When I think of West Palm Beach, I think of a Martini – the quintessential American cocktail. West Palm mirrors the drink’s colorful iconic past… serving as an inspiration for artists, celebrities, politicians and the wealthy. But like the Martini, West Palm has evolved. The destination remains true to its socialite roots and legacy, but a hipper sophistication and youthful spirit now prevails. When once a perpetually tan George Hamilton in a tailored white suit set the standard as the Palm Beach poster boy… no longer. The destination is now eclectic and culturally diverse on many levels.

Combine world class art, theater, dining, shopping and the warm Florida sunshine, and you have a recipe for a wonderful experience.

Wildly shaken or gently stirred, West Palm will quench your thirst for little self-indulgence and R&R.

A lively Friday night performance at the Kravis Performing Arts Center and a nightcap at City Cellar is the perfect way to kick off a West Palm weekend. Wake early for a Saturday morning walk, jog or bike ride along the city waterfront promenade enjoying spectacular views of the Intra-Coastal Waterway. Then, pop over to “the island” for brunch and explore fashionable Worth Avenue, Florida’s famed Rodeo Drive. Ease into the afternoon a with leisurely stroll through Historic El Cid, a neighborhood known for its architecture showcased in stately Old Florida homes and mansions. ( photo courtesy of Palm Beach CVB)
A tour of El Cid would not be complete without a visit to the beautiful Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and the world renowned Norton Museum of Art. The gardens, home to the studio and select works of Ann Norton, second wife to businessman/philanthropist Ralph Hubbard Norton, are a perfect place for reflection and meditation amidst the palms. The Norton Museum of Art, featuring distinguished permanent collections ranging from American to European Art, will celebrate a big birthday on February 8th, 2011 – 70 years as a international treasure. On that special day, visitors will be treated to FREE admission and the opportunity to join in the champagne toast and birthday cake.

Even after a full day of sightseeing, you will still have time before the sun sets, to sneak in some power shopping. City Place, just minutes from the Norton Museum is the perfect spot. Over 100 shops and restaurants, including a Macy’s, Panera Bread, Barnes and Noble, and South Florida’s popular Taverna Opa, will keep even the most discerning travel diva happy. Cityplace also boasts its very own cultural and performing arts center, the Harriett Himmel Theatre, which dates back to 1926.

Wind down with drinks and dinner on Clematis Street just north of City Place in Historic Downtown West Palm. Clematis is funky and flavorful and a top local favorite for nightlife.

Sunday…time to sleep in…and soak in the rays poolside for a few hours. By 1p.m., be dressed and ready to partake in the Flagler Museum’s Gilded Age Luncheon. This special seasonal tradition is a “Full Tea” hosted in the Beaux Arts Cafe, designed in the style of a 19th Century railway palace, overlooking Lake Worth. The prix-fix menu includes an assortment of tea sandwiches, scones, and sweets served with the Flager Museum’s own custom tea blend. Reservations are highly recommended.

Through January 2, 2011, the Flagler Museum will host an exciting exhibit honoring renowned architect, Addision Mizner, the father of Palm Beach Style, and the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of Palm Beach.

You can only get a taste of West Palm Beach in a weekend. Be sure to extend your stay at a savings with some very special offers.

Take the time to enjoy all that West Palm Beach has to offer …  a refreshing escape… to sip and savor like a good martini!

Best Bet – Accommodations:
Travel Diva Top Pick: HOTEL BIBA -Affordable Small Boutique Hotel with complimentary parking, breakfast and wi-fi. Hotel Biba was originally a Motor Lodge – one of the first built in the U.S. Miami Designer, Barbara Hulanicki, has brought new life to the property with her signature avant-garde colorful touches. The rooms are simplistic, unique, colorful, and awash with hip South Florida design. A 5 Star location within walking distance to Norton Museum, Waterfront, Ann Norton Gardens and El Cid Historic District.