Tropical Paradise vs Cultural Capital
POSTED ON July 28, 2017 - 5000 North Ocean
It’s Always the Same. As a longtime Palm Beach County resident, I’m used to hearing visitors tell me why they come here-for the weather and the beaches. And I agree. We do have great weather and beautiful beaches. So, here’s a little known fact: Palm Beach County has more cultural venues and events per capita than any destination south of Atlanta. In fact, if you take the time to wash the sand off your feet and look around, you will find wonderful museums, art galleries, performance venues and so much more.
Here is the two-day cultural itinerary I recommend to my visitors-who are always shocked and pleasantly surprised by both the quality and quantity it contains.
The first day is dedicated to West Palm Beach. Start out at the Norton Museum of Art, a fabulous, always expanding institution. The permanent collection features American, Chinese, European and Contemporary art, along with a collection of renowned photography. Works by diverse artists, including Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Rubens, Georgia O’Keeffe and Jackson Pollock are displayed. Visiting exhibitions are engaging.
After you grab some lunch, head to West Palm Beach’s Antique Row. This charming district includes 40 antique shops, specialty shops and art galleries, all within walking distance. This fabulous find is not yours alone, however, as it’s been gushed about in Architectural Digest, The New York Times, Art & Antiques, and House Beautiful. A world of treasures is here, waiting to be discovered.
If you have time, stop by The Armory Arts Center, an impressive local treasure housed in a historic art deco building. Though one day may not be enough to participate in The Armory’s incredible list of art classes, there are always events going on here, including exhibitions, art salons and lectures.
After dinner, head to a show at The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, a world-class performance venue celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Whether you prefer ballet, classical music, opera, pop, musical theater, drama or any other performance genre, you’re sure to find it on the Kravis schedule.
Begin your second day of arts immersion on the pristine island of Palm Beach. Here, you will find the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum with its immaculate Whitehall, the winter home of Henry Flagler, the man who brought tourism, transportation and so much more to help create modern Florida. This sparkling tribute to America’s Gilded Age is a National Historic Landmark. While here, take a guided tour and enjoy the current exhibit.
After lunch, it’s time to explore some more. Stop by The Society of the Four Arts. This special place is dedicated to art, music, drama and literature. Since 1936, this institution has been offering a variety of top cultural programming, from notable speakers to art exhibitions, concerts and films to educational programs. If you time it right, catch one of its inspirational programs. Otherwise, stop by the beautiful sculpture and botanical gardens and just enjoy the day. When you’re ready to move on, head to Worth Avenue, where among the top tier boutiques, you’ll find a variety of impressive galleries, showcasing everything from ornate antiques to clean-lined, modern art.
If you still have some energy left after dinner, head back across the bridge to West Palm and catch a Palm Beach Dramaworks production on lively Clematis Street. It’s sure to be a quality end to a very busy and cultural two days. And, believe it or not, you’ve only scratched the surface!