Piggy-backing off our recently coverage of West Palm Beach, it seems now is a good time to check in on everyone’s favorite island in the sun.
Back in Palm Beach proper, there’s the world-renowned Worth Avenue, home to some of the Palm Beachiest of brands (think Stubbs & Wootton and Lilly Pulitzer) and where many an afternoon stroll leads to a slightly lighter wallet. With Tiffany & Co. and Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Bottega Veneta, Worth Avenue is where many who have what Thorstein Veblen described in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class as “pecuniary repute” like to get their reputiest.
Indeed, Worth Avenue is dotted with vias — winding passageways replete with Spanish stucco, antique stone, and terracotta tiles. If you’re going to pick one, pick Via Mizner, named after Addison Mizner, whose architectural style can be seen in nearly every last pilaster in Palm Beach. Indeed, the via gets its name because Mizner’s onetime home is situated at the center. Just past the Vilebrequin store, a winding passage leads you to Aerin Lauder’s island outpost, Aerin Palm Beach. Around the corner, there’s the handbag store Lana Marks. If the shopping is making you hungry, then you mustn’t miss Renato’s — an elegant Italian eatery that’s a perennial favorite. The risotto, if not the courtyard where it’s served, is the stuff dreams are made of. For those en famille, and if pizza and pasta are more up to the kiddies’ speed, then perhaps the neighboring Pizza Al Fresco would be a better bet. From the corner table you can see some real Palm Beach trivia — two small tombstones, one that Mizner built for his pet, Johnnie Brown, a spider monkey that traveled on his shoulder, and the other, belonging to Our Laddie, the dog of the villa’s subsequent owners. After dinner, for anyone with a sweet tooth, there’s Piccolo Gelato just at the end of the via.
The Colony Hotel
The Colony Hotel — a pink jewel box of a hotel just a block away from Worth Avenue — has become the eminently Instagrammable hot spot for young Palm Beach. On Monday nights, most of the under-30 set gather around the pool bar for trivia night. For those looking to hit the beach, the Colony offers a “beach butler” service — no longer do you have to worry about packing up a picnic, towels, water, or sunscreen when you head to the beach; now they’re all provided in branded pink Yeti coolers and canvas totes. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the storied hotel, which has counted among its patrons the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, and Sophia Loren (Aerin Lauder, Rachel Zoe, Nicky Hilton Rothschild, and Rebel Wilson are some of the more recent guests seen under their bespoke de Gournay wallpaper), has undergone a sumptuous refurbishment, featuring the work of Kemble Interiors, Society Social, Schumacher, Brown Jordan, Farrow & Ball, and Matouk, all thanks to the vision of owner Sarah Wetenhall.
Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, otherwise known as Whitehall, was the grand Palm Beach home of Henry Flagler, a partner in Standard Oil who had the idea of building a railroad all the way down the east coast of Florida to Key West (some of the original lines can be seen on a drive down to the southernmost points of Florida). A National Historic Landmark, the Gilded Age estate predates the Mediterranean style that Mizner popularized. To channel your inner Edwardian, you can have afternoon tea at the Café des Beaux-Arts, and make sure you don’t miss Flagler’s personal train carriage — a testament to the era before airline miles.
The Breakers hotel — unmissable in its grandeur — is just down the street. Founded by Flagler in 1896, rough drafts of the hotel were felled by a series of fires in 1903 and 1925, leading to the current building, which was created by Schultze & Weaver, who later went on to build several of New York’s grandest hotels. And though the current edifice is approaching its 100th anniversary, don’t let that fool you. The atmosphere brings the Roaring Twenties right into the 2020s, with so many restaurants it would take a long weekend to work through. Seafood Bar has a spectacular view of — and equally spectacular food from — the very breakers the hotel was named after. Flagler Steakhouse, just off the golf course, has a comfortable clubhouse atmosphere, and the Circle is known for one of the grandest Sunday brunches south of the Plaza Hotel — pâtés, a caviar station, a raw bar — and, if you look up and to the west of the ceiling, you’ll see the old upstairs area where, the story goes, alcohol was served during Prohibition. It’s the ultimate resort experience, where families seeking a one-stop vacation shop can plant themselves in the cabanas or on the poolside lawn, sipping daiquiris while knowing the kids are nearby.
South County Road
South County Road, a street that bisects the island, is dotted with various stores certainly worthy of an afternoon stroll. After breakfast at SurfSide Diner, check out P.B. Boys Club, the store where islanders have been purchasing school uniforms — and surfboards, board shorts, and all the apparatus you’d need to legitimately declare “Kowabunga!” on an expanse of the open ocean — since this writer was in elementary school. For anyone interested in secondhand finds from some of the estates of Palm Beach, the Church Mouse, a resale store operated by and benefiting the church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, is one of the top resale stores in the country. Classic Bookshop has been a mainstay of those seeking reading material on their trip. Down the street is the Carriage House, a new member’s club located in an Addison Mizner/Maurice Fatio building. With several dining areas and chic interior spaces, the historic edifice is the vision of Michael and Paula Bickford. And around the corner is the Chesterfield hotel, undergoing a renovation thanks to the Oetker Collection, who count among their properties the world-famous Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc.
The Royal Poinciana Plaza — or “The Royal,” for short — has become the epicenter of the Palm Beach experience, revolutionizing what shopping, dining, and strolling has meant to Palm Beachers. With enough art that gallerists have nicknamed it “Little Chelsea” — think Pace Gallery, Acquavella, Lehmann Maupin, among others — the Royal is also home to brands such as Saint Laurent, Hermès, and La Ligne. It’s most definitely worth a meandering afternoon. Just down the street from the Royal are stores and galleries, and the home to White Elephant Palm Beach and its LoLa 41. Don’t forget Trevini Ristorante — another fine Italian eatery around the corner. And with Cucina, Almond, and Henry’s, there are enough dining options to allow you to roll away home.