How to Spend the Holidays in Palm Beach

By Kristopher Neild, Travel Expert

Spending the holidays in Palm Beach can be a magical experience if you are in the know. While your friends up north might chide you for missing out on the snow, the brisk air and the Christmas lights, you can assure them that you can have a similar, if not better experience in sunny South Florida. 

What is all the talk of no snow in Florida? If you venture over to City Place on select nights during November and December, you can legitimately see snow. The City Place team will dump over three feet of snow on visitors during the six week magical event. 

If it's brisk air you are looking for, why not take a Christmas themed sail up the Intracoastal on the Majestic Princess. Enjoy dinner and live music, then head out to the balcony to breathe in that fresh December sea air. 

If you are hoping for Christmas decorations, look no further than the houses in Northwood Village, which will be fixed up to the nines in Christmas garb. The spectacularly unique homes will be open to the public as part of the annual holiday touring event. 

So yes, while the holidays won't be exactly the same in South Florida as they are in say, Maine, there is something special and awe-inspiring about a warmer version. 

10. Muvico Parisian 20 and IMAX
Photo courtesy of Mike Saechang

Walking into Muvico Imax Theater in City Place has the feeling of entering a large cathedral thanks to the grand staircases and angelic ceilings. Picking up your tickets is convenient thanks to the service windows, kiosks and parking validation machines that take the hassle out of the theater being in the middle of downtown. The best thing about this theater is that it pulls in all of the newest releases. There are plenty of showings thanks to the large scale of the building. This is a great place to check out the latest action movie in 3-D. You can also grab a drink from the bar on the third floor and enjoy it during your movie.

9. Kravis Center for Performing Arts
Photo courtesy of Kravis Center for Performing Arts

The Kravis Center for Performing Arts offers its version of Broadway theater (such hits as "Jersey Boys", "Catch Me If You Can", "Mary Poppins", "Peter Pan", "The Brand New Kid", concerts (the National Symphony of Cuba, the St. Lawrence String Quartet) and a number of community-related programs, including a summer arts camp.While a place for serious performance, it also has a much lighter side. The Family Fare program welcomes children to the world of theatre with dance, comedy and music. There's also a music and arts program for children with special needs. Check the schedule before you come to town, as big name acts are known to swing through. Could be the perfect icing to add to the top of your trip.

8. Worth Avenue
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Perhaps the quintessential emblem of Palm Beach affluence, Worth Avenue is a paean to wealth and style. The Mediterranean-inspired architecture, much of it designed by local architect Addison Mizner, is endlessly charming. The primary street is lined with delicious shops and light-wrapped palms, while vias (small side streets) branch off the main avenue and expand into lush, vine-laden courtyards that are oh-so-European. Retailers include a who's who of fashion and prestige, including Chanel, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Herm�s, Cartier, Escada and Van Cleef & Arpels. Even if you don't buy, make sure to wander through the area. Its wonderful ambience is as intoxicating as its top-quality merchandise.

7. Northwood Village
Photo courtesy of Northwood Village

Northwood Village, located just mere miles from the hustle and bustle of Clematis St. and City Place in West Palm Beach offers the old town vibe as antique shops and boutiques line the streets. This place is great to go if you are looking to browse one of the many art galleries or have the time to search for treasure in one of the vintage shops, like Something Lively or Nancy's Vintage Warehouse . The eclectic feel isn't lost once you stop for a bite to eat either, so consider making it more than just a shopping trip - support a local restaurant while you're in the area. If you are holding out for a special occasion to get out to Northwood Village, then consider going on the last Friday of the month for the Art & Wine Promenade for wine tastings, live entertainment and many street artists. Most of the antique shops stay open late for this award-winning event so it really is the perfect time to explore the area.

6. Majestic Princess
Photo courtesy of Majestic Princess

The Majestic Princess, a 2-deck yacht cruise boat out of Riviera Beach, is the perfect place to escape land gain your sea legs for a bit. With sightseeing cruises on the Intracoastal Waterway during the day and twilight cruises at night, exploring the water for two hours has never been more luxuriously affordable. Adding the optional fresh seafood lunch and/or dinner to the trip is sure to turn the trip into a special outing. The Majestic Princess is also available for weddings and special events or private charters and the service is sure to take the event to the next level.

5. Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
Photo courtesy of Flagler Museum

Occupying the mansion that Standard Oil founder Henry Flagler built for his wife in 1902, this museum recreates the luxury of the early 20th century. The Beaux-Art style structure was saved from the wrecking ball in 1959 and restored to its original magnificence by Flagler's granddaughter. Today, its many rooms feature ornate architecture, regal furnishings, and a wealth of art. Displays on the railroad that ran along Florida's east coast (and which was funded and conceived of by Flagler) provide a glimpse of the state's early move towards tourism and agriculture. The rail car that Flagler traveled in has also been restored and is available for browsing. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible with the addition of a new elevator.

4. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
Photo courtesy of Jupiter Lighthouse

The Jupiter Inlet is a picturesque natural scene; a water oasis where the Loxahatchee River ends and the Intracoastal Waterway begins. Atop a highland which formerly served as an important Indian meeting point sits the 105-foot tall Jupiter Lighthouse, constructed in 1860. In this day and age, the lighthouse operates as a museum, where tours allow guests to climb and experience the enchanting views of the Florida coast. Tours are operated by the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, and are available daily except for Monday. Besides the Lighthouse, there are walking trails and historical exhibits for guests to enjoy, which will aid in enriching them of the area's 5,000 year importance to the human race.

3. Delray Beach
Photo courtesy of Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority

Visit Delray Beach once and you'll see that the area has so much to offer that it's already time to plan your next trip. The beaches are incredible as is the downtown, shopping and nightlife scene. Window shop on Atlantic Avenue and then head over to the Pineapple Grove art district and take in the murals, public art, and weekly fresh market. If you'd like to venture away from the downtown area and enjoy all nature has to offer, then West Delray Regional Park is your spot from sunrise to sundown. There are over 300 acres of open land and water along with bike trails, tent camping and an archery club (permit required). This park is unique because it has a runway and car track for radio-controlled planes and automobiles, as well as a boat lake if your hobby is in the water. Explore Delray and see for yourself why it was named the Most Fun Small Town in 2012 USA Today.

2. City Place
Photo courtesy of Christmasstockimages

City Place is great for shopping; the stores are laid out in a way that walking around them is a pleasant experience. Stop in Starbucks or Panera Bread for a coffee and treat before you get started, then make your way through any of the more than 40 stores ranging from high-end to budget friendly. There are staples like Gap, Banana Republic, Victoria's Secret, and Macy's as well as specialty stores like Sephora, Cache, and Anthropologie. If you're visiting from out of town and looking for a souvenir from your trip then you'll want to stop by Destination Palm Beach. If you're just getting to town but are low on beachwear, then Tommy Bahama's is where you'll need to be. Don't let the downtown location make you worried about parking fees because when you park in the City Place garage, spend $50 shopping, and show the attendant your same-day receipt, you get four hours free. City Place is great for one-stop shopping too thanks to Publix in the area, so come and spend several hours enjoying the stores, fountains, and many dining options.

1. Clematis Street
Photo courtesy of Clematis Street

Clematis Street, along with nearby CityPlace, has evolved into West Palm Beach's signature district, a place where people can stroll the sidewalks and take in the city's energy and exuberance. Browse intriguing shops, stop off for a snack or an incredible meal, and then make sure to dance, drink, or partake of great music at any of the fabulous nightclubs. Free outdoor concerts are held regularly, and Clematis by Night, a weekly festival that pulls in tons of visitors and locals, is a much-loved and well-attended event. Several blocks of shops and eateries grant opportunity for distraction no matter when you go, all providing a taste of West Palm hospitality and charm.