PALM BEACH, Fla. — Many of the waterfront mansions are shuttered for the season, and there are few yachts at the private docks along the Intracoastal. The theater season doesn't start until late October, concerts and art exhibits at the Society for the Four Arts are on hiatus until November, and the walking tours of Worth Avenue won't start again until late November.
But that doesn't mean there's not a weekend getaway's worth of music, art, bicycling, shopping, sightseeing, antiquing and dining in Palm Beach and across the Intracoastal in West Palm Beach.
And for those who crave
la dolce vita but don't want to spend high-season rates of more than $500 a night at the city's luxury hotels, some of those same hotels are offering rooms at less than $200 in late summer and early fall. Some have special deals in their restaurants and spas as well.
Tempted? Here are some things you can do in the two cities connected by the Royal Park Bridge.
Art After Dark. In one room, a painter is demonstrating a few watercolor techniques. In the atrium around the corner, magicians are entertaining the crowd with tricks. In the next room, another artist is demonstrating how to draw comic-book heroes, and in the auditorium, Spock and Darth Vader are arguing over which is better: "Star Wars" or "Star Trek."
It's Thursday night, time for the Norton Museum of Art's weekly Art After Dark program, which brings art and artists together with the public in a more casual environment that includes live music, food and cocktails.
The program is from 5-9 p.m. every Thursday at the Norton, 1451 S. Olive Ave., 561-832-5196, www.norton.org. Admission $12 for adults, $5 for ages 13 to 21. The Norton will be closed Sept. 12-30 to reinstall its galleries of European and American art; Art After Dark resumes on Oct. 6.
Go antiquing. Antique Row along South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach has more than 30 shops. Although business slows in the summer, the shops stay open and their owners refresh their stock. South Dixie Highway between Southern Boulevard and Belvedere Road; westpalm beachantiques.com/.
Stop and smell the flowers. Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach has 14 acres of gardens: the butterfly garden, the rose garden, herb and vegetables gardens, a display of succulents, exotic trees, tropical fruits and more, plus some lovely sculptures.
559 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach; 561-233-1757; www.mounts.org. Open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, noon-4 p.m. Admission: suggested donation of $5.
Revisit the Cold War. On Peanut Island, at the mouth of the Lake Worth Inlet not far from the former Kennedy estate at Palm Beach, are a bunker and command center built for President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The bunker is 25 feet underground and includes a radio room and decontamination chamber as well as living quarters. After Kennedy's assassination, the facilities fell into disrepair and were flooded. The site was later was restored by the Palm Beach Maritime Museum and furnished with replica items.
The museum, located in the old Coast Guard station, offers tours of the Kennedy Bunker between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Admission: $10; $9 seniors; $5 students. The island, which is not natural but was built of materials from dredging, is itself a park that includes campgrounds, picnic shelters and some prime snorkeling spots.
The island is accessible by private boat or shuttles from the Riviera Beach Marina, 200 E. 13th St., Riviera Beach, 561-339-2504, or the Palm Beach Water Taxi, Sailfish Marina Resort, 98 Lake Drive, Singer Island, 561-683-8294; www.sailfishmarina.com.
Visit the place where The Season started. Henry Flagler, he of Overseas Railroad fame, built Whitehall — a 75-room, 60,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion — as a winter home. He and his bride, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, entertained regularly there, establishing The Season for Palm Beach society.
Today Whitehall is Flagler Museum, still notable for its opulence. The Grand Hall, at the entry, has a grand double staircase, seven kinds of marble, a bust of Caesar Augustus, a fabulous ornate clock made of rosewood and bronze, and a ceiling decorated with a painting of Pythia, the priestess of the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
One Whitehall Way, Palm Beach; 561-655-2833; www.flagler museum.us. Open noon-5 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, closed Monday. Admission $18; $10 ages 13-17; $3 ages 6-12; free under age 6.
Bicycle among the rich and famous. Or at least among their houses.
The Lake Trail, built by Henry Flagler so guests at Whitehall would have a place to stroll, runs for six miles along the Intracoastal in Pam Beach. It starts at the docks south of Royal Palm Way and runs to the northern tip of Palm Beach.
This wide, smooth strip of asphalt runs between mansions and their docks. Early morning and evenings are the best choices in summer. Parking places include Flagler Museum and the Society of the Four Arts near the south end, and the Publix grocery store on the north end on Sunset Avenue.
Sit in a sculpture garden. Although most of the Society of the Four Arts' programs are on hiatus, the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden is open to the public daily for free. The park is a botanical garden with rare species of plants and beautifully groomed grounds. Striking sculptures, realistic and abstract, are set amid the plantings. Benches set in shady spots under trees and vine-covered pergolas invite visitors to read or meditate.
2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach; 561-655-7227; www.fourarts.org. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free.
Cruise the Intracoastal. If you've wondered who could afford those sprawling mansions — or better yet, who could afford to live in them just a few months each year — the captains/tour guides of the Palm Beach Water Taxi will tell you. Some of the owners' names you'll recognize. Unless you're an avid reader of the business pages, many of the homeowners are industrialists and entrepreneurs whose products and company names are more familiar than their own.
If you just want to be out on the water, this 90-minute lap around the Lake Worth Lagoon portion of the Intracoastal Waterway is both entertaining and refreshing — especially if you hit the 10 a.m. tour before the temperature soars.
The taxi sails out of Sailfish Marina, 98 Lake Dr., Singer Island; 561-683-TAXI; www.sailfishmarina.com. Tours at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Cost: Adults $28, children $14, children 3 and under free. Palm Beach Water Taxi also provides shuttles to the foot of Clematis Street ($15) and to Peanut Island ($10); call for times.
Palm Beach's luxury hotels are offering a variety of discounts. Here's a sampling:
The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club, 301 Australian Ave.; 561-655-7740; www.braziliancourt.com .The hotel is offering Florida residents rooms starting at $179, including valet parking, through Sept. 30, a $35 savings.
The Breakers, 1 S.County Rd.; 888-BREAKERS (273-2537); www.thebreakers.com. Summer rates start at $269 through Sept. 30, compared to $499 in high season. In October, rates start at $319, and in November, $389.Rates include unlimited fitness classes, tennis and WiFi, plus some weekday benefits such as kids' camp and valet parking. In addition, greens fees are discounted.
The Chesterfield Hotel Palm Beach, 363 Cocoanut Row; 561-659-5800 or 800-243-7871; www.chesterfieldpb.com. The Florida Resident Special has rooms from $127.20, including breakfast, a 20 percent savings, until Oct. 31.The hotel's 3 for 2 Promotion offers three nights for the price of two starting at $159 per night, a one-third savings. See website for details of other packages, including the Road Trip Package, two nights starting at $370 with other credits or discounts, through Sept. 30.
The Colony Hotel Palm Beach, 155 Hammon Ave.; 561-655-5430; www.thecolonypalmbeach.com. The Colony offers a Florida residents rate of $175, a $15 savings, through Oct. 31. Also see the hotel's website for details of other packages, including "Showtime at the Colony" (two-night stay, Royal Room dinner and show for two) for $500 through Labor Day weekend, and the "Girls Just Want to Have Fun Package" (lodging for up to four in a two-bedroom villa with Nieman Marcus makeovers and other amenities) for $495 per night based on a two-night stay through Sept. 30.
Four Seasons Palm Beach, 2800 S. Ocean Blvd.; 561-582-2800; www.fourseasons.com/palmbeach. The resort offers a resident rate starting at $180, including valet parking, through Sept. 30 (a 67 percent savings from high season rates).
The Omphoy Ocean Resort, 2842 S. Ocean Blvd.; 561-540-6440; www.omphoy.com. The Simply Summer Package offers 30 percent off best available room rates until Sept. 30. That means, for example, $153.30 for a basic room with an Intracoastal view or $286.30 for a room with oceanview veranda. The package also includes daily continental breakfast, 50 percent off parking, and a $25 credit in Exhale Spa. In addition, Michelle Bernstein at The Omphoy offers a three-course prix fixe dinner for $35 Sundays through Thursdays.
The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-533-6000; www.ritzcarlton.com/palmbeach. For certain rooms booked 72 hours in advance, the rate is $189 (usually $229) until Sept. 30. In addition, the Beauty and the Beach Package is $379 a night (usually $629) for a balcony room and a $200/night credit toward Eau Spa by Cornelia treatments through Sept 15. Through Oct. 31, the spa also offers shorter treatments at reduced prices. And the Temple Orange restaurant has a $35 three-course prix fixe dinner (a 25 percent discount) through Sept. 30.
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