Live like a local in Palm Beach, Florida

by gcasale

With its benign climate and pristine beaches, Palm Beach is a popular destination. To get an edge on other tourists, follow the advice of a local. Here's where to stay, shop, eat, drink and shop

The secrets of a local are what most people yearn for when they set off on holiday – and what I am about to tell you could get me tarred and feathered by even the nicest of my neighbours. Summer on the island of Palm Beach is spectacular.

Until the rains set down upon us at the end of August, summer here at the beach is glorious. The sun and the sea make Palm Beach no different from Marbella or St Tropez at this time of year – except all the tourists are gone, the gentle breezes off the Atlantic keep the afternoon showers far west of town, and the holiday bargains are there for the taking.

If you appreciate the finer things in life, if you are looking for a romantic getaway or just a bit of pampering and don’t want to mortgage the farm to achieve it, look no further. You have arrived.

Where the rich and famous stay

The historic five-star Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach is set in 140 acres of lush oceanfront property and is the only oceanfront hotel in the heart of town. This time of year, you can spend the night, play golf, play tennis, use the spa facilities, valet the car and enjoy a beautiful continental breakfast, all for the price of a couple of spa treatments. Starting at only $225 per night, this is an opportunity not to be missed. See for further details.

Where the foodies eat

Nestled in the courtyard of another landmark hotel, the stunning Brazilian Court, you will find the most romantic place in town – Café Boulud. The southernmost outpost of world-renowned Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud, it offers a $25 prix fixe lunch during the week and brunch at weekends to satisfy the most particular diner. 

If it’s the ultimate gastronomic experience that you seek, chef de cuisine Zach Bell and sommelière Jenny Benzie present a monthly four-course wine-pairing dinner for only $75 per person. On July 15 they are presenting the popular California Wine-pairing Dinner; and on August 19, the highly respected Dr Loosen introduces his wines from Mosel, Germany. You’ll see me there. See for further details.

Our local pub

The Palm Beach Grill is where locals go after five to eat, drink, watch sports and catch up on the local gossip. A bit more upscale than your local White Horse pub, it provides everything from a simple hot-dog to a Kansas City rib-eye. Simple yet elegant, it's the place to stop off for a drink and a bite at the bar, sit down and have a great meal or just have a fun night out. There is a lively singles scene at the bar during the week,  and it’s always packed at weekends. See for further details.

The high street

Worth Avenue is the ultimate high street. Since 1925, it has been home to international courtiers, fine art galleries, world-class jewellers and the Everglades Club – the most exclusive private club in the world. Dotted with charming cafés and the best window shopping this side of the pond, Worth Avenue is perfect for a late afternoon stroll or a leisurely lunch on a cloudy day.

At the east end of the street are two of the country’s most upscale department stores, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, which are filled with the best of the best for their socialite clientele. With all their dedicated buyers summering in the Hamptons, now is the time to scoop up that Dolce and Gabbana for 75 per cent off its original price. See for further details.

After hours

The Leopard Lounge in the Chesterfield Hotel is perfect for your after-dinner entertainment. Warm and inviting with the feel of a private club, it's perfect for dancing the night away or just relaxing and listening to the live music while you sip your favorite brandy or glass of Champagne. The soothing tunes and the attentive bar staff make this a special hideaway that you’ll never want to leave. For those of you who need a smoke, the Churchill Cigar Room is a few feet away and the only thing missing is… Sir Winston himself. See for further details.

If it’s Saturday night, then you’re back at Café Boulud, where they transform the courtyard into a cocktail lounge complete with a DJ and Martini specials. Have a nightcap or a midnight munchie – or dance your socks off, from 10pm till late.

We have culture

The Flagler Museum is a 55-room Beaux Arts treasure built in 1902 by Henry Flagler for his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan. One of the last remaining examples of America's Gilded Age, the museum has numerous exhibits, concerts, lectures and a period café with special teas made especially for the museum. See for further details.

Great eats off the Island

There is only one reason to leave the island – and that is… Havana. On your way to the airport or after an antique-hunting trip on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach (the best kept secret of interior designers the world over), stop off at Havana for the best Cuban food you will eat, north of Havana. Have a Cubano sandwich or a Arrozo con Pollo with a pitcher or two of sangria, and you’ll know why it was worth the trip. Mind you, so will your wallet. The dining room is charming, the staff are friendly and they have a 24-hour walk-up window that will put an end to your sudden itch for a Media Noche. See for further details.