Updated: Feb 3
Palm Beach County has outdoor activities galore, including stunning beaches, beautiful golf courses, and extensive hiking and biking trails. Sometimes the weather forces you to look for other things to do. Sometimes, you just need a break from outdoors. Spending a day exploring the shops of South Dixie Highway and visiting the Norton Museum of Art gives you a completely different perceptive of the Palm Beaches. Conde Nast ranked Palm Beach/West Palm Beach #4 for best shopping in the United States and for a good reason. The shopping is not all high end fashion like Worth Ave. South Dixie Highway has unique, generally locally owned, home decor, fashion and gift shops that make shopping fun and a bit more affordable. There is a lot to see so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes. I love these Sketcher Sandals, I found on Amazon. I also love this cross body bag for shopping, it is a splurge but you will use it for years.
Start your explorations at Southern Blvd. and South Dixie Highway, and head north. Between Southern Blvd. and the Norton Museum of Art, there are three miles of great shops. The first two miles are predominately Home Decor and Antique shops. The section between Belvedere Road and Southern Blvd. is considered the premier antique shopping district on the East Coast. Even if you are not looking for a specific piece, it is fun to wander around and get ideas for your "dream" house. There are plenty of contemporary shops as well as antique shops. A couple of my favorites are Miller Hardware, T is for Table, Floral Emporium, Eccentricities and Coastal Girls Company. A must see is Hive, across the street from the Norton Museum. It is a multiple building home, gift & garden shop with something fabulous for everyone.
As you travel north of Belvedere road, you find four distinct historic neighborhoods on either side South Dixie Highway. El Cid, the furthest south, and bordering the intercoastal waterway, has streets of Mediterranean rival and mission style homes built in the 1920's. Grandview Heights, described as West Palm Beaches oldest neighborhood, borders Howard Park and has streets of early craftsmen style bungalows. Flamingo Park and Mango Promenade were built on a pineapple planation. Their tree lined streets and wide sidewalks are lined with 1920's style houses, many with original garages built for the first Model T's. It is worth a detour to have a look at these interesting neighborhoods before heading to the Norton Museum of Art.
The Norton Museum of Art is a delightful collage of the arts. You walk through a contemporary entrance decorated with a Claes Oldenburg Typewriter Easer sculpture. As you meander through intriguing exhibits of American, Chinese, European and Contemporary Art, you find the building’s Art Deco roots. Founded in 1941 by Ralph Hubbard Norton and his wife Elizabeth, they established the Norton Art Gallery to house their extensive collection of art. They commissioned an original Art Deco building to house the Norton Gallery and School of Art, the first of its kind in South Florida. Their treasures are the core of the Norton Museum of Art collection.
In 2013, the Norton embarked on an ambitious expansion plan. In 2019, the transformed museum opened with an additional 12,000 sq ft of gallery space, an auditorium, expanded store, restaurant and an expanded outdoor lawn and sculpture garden. I have done a morning tour of the museum and attended visiting exhibitions. It is a delightful place. Take the time to have a cup of coffee and a sweet in the grand hall or lunch in the restaurant and absorb all that you have experienced. Note, the Norton is open and following all COVID protocols. Tickets must be purchased in advance and the restaurant is only serving takeaway that can be enjoyed outdoors on the lawn or in their socially distanced dining room.
The perfect way to end your day of explorations on South Dixie Highway is with a cocktail and a bite at Table 26. Named for the latitude line that runs through Palm Beach County. Their food and drink is a reflection of all things Palm Beach. What really sets them apart is their passion of owners Eddie and Ozzie and their team. Everything at Table 26 embodies passion high quality for food, drink and service. Happy Hour is an event at Table 26. The current seasonal cocktail menu offers a Henry Flagler Old Fashioned and a Grandview Pear Manhattan, giving a nod to all things Palm Beach. Don't miss the Ginger Glazed Calamari and the Spicy Tuna Tartare. My favorite is to get the three tapas flight, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Steak Tartare, and Cast Iron Shrimp and Grits with the wine pairing. It is perfect for sharing!
Do you have a favorite place to shop or eat in Palm Beach County? Leave it in the comments section. I would love to benefit from your experiences. Are you ready to book your trip to Palm Beach County?