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More Absolutely Florida

West Palm Beach is making a name
for itself. A big name when it comes to an affordable destination that doesn't seem to run out of ways to please
visitors and residents alike.

Above left, a typical Deco style home. Right, cooling off in the famous fountain at Clematis Street.

West Palm Beach Events
For more information, contact City of West Palm Beach, 561/659-8007

This year's 4th on Flagler celebration takes place from 5 pm until 10 pm - with three stages for entertainment, activities for the kids. a cook-off contest, lots of refreshments and of course, a first-class 25-minute fireworks display.

Clematis by Night
Fountain Side Concert at Centennial Square, 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

4th on Flagler
Along Flagler Drive, East Library Grounds & Meyer Amphitheatre, 5:00 p.m. - l0:00 p.m.

Clematis by Night
Fountain Side Concert at Centennial Square, 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Clematis by Night Back to School
5:30p.m. - 9:00p.m.

Clematis by Night
Fountain Side Concert at Centennial Square, 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Clematis by Night
Fountain Side Concert at Centennial Square, 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Clematis by Fright
Meyer Amphitheatre 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

West Palm Beach GreenMarket Opens
Narcissus Ave. And 2nd St., 7:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

AIDS Walk & Run for Life
Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach County, Inc., 561/687-3400 Meyer Amphitheatre and Along Flagler Drive, 7:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

American Heart Walk
American Heart Association 561/655-8155 Myer Amphitheatre & Flagler Drive, 6 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Clematis by Night
Fountain Side Concert at Centennial Square, 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

West Palm Beach GreenMarket Narcissus Ave. and 2nd St., 7:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Pleasant City Recreation Center, 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Holiday Tree Procession
Clematis Street & Centennial Square, 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Clematis by Night
Fountain Side Concert at Centennial Square, 5:30p.m. - 9:00p.m.

West Palm Beach GreenMarket Narcissus Ave. and 2nd St., 7:00a.m. - 1 :00p.m.

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Centennial Square, 6:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.

West Palm Listings



Bed & Breakfasts






Performing Arts

Nearby State Parks

Nearby Palm Beach




What started as a service community for the tony island of Palm Beach just to its east more than a century ago is now bursting forth as a center of entertainment and fine dining that even Palm Beachers look to for a night out.

Less than a decade ago, West Palm Beach could point to little more than a cramped, makeshift courthouse, a decaying downtown and once stately neighborhoods that were not aging well.

Compared to that dismal picture, the now revitalized city and county seat is hardly recognizable. The burgeoning community can now boast a shiny new courthouse, revitalized neighborhoods that have reclaimed their place in the city's history and future and a multiple-block strip of restaurants, clubs, national and local retailers unrivaled in South Florida.

Trendy My Martini serves up 65 different cocktail
These days, just mention "West Palm Beach," and "Clematis Street" will most likely pop into the mind of anyone who has spent a minimum of five minutes in this once again proud city. Clematis Street, the city's main drag, has even caught the attention of the likes of Donald Trump who called it, "The hottest street in Florida" during a recent interview with People magazine.

And with good reason.

With it's dizzying array of upscale restaurants, casual pubs, coffeehouses and dance clubs - with a ready contingent to support each and every option - it's an unqualified "must" for anyone visiting this part of Florida's Gold Coast.

Though any night is a good night on Clematis Street, Thursday is the

The fountain at the foot of Clematis Street is ground zero
for much of West Palm's outdoor fun.
hottest as the city hosts a weekly street party - "Clematis by Night." It all starts at Nancy M. Graham Centennial Park - home to a street-level fountain that seems to have a mind of its own. While children spend hours on end dashing and splashing around and through the unpredictable yet synchronized jets of water, adults gather for the free concerts in front of the city's library featuring the best in blues, rock, reggae and other musical draws that set the tone for the night ahead.

With Centennial Park as "ground zero," the crowd swells west along the pedestrian-friendly strip, stopping for a pint of Guinness at Rooney's Public House - an authentic Irish pub down to the last detail, from its furnishings to its open, welcoming no-reservations atmosphere. Others opt for the more trendy, see and be seen atmosphere of My Martini, where they sip - what else? - martinis of course. And we're not talking just any old martinis, but a choice of 65 different mixtures, one of the most popular being the Key Lime martini, complete with a graham cracker rim. If coffee is your fuel of choice, just across the street is the comfortably familiar Starbucks - this one with an unrivaled location for a leisurely game of backgammon, indoors or out.

Further west up Clematis Street, you can venture into its latest addition to the club scene - Bliss. It's velvet furnishings soften the edge of the pounding music without draining any energy from the Miami/South Beach setting.

Keeping with its unwritten code of eclecticism, the street slips into a more casual mode the further west you go, with Spanky's - one loud sports bar with tiny television sets in every booth - as just one of the more popular watering holes. Ray's Downtown Blues & Soul - its name speaks for itself - shares the west end of the street with Respectable Street Café, an early bastion of the alternative music scene that took root before Clematis Street was even on the map.

West Palm Beach is Spring headquarters of
world-class Polo.
Intersecting the now famous thoroughfare is Dixie Highway, the unapologetic, totally non-glamorous north/south route through the city dominated primarily by small, not-so-pretty yet no-nonsense businesses such as auto parts stores, locksmiths and even a commercial plastics distributor.

But take another look.

South Dixie Highway is a browser's - and buyer's - paradise with its largely unheralded but unsurpassable Antique Row, offering up treasure troves of everything from trinkets to honest-to-goodness finds to those willing to take a short drive off the glamour path.

With a funky personality all its own, South Dixie Highway quietly plugs along, serving up some of the finest ethnic food this side of any border.

Havana Restaurant is a good place to start for a lunch of black beans and rice with a side of fried plantains. Wash it down with a shot of Cuban coffee and you're good to go for the rest of the day. Or maybe your tastes tend toward more toward the exotic. In that case, Wattana Thai Restaurant and India Garden serve up fare far away from the traditional dining experience of steak and potatoes or the now-standard pasta. Craig's, An American Bistro, is another excellent choice if you're up for adventure. The philosophy of this hipster eatery is to offer the finest and freshest fare with a flair. That can mean seared tuna seared with an unconventional sweet chili sauce. Lest it sound as though West Palm Beachers and their guests do nothing but eat, check out special events scheduled throughout the year. Though the city has no oceanfront, it does have a breathtaking lakefront thanks to the Intracoastal Waterway, otherwise known as Lake Worth. The picture perfect setting is the perfect backdrop for the annual Palm Beach Tropical Flower & Garden Show sponsored by the Horticulture Society of South

SunFest, held each May, is Florida's largest music, art and
waterfront festival, attracting thousands to beautiful Flagler
Drive. SunFest 2001 will be held May 3 - 7.
Florida each February. Local landscapers literally create sprawling gardens for the event to give at least of glimpse of all that is possible in a subtropical climate. For the less ambitious, on-site lectures and workshops encourage the beginning gardener to spruce up a balcony with salt tolerant plants orchids that literally live on South Florida air and little else. Others flock to the lakefront's Flagler Drive each spring for SunFest - the city's most popular art and musical festival which features a juried art show and top performers that have included blues legend B.B. King, jazz great Kenny G and those pop icons, the B-52's. And like any self-respecting city, West Palm Beach isn't about to let something like the nation's birthday slip by unnoticed. It hosts 4th on Flagler - an extravaganza of musical entertainment, food and - of course - fireworks over the otherwise quiet waterway.

A young family soaks up the warm sun and cool breezes along the
West Palm Beach waterfront.
In between numerous ethnic festivals and special events, a spacious, paved trail along the waterway offers a serene option for those who just want to go for a quiet stroll alone or with a companion. It is also an irresistible magnet for joggers, cyclists and in-line skaters. And don't overlook one of the most popular sports - seawall sitting, perfect for people watching.

Culture vultures will be glad to know their needs will be well met by a visit to West Palm Beach.

The Great Hall at the Norton Museum of Art.
Jeff Goldberg/Esto photo
The Norton Museum of Art takes a back seat to no one when it comes to the highest of standards. If anyone needs evidence of that claim, they would need to look no further than the collections of American, European and Chinese art and sculpture housed along within the museum's newly-renovated galleries. Need further proof? The Norton this year was one of only five stops on the tour of Angels from the Vatican; The Invisible made Visible - a breathtaking collection of artifacts spanning centuries that one would expect to see only in the nation's major cities.

The Kravitz Center brings the world's best performing Artists
to this culturally aware community.

If only a live performance will do, the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is another venue that brings the world's best to this local stage. Less than a decade old, it quickly made its mark, leaving residents to wonder how they got by without it. On the playbill this year, for example, was Riverdance, along with numerous other sold-out shows that proved South Floridians crave much more than sun and sand.

An endangered Florida panther is one of the exotic creatures
awaiting your visit to the Palm Beach Zoo.
When it's time for the kids to have their say, they can talk to the animals at the Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park.

Rated the top family attraction in the county, this 23-acre tropical gem is home to more than 400 animals hailing from Australia, South America, Central America and Asia. The open air setting allows natural, up-close views of the striking Bengal tiger, the extraordinary Komodo dragon and dozens upon dozens of monkeys who swing through the trees on their own island. Florida is also well represented with its endangered panther. For those who really want to get up close and personal, a walk through the petting zoo is in order where a rotating queue of smaller animals such as baby goats, rabbits and even a parrot perched on a docent's shoulder serve almost as a welcoming committee to all visitors.

Down the road within Dreher Park, the South Florida Science Museum opens its doors to explorers of all ages with its hand-on exhibits, the McGinty Aquarium and the newly-remodeled Aldrin Planetarium.

A service community to a playground for the rich and famous?

That's history.

The view down Flagler Drive, running along the Intracoastal Waterway, known locally as Lake Worth.