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Revision as of 17:42, 28 May 2008
Skyline of Downtown West Palm Beach at sunset.
West Palm Beach is a vibrant and growing metropolis in the heart of South Florida, United States. It is part of the South Florida (Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach) Metropolitan area, which has over 5.5 million people.
- Palm Beach International Airport (IATA: PBI), 1000 Turnage Boulevard, (561) 471-7420, . A small, yet highly adequate airport. While both the Miami and the Fort Lauderdale airports are busy, PBI is easy to get in and out of, and is about 5 minutes from downtown West Palm Beach. Travelers flying into South Florida or the Bahamas should strongly consider PBI.
Amtrak has a stop in the southern part of the county (about 12 miles away), and the Tri-Rail runs between Miami and West Palm.
West Palm Beach is easily accessible by Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike.
PalmTran  runs throughout Palm Beach County. At the corner of Quadrille and Clematis you will find a popular hub, connecting many different routes.
The easiest way to get around West Palm Beach and South Florida is by car. The city is set up on grid system, and is fairly easy to navigate. Downtown is roughly 2 miles north east of Palm Beach International Airport. Palm Beach County is served by Interstate I-95 and U.S. Highway 1 and US 441. It is also served by Florida's Turnpike.
On Airport Car Rental Companies include:
- Alamo Rent A Car, ☎ +1-800-462-5266, .
- Avis Rent A Car, ☎ +1-800-331-1212, .
- Budget Rent A Car, ☎ +1-800-527-0700, .
- Dollar Rent A Car, ☎ +1-800-800-3665, .
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car, ☎ +1-800-261-7331, .
- Hertz Car Rental, ☎ +1-800-654-3131, .
Off Airport Car Rental Companies with Shuttle include:
- E-Z Rent-A-Car, ☎ +1-800-277-5171, .
- Sunshine Rent A Car, ☎ +1-888-786-7446, .
Taxis are generally expensive, but available at almost any time and place.
- Yellow Cab, ☎ +1 561-682-2222. The largest company in the city.
- Palm Tran, ☎ +1 877-930-4BUS (4287), . Palm Tran runs seven days a week (excluding holidays) serving more than 3,500 bus stops.
- Molly's Trolley, ☎ +1 561-838-9511, . A free trolley serving the Downtown West Palm Beach Clematis Street District. Hours of Operation Sunday-Wednesday 11am-9pm and Thursday-Saturday 11am-11pm.
Tri-Rail, ☎ +1 800-872-7245, . Commuter train which runs north and south parallel to I-95, connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Tri-Rail provides access to South Florida's three major airports, as well as links to Miami's Metrorail.
There are entire guidebooks dedicated to covering Palm Beach County. Here is just a short list:
- Flagler Museum, on the island of Palm Beach, features the restored home of Henry Flagler, co-founder of Standard Oil, and the man who conceived of Florida as a tourist destination. Tour his home ($10 per person) and have high tea ($28 per person).
- Norton Art Museum, in downtown West Palm, has been newly renovated and has become a piece of art itself. Located on Dixie Hwy, about a quarter of a mile from Okeechobee Blvd. Open 7 days. Forgot the price, but no more than $10 (I think). Go check it out.
- The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, is one of the premier performing arts centers in the Southeast with a growing national and international reputation. True to the spirit in which it was created, the Center is expanding programming by initiating projects on local, national and international levels. The world-class Kravis Center opened fully funded, with a total construction cost of $68 million, of which a remarkable $49 million came from private individuals and corporations.
There are over 40 miles of beautiful beaches in Palm Beach County. The proximity of the Gulf Stream keeps the waters warm year-round. A nearby public beach in the city of Palm Beach has lifeguards during the day, and is easily accessible. Flags by the lifegaurd announce hazardous conditions (red for dangerous surf conditions, and purple for dangerous sea life).
For snorkeling, two places might satisfy. One is John D. MacArthur Beach State Park , located on the north end of Singer Island. The beach contains a shallow reef full of fish. Be careful, shark and barracuda are seen occasionally. This park also has kayaking, music on Sundays, and some short hiking trails. Kayaking is popular in a calm inlet located in the park, which is surrounded by magrove swamps.
Another snorkeling spot is the Breaker's reef. Located on Palm Beach, the reef is nestled right behind the Breakers hotel. This reef is one long stretch that juts out into the ocean. You can park on the side roads near the Breakers, although it is technically illegal and police often tow out of town cars from this wealthy neighborhood.
A beach activity unique to Florida is watching space shuttles launch out over the ocean. Shuttles lifting off from Cape Kennedy are visible during both daylight and night hours, although night and early morning launches are significantly more impressive. From most beaches, looking directly north up the coast will orient you correctly. Launches are visible from anywhere in Florida, but the ocean guarantees a clear view and night launches often reflect in the water.
There are bicycle paths throughout the area. One of the nicest is on the West (Intracoastal) side of Palm Beach. It runs from the middle bridge to the inlet that separates Palm Beach from Singer Island. This path is also suitable for roller blading.
Shopping is a popular activity in West Palm, particularly considering the weather is so mild year-round. There are a number of places to shop, including:
- CityPlace, two recently-renovated blocks in downtown West Palm that now features dozens of high-end shops, including Brookstone; Pottery Barn; White House, Black Market; Macy's; and more.
- Clematis Street, runs perpendicular to CityPlace, and is the older, trendy shopping district, featuring Ann Taylor and several unique, eclectic shops.
- South Dixie Highway provides several blocks of second-hand shops, from thrift stores to high-end antiques.
- Worth Avenue on Palm Beach Island is home to many luxury boutiques.
- Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens has many restaurants, along with other stores selling clothing, like urban outfitters, and other shops. Also includes Cobb movie theaters.
- Pizza Girls -- gourmet pies, or pizza by the slice
- Tony's Place -- good Cuban food, cheap
- Sushi Jo -- Best sushi around, always ask for market price!
- Rhythm Cafe -- outstanding food -- the menu changes regularly -- in an eclectic setting
- ER Bradley's Saloon -- bar food in sight of the Intracoastal
- India Palace -- great Indian food
- Brewzzi -- local microbrewery cooks up excellent meals
- TooJay's -- New York style deli just over the bridge in Palm Beach
- Havana -- Genuine Cuban cuisine. Open for lunch and dinner, with an all-night take-out window.
- Bonds, 319 Clematis Street, (561) 804-6654, .
- Legal Seafoods -- excellent seafood and service
- Blue Martini -- well-made drinks, doormen who are in love with themselves, and live music on the weekends
- Clematis by Night, sponsored by the City of West Palm, is a lively event each Thursday on Clematis Street. There's live music, and the audience can purchase beer and wine -- poured by a (rotating) area non-profit, who gets to keep the profits. Imagine: drinking and doing good!
- O'Shea's Pub is a traditional Irish pub with a great beer garden on Clematis.
- The Blue Martini, an upscale martini bar (martinis run about $15 apiece), featuring al fresco and a weekend jazz band, dining in CityPlace.
- Paradise Bar and Grill, on Clematis, features cheap pitchers and live bands on weekends.
- Brewzzi, . Restaurant, Brewery and Bar at CityPlace. Winning both gold and silver medals at the Great American Beer Fest 2000-2003, Brewzzi is the most honored brewery in Florida. Brewzzi's Patio Bar overlooks the CityPlace fountains and there is a 2 for 1 Happy Hour, M-Th 3PM-6:30PM.
- The Gypsy's Horse, in Wellington, an Irish pub located in a small shopping mall, it features excellent authentic Irish cuisine, a full bar and lively entertainment.
- Crowne Plaza West Palm Beach, 1601 Belvedere, . Located across the street from the Palm Beach Airport and minutes from the Palm Beach Convention Center, the Kravis Center and many of Palm Beach's famous golf courses, Crowne Plaza West Palm beach bills itself as a "premier West Palm Beach Florida hotel and meeting venue." The property holds 219 guest rooms and 104 suites, an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, a fitness center and shuttle buses which go downtown West Palm Beach and the Palm Beach Airport. 153.
Hotel Biba +1 561-832-0094 (email: [email protected]). A funky, sea-foam-colored hotel with colorful, ultra-modern decor. Located about 3 miles south of Clematis Street, Hotel Biba bills itself as "a 43-room historic landmark boutique hotel." The hotel features Biba Bar, a hip nightclub featuring live music on the weekends.
- West Palm Beach Marriott Hotel, 1001 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401, ☎ +1-561-833-1234 (fax: +1-561-833-4689), . checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. $300.
- Driving -- Florida has "no fault" auto accident laws, which means you are responsible for up to $10,000 in damage to your car, even if you are not responsible for the accident. Make sure your rental car comes with colission insurance, or obtain separate insurance. Florida also has a very high rate of auto fatalities, so take extra care on the roads.
- Crime -- Despite a dropping crime rate, the crime is very high for a city the size of West Palm Beach, it was recently rated as the 14th most-dangerous city in the United States, but the areas of high crime are not in areas that would be traveled by the everyday tourist though.
The Tiki Bar is a casual bar on the Intracoastal about 2 miles north of West Palm, in Riviera Beach just off US 1. They feature live music 7 days a week. If you go, try the Grouper Tacos, an unforgettable taste treat. One plate serves 2 people.
Heading north about 5 more miles takes you to Blue Heron Blvd. Turn right, and cross the bridge. You'll find yourself on Singer Island, a small beach community that wants to be the next Cocoa Beach. Featuring clean, wide, white sandy beaches, several open-aired beachside restaurants, and a few large surf shops, this is a very relaxing place to get away from the trendy shopping and nightlife of West Palm.
There are a lot of other interesting cities surrounding West Palm, including Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens to the north, and Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Boynton Beach to the south.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!