THE PALM BEACHES, December 28, 2017: The Palm Beaches 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 some of 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 in Southeast Florida. Some of the most popular of the 15 districts include West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, and Delray Beach.
Here are 10 of the best locally known secrets:
1. Flagler Museum: Palm Beaches, Florida
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 of the 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.
2. Swank Table Events: Loxahatchee
Each year, from November through May, the Swank Specialty Produce Farm is transformed into a food lover’s paradise. 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, winemakers, and microbrewers. Local and nationally known chefs use the massive stage (with music in the background) as their prep area underneath an outdoor pole barn.
Many of the events have a theme such as the Argentine barbecue, Gauchos Asado. 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. Each dinner also benefits a local charity.
This intimate resort destination on the Atlantic is about a 30-45 minute drive from Palm Beach. Named the most fun small town by several travel publications on a 2012 show called The Best of the Road, 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 in the downtown area. 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.
Atlantic Avenue is perfect for walking and browsing the plentiful restaurants, boutiques, and retail shops. 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.
4. Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival: various locations in The Palm Beaches
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.
5. Afternoon Tea at The Chesterfield: Palm Beach
Afternoon tea has been an English tradition since the mid-1800s, and here at The Chesterfield, they have kept that custom alive Monday through Sunday from 1-5 pm.
The ambiance of pastel colors, overstuffed couches, and a fireplace might remind you of being in an English manor house. The fare features a selection of homemade sandwiches like roasted chicken salad or tomato and cheddar, freshly made scones with clotted cream, a selection of pastries and, of course, a pot of perfectly brewed tea. ($32)
6. Green Market: West Palm Beach
If you’ve ever been to Europe and visited their green markets, 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, freshly cut coconuts, and cider donuts. You are sure to find something that will tickle your taste buds. In addition, dogs are welcome, and it seems everyone here has one.
7. 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.
8. 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)
9. Grandview Public Market: West Palm Beach
One of the most anticipated new projects in West Palm, The Grandview Public Market, is located in The Warehouse District and 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.
10. 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 for good reason. There is always something tasty being made in the various districts around the county, and 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 their 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 where you will find 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 gourmet pizza that has earned 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. The ambiance is like stepping inside a young girl’s dream dollhouse with vivid colors, red wall coverings, and crazy artwork. They make all their own luxury ice cream that is cool, creamy, and delicious.
There are at least 18 craft breweries in The Palm Beaches, and there is one you probably 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. Hibiscus is one of these from which they produce Hibiscus Sabdariffa tea and other non-alcoholic alternatives like kombucha fermented beverages.
The result is a line of healthy and refreshing seasonal drinks that you can sample individually or as a flight. Some of the varieties include hibiscus, mulberry, banana, and moringa.
While we have just scratched the surface with these 10, 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.
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.
FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored visit, however, all opinions herein are the authors.