1. Where to Stay
Hotel Biba (from $180) brings a riot of retro Carnaby Street color to pastel Palm Beach. A former motor lodge designed by Biba fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki, the 41-room boutique hotel is located just around the corner from the shops on Antique Row. Ask for rooms 132 through 137, filled with vintage mod furniture, and set back from the constant hum of South Dixie Highway.
Just steps from the luxe art galleries and designer shops on Worth Avenue, the Colony (from $440) isn’t the place to find bargains. But you will see a lot of powder-blue Bentleys and Lily Pulitzer prints.
Set on 140 oceanfront acres, the legendary Breakers resort (from $495) is over-the-top in every way possible. Take a breather from antiquing and relax at one of the five pools, get pampered at the 20,000-square-foot spa, or grab a cocktail at the outrageously ornate Tapestry Bar. The resort is extremely popular with vacationing families, so stay away during school holidays.
2. Where to Eat
Located just a few feet from the upscale shops on Worth Avenue, Bice Ristorante has been ne plus ultra for Palm Beach pretty people since the nineties. The scene heats up at lunch, especially on the bougainvillea-lined patio, crammed with diamond-dripping locals and their lapdogs. Show up before 1 p.m. or risk getting banished to an inside table, stashed behind the French doors.
With wood shutters, potted palm trees, soft lighting, and cozy booths, the Palm Beach Grill (340 Royal Poinciana Way; 561-835-1077) is a low-key alternative to many of the see-and-be-seen restaurants around town. Make sure to try the kosher hot-dog entrée—it’s served on a silver tray with a side of deviled eggs and French fries.
Everything at the hole-in-the-wall Rhythm Café is made from scratch, from the tableside flaming saganaki to the Earl Grey–flavored ice cream. The café is housed in an old drugstore and decorated in fifties Florida chic, meaning Christmas lights and lots of Formica. The menu is far more forward-looking, with creative entrées like osso-buco-style short ribs served with black-eyed-pea corn salsa.
Friendly, knickknack-filled Belle and Maxwell’s (3700 S. Dixie Hwy.; 561-832-4449) is a popular pit stop for decorators and their clients, who review their Antique Row purchases over chicken curry salads and iced lattes. The menu focuses on in-season produce and diet-busting desserts like the espresso-flavored truffle cake.
3. What to Do
West Palm Beach’s Antique Row—more than 50 stores perched along a stretch of South Dixie Highway—is filled with everything from serious Art Deco to serious junk. The majority is sold to decorators, shipped to New York, and resold at a huge profit. Cut out the middleman and load up on rattan furniture at Deco Don’s (5107 S. Dixie Hwy; 561-588-2552), seashell-covered mirrors at Christa’s South Antiques and Sea Shells, refurbished French industrial cabinets at Faustina Pace Antiques (3633 S. Dixie Hwy; 561-804-6682), and mid-century modern collectibles at Objects in the Loft.
A good rule of thumb: The more cluttered the store, the better your chance of finding hidden gems. Dig in at Sabina Danenberg (4900 S. Dixie Hwy.; 561- 533-5992), which has everything from giant antlers to vintage club chairs. The Chris Ellis Consignment Collection (3636 S. Dixie Hwy.; 561-659-1919) has 5,000 square feet stuffed with castoffs from recently renovated mansions, while Dolce is known for unconventional pieces like framed clown art made with matchbooks. Donovan & Gray has two stores—one a mishmash of furniture and art from the 1800s to the seventies, and the other a fabulous storehouse of vintage Oscar De la Renta gowns and Chanel suits—all with incredibly reasonable prices.
4. Insider’s Tip
Once you’ve finished your spree, you’ll need to figure out how to get all your loot home. Various shipping companies have trucks running continually from West Palm Beach to the Northeast. One of the best is Plycon Transportation Group, with rates starting at $300 for the first piece and $70 for each additional item (extra-large buys are priced according to size). The company charges per items shipped, not per store, so feel free to shop widely.
5. An Oddball Day
Unpack your Waspiest green pants and pink Lacoste shirt, grab a mallet, and join the social set at the National Croquet Center, the largest (ten acres) croquet course in the world. Free group lessons are offered to the public every Saturday at 10 a.m.; if you’re lucky, you may be taught by club director and four-time national champion Archie Peck. Afterward, sit outside on the covered veranda and relax with a refreshing wine spritzer, or grab lunch in the clubhouse and hobnob with the croquet cognoscenti over tuna melts. Make a good impression and you may be invited back for twilight croquet and game night.
6. Related Links
For store locations, maps, and info on special events, check out the Antique Row collective’s Website
A good place to compare prices on antiques from around the world, the online marketplace 1stDibs.com also connects West Palm Beach dealers to potential buyers.
The Palm Beach Post publishes the incredibly entertaining Palm Beach Social Diary, chronicling the local society circuit.