Beyond Trump, discovering the Palm Beaches

Has anyone seen Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump?

He calls Palm Beach, Fla., home at his ritzy Mar-A-Lago club and mansion. Trump sightings are the buzz in this South Florida getaway, especially when the Trump Jet is parked at Palm Beach International Airport.


The Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach County comprise many well-heeled destinations — from Boca Raton to Palm Beach to West Palm Beach and Delray Beach. The Palm Beaches are slowly shedding a dated image of blue hair, conservative, old money and LGBT tourism is leading the way (as it does in so many destinations seeking to expand their image).

Florida is very familiar to most Philadelphians. We’ve been going to Key West since the 1970s. By the 1990s, we hit the Art Deco drive of Miami. By the mid-1990s, Fort Lauderdale took the crown in South Florida. Will LGBT travelers discover the Palm Beaches? Is it time for a reverse gentrification? Instead of us discovering a place and making it fabulous for heterosexual travelers to follow, maybe we just make ourselves at home in the wealthiest zip code in America?

Here are my top-five things to do in the Palm Beaches:

  1. The Costume Museum at the Wick Theatre is an astounding exhibit of the finest costumes ever brought to the Broadway stage. The museum has original costumes from more than 35 Broadway productions and revivals. The Wick presents shows and events for Broadway lovers of all ages.
  2. The International Polo Club Palm Beach is the premier winter equestrian destination in the world, hosting the largest field of high-goal teams and the most prestigious polo tournaments in the United States. Polo season in The Palm Beaches runs from January through April. Next year, don’t miss the Gay Polo League’s eight-annual International Gay Polo Tournament. It is tailgating with costume contests, drag queens, themed tents and, oh yes, the polo match.
  3. Delray Beach is a not-to-miss city with arts, events and a must-visit to Old School Square. Old School Square offers a theater, a museum, special events and outdoor concerts. It is hip, cool and features a wide-range of contemporary, culturally rich programs.
  4. Downtown West Palm Beach is undergoing a transformation. One way to see the sites, understand the history, the architecture, the lifestyle and the culture is through a new West Palm Beach Food Tour.
  5. The Colony has been the center of Palm Beach society for nearly 70 years. An intimate, friendly boutique hotel, it has been host to American presidents and British royalty, movie stars and corporate raiders. Thursday nights are gentlemen nights, where the bar is likely to be filled with dapper gents sipping martinis. A must is The Colony’s world famous Royal Room, widely considered to be one of the top-three most sophisticated cabaret rooms in the United States, featuring many Tony Award winners straight from Broadway and headliners from the classiest nightspots in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Manhattan.

Staying in Palm Beach can be expensive, so it is best to navigate the right hotels. The beaches are beautiful, perhaps the best in South Florida. The best bet to stay is Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa. The hotel’s dramatic design, a restaurant that overlooks the ocean and full-service spa makes this the best LGBT-friendly value. Located next door to the Four Seasons, you can pop over for a light bite to the elegant resort, which has shared beach activities with Kimpton.

Another option is a boutique hotel in Boca Raton called the Waterstone Resort & Marina, a brand new, artistically inspired waterfront resort. It is hip, fun and definitely not stuffy. Furniture is custom-made, and it offers interesting artwork and access to great fishing and golf.

Jeff Guaracino is the author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.”

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