Take a whirlwind tour of the area’s abundant arts, culture, and history
With 39 distinct cities and towns comprising Palm Beach County, the call to see it all can seem daunting. Plus, with such a broad array of cultural destinations, the area’s defining qualities can be difficult to pin down. High-end luxury? Indeed. A beachgoer’s dream? For sure. Stellar food scene? Yum. Arts and cultural hub? A wholehearted yes! Here’s our guide to tackling all these experiences—and more—on a timeline.
Friday, 7 p.m.
West Palm Beach is a fantastic starting-off point for those eager to take a pulse on what the county has to offer. Located in the heart of the city’s Arts and Entertainment District, Clematis Street is where locals and tourists alike come to share stories over a drink, grab a quick bite, or take a walk along the waterfront. Come early for dinner, then head over to Palm Beach Dramaworks, an award-winning repertory company with productions that deliver poignant performances and stellar stagecraft in equal measure. In February, save your seat for James Valcq and Fred Alley’s musical The Spitfire Grill (through February 24) or plan ahead for August Wilson’s Fences (running March 29 to April 21).
After the show, take a short walk west on Clematis Street to spy one of the city’s hidden gems: Eduardo Kobra’s explosively colorful mural of Albert Einstein. The must-see piece of public art is located just outside Subculture Coffee, one of West Palm Beach’s coolest locally owned cafés. Then pull up a seat at nearby Italian gastropub Hullabaloo for a nightcap. Their handcrafted cocktails are all named after famous musicians—like the John Lennon, made with vodka, fresh strawberries, and basil. Staying the night? Check in at the Hilton West Palm Beach, a newer hotel with a focused local-art aesthetic.
Saturday, 9 a.m.
Grab a quick breakfast at the hotel, then get in the car—it’s museum day! Head over the Royal Park Bridge to the ever-exquisite island of Palm Beach to explore The Society of the Four Arts. Stroll through its well-manicured sculpture garden before venturing inside the Esther B. O’Keeffe Gallery to check out the current exhibit. Running through March 31 is Profiles of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, a series of portraits by President George W. Bush depicting members of the U.S. military. Then make your way over to the King Library, a newly rehabilitated architectural gem originally built in 1936, for a tour.
Next up is the nearby Henry Morrison Flagler Museum—and prepare to be wowed. The main attraction here is Whitehall, a 75-room mansion built by Standard Oil cofounder Henry Flagler as a gift to his wife, Mary Lily Kenan. The building itself is a gold-and-white testament to America’s Gilded Age, representing the historic decadence of Palm Beach’s past with a lion’s share of era-appropriate art decorating its walls. One of the county’s oldest attractions, this museum is a definitive stop on any journey to The Palm Beaches.
It’s time for a nosh, so stroll over to Buccan on South County Road for a well-deserved respite. While it operates as a five-star culinary juggernaut come evening, the restaurant’s lunchtime sandwich shop delivers the same level of quality at a fraction of the price. Order a Cubano, snatch a bag of freshly fried potato chips, and eat lunch alfresco at the nearby Pan’s Garden, maintained by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.
With a satisfied tummy, embark on a quick ride south to Delray Beach. First stop is the 41-year-old, calm-inducing backdrop to any art-filled afternoon: the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. A cultural tribute to Delray Beach’s pioneering Yamato farming colony, the museum is perhaps most famous for its collection of six Roji-en (“drops of dew”) gardens. Here, life seems simple, quiet, and relaxed. You might want to take a mental snapshot of the scenery to reflect upon during life’s more hectic moments. Stop by the museum’s galleries on the way out for an additional visual treat before heading east to downtown.
Situated neatly between Atlantic Avenue and NE 1st Avenue is Old School Square, a unique cultural hot spot that, for a majority of the twentieth century, was a public school. Today, it comprises four separate arts structures: the Cornell Art Museum, the Crest Theatre, the Fieldhouse, and the Pavilion. Browse through the museum’s current exhibition, Tech Effect (through February 19), for a look at the intersection of visual art and social media.
Walk east on Atlantic Avenue to City Oyster, a primo spot to dine on the sweet, briny delights of the sea. Then head over to Arts Garage for a night of music. Located on 2nd Avenue, Arts Garage is tucked beneath a four-story parking garage (hence the name) and employs a loose BYOW (“bring your own whatever”) food and drink policy. But don’t be fooled by its façade, because this is where South Florida’s best local bands and musicians come to play. When the curtain comes down, take a brief walk through the surrounding arts district, Pineapple Grove, keeping your eyes peeled for all the eclectic murals in the neighborhood.
Time to unwind back at the impressive Seagate Hotel & Spa on E. Atlantic Avenue. Take a dip in the secluded, private pool or have a drink at the resort’s posh Atlantic Grille amidst a 2,500-gallon shark tank before calling it a night.
Sunday, 9 a.m.
Cap off the weekend in Boca Raton, just a few minutes south of Delray Beach. The coral-toned town is the perfect place to pick up a memento to remember your trip. Stroll through the shopping district of Mizner Park—named for the county’s preeminent architect, Addison Mizner—to find the perfect souvenir while taking in the gorgeous Mediterranean design Palm Beach County is known for. At the north end of Mizner Park, you’ll hit your final cultural destination: the Boca Raton Museum of Art. This institution’s permanent collection alone will ignite the imagination with works by modern masters Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Seurat, and more dispersed throughout the main gallery. Through March 24, the museum’s current exhibition, Imagining Florida: History and Myth in the Sunshine State, gives an exciting and in-depth tour through Florida’s history.
There’s still time for one more stop, and where better to end this trip than the iconic Boca Raton Resort & Club? At Mizner’s peach-toned pièce de résistance, pull up a seat at 501 East Kitchen & Bar for a quick bite, where local sustainable fish sandwiches (or tacos!) and other tantalizing good-bye bites await. Raise a glass and toast a hearty “well done!” to an unforgettable cultural weekend in Palm Beach County.
Thirty-six hours can go by very quickly when diving into Palm Beach County’s booming cultural scene. We’ve put together an additional day’s worth of artsy activities for those hungry for more.
Kick off “bonus day” with an extended visit to the newly renovated Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. The breathtaking building, which reopens February 9, underwent a $100 million redesign headed by the lauded architectural firm Norman Foster & Partners. It boasts a dizzying array of impressive visual art within its permanent collections and on special exhibition, so take the time to see it all.
Next, head to the nearby Antique Row district for a bite at Cholo Soy Cocina—a no-frills Andean-American restaurant that always delivers on taste. Order two of their signature chancho smoked pork tacos, a side of yuca fries, and a local craft beer to fuel up for the day ahead.
It’s time to explore another of West Palm Beach’s arts districts. Located in the city’s northern quarter, Northwood comprises two boulevards dotted with quirky galleries and cafés. Stop into Harold’s Coffee Lounge for a pick-me-up (their Kyoto-style cold brew is exquisite) and walk down Northwood Boulevard to soak it all in. Stroll just a block north to visit the gallery at Center for Creative Education, an arts education-focused organization that serves local artists and residents year-round.
As the sun sets, there’s still plenty to see in Jupiter, Palm Beach County’s northernmost hub for culture. Take in the gorgeous view of the Jupiter Lighthouse against exquisite skies and sea before heading over to Maltz Jupiter Theatre for an evening of entertainment. The award-winning repertory company specializes in productions of larger-than-life musicals and plays, including this season’s Mamma Mia!, A Doll’s House Part 2, and West Side Story.
Before seeing any toe-tapping numbers, however, there’s ample time for pre-show dinner and drinks at Little Moir’s Food Shack. Located across the street from the theatre, this restaurant slings local seafood in major style. Sit back with a glass of wine, order the special sweet potato–crusted catch of the day, and savor this quintessential Florida dining experience before the curtain rises.