Considered by many to be the quintessential winter address, Palm Beach has delighted full-time residents and winter visitors alike for over a century. This exclusive island, only 16 miles long and less than a half-mile across at its widest point is famous for its lush tropical beauty. It is unique in that the island maintains a small-town atmosphere while still providing world-class shopping, celebrated chefs with renowned restaurants and a fabulous lifestyle. There is no place on Earth like Palm Beach – and Palm Beachers enjoy a way of life that is second to none. It’s no surprise that people the world over consider Palm Beach to be one of the most desirable places in the world to own property.
Palm Beach’s Midtown: The properties that are “in-town’ can offer a lifestyle that is both elegant and easy. Imagine being able to stroll to dinner Chez Jean-Pierre, to shop on Worth Avenue for the finest couture, to grab drinks at Bice or Cucina, to play golf at the Breakers or have friends stay the Chesterfield or the Brazilian Court – all so close and convenient. In midtown, you have the finest of everything at your doorstep, or you can choose to do absolutely nothing and spend the day at the beach. The options are delicious.
Midtown is generally considered the area from Worth Avenue north to Wells Road. It offers the greatest number of choices when it comes to real estate. There are adorable beach cottages from the 20s and 30s, grand beachfront estates, townhomes, in-town condominiums that make the perfect pied-a-tierre and homes along the lake and Lake Trail. It’s easy to fall in love with a property in-town. There area a tremendous number of styles from Mediterranean Revival Estates, to charming bungalows and beach cottages from the 20s and 30s, sprawling Regency style homes to Bermuda and West Indies styles – even grand Dutch Colonials that give a hint of the Hamptons and a nod to northeastern beach cottages. The gorgeous Spanish Revival style of Addison Mizner and those who followed him set the stage in the downtown along Worth Avenue and the Vias that have fabulous boutiques. Many one-of-a-kind stores and dining establishments add to the flavor of a downtown that frowns on chain stores and celebrates the stylish and the graceful.
And while in-town living is certainly fun, it is no less elegant. Some of the most fabulous properties are in-town, including the estate of the family of Estee Lauder and industrialist David Koch’s house overlooking the ocean. Neighbors include Slim-Fast founder S. Daniel Abraham, author Ann Coulter, Blackstone Group co-founder Stephen Schwarzman and Jimmy Buffet (now that he sold his house in the estate section).
In-town selection runs the gamut: Smaller oceanview condos and small beach cottages start under $2 million. Three-to-four bedroom homes and townhouses often sell in the $3 to 5 million range. Signature in-town estates run from $5 to 15 million. Ocean and lakefront properties are typically available in the $15 to 75 million range.
Palm Beach’s North End: North of Wells Road, the island gets quieter and more relaxing as you head to the northern tip of Palm Beach where the Lake Worth Lagoon meets the Atlantic Ocean at the Palm Beach Inlet. This is perhaps where Palm Beach feels the most beachy. Like all of Palm Beach, the beach is easily accessible from most of the north end. Some streets even have little beach cabanas for use of the residents.
The area is serene. There are fewer airplanes and fewer cars. There is no real reason for traffic as the north end is almost entirely residential, save the three country clubs. This area is sometimes divided in two as people who live in the north end may say “we live north of the clubs” or “south of the clubs.” They are referring to the The Beach Club and the Palm Beach Country Club which are in the middle and divide the two areas. A third club, the Sailfish Club is up towards the northern tip on the lake side with dockage for its members.
The north end is probably most famous for being the home of the former Kennedy Estate. A little island in the lake called Peanut Island actually has a bunker built so that JFK could be whisked there in case of trouble during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was also featured on TV’s The Apprentice as the location of the estate where the winner would be in charge of renovating one of Palm Beach’s grandest oceanfront estates. Neighbors in the north end include golf great Ray Floyd, Ambassador Nancy Brinker and talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.
One of my favorite spots in Palm Beach is the Lake Trail, a pedestrian and bicycle trail that runs along the lake from the Society of the Four Arts on Royal Palm Way all the way up to the Sailfish Club. It is a beautiful place for a walk during the day or seeing the sun set over the lake and West Palm Beach at sunset. It is the oldest “street” in Palm Beach and was the way that the early Palm Beachers got around before automobiles.
The waterfront homes of the north end are particularly popular with boaters as the proximity to the inlet provides a quick trip out to the most fruitful fishing spots and a straight shot to the Bahamas.
The north end has a variety of homes from beachfront and lakefront estates to beachy cottages and 1950s ranch homes. The little Bermuda and ranch homes are relatively affordable – starting at a little over $2 million – and are popular. The north end is also home to some new construction as some of these smaller homes are razed to make way for newer bigger homes, often built in Bermuda, Georgian or British West Indies styles. The waterfront estates in the north end range from approximately $10 to $100 million.
Palm Beach’s Estate Section: When driving along the ocean through the estate section, you will notice something curious. To the east, cerulean seas splash the gorgeous sand beach. But many drivers are looking away from the ocean, to the west. Only in Palm Beach! They are not snubbing the ocean vistas, it is just that the estates along South Ocean Boulevard are so breathtaking, you simply have to look. Even the non-waterfront homes are impressive as the estate section has larger pieces of land that have allowed for tremendous homes.
The estate section is generally regarded as the section that stretches south from Worth Avenue down to Sloan’s Curve. Near town, you are close to everything, including the Everglades Club golf course – some homes estates have both golf and water vistas. To the south and west of the golf course is an exclusive little island off of this exclusive little island called Everglades Island with tremendous lakefront properties.
One of the most fabulous homes built in the estate section is Mar-a-Lago, originally built for E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, now home to Donald Trump’s private club.
The southern end of the estate section features some incredible ocean-to-lake properties with tunnels under S. Ocean Boulevard to private beach cabanas.
Neighbors in the estate section include artist Netscape founder James Clark, the DuPont Estate, Manchester United and Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer, Metromedia Chairman John Kluge, entrepreneur and America’s Cup winner Bill Koch, Wall Street guru Terry Allen Kramer, the former John Lennon estate, Matrix Essentials founder Sydell Miller, author James Patterson, Washington Redskins part-owner Dwight Schar, former Pepsi CEO Christopher Sinclair, rocker Rod Stewart, Enterprise Rent-a-Car founder Jack Taylor, Ivana Trump and Palm Beach icon Lilly Pulitzer.
Lots in the estate section should begin at around $5 million. Non-waterfront properties are usually available from $7 to 30 million or so. Lakefront estates range from $15 to 50 million. Oceanfront estates range from about $20 million to $100 million.
South of Sloan’s Curve: Heading south from Palm Beach, as you leave the estate section, you enter the Southend of Palm Beach with many choices of condominium buildings on both sides of the road. The town’s Par 3 golf course , recently redesigned by Palm Beacher and golf champion Ray Floyd, winds along the oceanfront. The Four Seasons Palm Beach is in this section as well, near the Lake Worth pier and public beach. Phipps Ocean Park has tennis facilities and lifeguarded beaches.
For those who love condo living, this area has a large variety of choices, with oceanview units starting around $300,000 for a one bedroom and $1 million for a two bedroom with direct east ocean views.