By Emma Hamrick
In my formative years, a vacation to Florida meant a visit to West Palm Beach, the winter residence of my grandparents. As a Florida Southern College student, I appreciate the escape from the frigid cold of my home state of Michigan and embrace the closer proximity to my personal vacation home. With visits frequently limited to extended weekends, I am incredibly selective about the places I choose to visit. That said, here are some “can’t miss” destinations for a weekend trip to West Palm Beach.
Classic Dining Options
It’s no secret that I love trying different restaurants. One of my favorite things about living in Florida is the availability of waterfront dining locations. One of my absolute favorite in the state is E.R. Bradley’s Saloon in Downtown West Palm Beach. Located at the end of Clematis Street with views of the marina (and some of the biggest yachts in Florida), Bradley’s offers amazing seafood dishes for both lunch and dinner. For Sunday brunch, I love Testa’s in Palm Beach. A favorite of the Kennedy family, Testa’s open patio is perfect for enjoying french toast or steak and eggs and people watching in an environment filled with “old Florida” charm.
Unbeatable Shopping Locations
I always make sure to keep my suitcase half empty every time I visit West Palm because I know I will need the extra space for new purchases. The Palm Beach Gardens Mall hosts a slew of retailers for all price points as well as familiar chain restaurants. Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, on the other hand, offers a shopping experience comparable to Rodeo Drive. Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Vineyard Vines and Louis Vitton are just some of the familiar brand names located on the iconic street. CityPlace in Downtown West Palm Beach is a lifestyle shopping destination with a Victoria’s Secret, Tommy Bahama and Macy’s in addition to a movie theater and Cheesecake Factory.
No vacation is complete without relaxation. For a quieter beach with quick access to food an shops, I recommend heading south Ocean Blvd. to visit Lake Worth. Alternatively, a drive north to Jupiter offers a bustling beach scene ideal for water sports. The beach in Jupiter is also home to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a sea turtle sanctuary that enables guests to get up close and personal with the animals.
Sometimes the best way to experience a city is to embrace tourist attractions. While the DivaDuck Amphibious Tour of Palm Beach offered a fair share of cheesy duck jokes, the tour allowed me to learn about the history of the city in a new way. Similarly, Lion Country Safari, an animal pack that allows guests to take safaris from the comfort of their own vehicles, provides exciting entertainment for families.
While guided tours may incur additional fees, budget conscious visitors may enjoy driving Ocean Boulevard south of Palm Beach to take in the varying architecture of oceanfront mansions or visiting Wellington to take in a polo match. Clematis Street also hosts live music frequently and boasts an assortment of restaurant venues unique to the area. Visitors interested in heading further south to Miami may find purchasing a $5 weekend Tri-Rail pass of value to take in more of South Florida.
Collectively, West Palm Beach and its surrounding areas offer a change of pace from a typical day in Lakeland. Further information about West Palm Beach can be found at visitflorida.com.