The Palm Beach Social Scene 
By Marilyn DeMartini for Women’s Wear Daily, April 1999

Pa-a-a-lm Beach-with the slow emphasis on the soft “a” as you exhale. Now that you’ve got the pronunciation down, let’s give you the inside word on what’s going on around town.

Worth Avenue is a shopping and dining mecca, world-renowned as Florida’s answer to Madison and Fifth Avenues. In fact, city sophisticates may want a break from all the couture salons like Chanel, Hermes, Escada, Gucci, Fiandaca, Armani, Ferragamo et al, to sample some of Worth Avenue’s own. Fine stores such as clothier Maus & Hoffman, Hamilton’s Jewelers, Kassatly’s fine linens, Barry Kieselstein-Cord’s ornamental accessories, The Purple Turtle children’s wear and Maryanna Suzanna’s imported Italian gifts and homewares, all have staunch Palm Beach tradition and a loyal following. These Worth Avenue classics are joined by newer-comers like La Boutique de Golf, all catering to the worldly and well-heeled visitors and residents of Palm Beach. After all, it’s not just the Jones’ we’re keeping up with here! It’s the Kennedys, Pulitzers and Trumps, so put on your comfortable strolling shoes—or stop by Rangoni of Florence, Charles Jourdan, or Bally, to get a new pair, as you make your way and show your Worth—Avenue.

Antiques abound from A to Z, from the Grande Armee’s collection of military regalia to Zaras Antiques, with a block of dazzling windows on the west end of the Avenue. Treasures from around the world, or from dowager’s estates, or from Palm Beach’s roots, tracing back to the distinguished days of architect, Addison Mizner and Paris Singer (heir to the Singer sewing machines), can be found tucked in various shops and galleries along way. Should gallery browsing be your penchant, you’ll not want to miss the Ambassador gallery, with museum quality furnishings and accessories, the Wally Findlay collection of 19th and 20th century masters, the Rice & Falkenberg contemporary art gallery, or the Gallery Via Veneto, filled with brass sculptures that spill over onto its patio.

Home décor and gift emporiums like Amen Wardy, Johnnie Brown’s and Claire Murray Lifestyle, carry the fine and unusual. Jewelry stores ranges from Cartier, Tiffany and Tourneau, to The Golden Basket, with a Nantucket flair—or you can find a striking Palm Beach original design from Mia at Lindsay & Brattan. She is found in the Esplanade, a chic, 2-story shopping and dining complex at the east end of the Avenue, anchored by Saks, and rumored to be the future site for Neiman Marcus.

Since most of the 250 stores close at night and on Sundays, you’ll no doubt be ready for some refreshments after all that daytime shopping. Then the fun really starts, as many Palm Beach bars are ensconced in fabulous restaurants that turn to later night hot spots, after appetites are sated and thirsts whet.

You can stay on Worth Avenue for a cocktail at Ta-Boo American Bistro & Bar, or start at Chuck & Harold’s, a casual patio-style bar and restaurant on Royal Poinciana Way, frequented by locals as well as tourists. Also just off the Avenue on North County Road, is a charming little landmark, The Paramount. A former classic movie theater, The Paramount hosts Bistro Spagnuolo with an alfresco flair, as well as specialty retail, including jewelry, cashmeres, children’s wear, and Deborah James’ eclectic fashion-forward lines.

Of course, you can jaunt back to The Breakers Bar for a quick beverage and to freshen up, because you have a night filled with fine dining, drinking and dancing ahead! Palm Beach is famous for the former and infamous for the latter, so get ready to savor a wide range of choices from Victorian elegance at Coconut Row’s Centennial Dining Salon, to the opulence of Bradley Place’s Janeiro, for fine French cuisine, served on exclusive Versace place settings. Try Morton’s on South Flagler for a traditional steak house or sample Palm Beach traditions like Café L’Europe, or Renato’s where a romantic piano serenades outdoor and indoor diners. Newer favorites like Amici Ristorante and Bar and The Galaxy Grill are on South County road, just blocks from Worth Avenue and feature not only fantastic menus, but service and atmosphere that have earned them status as THE places to see and be seen. Galaxy clears the floor after dinner for late-night dancing, and Worth Avenue’s well-known Ta-Boo, likewise turns dance club after dinner. Those who prefer to linger over an after-dinner drink can find piano bar entertainment and Italian cuisine at Acquarino in the Esplanade. The Leopard Lounge at The nearby Chesterfield Hotel is another Palm Beach “flavorite,” known for its exotic atmosphere and Jungle menu—not to mention fabulous martinis.

And have you heard about the renaissance of West Palm Beach and the hot and trendy Clematis Street? Well, even the blue bloods have ventured across the bridge to explore the street that combines alternative dance clubs, with martini and cigar bars, coffee houses and art galleries. A stroll down Clematis Street offers engaging people watching, dining and entertainment like dueling pianos at Zazu City Grill or the piano bar at Daddy O’s. A intracoastal waterview can be enjoyed from Pescatore or at the casual Bimini Bay Café—a water “glimpse” is available from the outdoor tables at the popular new Spoto’s Oyster Bar, just off Datura Street, or saunter down Clematis to trendy Sforza for dining or later-night dancing.

If you’re tired from all this revelry and could relax over a leisurely round of golf, The Breakers offers two fine courses, one on site and one to the west, or visit West Palm Beach’s stellar Emerald Dunes, where carts are equipped with state-of-the art GPS monitors, so you’ll always be on-target.

And if you’d like to go for a drive, rent a Jaguar, Bentley, Porsche, or Mercedes—or even a Lamborgini, from Luxury Car Rental by calling 561-820-0003 (check the website at or email for a reservation. Or, you can opt for a limo from Hotel Transportation (through the concierge, or X7680 on hotel phones), or from Aristocrat Limousine Service on Worth Avenue, at 561-659-0302. It’s a short limo or cab ride to visit The Gardens of the Palm Beaches (by PGA Boulevard, east off I-95), a simply gorgeous mall, with an outdoor feel, anchored by Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Burdines, with 180 other fine specialty shops. A cruise along AIA, poffers a view of some of the most impressive coastline and oceanfront estates on the east coast. Other worthwhile sites are The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum for insight into Palm Beach’s eminent history, or the prestigious Norton Museum of Art (South Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach), now showing the impressive Dale Chilhuly Installation of Glass Art.

If you need a dose of healthy recovery, try renting a bicycle from the hotel and explore Palm Beach from an athletic point of view—after all, it is Spring in Florida and shorts and casual attire are always de riguer!

PHOTOS – “In Order of Appearance”

Palm Beach – General (includes shot of Galaxy Grill)
Maryanna Suzanna Gifts & Homewares
Rice & Falkenberg Gallery
Clematis Street – West Palm Beach
The Gardens of the Palm Beaches