West Palm Beach was once the place where Palm Beach's servants and laborers lived. Lately, it's come into its own with an emerging arts scene, great new restaurants, and lots of lively outdoor happenings. Be sure to put the Norton Museum of Art and the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens on your To-Do list, then add these other fun activities:
1) Discover an Artsy Community
Northwood Village - northwoodvillage.com
It's so much fun to explore this hip, funky, artsy district, north of downtown. Many artists have opened creative boutiques and galleries in this emerging, vibrant neighborhood. Not only are they selling their work, but they're also giving classes in such things as glassblowing (Northwood Glass Art) and furniture painting (The Painted Mermaid). Wander around on your own or do the Art Walk (2nd Saturday every month, 6pm & 7:30pm; Free with RSVP; www.northwoodartwalk.com). Enjoy Art Night Out (last Friday each month, 6-9pm), Food Truck Roll-In (3rd Wednesday every month, 6-10pm) and also try one of the many wonderful, local restaurants.
2) Shop for Cool Florida-Made Goods
Shoppe 561 (319 Belvedere Rd, #4, West Palm Beach; Tel: 561/557-7278; www.shoppe561.com) - Too often, you come back from vacation with souvenirs that were actually made elsewhere, usually in China. All the lovely items in this shop -- jewelry, accessories, housewares -- are made by Florida artisans. In addition, a portion of each sale benefits Hope House Florida -- another reason why this shop is so cool.
3) Go Antiquing with Panache
Antique Row - www.westpalmbeachantiques.com
Find out what top interior designers have known for decades -- the South Dixie Highway shopping district is ground zero for antique dealers. Antique Row, with over 40 antiques stores, offers an impressive selection of 17th- to 20th-century antiques, fine and decorative arts, Deco pieces, vintage and modern furnishings, and other unique finds. The antiques stores, specialty shops, and art galleries are all within walking distance. (Island Living offers an antiquing tour, if you'd like some expert guidance.)
4) Explore the Restaurant Scene
West Palm Beach Food Tours - WestPalmBeachFoodTour.com
The restaurant scene in West Palm Beach is expanding and diversifying by leaps and bounds. An absolutely terrific way to get a handle on the situation is to take a food tour. Not only do you get to taste-test a sampling of foods and drinks from various establishments, you get to know more about the town itself. The expert guides can also recommend other places to dine, based on your own personal food preferences -- from the best pizza to haute cuisine.
5) Enjoy Free Concerts & Much More
West Palm Beach's historic Clematis district is a great place to hang out. There are lots of shops and galleries, along with a variety of dining choices and nightlife. Down by the Waterfront, there are cultural happenings throughout the year as well as a weekly Green Market (from Oct-May). Clematis by Night (every Thursday, 6-9pm) - Music by great local bands and Happy Hour food & drink specials. Sunday on the Waterfront (3rd Sunday each month, 4-7pm) - Concerts by popular regional performers and national recording artists. Screen on the Green (2nd Friday every month, 8pm) - Family-friendly films, both classic and new releases. Sunfest (April/May) - A celebrated, annual 5-day arts and music festival in a cool setting--the Intracoastal Waterway in downtown West Palm Beach.
Making Your Trip Easier: Sure, everybody drives, but why not hop on a free Trolley or rent a SkyBike. Cultural Council of Palm Beach County - Get suggestions on all the cool, cultural happenings during your visit with a call or email to the "Cultural Concierge" (Tel: 561/214-8082; firstname.lastname@example.org; palmbeachculture.com/concierge). There are so many cool, artsy attractions to explore in The Palm Beaches.
Where To Stay: Hilton West Palm Beach (600 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach; Tel: 561/231-6000; http://bit.ly/1Zdf7XU)