DALLAS, February 1, 2014 – I had never been to Palm Beach, Florida before my trip there this past summer, but now on my to do list this spring, go back and visit again. This is a great place to spend winter or spring break in March with or without the kids. Count the great restaurants, great hotels and the many things to do there and you have a perfect destination.
First things first, as Palm Beach is all about prestige, I stayed at the Colony Hotel and that was old world charm. I wasn’t five minutes sitting at the bar at the Colony that I met some colorful characters, writers and debutantes and everyone says they have a title in Palm Beach. So, if you can pull off being a baron or baroness all the better, chances are you might meet one on your visit there too.
The Colony Hotel has been a fixture in Palm Beach since 1947 and the place could certainly tell a lot of stories. It has welcomed U.S. Presidents and European Royalty and it is located adjacent to world famous Worth Avenue. The property is also in the center of town and a football field length from Palm Beach’s best beach. They just did a $12 million renovation too and until April 30 the room rate includes a full English breakfast.
I also want to mention how I got around in Palm Beach, my friends at Hyundai gave me a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to test for the week, awesome and I got up and down the coast on one tank of gas, worth owning for sure.
For 2013 the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid received an upgraded electric motor and more compact battery so gas mileage was even better than before at 38 miles per gallon combined. Also, there is loads of trunk space, but with the hybrid version you do lose a bit because of the battery pack, but still it it 12.1 cubic feet, which is always a good thing when traveling. In turn, all these pluses make the Hyundai Sonata an excellent choice for a vacation car too. Easy to navigate inside and driving is all about trouble-free acceleration, which is more than enough for getting on the highway and keeping up. Smooth ride and turning heads, even in Palm Springs.
And we did want to turn heads, right, especially when we pulled up at the Polo Club to check it out. As they say, the Polo Club is not just for royalty (in this city anyway) so if you love Polo you are in luck as they have activities starting in January and going until the summer. Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach facility is designed to showcase the incredible skill of the ponies and players. Many exciting tournaments are played; culminating in the prestigious US Open Polo Championship.
The museums in Palm Beach are pretty amazing, check out the Flagler Museum as it is the home of the man who had a big hand in building up the coast of Florida from Jacksonville to Key West. The Norton Museum is another good one with art from just about every artist you have ever heard of from Monet to Picasso to Dali and in March they will have a special exhibit of Andy Warhol called “To Jane, Andy Warhol’s First Superstar.”
There was also tea at the Chesterfield, so very Palm Beach. The tea was a few hours and so very worth it all pomp and circumstance and if you love tea there are many choices along with dainty sandwiches, assorted pastries and scones served warm from the oven with preserves and Devonshire cream. The Chesterfield Palm Beach is a magnificent property that, if you don’t stay, you must visit. It reminds me of old money, but with a smile. They also have the Leopard Restaurant worth a meal and a cigar room, just in case you imbibe and when visiting Palm Beach you might just decide to give it a try.
Two standout dinners are worth a mention, PB CATCH Seafood & Raw Bar, it’s a bar and lounge with a great cocktail menu think blood orange margaritas and cucumber basil martinis.
It was in 2011 the partners behind the West Palm Beach brasserie PISTACHE French Bistro had a vision to create what they felt should be a staple dining experience and ala, PB CATCH, a seafood house and raw bar that is supported solely on local and sustainable fishing.
Dinner at Būccan is another must offering the best of Clay Conley’s inventive American cuisine made with the freshest ingredients from the very best sources. Būccan’s signature small plate, big flavor creations are served in a warm and welcoming space and it’s hard to get a table so make reservations early. The smorgasbord of “see and be seens” here is worth the trip alone, but really the chef is a genius, need I say more.
Down the road a ways, but not too far is the laid back vibe in Jupiter Beach. It’s the kind of place to you want to ride your bike around and while staying at the Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa, my recommendation, you can take your pick of things to do like exploring Jupiter on bikes, Jupiter Beach Resort offers complimentary use of its bikes for guests to explore the area. Jonathan Dickinson State Park is just 10 minutes away from Jupiter Beach Resort where there are 13 natural communities to explore from mangroves to the Loxahatchee River and there is the Jupiter Lighthouse and Museum, a historic landmark and the lighthouse offers climbing tours to the top of the 1860 lighthouse and a waterfront history museum in a restored WWII Navy building or, go for the Jupiter Outdoor Center, Jupiter Beach Resort offers paddle boarding and kayak tours from the property with Jupiter Outdoor Center.
Another standout property near Palm Beach is Turnberry Isle boasting some 300 acres. You can pick and choose your own pool or head to the beach nearby and they have great kid’s programs and even greater, restaurant. I dined at BOURBON STEAK on the premises and this is one of the best restaurants I have found in the State of Florida, the duck fat fries are my favorite item on the menu. Keep a thought too, this place is the vision of James Beard award-winning chef and restaurateur, Michael Mina, the culinary innovator behind a string of critically acclaimed restaurants in Las Vegas and San Francisco, now he has one and only one in Florida, indeed, BOURBON STEAK, A Michael Mina Restaurant. Other to die for menu items that are customer favorites include the ice cold shellfish, including seafood cocktails of Maine lobster, jumbo shrimp or Alaskan king crab claws as well as a briny, delicious oysters; all flown in fresh daily. The wood-burning grill is the restaurant’s center stage and its premier cuts of prime meats, as well as Japanese and American wagyu cooked over seasoned wood fueled flames. Prior to grilling, all meats at BOURBON STEAK are first poached to mouthwatering tenderness – red meats in butter, lamb in olive oil and pork in bacon fat.
If you aren’t in the mood for meat, the butter-poached half Maine lobster and Hudson Valley foie gras add to the flavor and what else we loved, an onsite chef’s garden full of herbs, vegetables and fruit trees and you can also asked for a complimentary tours or cooking demos as well.
Turnberry Isle Miami got its started in 1967 when real estate developer Donald Soffer dreamed of turning 750-acres of sand, mangrove trees and swamps into an upscale, planned residential area and sketched out his vision onto a cocktail napkin. Fast-forward 40 years and now you have the city of Aventura, Spanish for “adventure” and Turnberry taking center stage here.
Turnberry Isle Miami is a Mediterranean-style property that also has a three-story Spa & Fitness Center, the elite Cañas Tennis, three pools, a beach club on the Atlantic and 408 rooms and suites, go in for the spa treatment, the massage, while simply was also simply magical.
Overall, a visit the Palm Beach area of Florida is all about class, fun, relaxing and taking in the vibe that the area is so happy to offer, just say ah.
Rita Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association and can be followed on Twitter at @ritacook13. She is also a 15-year veteran journalist and author, her latest book from History Press www.historypress.net is about Prohibition-Era cocktails in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.