When people tend to think about traveling to Florida to decompress with good weather and good fun, you might think of Orlando, Miami, the Florida Keys — the same old, same old. But touted as the “gentler” side of Florida, there’s plenty of things to see and do in the gorgeous Palm Beaches. Made up of 39 communities, including Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jupiter and more, every one has something different to offer, including a lot of charm. ESSENCE had the chance to travel down to Palm Beach County to check out a few of those communities to see what its more than 1.4 million residents love about it (we even tried out a cool driving tour that gave us some history). Considering we met a number of people who grew up there and never left, and found out that the world’s biggest millionaires and billionaires choose to call it home, it’s clear this corner of South Florida is where it’s at. See seven spots we tried and would recommend you visit when you’re ready to do the Sunshine State differently — and luxuriously.
What was there to not love about The White Elephant? The chic boutique hotel dripped of opulence, from the curb to the suites to the pool and more. The staff was incredibly attentive and warm, offering you a drink upon arrival (we sipped a delicious mimosa while we waited for check-in time). The rooms were spacious and bright (and the beds you just sink in). If you needed to get around and didn’t have a rental car, they offered complimentary BMWs for you to take for a spin for four hours. And they had the cutest merch, including for kids, at the stylish front desk. Top-tier accommodations for those willing to shell out some coins.
We love balance when it comes to a shopping experience. This Northern Palm Beach County gem provides that with stores that fit every budget. Zip into mall staples like Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works and Macy’s and spend a pretty penny in luxury stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel. When you’re not shopping, you can fill your belly at delish restaurants like P.F. Chang’s and our favorite, Cooper’s Hawk (enjoy a wine tasting and buy a few bottles to take back home). You will also have no choice but to take in the gorgeous structure that is the Gardens Mall, replete with stunning decor to match the season.
This waterfront restaurant in Jupiter, which Michael Jordan is one of many partners in ownership of, has some of the best food you’ll find in The Palm Beaches. In addition to falling in love with the fare, patrons of this establishment appreciate that they can pull up by car to valet or pull up by boat to eat in the tavern, terrace, restaurant or lounge — for members. We were given the one-of-a-kind opportunity to have dinner on the water, riding in a luxury HCB Center Console Yacht watching the sun set and getting to experience how the moneymakers with tabs at 1000 North live (the dining on the water experience is available to members). We also checked out the exclusive member’s lounge, cozy with its bar and TVs to watch the game (whichever one from whatever sport may be on at the time) and to eat the homemade ice cream sandwiches in. As an added bonus, the restaurant offers you views of the landmark Jupiter Lighthouse. It’s a whole vibe.
In the middle of West Palm Beach stands Rohi’s Readery. It’s a space that puts the spotlight on authors from underrepresented groups and prides itself on being a social justice-driven children’s bookstore. Inspired by her grandmother, Rohi, and the owner’s work as an educator in Harlem and the Bronx, Pranoo Kumar Skomra opened up the spot to uplift marginalized communities and expose those who aren’t a part of those groups to the breadth of literature out there that diversify characters and stories. We loved the offerings (and bought a few), and also appreciated that Rohi’s has many events to educate kids and the community. Take your kiddo to an anti-racism class, buy a book, stop at the nearby True Food Kitchen for a healthy bite to eat and everyone will be a happy, enlightened camper.
The restaurant of The White Elephant, Lola 41 was jumping throughout the day with guests indulging in creations from executive chef Brian Bottge. We made it there for the breakfast (the buttermilk pancakes and brioche French test…chef’s kiss!) but the bar and most importantly, the eclectic dinner menu, is what makes the spot so popular. Try out fresh takes on global dishes like king crab rangoon and Portuguese-style Octopus, or stay Americana with the popular Angus beef burger on an English muffin with aged cheddar and red onion compote. You can’t go wrong, whatever you choose.
The museum as a structure alone is a sight to see with its massive typewriter eraser sculpture from Claes Oldenburg out front. Still, it’s the exhibits inside that keep the place buzzing. We were blown away by the Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera (and Mexican Modernism) exhibition, which was full of both of the legendary artists works, as well as never-bef0re-seen images from a private collection that show is Kahlo in life and death. When finished, we also ventured around and checked out the permanent collections, which were engrossing as well. And on our way out, we picked up some prints and cute pins from The Store at the Norton, filled with books, jewelry, home goods and covetable tchotchkes.
The menu at this Black-owned restaurant and lounge (with an impressive patio) in West Palm Beach is filled with soul food staples: fried chicken and red velvet waffles, shrimp and grits, and cajun pasta among many other things. But aside from the food, the drink menu is packed, and there’s even a cigar menu for those who are celebrating something or just want a good puff with their drink. Suckers for a good space, we also loved that the lounge is spacious, covered with nostalgic images and filled with great tunes.