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In the beginning of the 20th century, railroad Tycoon, Henry Morrison Flagler had a dream. He envisioned an American steam locomotive that would extricate the winter-weary snowbird from the clutches of a dreary and cold season, and deposit them in sunny Florida. Like all men of his time, Flagler's fantasy was large, bold and Herculean in its scope. He would lay tracks of steel all across the west coast of the United States, through pine forest, cleaving their way on the side of mountains, across sandy dunes and over deep ravines and treacherous lakes.
His plan, his East Coast Railroad, would travel through Florida and end, at the very peak of the country, in the southernmost point of Key West.
The man, after a considerable investment and an engineering feat that to this day architecture lectures try to unravel, managed to conquer the last true frontier of a civilized nation.
Flagler is hailed as Florida's honorary son, He handily, with spunk, wit, and pockets as deep as the Mariana Trench cut the ribbon on what would inevitably become the U.S.A's vacation land.
Palm Beach, established by Flagler himself, through a real estate buyout of epic proportions, was to be the man's crowning achievement. The capital stop on his railroad's path. The epicenter of his community were two luxurious resort hotels, that would become legendary in the annals of Florida's memoir, the Royal Poinciana, and the Breakers. The former a ghost of the past, the latter still ruler of its kingdom. A magnificent building that to this day preserves halls and mirror corridors that have been privy to thousands of distinguished guests and the echoes of yesterday.
Palm Beach and its suburbs were to some extent the official playground of the famous. John and Jaqueline Kennedy vacationed on the Breakers and jogged through the oceanic boardwalk. Frank and his Rat Pack constantly performed on the hotel's stage. Mobsters, celebrities, astronauts, and national legends dined and wagged their chins in laughter and merriment in the various bars, discos, and restaurants of the happening town. Al Capone, the Chicago Don, sunbathed on many occasions on Palm Beach's white cap strummed sands and sipped his fair share of Mai-Tais and Mojitos.
Palm Beach is a city, that although relatively new, has made up its lack of history with a 20th-century biography most would envy.
The intercostal Waterway is the main artery of water that separates the Isle of Palm Beach from the neighboring cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Worth. It is a placid coastal region brimming with townhouses, condos, resorts, hotels, colorful avenues, boardwalk, and yacht clubs. To the south, you'll encounter Boca Raton and the legendary Miami; to its north, Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter; East, the majesty of the Atlantic and warm sun bleached waves awaiting your eyes; to the west, one of the United States biggest wetlands and national preserves, the Everglades.
There's an old saying in Florida, a saying that every native stands by: "Don't like the weather, wait five minutes." In Florida, due to an influx of meteorological elements, geographical positions and the luck of the Caribbean, God is bipolar. One second it will be raining cats and dogs while the very next the sun will be out searing you into a tanned crisp. In Palm Beach, the weather is, well, beach weather. The summers are hot, spring and fall are lukewarm and winter is almost nonexistent. Linen suits, a handy umbrella, and cool Ray-bans, with an occasional Tommy Bahamas shirt, will soon become your new best friends.
In Palm Beach, in particularly the southwest coast of Miami, every brand, boutique and store has a branch. Miami, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale are to thank for that. These three titans have become South America's go-to shopping destination. Some brands pick up more revenue in their Sawgrass Mills (one of the biggest outlet malls in the States) stores than in the rest of their locations. The only danger in Palm Beach you should worry about is not whether or not you'll find what you're looking for, but whether your credit card will survive the experience.
Royal Poinciana Plaza - Royal Poinciana Plaza,340 Royal Poinciana Plaza.
CityPlace - 700 S Rosemary Ave - 561-820-0074.
Esplanade - 150 Worth Ave - 561-838-4226.
West Palm Beach Art Distric t - 3711 S Dixie Hwy.
Florida, in particular the beach areas, caters to all extremes. Restaurants in this region are weed like in their infestation. You could say there's one in every corner, but that's putting it mildly. Here you'll discover menus items that seem plucked from a sci-fi epic, regional cuisine whose region doesn't even figure on a map, and just about every epicurean adventure you can imagine... And some that simply boggle the mind and the nature of physics. The word “fusion” will soon become a regular in your vocabulary.
Charley's Crab - 456 S Ocean Blvd - 561-659-1500.
Renato's - 87 Via Mizner - 561-655-9752.
Chez Jean-Pierre Bistro - 132 N County Rd - 561-833-1171.
Cucina Dell' Arte - 257 Royal Poinciana Way - 561-655-0770.
Echo Palm Beach - 230 Sunrise Ave - 855-435-0061.
Salsa Music, Cuban Swing, Honky Tonk line dancing, British Pubs swelling with Rolling Stones fanatics, Jimmy Buffet blaring out of every beachfront tiki house, Boca Raton - just next door - celebrating their local celeb Marylin Manson with death metal punk, Palm Beach as a whole has more after hour energy in its pinky toe than some parts of Vegas. And for everything else, The Florida Turnpike will drop you into the nightly madness that's Miami and South Beach.
Leopard Lounge - The Chesterfield Palm Beach - 561-659-5800.
Ta-boo - 221 Worth Ave.
City Cellar Wine Bar - CityPlace,700 S Rosemary Ave - 561-366-0071.
The Breakers Hotel - 1 S County Rd - 888 273-2537.
Music Parisian 20 & IMAX - CityPlace,545 Hibiscus St.
Palm Beach has a two schools on its island, the Palm Beach Public Elementary, and the Palm Beach Day Academy is a private school in the area. Nonetheless, just a ride away on any yellow bus and your children will find themselves swamped in a forest of High Schools, Universities, Institutions and just about everything thing else their hungry academic minds can envision.
Palm Beach Day Academy - 241 Seaview Avenue - 561-655-1188.
Palm Beach Public Elementary - 239 Cocoanut Row - 561-822-0700.
Palm Beach is bottled between a series of coastal cities that have enough history between them to fill up an encyclopedia. Still, not wanting to stay behind on Miami's many tourist friendly hotspots, or Jupiter's Lighthouse, Palm Beach has managed to amass a very strong ensemble of points of interest of its own.
The Society of the Four Arts - 2 Four Arts Plaza - 561-655-7227.
The Mar-a-Lago Club - 1100 South Ocean Boulevard.
The Breakers Hotel - 1 S County Rd - 888 273-2537.
The Flagler Museum - One Whitehall Way - 561655-2833.
Palm Beach is sort of like America's own facsimile of what the Caribbean should look like. It strives to intertwine all its many aspects into a colorful package of sunny days and sapphire beaches. It takes a few pages from Miami's book, yet manages to give the whole pedigree its own spin. Palm Beach is just the right amount of family friendly and edgy coastal town to both satisfy your wild child’s tastes and gift you with the knowledge that you've staked your claim on the right spot for your kin.
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