SD › Best Places to Stay in Palm Beach
Updated: May 4, 2021
Best Areas to Stay in Palm Beach
One of the wealthiest cities in the USA, Palm Beach lies on a long, thin barrier island of gorgeous beaches, posh resorts, and high-end boutiques, separated from the mainland and West Palm Beach by the Intracoastal Waterway and Lake Worth Lagoon. West Palm Beach itself is a separate city, long in the shadow of its glamorous neighbor but with a smattering of attractions in its own right and a much larger (and cheaper) spread of accommodation, especially near the airport. The seaside communities north and south of here tend to be a lot quieter, with Juno Beach especially known for its sea turtle rehabilitation center and less developed stretches of sand. Popular with families, Riviera Beach (including Singer Island) is known for excellent snorkeling and diving. Lake Worth Beach lies on the mainland separated from Palm Beach by the Lake Worth Lagoon (popular for its beaches and watersports) and bordered on the western side by Lake Osborne (popular for boating and fishing).
Palm Tran operates public transport in the region, with a comprehensive network of bus routes ($2 flat fare) – useful for zipping between Downtown West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. Parking in Palm Beach itself can be tough to find and expensive: it’s $5/hour along South Ocean Blvd and at Phipps Ocean Park, and $3/hour in all other metered areas (a few 1-hour and 2-hour free spaces are available on a first-come, first-serve basis). Palm Beach tends to be quietest in the sweltering hot summer months when hotel rates tend to cheapest. Peak season is usually November to May.
Best Places to Stay in Palm Beach & West Palm Beach
- Best Luxury Hotels in Palm Beach/West Palm Beach
Breakers Palm Beach • Colony Hotel • Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach • The Chesterfield Hotel Palm Beach
- Best Boutique Hotels in Palm Beach/West Palm Beach
The Ben • Ambassador • Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club • White Elephant Palm Beach
- Best 3-Star/4-Star Hotels in Palm Beach/West Palm Beach
Atlantic Shores Vacation Villas • Grandview Gardens • Casa Grandview Bed and Breakfast • Palm Beach Historic Inn • Sabal Palm House Bed and Breakfast • Sunshine Shores
- Best Cheap Hotels in Palm Beach/West Palm Beach
Hampton Inn Palm Beach Gardens • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Palm Beach Gardens • SpringHill Suites by Marriott West Palm Beach I-95 • Hampton Inn Juno Beach • Holiday Inn Express North Palm Beach-Oceanview
Best Areas in Palm Beach for…
- Most Romantic Neighborhoods: Palm Beach & Grandview Heights
The exclusive resorts of Palm Beach – Breakers Palm Beach, Chesterfield, Colony, and White Elephant – are undeniably romantic, with restaurants like The Circle (in The Breakers) offering opulent surroundings for brunch or dinner. Daniel Boulud’s high-end French restaurant Café Boulud is also in Palm Beach. A cheaper but equally enticing alternative is Grandview Heights, the historic neighborhood of early 1900s Craftsman bungalows and Mediterranean revival homes just south of Downtown West Palm Beach. It’s home to romantic date spots like Serenity Garden Tea House, the Norton Museum of Art, and Table 26 Palm Beach, as well as two of the region’s best boutique hotels: Grandview Gardens and Casa Grandview Bed and Breakfast.
- Best Neighborhood for Nightlife: Downtown West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is easily the most lively nightlife hub in the area, with everything from boisterous sports bars and pubs to cocktail lounges and nightclubs. There are two primary nightlife areas Downtown – in the open-air Rosemary Square Mall – and just to the north along Clematis Street. The former includes spots such as Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen and City Cellar Wine Bar. Clematis Street is home to premier live venue Respectable Street, O’Shea’s Irish Pub, Roxy’s Pub, and The Loft nightclub, with Camelot cocktail bar nearby. The Ben is the closest hotel to the Clematis Street action.
- Best Neighborhood for Scuba Divers: Riviera Beach/Singer Island
The waters off Palm Beach County, warmed by the Gulf Stream, are rich in marine life, offering outstanding visibility, especially in winter, and ideal drift diving conditions. Riviera Beach/Singer Island offers the best selection of dive shops and tour operators. Most offer shark diving, lobster hunting, and wreck dives, in addition to regular two-tank reef dives (from around $90). Recommended outfits include Calypso Dive Charters, Narcosis, Pura Vida, and Walker’s Dive Charters.
- Best Neighborhood for Food and Restaurants: Downtown West Palm Beach
For gourmet dining, it’s hard to beat Palm Beach, but foodies will appreciate the variety of flavors (and prices) across the lagoon. At the high end, there is Lindsay Autry’s Regional Kitchen and Pistache French Bistro Tacos and small plates are on offer at Avocado Grill, while Asian bites can be had at Kapow Noodle Bar. Find exceptional Colombian coffee at Salento Coffee Shop, with key lime pie the highlight at Ganache Bakery. West Palm Beach GreenMarket runs every Saturday from October through late April (9 am–1 pm).
- Best Neighborhoods for Shopping: Palm Beach and Palm Gardens
Iconic Worth Avenue in Downtown Palm Beach is lined with high-end boutiques, from Jimmy Choo to Louis Vuitton. To the north off Cocoanut Row, Royal Poinciana Plaza is a posh shopping mall of fountains and gardens, featuring everything from swimwear to designer jewelry stores. With more conventional stores, Palm Beach Gardens is a shoppers paradise, crammed with vast open-air malls: Downtown, The Gardens Mall, Legacy Place, PGA Commons, and Mainstreet at Midtown. Palm Beach Gardens is a short drive from Downtown West Palm Beach on I-95 (18 kilometers) but it’s also possible to stay here: the best hotels include Hampton Inn Palm Beach Gardens, Hilton Garden Inn Palm Beach Gardens, and Residence Inn by Marriott Palm Beach Gardens.
- Unsafe Areas of Palm Beach/West Palm Beach
Central Palm Beach/West Palm Beach and the neighborhoods included below are generally quite safe, though the usual precautions should be taken at night.
The Best Places in Palm Beach Area for Tourists
1. Palm Beach
The island of Palm Beach has been a wealthy enclave since business magnate and railroad builder Henry Flagler established legendary hotels here in the 1890s (The Breakers, one of these originals, still stands). Today its beautiful beaches are backed up to some of the most expensive real estate in the US, featuring the Mediterranean-influenced “Palm Beach Style,” but there are also plenty of attractions. Flagler’s “Whitehall,” his lavish former residence, is now the Flagler Museum, while the Society of the Four Arts presents concerts, films, art exhibitions, and two libraries. Lined with palm trees, the main drag of Worth Avenue (pictured above) is filled with designer stores and upscale art galleries ideal for exploration on foot. The city’s culinary scene is highlighted at the annual Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival each winter. In keeping with the surroundings, hotels in Palm Beach are generally luxurious and expensive.
Just across the lagoon from Palm Beach, West Palm Beach has always been in its neighbor’s shadow – the city grew up in the 1890s as a community serving Flagler’s posh Palm Beach hotels. Since the 1990s Downtown has seen a renaissance, however, featuring lively entertainment and shopping districts, especially around Clematis Street (which hits the water at landscaped Centennial Square), and the Rosemary Square Mall. The weekly Clematis by Night live concerts are held every Thursday evening (6:00 p.m. – 9.30 p.m.), while the West Palm Beach GreenMarket runs every Saturday in winter. The premier sight, just to the south, is Norton Museum of Art, with the Richard & Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum a few blocks north.
Some six miles north of Downtown West Palm Beach, the community of Riviera Beach encompasses both the mainland and a section of beach-fringed Singer Island across the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s best known for its family-friendly attractions, especially diving and snorkeling opportunities. The waters below Blue Heron Bridge, which traverses the Intracoastal Waterway, attract squid, octopus, spotted rays, giant starfish, sea turtles, and tropical fish – the Underwater Snorkel Trail at Phil Foster Park comprises limestone boulders and an artificial reef. Manatee Lagoon is free and features educational exhibits and a manatee viewing area, while further inland Rapids Water Park offers pools and slides from March to October. It’s also possible to take a boat at Riviera Beach Marina Village to rustic Peanut Island for more snorkeling and diving, as well as the historic John F. Kennedy Bunker (the latter is a nuclear shelter built-in 1961 – it’s been closed since 2017, but public tours will hopefully restart in the future).
4. Juno Beach
Sleepy Juno Beach, 12 miles north of Downtown West Palm Beach, is best known for its long stretch of (usually empty) sand, protected dunes, and family-friendly attractions. Juno Beach Park (which has plenty of free parking) features 990-foot Juno Beach Pier, a popular spot for strolls, sunrise viewing, and fishing. The pier is managed by nearby Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a sea turtle conservation center and sea life hospital open to the public. Juno Beach is a small community and there’s not a lot of accommodation.
Seven miles south of Downtown West Palm Beach, Lake Worth Beach mostly lies on the mainland across from Palm Beach Island. It’s best known for watersports and the beaches on the island side, but Lake Worth also features a revitalized downtown, boutiques, art galleries, antique stores, and a burgeoning culinary scene. There’s also the mural-smothered Museum of Lake Worth Beach (in the old City Hall Annex), and Palm Beach Pride, the area’s largest LGBTQ+ festival, which takes place here every March. Accommodation in Lake Worth includes some of the best B&Bs in the city. The city also encompasses a tiny section of the island across the lagoon, including Lake Worth Beach Park and the municipal pier, so some of the nearby hotels listed here technically fall inside Palm Beach’s boundaries.