset. We loved the relaxed, easy environment!

The Chesterfield and The Brazilian Court: These hotels are only a few blocks apart from one another and are very similar in style and amenities. Think of them as more of your classic boutique hotels; smaller in scale, but still with lovely pools and food + beverage on-site. If you fancy afternoon tea, The Chesterfield offers this daily and I’d recommend reserving a table in their beautiful courtyard. For brunch, Café Boulud at The Brazilian Court is one of my favorites. I love the ambiance in their courtyard which boasts a trickling fountain and  countless palm trees and lush greenery that offer diners plenty of shade.

TIP: Palm Beach and West Palm Beach have some great rentals available on Airbnb and VRBO. If you’re looking for an extended stay, I would recommend checking both of those sites.

the colony hotel, palm beach,
the colony hotel, palm beach,
the colony hotel, palm beach,
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Where to Eat:

Buccan: If you ask anyone where to eat in Palm Beach, Buccan is always at the top of the list, and there’s a reason for it! Chef Clay Conley serves up an innovative but still approachable menu of small plates that’s hard to beat. The atmosphere is buzzy and hip and it’s hard to choose what you want to order because it all sounds so good. I also love Buccan’s “little sister” Imoto, which is a Japanese restaurant next door. It’s super tiny and the food is delicious!

Renato’s: Whether you visit for lunch in the restaurant’s sun-drenched courtyard that is complemented by gorgeous orchids and a fountain or join them for dinner under the stars, you won’t be disappointed. Renato’s is an elegant Italian restaurant located down Via Mizner (my favorite Via!) that consistently delivers. I prefer their dinner menu over lunch, but I also really enjoy going there for a glass of champagne and a snack in the afternoon because their patio is so beautiful!

Bice: This is another excellent option for Italian cuisine. Since COVID-19, they’ve expanded their outside patio, and I highly recommend reserving a table in their courtyard which is decorated with white lights. You can’t go wrong with ordering a pasta dish, but don’t miss dessert — the tiramisu was excellent! Fun fact: when I was here in the off-season a few years ago, we saw Michael Jordan dining at Bice!

Meat Market: Meat Market definitely has the best happy hour on the island, which they offer daily from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Beyond that, this is a classic steakhouse, but the sides are what keep me coming back here…lobster mashed potatoes, crispy brussels sprouts, etc. are where it is at!

Lola 41: With sister restaurants in Boston and Nantucket, my two other favorite places, I felt a bit silly about coming to Lola 41 while in Palm Beach, but I have to say, I was not disappointed! Lola just debuted in Palm Beach in spring 2020 and is located inside the newly opened White Elephant Palm Beach (also a Nantucket staple). The restaurant has an AMAZING al fresco patio with the prettiest decor…playful pops of color that are complemented by a black and white motif! Not to mention, it offers a Peking Duck, which is unique to this location, and awesome happy hour from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Sant Ambroeus: Come for the people and car watching and stay for the food. Located at The Royal Poinciana Plaza, an upscale outdoor shopping area, the Palm Beach outpost of Sant Ambroeus offers a prime location for Palm Beach eating and imbibing. We’ve enjoyed brunch and dinner here; you can’t go wrong either way!

Le Bar à Vin: We only came for after dinner drinks, so I can’t comment on the food, but this Palm Beach newcomer has the dreamiest patio for a romantic date night! Make sure you reserve “patio” vs. “terrace” when making your reservation, as the terrace is actually a different outdoor spot.

More “relaxed” dining favorites:

Pizza Al Fresco: This is one of the more casual options along Worth Avenue. It’s great for lunch or dinner and I am in love with the restaurant’s beautiful courtyard (notice a theme here?!). Fun fact: when you dine at Pizza Al Fresco, keep an eye out for a tombstone. Renowned architect and Palm Beach visionary Addison Mizner (for whom Via Mizner is named) buried his pet monkey, Jonnie Brown, here.

Toojay’s: We were also repeat visitors of Toojay’s, which is the closest you’ll get to a NYC deli on Palm Beach. On our most recent trip, we ordered the Avocado Breakfast BLT to-go and bring to the beach and loved it so much that we got it two other times!

Surfside Diner: This is a very casual breakfast and lunch spot on South County Road. Think simple, classic diner fare that won’t break the bank. The Turkey Club is super overstuffed and delicious and you can’t go wrong with any of their breakfast items.

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pizza al fresco palm beach,
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Where to Shop: 

Worth Avenue: This is Palm Beach’s mecca for shopping. Almost all major designers have a boutique on this palm tree lined road, but one of my favorite parts about Worth Avenue is exploring all of its little “vias”. There are pathways off of Worth Avenue that lead to beautiful courtyards with boutiques or restaurants. You feel transported to a European village and I absolutely love wandering down these little walkways on a warm Palm Beach night! Don’t miss Marina St. Barth, CJ Laing, Poeta, and Stubbs & Wootton.

The Royal Poinciana Plaza: I love spending time here! This is a beautifully manicured outdoor shopping and lifestyle center that features a number of high-end retailers (think Saint Laurent and Hermès) as well as beauty services, restaurants, and currently, an outdoor SoulCycle. Don’t miss Roller Rabbit, Stoney Clover Lane, Love Shack Fancy, and Assouline.

Not in a main shopping area, but worth a visit:

The Skinny Dip: I love their sister store on Nantucket because they have the best selection of one of my favorite designers for summertime apparel, Oliphant. This boutique supports and carries a number of emerging and established designers in a pop-up like setting.

Lycette: Although I don’t do needlepoint (…yet!), I had to stop by Lycette, which is well-regarded for its preppy and cheeky needlepoint designs.

C. Orrico: This is a Palm Beach institution that was started by three sisters (the Orrico’s!) over 30 years ago. I met one of the sisters while shopping in the store and she was so lovely and very helpful. They carry a mix of preppy designers like Lilly Pulitzer (they were family friends with her!) and Sail to Sable, but then also a number of more beach chic lines like Madison Matthews and Bella Tu. The store features a great mix of price points and styles!

Kemble Shop: A bit of a hidden gem, this boutique is tucked inside Kemble Interiors (who just redid the decor inside The Colony Hotel) and boasts a hodge-podge of clothing, accessories, and pieces for the home. I fell in love with their signature Palm Beach tunics which come in a number of colors and patterns. They are super lightweight and will be easy to throw on when it is a very hot day.

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via mizner, palm beach
via mizner, palm beach
via mizner, palm beach
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worth avenue palm beach,
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the kemble shop, palm beach,

What to Do:

Take in History and the Arts: The Flagler Museum is a great way to learn about the establishment of Palm Beach and take in the astonishing architecture and beauty of Whitehall, the Gilded Age estate that Henry Flager built for his wife. The Norton Museum, which recently opened up a new $100 million dollar expansion, offers a fantastic display of American, Chinese, European, and contemporary art. I love exploring the sculpture garden of The Society of the Four Arts, but it’s also well-regarded for its fantastic programming which includes performances and lectures.

Bike the Lake Trail: This is one of my favorite early morning or late afternoon activities when visiting Palm Beach. You can rent bikes at Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop next to The Royal Poinciana Plaza and easily jump on the bike path from there. The trail takes you along the glistening waters of Lake Worth Lagoon/Intracoastal while also giving you a look at the magnificent backyards of some Palm Beach homes. It’s basically like the Palm Beach version of Nantucket’s Bluff Walk, but with a paved road for biking, rollerblading, walking, running, etc. I prefer getting on at The Royal and heading North, but the trail does have a smaller section that you can take that heads South past the Flagler Museum.

Spend the Day at the Beach: Along the coast of Palm Beach is a free, public sandy beach, which depending on the wind, can offer an amazing surf and gorgeous sunrises daily. There is metered parking along South Ocean Boulevard and you can download an app for easy payment. We loved the beach near the Clarke Avenue access point because it was less crowded, but you can’t go wrong anywhere! This is a no frills beach (no food/beverage) and there are lifeguards at Mid-Town Municipal Beach.

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Unless you are staying in the heart of Palm Beach, I would recommend renting a car for easy exploration.

Bring dressier clothes than you might think. People love to dress up in Palm Beach and since it does tend to attract an older crowd, you’ll notice that many gentleman don jackets every night. Anything goes, so feel free to dress to impress!

Make reservations for dinner in advance. During the winter, you’ll need to make your dinner plans at least a week in advance to ensure a spot. Most restaurants are on OpenTable or Resy, but it doesn’t hurt to call directly if you have a preference for sitting inside or outside.

Outfit Details:

Yellow Dress: Long Sleeve Ruffle Hem Dress

Earrings: Pearl Heirloom Hoops

Bag: Chanel CC Trendy

Pink Dress: Liza Floral Wrap Dress

Earrings: White Bead Hoops (similar here)

Bag: Chanel Classic Jumbo Flap in Beige Caviar Leather

Brown + Black Floral Dress: Puffed Sleeve Tiered Babydoll Dress

Headband: Pearl Velvet Headband

Belt: Gucci Marmont Belt

Blue Dress: Lucinda Dress

Photos by @TheLyleStevens

The A-Lyst is a Boston-based lifestyle blog curating the very best of style, beauty, food, and travel.