Florida travel guide




Palm Beach Travel Guide

Info of Palm Beach

A small zone town of palatial homes and gardens, and streets so uncontaminating you could eat your dinner off them; Palm Beach has been synonymous for almost 100 years with the kind of lifestyle simply limitless loot can buy. The nation's nobs began wintering here in the 1890s, after Henry Flagler carried his East Coast railroad south from St Augustine and constructed two luxury hotels on this then-secluded, palm-filled island. Since then, tycoons, sports aces, aristocrats, rock stars and CIA directors have flocked here, eager to become part of the Palm Beach elite and enjoy its aloofness from mainland, and mainstream, life.

Summer in Palm Beach is very placid, and the least expensive time to stay. The winter months, from November to May, see a whirl of elegant balls, fundraising dinners and charity galas, also the polo season.

Worth Avenue, close to the southern tip of the island is occupied with designer stores, high-class art galleries and ultra formal restaurants, and cruised by Rolls Royces, Mercedes and Jaguars. Itís most likable aspect is its architecture: stucco walls, Romanesque facades, and passageways leading to small courtyards where miniature bridges cross nonexistent canals and spiral staircases climb to the upper levels.

Where Cocoanut Row and Whitehall Way meet, the white Doric columns fronting Whitehall are those of the Flagler Museum (Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun noon-5pm; $8), the most overtly ostentatious place on the island - a $4 million wedding present from Henry Flagler to his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan. As in many of Florida's first luxury homes, the interior design was elevated from the great buildings of Europe: between the 55 rooms are an Italian library, a French salon, a Swiss billiard room, a hallway modeled on St Peter's, and a Louis XV ballroom. All are stuffed with ornamentation, but they lack aesthetic cohesion. Informative 45-minute guided tours depart frequently from the 110ft hallway and offer a background for Flagler's fascinating rise to success and a glimpse of the Gilded Age in which he flourished.

Constructed in 1926 in the style of an Italianate palace, The Breakers hotel, on South County Road off the principal strip, operates as the last of Palm Beach's swanky resorts. Its design includes elaborate painted ceilings and huge tapestries.

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