by savannah jane buffett| November 30, 2011 |
The Breakers has been a Palm Beach resort destination since 1896.
TOP: The bar at Buccan. BOTTOM: Savannah Jane Buffett
Even though I consider myself a Miami resident these days, having the stomping ground of my youth a mere hour’s drive away always allows for a fun weekend jaunt. My family and I moved to Palm Beach when I was 14, and had an amazing place on South Ocean, right on the beach. I always take the Southern Boulevard exit on the way up so I can cruise through the old neighborhood. The waterfront homes are breathtaking, a true time capsule of architecture and nostalgia paying tribute to a bygone era when Slim Aarons photographed snowbird socialites sipping martinis by their pools.
One of my favorite activities is plopping down at the beach with a chicken-salad hoagie from Sandwiches by the Sea, a great locals’ takeout shop on South County Road. I’m a surfer, and people don’t realize that Palm Beach is a great surf town. For any and all beachy needs, from boards to bikinis, you can check out P.B. Boy’s and Girl’s Club (also on South County). It’s a clubhouse to many kids who grew up on the island, not to mention a great first job (myself included).
For me, The Breakers is the place to stay. Not only is it right on the beach, but it’s also a great playground for kids and grownups alike. The Seafood Bar makes a mean martini and has the coolest aquarium bar, with live fish that appear to be swimming in your cocktail. Then, of course, there are the pools, the golf, the tennis, the spa, and the water sports…. Like I said, a total playground. I have a soft spot in my heart for this resort—I attended the Young Friends of the Red Cross Ball in 1999 and held my Sweet 16 out by one of its pools.
It’s been amazing to see all the new chefs who have come to town: Michelle Bernstein at The Omphoy Ocean Resort, Clay Conley at Buccan, Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud. When I first moved here, there weren’t these kinds of options, mostly just old-guard classics like Ta-boo Restaurant, Renato’s, and Testa’s (which still makes a mean strawberry pie). My favorite for a Friday night is Echo on Sunrise Avenue. The fried rice and Palm Beach roll (a classic California roll smothered in baked conch) are not to be missed, along with a Firecracker cocktail—their killer version of a rum punch.
Worth Avenue, the Rodeo Drive of South Florida
From Echo, it’s an easy walk over to Royal Poinciana Way, where local and old friend Nick Coniglio really holds a monopoly on nightlife for the younger set. First stop is always his restaurant and bar Nick and Johnnies, to have a drink and catch up with old friends. Palm Beach is a small town, so it’s a lot like Cheers whenever I head home— except with a bit more black tie. As a DJ and lover of all things music, it’s been great to see the acts Nick brings in on the weekends, including Miami favorites like Brendan O’Hara and Suenalo, to literally shake things up. Later in the evening, everyone walks down the street to Nick’s other joint, Cucina Dell Arte. By day and evening it’s a lovely Italian restaurant, but come 10 pm, it’s a fullon dance party. Thankfully, the kitchen serves pizza into the wee hours, and Nick keeps the tunes spinning till 3 am, which comes early when you’re having such a good time.
Saturday is a day of leisure, starting at Main Street News on Royal Poinciana Way. It’s been there since 1928 and offers basically every magazine you could ever need or want to buy. For shopping, it’s always great to take a stroll down Worth Avenue. The Vias, those little courtyards designed by Addison Mizner way back when, are charming with a capital “C” and contain lots of little shops and hidden gems like Helen Ficalora, a go-to for jewelry with an amazing collection of charms and chains. As I have designed my own A1A T-shirt line (paying tribute to the Sunshine State), I also like to check out shops like Rapunzel’s Closet, C.Orrico, and Eye of the Needle for the Palm Beach frocks and the latest trends in tropical couture.
Sunday mornings are all about Green’s Pharmacy on North County Road, for some French toast and bacon. Green’s is a classic coffee shop filled with Palm Beach characters grabbing a bite at the Formica countertop. Finally, I always make sure to get out on the water, whether it’s paddle boarding to Peanut Island or heading out with friends like local Chris Leidy, a talented underwater art photographer (leidyimages.com), to do some fishing or diving. It’s important for me not to get lost in the daze of sequins, gossip, and Champagne, and to remember all the reasons I love this quaint, beautiful town.