Lay of the Land
“Lush, flamboyantly attired, and hospitable, Palm Beach exceeded its arch and quirky reputation.”~Simon Doonan
Palm Beach is a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Lake Worth Lagoon (Intracoastal Waterway) to the west. It is connected to West Palm Beach, from which it is physically separated, by three drawbridges, which open every thirty minutes to allow the megayachts to pass. Although West Palm Beach is a vibrant medium-size city and the island only sixteen miles long, Palm Beachers need not leave to find the best of everything: amazing restaurants, resorts, spas, golf, tennis, social clubs, private schools, boutiques, galleries—even a hamburger dive.
The spiritual heart of the island is Worth Avenue. South of Worth, along the ocean, is Billionaire’s Row, a strip of landmark mansions that were designed in the 1920s by society architects Addison Mizner, Maurice Fatio and John Volk. South of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and the far more conservative Bath & Tennis Club (known here as the B&T) is Sloan’s Curve, which marks the beginning of Condo Row. The north side of the island is quieter, since it’s largely residential, with only a smattering of social clubs (Sailfish, Beach) and choice surfing beaches.
It is easiest to navigate Palm Beach by car. Granted, parking is at a premium, but there is valet service almost everywhere. Many Palm Beach hotels offer cars with drivers, a convenient but pricey service, or shuttles to the most popular areas, such as Worth Avenue and the Flagler Museum. In addition to a car, it is a good idea to rent a bike, since cycling along the Lake Trail, on the west side of the island, is one of the most enjoyable activities for locals and visitors alike.
When to Go
Palm Beach’s high season begins in late November and lasts through spring. The summer, beginning in mid-May, sees very hot and humid weather and the rainy season tends to roll through from August through early October.