According to early settler accounts, Palm Beach received its name from the shipwreck of the "Providencia."
The ship washed ashore in January of 1878 with a cargo of cocoanuts bound from Havana to Barcelona. Early settlers lost no time salvaging and planting the cocoanuts, which were not native to South Florida, hoping to launch the area into the commercial cocoanut industry. But this lush barrier island, 16 miles long and located 65 miles north of Miami, was destined for much bigger things. Its close proximity to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream produced a hothouse environment where the crème de la crème would flourish.
Living in Palm Beach
Palm Beach is a glittering resort town with a tight-knit sense of community. Swaying palm trees line broad avenues, while the glamorous boutiques of Worth Avenue and sprawling Gatsby-esque estates captivate visitors drawn to the island’s immaculately tended golf courses. Yet it’s easy to find quiet beaches away from the hubbub of the glitzy main resorts. The waterfront provides a natural outlet for outdoor recreation, with three miles of public beaches and the traffic-free Lake View Trail to explore.
Separated from the mainland by the narrow Intracoastal Waterway, Palm Beach sits just opposite neighboring communities West Palm Beach and Lake Worth. The town is home to roughly 9,000 full-time residents, who enjoy a tight-knit community. Palm Beach is also a favorite destination for seasonal jetsetters, and the population triples in size each year as northern visitors in search of guaranteed winter sunshine flock to its affluent shores.
Palm Beach real estate
Palm Beach has a blend of stately Greco-Roman mansions, contemporary apartments, and upscale condos with ocean views. The most extravagant villas are in the estate section of town, running south of Worth Avenue to Sloan’s Curve. Properties in this section range from 7,000 to 45,000 square feet, with well-groomed gardens and swimming pools.
Palm Beach real estate blends harmoniously into the natural surroundings. Many properties incorporate tropical landscaping, and the town has an historic preservation program to protect its Gilded Age architecture. Strict zoning laws are also in place, such as those in the North End of Palm Beach which prohibit commercial properties and condominiums. This makes it a particularly attractive area for those seeking Palm Beach homes for sale that make the best use of the island’s beachfront beauty.
Palm Beach history
Palm Beach, which celebrated its centennial in 2011, got its name from a shipwreck in 1878. A brig called Providencia was on its way from Havana to Barcelona when it washed ashore with a cargo of coconuts. Early settlers planted these salvaged coconuts in the hopes of launching a commercial coconut industry. But as word of Palm Beach’s white sandy beaches and idyllic atmosphere spread, the town became famous for its scenery rather than its coconut trees.
Tourism flourished with the arrival of the Florida East Coast Railroad and its owner, Standard Oil tycoon Henry Morrison Flagler. He fell in love with the island’s abundant charms and saw major potential for seasonal tourism in Palm Beach. Flagler opened the Royal Poinciana Hotel in 1894 followed by The Breakers resort, which remains one of Palm Beach’s most notable landmarks. Its manicured greens and Italian Renaissance-inspired architecture stand as a bridge between the past and present.
Palm Beach restaurants
Dining al fresco is a joy in Palm Beach, with its balmy breezes and garden scenery, and it’s hard to find a more romantic setting than the outdoor courtyard at Renato’s. The in-crowd flocks to the Flagler Steakhouse terrace for panoramic golf course views and prime cuts. Many notable dining destinations are in hotels and resorts like The Breakers, which is home to both Flagler Steakhouse and old-world brunch spot The Circle. The Brazilian Court Hotel houses Café Boulud, which serves regional seafood dishes under a ceiling crafted from shimmery sea shells.
Nominated twice for the James Beard Award, celebrity chef Clay Conley has built his own mini-empire in Palm Beach with two neighboring restaurants, Buccan and Imoto. Buccan’s American-inspired menu focuses on small plates, while its more casual next-door offshoot, The Sandwich Shop, offers hot and cold artisan sandwiches served with house-made pickles, fresh-baked cookies and sweet tea.
Palm Beach nightlife
Palm Beach’s upscale resorts draw a sophisticated after-hours clientele. HMF at the Breakers Resort is a glamorous social club with a 1,600-varietal wine list and strict ‘cocktail chic’ dress code. Brandon’s at the Tideline Resort buzzes during happy hour, with outdoor seating providing the perfect backdrop to mix and mingle over a glass of champagne.
When Worth Avenue’s boutiques close for the evening, swanky Palm Beach bars like Ta-boo start to come alive. Ta-boo has long been a destination to see-and-be-seen, hosting the likes of Frank Sinatra and JFK. Here, you can trust that your cocktail order will be in expert hands; in fact, local legend states that a Ta-boo bartender invented the Bloody Mary.
Palm Beach shopping
New York has Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills has Rodeo Drive, and Palm Beach has Worth Avenue. Named one of America’s most iconic streets in a 2013 poll, this upmarket shopping district stretches from Lake Worth to the Atlantic Ocean, crossing Palm Beach in a horizontal line. Art galleries, swimwear shops and cafes line the pristine pavement, while smaller avenues branch off the main drag. Here you’ll find international classics like Hermès and Chanel, along with local boutiques such as Marley’s Palm Beach Collection. Kassatly’s is another local highlight. This famous retailer first opened in 1923, making it the oldest on Worth Avenue. It’s still family-run to this day, offering luxurious linens, buttery-soft cashmere sweaters and sumptuous sleepwear.
Palm Beach attractions
Palm Beach is home to Florida’s first museum, housed in Henry Flagler’s opulent Gilded Age estate. The Flagler Museum hosts changing cultural exhibitions and features a Louis XV-inspired Grand Ballroom hung with Baccarat crystal chandeliers.
To escape the hustle and bustle of Worth Avenue, venture to Phipps Ocean Park, which is well-equipped with picnic tables, cabanas and a tennis center. This serene beach is ideal for enjoying a moment of tranquility as you comb for cockleshells or try your hand at snorkeling in the crystalline water. Another outdoor attraction is the Society of the Four Arts Gardens. The Garden Club of Palm Beach maintains these lush botanical gardens, which are perfumed with fragrant ylang-ylang, jasmine and begonias.
The Island of Palm Beach
"Palm Beach is beautiful in so many individual aspects, and has a collective beauty, a man made thing of infinite facets, each steady in its brilliant contribution. -John Ney, "Palm Beach""
Local tips and information for going out in the Palm Beach from The Corcoran Group. Explore dining, shopping and nightlife.All Palm Beach tips