This elite oceanfront enclave is unlike any other destination in the country. Here, you’ll find tropical temps, relaxing sun, a glamorous lifestyle, exclusive hotels, beautiful beaches, chic dining, luxury shopping, world-renowned galleries and more wealth per capita than any other area in the U.S. This is where the rich and famous spend their winters, which is why it’s often called America’s Riviera. While you may not be a one-percenter, it sure is fun to hang out where they vacation—even if it is only for a short time for your honeymoon, destination wedding or bachelorette party. Plus, the three-hour flight from Newark to West Palm Beach makes this an easy trip.
Where to stay:
The Brazilian Court is a charming historic boutique hotel, conveniently located in town, just a few blocks from the ocean, award-winning dining and world-famous Worth Avenue shopping. Discreet courtyards, a mesmerizing pool, 80 charming European old-world rooms and suites, bicycles for exploring, the impeccable Café Boulud, the Fréderic Fekkai Salon & Spa, a BMW-chaffeured shuttle to the beach, and the best shower I’ve ever had round out this elegant hotel’s understated yet superior offerings. It’s easy to feel at home here, even with the Ferraris and Maseratis parked out front. The Brazilian Court is a special property that is quintessential Palm Beach—one that you’ll want to return to year after year. Rates start at $289.
The Breakers is another iconic landmark hotel in Palm Beach—one that offers the only complete luxury resort experience on the island. This 140-acre oceanfront oasis, originally built in the early 1900s, boasts 540 rooms and suites, the brand-new exclusive Flagler Club on the top two floors, a Mediterranean-style beach club, a half-mile private beach, four oceanfront pools, luxury poolside bungalows, oceanfront spa, amazing 24-hour fitness center, eight restaurants, eight bars, 36 holes of championship golf, 10 tennis courts, on-site designer boutiques and a family entertainment center. There’s so much to do that you never need to leave the resort grounds, but we wouldn’t recommend that since Palm Beach has so much to offer. Rates start at $349.
The Four Seasons Palm Beach is another great choice, yet it’s a few miles south of town so you’ll need to drive for shopping and dinners. (They offer complimentary car service to Worth Avenue.) This oceanfront resort offers 210 beach-home-inspired rooms and suites, a courtyard swimming pool, three restaurants, two lounges and an amazing spa. Rates start at $229.
When to go:
Winter is high season, when everything is open and people-watching is at its best—but it’s also when rates are highest and hotels and restaurants can be hard to get into in. Summer is just as fun, when everything is pretty sleepy, resorts offer deep discounts, the Gulf Stream provides a continuous breeze, you have your choice of dining, and sales are aplenty on Worth Avenue.
Where to eat:
We loved the Surfside Diner for breakfast; cocktails at the Leopard Lounge, where you’ll get a glimpse of the Palm Beach of yesteryear; amazing tapas at Buccan; a special evening at Café Boulud; after-dinner fun at HMF at the Breakers; sushi at Imoto; not-to-miss Sunday Brunch at the Circle at the Breakers; and fresh seafood with views of the Atlantic at the Seafood Bar.
Shopping on Worth Avenue is a must, even if it’s just for an hour—you won’t believe the high-end boutiques, the “ladies who lunch,” the Bentleys parked outside or the exhorbitant prices. Palm Beach is also ground-zero for Lilly Pulitzer, so be sure to pop into her eponymous shop. And don’t leave without cruising Ocean Boulevard past the grandest oceanfront homes you’ll ever see.