What constitute neighborhoods in Palm Beach are really surrounding towns, such as West Palm Beach and Delray Beach. That’s because the island of Palm Beach, as opposed to the county of Palm Beach, is really just a barrier island barely over 16 miles long. So while this wealthy township offers its own brand of amusement—socializing at local watering holes, upscale shopping and yachting—just a short drive will expand the possibilities to include cultural institutions, zoos, water parks and still more shopping and dining.
Downtown Delray Beach
This unpretentious little village is a stress-free zone, where residents walk to most places and spirits are generally high. When you explore the main drag, Atlantic Avenue, you’ll find a string of unique stores, cafes and bars. There’s also the Pineapple Grove Arts District, where creativity manifests itself everywhere, from the pastel hues of the historic houses to psychedelic motifs on cars and signs. Festivals are big here. The Delray Affair is held each spring, Art & Jazz on the Avenue takes place six times a year, the Delray Beach Garlic Fest is three days of eating and entertainment. The Gallery Walk—less a festival than a Friday night event combining art appreciation, live music and food—happens almost every week.
Royal Palm Beach
This 11-square-mile self-contained village in the center of Palm Beach County is known for its well-manicured, serene atmosphere. The natural beauty of the area is embraced and emphasized: There are 7.5 acres of park for every 1,000 residents, and all parks are maintained at the loftiest of standards. The National Arbor Day Foundation has named Royal Palm Beach a Tree City USA annually for the past 20 years, and the entire area within the village limits is a designated bird sanctuary.
Downtown West Palm Beach
Downtown West Palm Beach is actually a city, not a “neighborhood,” but if you’re going to Palm Beach, you’ve got to check it out. It was founded after some landowners on Palm Beach island decided to evict the town’s mostly African-American domestic workers and relocate them to the mainland side of the coastal lagoon, Lake Worth. Since then, West Palm Beach has become a vibrant city on its own. The main drag is Clematis Street, starting at Flagler Drive on the Intracoastal Waterway and extending west. This stretch of real estate is lively by day, thanks to its many popular boutiques, antiques stores and historical landmarks; at night, the restaurants, bars and clubs light up into the night.
An equestrian community with nearly 60 miles of public bridle paths designed for running, biking, inline skating and horseback riding, this is the home of the famous International Polo Club Palm Beach. Actor Tommy Lee Jones, an avid horseman and player, purchased his own 50-acre piece of paradise in Wellington and winters here with his family. The polo season (January-April) is one of great excitement for locals and visitors alike, who come out to watch the high-goal competitions, including the Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Polo Championship, and to enjoy the Winter Equestrian Festival. The polo grounds are a great place to star-gaze during competitions. There’s a grand tradition of tailgating, though Mercedes sport coupes don’t really have proper tailgates and the provisions tend to run more toward steak and champagne rather than brats and beer.
Part of Riviera Beach, located in the east central region of Palm Beach County, Singer Island is a peninsula named after Paris Singer of sewing machine fame, who, according to local lore, bought it as a gift for his mistress. It’s home to parks, marinas, hiking and bicycle paths, and sandy white beaches popular for strolling. The remarkable natural habitat, home to sea turtles, numerous species of birds and spectacular plant life, is highly prized and cared for by residents who volunteer to aid in its preservation.