West Palm Beach Essentials

Here are some of the best places to enjoy the sun and surf, eat and drink, take the kids and meet new people in the playground of the rich.

By: Matt Prichard

Ocean Boulevard Beach Access in Palm Beach

Photo By: Kara Franker

Kara Franker

Food and Drink: Best Places to...


Carmine’s Gourmet Market 
2401 PGA Blvd., Suite 172, Palm Beach Gardens 
Carmine’s, a full-scale specialty market, has a huge coffee bean selection, catering service (including yacht provisioning) and both exotic and traditional prepared foods, and they make their own tomato sauces.

Village Marketplace 
220 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, across State Road A1A from the Ritz Carlton 
Village Marketplace has been listed by a local TV station as the "Best Gourmet Market in Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast" for two years in a row. Their Web site has a “Killer Juice" wine newsletter, and food experts answer questions by email.


West Palm Beach GreenMarket 
2nd St. and Narcissus Ave. 
Open Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., mid-October through mid-April. Started in 1994, this is the granddaddy of local greenmarkets. There’s live music at the GreenMarket cafe, and it’s dog friendly.

Dekker Family Farms 
4823 Shinn Road, Fort Pierce 
U-pick places are great, but at Dekker everything grows hydroponically, so no more bending. They have strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, spinach, kohlrabi and lettuce varieties.


Cafe des Artistes 
318 S U.S. Highway 1, Jupiter 
Bakery and bistro serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The view of million-dollar yachts on the Intracoastal is grand, as is the ambiance and the food. Dust off your best French and try the homemade sangria.


626 N. U.S. 1 (in County Line Plaza), Tequesta 
Always ask for reservations at this popular eatery, where executive chef Erik Pettersen, a fourth-generation chef, is helping Italian and Italian-American cuisine evolve in a gourmet way. This isn’t your typical Italian joint.


The River House 
2373 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens 
This classy restaurant, a staple of high-quality steak-and-seafood dining for 25 years, makes sure your guests don’t end up with mediocre food just to get waterfront scenery. You can dine downstairs without reservations but you may have to wait. The prime rib and the grouper are good.

Six Tables 
112 N.E. 2nd St., in Mizner Plaza, Boca Raton 
They offer a gourmet, continental-style six-course dinner in an unhurried atmosphere. There is one seating per night, a fixed menu for $90 a person not including beverages, and reservations are required. Guests will appreciate the fine china, crystal, linen, candles and soft jazz.   


6801 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach 
Open until 1 a.m. Fri.-Sat. and 11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., but has an always-open takeout window. This reasonably priced, unpretentious restaurant, run by the Reyes family, is a West Palm institution and serves the best Cuban food in town. The delicious pressed sandwiches and potent cups of cafecito are authentic.


John G’s 
10 S. Ocean Blvd., Lake Worth 
Open at 7 a.m., serves breakfast until noon on Sundays and until 11:15 a.m. other days. Come early because there’s usually a line, and when breakfast service is over, it’s over. Credit cards aren’t accepted. John Giragos opened the place more than 30 years ago, and it’s still a family thing. It’s a must for French-toast lovers.

Dena’s Cafe 
3825 NE Indian River Dr., Jensen Beach 
A breakfast institution that also serves lunch, this homey eatery doesn’t take credit cards. Also, it's much better when the weather's cool: there’s no air conditioning. Sitting out on their deck on the Indian River while you dive into their hearty fare makes breakfast a real treat.


Mother Earth Coffee and Gifts 
410 2nd Avenue North, Lake Worth, 561-586-0025 
Formerly Les Beans Coffee House, Mother Earth has not only great organic fair-trade coffee but also a personality. Proprietor Patti Lucia bills it as a good place for "progressives, radicals, anarchists, bohemians, environmentalists... and all those on a spiritual journey." Live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Entertainment: Best Places to...


Watch sea turtles lay their eggs 
Thousands of endangered and threatened sea turtles lumber ashore to lay their eggs in the sand each year. These giants can weigh 300 pounds or more. Go only with a trained and licensed guide: many groups offer turtle walks during the summer.


Lion Country Safari 
2003 Lion Country Safari Rd., Loxahatchee 
Keep the windows rolled up as you drive through this park, which has more than 800 animals and a walk-through amusement park. The park is 20 miles west of downtown West Palm.

Rapids Water Park 
6566 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach 
This water park recently added four new attractions to its repertoire of 29 water slides. There’s plenty to do for little ones as well as teens. If you’re pooped, float around the “lazy river." Closed during the winter.

A Latte Fun Indoor Playground & Cafe 
9820 Alt. A1A, Suite #206, Palm Beach Gardens 
What do you get when you combine a 4,000-plus-foot stimulating play area with a cozy coffeehouse? Kids have fun while adults sip coffee. There’s an inflatable slide, foam pit, trampoline, "treehouse" and separate fun space for infants and crawlers.


The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens 
4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach 
Share the expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, resting areas, tropical bonsai, lakes teeming with koi, nature trails, pine forests and picnic areas. There are tea ceremonies, taiko drumming and the Hatsume Fair. The museum chronicles the history of the Yamato Colony, a Japanese farming community in South Florida 100 years ago.

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse 
500 Captain Armour's Way, Jupiter 
The striking red lighthouse is such a romantic spot that it's a popular location for weddings. The 108-foot lighthouse, the area’s oldest structure, began operating in 1860. Take the 105 treads of the inside circular stairway to the top.


Dance parties at The Ritz Ballroom 
651 West Indiantown Rd., Suites G & H in the Colonial Plaza, Jupiter 
Friday night dance parties and group classes are a good way to meet new people, whether you lean toward swing, tango, salsa or some other dance style. The studio has specials and is pay-as-you-go.

American-German Club of the Palm Beaches 
5111 Lantana Rd., Lake Worth 
The club has events year round, but Oktoberfest is special. It’s hard not to be friendly doing the chicken dance or singing along with bands from Germany. The festival is held on 10 acres and includes great beer, traditional food, folk dancing and a carnival for kids.


Yard House at Downtown at the Gardens 
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave., Palm Beach Gardens 
A chain that has built its reputation on a huge selection of beers and classic rock tunes, the Yard House is a great place for a pint or a bite and is located in the Downtown at the Gardens, where there’s plenty of shopping and entertainment.

Mr. G’s Rock Bar & Grill 
2650 S. Military Trail, West Palm Beach 
Great bartenders, live music and fun special events make this a great place to grab a beer, and it’s open until 5 a.m. It’s also a late-night favorite of local strippers after they’ve finished their shift.

Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House 
1401 N.E. Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach 
You feel almost as if you're on a boat at this bar, part of the former thatched-roof Outrigger Resort and Marina opened in the mid-1950s by Frances Langford, a radio, recording and film star in the 1930s and 1940s.


221 Clematis St., #201 (second floor), West Palm Beach 
This new space, above Dr. Feelgoods, is a large, stylish dance club where it’s not impossible to get in. With a hot DJ and the latest music, Monarchy includes a VIP area, a saloon and a traditional bar.

Dr. Feelgoods Rock Bar and Grill 
219 Clematis St., West Palm Beach 
If you prefer to dance to rock, Dr. Feelgoods is just downstairs from Monarchy. The decor is motorcycles, guitars and music memorabilia.


6897 SW 18th St., Boca Raton, 561-338-3646 
This Greek eatery attracts not only the usual older crowd in Boca but also younger groups and couples. A bellyful of fun starts when male and female dancers come out and encourage patrons to dance on the tables. Opa!


Cinemark Palace 20 
3200 Airport Rd., Boca Raton 
For those 21 and over willing to pony up a few dollars more, the “premier VIP" section of this Cinemark theater offers valet parking, loveseats, complimentary popcorn, a bar and a restaurant.


Ristorante Bova 
1450 N. Federal Hwy, Boca Raton 
This eatery bills itself as a place that will “make you feel as if you’ve arrived." Think ahead for reservations -- it’s become a popular spot for sophisticated couples and active Baby Boomers. Lots of marble and glass inside, and the “Nuevo Italian" cuisine is good. Bottled water from around the world. 

Outdoor: Best Places to...


John D. McArthur Beach State Park 
10900 Jack Nicklaus Dr., North Palm Beach 
This fabulous unspoiled beach is part of a park that includes a boardwalk over an estuary and several trails through marine hammock natural areas. No lifeguards. Guided kayak tours and a nature center. $4 per vehicle.

Delray Municipal Beach 
40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach 
A 7,000-foot beach with lifeguards, designated areas for swimming, surfing, volleyball, sailing, wind surfing, snorkeling and kite flying. Metered parking.

Jensen Sea Turtle Beach 
4191 NE Ocean Blvd., Jensen Beach 
This wide, sandy beach well known as a prime location for sea turtles to nest. Nesting areas are blocked off. Also is a great place for people, with a large deck with seating and a snack bar, lifeguards and volleyball. Free.


Sebastian Inlet 
This area hosts several international surfing contests a year and was made famous partly by Kelly Slater, a professional surfing star from the area. Water flows through Sebastian Inlet between the Indian River Lagoon and the ocean, creating sandbars and helping make this a prime surfing spot.


The Scuba Club 
4708 N. Flagler Dr., West Palm Beach 
Dive on reefs or wrecks in 50 to 80 feet of the Atlantic Gulfstream waters. Dive sites are 20 minutes from the facility, where the boat is docked. There’s a deep tank, equipment repair and NITROX.


Palm Beach Lake Trail, Quadrille Bridge and the Intracoastal Waterway, Palm Beach 
Enjoy nine miles of out-and-back along the ritzy “lake side’’ of the Town of Palm Beach, shaded by palms and other tropical and subtropical species.

Waterside paths along State Road A1A in West Palm Beach 
From Southern Blvd north to Jupiter (20 miles) and along A1A in Boca Raton from Camino Real, north to Lake Worth Road (5 miles).


Jupiter’s dog-friendly beach 
A 2.5-mile stretch of beach, from north of the Juno Beach lifeguarded area to south of the Carlin Park lifeguarded area. Well-behaved dogs (on leash or under strict voice control) are welcome; bags are provided.

Dog Park at Lake Ida 
1455 Lake Ida Rd., Delray Beach 
Fenced-in areas for off-leash recreation, sections for large and small dogs, double-gated entry, paved dog-wash station, Fido fountain. Closed Thursday noon-3 p.m.

Pooch Pines at Okeeheelee Park 
7715 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach 
Fenced-in areas for off-leash recreation, sections for large and small dogs, double-gated entry, paved dog-wash station, Fido fountain. Closed Wednesday noon-3 p.m.


Sip a pina colada across from lighthouse, Jupiter 
At a few waterfront restaurants, one can revel in the beauty of the boats on the Jupiter Inlet and the 108-foot lighthouse on the opposite bank. Two popular ones: Crab House Dockside Restaurant, 561-744-1300, 1065 North A1A, Jupiter, and Jetty’s Waterfront Restaurant, 561-743-8166, 1106 Yarborough St., Jupiter.

Indian River Dr., along the Intracoastal Waterway 
Speed is restricted along a lovely 15-mile section of the drive from downtown Jensen Beach to downtown Fort Pierce. The sinuous, tree-lined drive, inserted between the Atlantic Coastal Ridge and the western side of the Intracoastal, takes 35-40 minutes and has Old Florida charm.


Everglades Adventures RV & Sailing Resort 
190 N. Lake Ave., Pahokee 
Lake Okeechobee, on Palm Beach County’s “other" western coast, is a bass fisherman's paradise with with tournament-sized largemouth bass. Everglades Adventures has guided fishing packages for bass, crappie and spec, and also cabins, campsites, sailing and other activities.


Sea Mist III 
Sea Mist Marina, 700 Casa Loma Blvd., Boynton Beach 
The Garnsey family has a history of leading drift-boat expeditions since the mid-1940s. Join any of their three daily Sea Mist III trips for snapper, king mackerel, grouper or other catches. The crew on the four-hour excursions will bait your hook and clean your catch.


Wakodahatchee Wetlands 
13026 Jog Rd., Delray Beach 
More than 140 species have been spotted, including marsh wrens, eastern screech owls, red-bellied woodpeckers, great blue herons and great egrets. Wakodahatchee is from the Seminole language and translates as "created waters." Every day, two million gallons of highly treated water are pumped into wetlands, which act as a natural filter and attract an explosion of wildlife. 

Shopping: Best Places to...


The Funky Buddha Lounge 
2621 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton 
Relax at this hookah bar with 40 flavors of shisha tobacco and a large selection of microbrews, wines and teas. The decor is funky and you can relax to acoustic music.

House of Vintage 123 S Swinton Ave., Delray Beach Located in a vintage cottage, this is a great place to find funky retro jewelry and clothing (they're also on eBay). The 1950s-style House of Sweets, the shop's kitchen, is only steps away.


The Church Mouse 
374 S. County Rd., Palm Beach, 561-659-2154 
This high-end thrift store is full of designer goods donated by wealthy residents of Palm Beach -- there are all kinds of clothes and home furnishings. It’s where many resale boutique owners get their goods. Open from October to June, the store has been around for nearly 40 years and is run by the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.


Worth Avenue 
Palm Beach 
Feel fabulously wealthy window shopping along exclusive Worth Avenue. A free walking tour is given by Master Historian James A. Ponce. No reservations are required but check for times. Meet at the Gucci Courtyard.


Antique Row Art & Design District 
Along South Dixie Hwy. between Belvedere Rd. and Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach 
There are some 40 antiques shops that often reflect the holdings of Palm Beach estates with lower prices than in some parts of the country. There are fine and decorative arts, period Deco and Moderne furnishings, and restaurants.

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