West Palm Beach, FL


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West Palm Beach, Florida—a historic city that was expanded in the 1960s on reclaimed swampland—lies a heartbeat away from the Atlantic shore. While West Palm Beach has no beach to call its own, the city does have spectacular waterfront views, thanks to the Intracoastal Waterway that flows between West Palm Beach and its neighbor, Palm Beach.

A small city (just over 100,000 residents), West Palm Beach makes up for its size with pure swank. The area is known for its eclectic high-end shops, waterfront mansions, uber-luxe hotels and cutting-edge dining. Travelers looking to explore all that the Gold Coast has to offer will not be disappointed: West Palm Beach serves up cool in spades.

The city is defined by two major areas: CityPlace and Clematis Street. CityPlace, located across from the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, has more than 100 shops and eateries on offer, including national brands (think Anthropologie, Gap and Williams-Sonoma). A favorite with both locals and visitors is the eco-friendly show fountain, which runs every hour and is located in the heart of the main plaza. And while CityPlace has some of the most varied shopping in West Palm Beach, it is also home to the Improv Comedy Club, and free live music can be found through most of the year.

Clematis Street, located in the heart of historical downtown, is the place for hip hangouts and West Palm Beach shopping. Historical landmarks cohabit with bars and dance clubs, funky boutiques and fine dining. Check out the Western-themed 10@2 Saloon and Dueling Piano Bar.

South Florida’s oldest incorporated city, West Palm Beach has a rich history, and a popular spot to explore that is the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum. Flagler, founder of Standard Oil, first developed the area, building his 60,000-square-foot mansion on the island in 1902. The New York Herald reported the home to be “more wonderful than any palace in Europe.” Many of the family’s furnishings are still in place at this popular West Palm Beach attraction.

Historic neighborhoods abound, and most are easily walked. Developed during the real estate boom of the 1920s, construction designs range from Northwood Hills’ Post-World War II homes to the Mission and Mediterranean Revival styles of El Cid and Flamingo Park. Early Craftsman bungalows distinguish the Grandview Heights and Northwest neighborhoods.

While downtown, stop at the Norton Museum of Art, Florida’s largest art museum. Its 7,000 works emphasize American, Chinese and European artists from antiquity to contemporary. The 1941 Art Deco/Neo-Classic structure is one of 125 historic buildings on the Mango Promenade.

Opportunities for outdoor pursuits abound throughout the Palm Beaches. South Florida’s tropical rainforest climate means never a day below 64 degrees, but travelers plan their trips around the “wet” season, which runs May through October. Currie Park, which faces Palm Beach cross the Intracoastal Waterway, offers a natural alternative to the high-chic feel of downtown, with trails, tennis courts and plenty of shade. On the city's western edge, hike, bike, and complete your trip with a view of the Florida Everglades up close at Grassy Waters Preserve.