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The Renaissance Of Florida's Palm Beach: Stay, Eat, Do

Historically an enclave for America’s wealthiest families who were drawn to this splice of coastal southern Florida for its year-round warmth and perpetual bloom, Palm Beach continues to have a timeless appeal.

Palm Beach endures as something of a legend. From the turn of the 20th century – when industrialists like Henry Flagler sought to put Palm Beach on the resort circuit map – to its architectural heyday in the 1920s and its current day appeal as home to one of America’s most adored shopping avenues and buzziest hotels, the area’s roots as a quiet, private resort town run deep. The island, which is only 18-miles-long, is home to close to sixty billionaires and their historically protected Mediterranean Revival mansions, and is decidedly a playground for the one per cent.

Yet Palm Beach is at the precipice of a new chapter. Just next door, West Palm Beach has been slowly heating up. Since the pandemic, the town has grown in both its year-round population and its dining scene. Today Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are having something of a renaissance, and much like the promise of warmth in winter, is sure to please.


The Colony

A fixture in Palm Beach since it first opened back in 1947, The Colony is not so much a hotel as it is a frame of mind — a luxurious, indulgent, up for the party frame of mind, that is. The hotel’s 2022 top-to-bottom renovation ushered in a new era for the storied hotel, and a new clientele — one decidedly younger and more eager for the sun and society of Palm Beach than those who previously strolled through the halls. The hotel, which seems to be at once a fever dream of all-day low-key parties, free-flowing rosé, and a beach always within sight, is resplendent in its décor, and every corner of the candy-coloured hotel is a feast for the senses, and for Instagram. Dubbed the “pinkest hotel in Palm Beach” thanks to its coral-pink façade and accents throughout, The Colony hotel has played host to a storied who’s who set of guests, from mid-century rat pack regulars like Frank Sinatra who was known to throw parties in his suite with marquee name friends like Judy Garland, Sophia Loren, and Lena Horne, to members of The Beatles and the royal family.

Today it’s a stylish set who make The Colony their home away from home, from colour-coordinating hen parties to grand dames and their little dogs, The Colony is a hotel as much for sleeping as for seeing and being seen. Its current collaborations with the likes of fitness guru Tracy Anderson, fashion houses Asprey and Dolce & Gabbana, and their spa suite designed by Naturopathica keep the vintage building fresh. The Colony’s pink (of course!) cruiser bikes, car, and beach buggy will get you everywhere you need to be on the island and the charming, pink-shirt, white-pant clad staff will have your beach umbrella and chairs set up on the beach faster than you can say “cheers.”



Quiet luxury at its very core, Harry’s in West Palm Beach has a decidedly old world feel, so you would be forgiven for not believing it’s actually new to the scene. Harry’s has been a Wall Street institution in New York City for over fifty years, and the restaurant opened its Palm Beach venue in 2023. Now one of the most formidable restaurants to open its doors in West Palm’s buzzy new area, The Square, Harry’s serves some of the crispest martinis in town. Wander in on any given night and there’s a good chance Harry himself — the elegant golden-age founder and owner — may be there to greet you at the door. Inside at the wrap-around bar, or outside on the patio, is the perfect place to begin the evening or to settle in for a complete meal. A small army of sleekly-clad waiters await to serve a menu true to the restaurant’s mid-century roots: iceberg wedge salads, beef wellington, and more cuts of steak than you can count. 



Another new fixture in West Palm Beach, Felice has been a favourite of New York’s Upper East Side since it opened in Manhattan in 2007. As New Yorkers migrated south during Covid, so too did their restaurants, and Felice opened its doors in Palm Beach in early 2023. Fittingly located in the trendy and sleek The Square, and just down the street from Harry’s, Felice is a moodier, atmospheric alternative to the pastel-heavy interiors that Palm Beach Island is known for. The menu is comprised of simple, classic Italian dishes and leans heavily on homemade pastas and fresh fish. There’s also a strong emphasis on Tuscan wine — Felice bottles their own excellent Chardonnay, Sangiovese, and Rosato.


The buzzy restaurant at The Colony is worth a reservation even if the hotel is not where you’ll be laying your head. You can dine inside but why would you want to, when Palm Beach is warm year-round and Swifty’s patio is festooned in a cascade of greenery and chandeliers. Tables are artfully arranged at the pool which takes on the quality of a giant mirror for the best people watching in town. The crowd, like that of the hotel, is a mélange of young dates and octogenarians dining with friends. Swifty’s dinner menu is a bit of a throwback with plates you can imagine proliferated in the time of Sinatra, who was known to hold court at a prominent table on the patio. Fresh and delicious, you can expect dishes like cobb salad, coronation quiche, and crab cocktail. Swifty’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as brunch on the weekends.

LoLa 41

Quiet, private, tucked away LoLa 41 manages to be within the buzz of Palm Beach Island while also feeling like an insider’s secret. The black and white striped umbrellas form a veritable roof over the outdoor patio where pillow-festooned seating banquettes beg for lingering lunches over glasses of Albarino and plates of sushi. While part of the White Elephant Hotel, LoLa 41 is a favourite with locals and travellers beyond just hotel guests.

Green’s Pharmacy Luncheonette

A fixture in Palm Beach since the 1930s, Green’s Pharmacy Luncheonette is one of the few places in the town entirely free of fuss and fancy. Green’s is a classic multi-purpose spot where you can pick up medicine, buy a souvenir T-shirt, or sit down for a milkshake and grilled cheese. Come more than once and everyone’s bound to know your name. Just step inside and you’ll realise why Green’s has been a landmark in the community for almost 80 years.


For over three decades Renato’s has been a Palm Beach haunt. During the Covid years the restaurant positively exploded in popularity, thanks to its outdoor patio and the newly swelled year-round population in town. Today the Italian restaurant continues to draw in crowds of locals and visitors with its old-world elegance, candlelight and white table cloths. Located down one of Palm Beach’s vias, or small side streets off of Worth Avenue, Renato’s is a testament to Palm Beach’s commitment to fine dining and unwavering hospitality standards.

Chik Monk Coffee

A simple coffee bar with a few seats, Chik Monk should be your go-to for an afternoon refuel or morning brew. Chik Monk is a family-run business that directly imports their Arabica coffee beans from their coffee estates in Chikmagalur, India. It’s a simple, airy, and bright spot that’s a favourite with locals and celebrity visitors (Martha Stewart recently stopped in for a brew).



Stroll Worth Avenue

Photo credit: The Palm Beaches

Photo credit: The Palm Beaches

Palm Beach is about many things and shopping is certainly at the top of the list. Strolling up and down Worth Avenue is an obligatory must-do for any visit to the town. As one of the most stylish streets in the United States, it resembles a cross between Madison Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. You’ll find some usual luxury suspects here including Ferragamo and Chanel as well as some Palm Beach additions like Lilly Pulitzer (whose resort wear clothing is the de-facto uniform of the town) and Aerin, whose eponymous creator is a fixture in the Palm Beach social circuit. Make sure to pop in the independent gems Il Papiro, a fine Italian marbleised paper and stationary store, and Mary Mahoney, which supplies home accessories to the mansions that line the ocean. Take time for a mid-shopping re-fuel at Via Roma Café, located down one of the hidden vias off the avenue.

Museum Hop

Photo credit: The Flagler Museum

Photo credit: The Flagler Museum

A first visit to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach is a bit of a shock. Nestled near the Lake Worth Lagoon, and within a stone’s throw from Palm Beach’s most glittery yachts in the port, the museum packs a punch with a striking collection of Impressionist oils, ancient Chinese porcelain, and modern photography. Opened in 1941 by Ralph Norton and his wife Elizabeth, some of the most significant art collectors of their day, the Norton Museum’s current collection includes highlight pieces by the likes of Rubens, Pollack, Picasso, Brancusi, Chihuly, and Bonnard. A small, lush courtyard garden is worth a gander before leaving. Across the Royal Palm Bridge, back on Palm Beach Island, is The Society of the Four Arts, an Addison Mizner designed building, which has an impressive lineup of live concerts as well as rotating exhibitions set within its ten-acre garden campus. The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, once the private, opulent, Gilded Age home of Henry Flagler, a Standard Oil baron of industry and developer of Palm Beach, is a must visit. The museum is preserved as if the Flaglers stepped out to go to the beach and illustrates what life in Palm Beach in the early 20th century would have been like for some of the country’s wealthiest residents. Further in West Palm is the Historical Society of Palm Beach County whose exhibitions — including one running through May 2024 on the history of resort wear — are worth the visit.

Tour By Bike

© Clay Cook 2020

© Clay Cook 2020

Pedal your way along the ocean, stopping to take in the grandeur of the famous Breakers Hotel and the early 20th century Mediterranean Revival architecture of the private homes. While you can explore on your own, you’ll get much more out of your pedalling with a guided tour. Leslie Diver of Island Living Tours, is a longtime resident of Palm Beach and leads tours that are as full of the town’s history as they are of real and salacious details of current society life. Tours run around 90 minutes and cover approximately six miles of the island.

Lead image credit: The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach

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