More than mansions and glam, the Palm Beach area is a serene beach getaway.

Palm Beach, Florida has always been associated with wealth. Even my driver from the airport commented on this stereotype. But my worries about elite snobbery were way off-base. Says Virtuoso travel advisor Deborah Director, who’s based in nearby Boca Raton, “I find there to be a disconnect between the perception and reality of Palm Beach. The people there are gracious and quite welcoming.”

This hospitality and kindness is exactly what I found during my stay, along with all the elements of a great beach vacation: gracious hotels, great shopping, relaxing spa treatments, fun tours, and more. Although the town is Palm Beach County’s most recognized destination, known for its famous locals and luxury lifestyle, surrounding towns such as Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Jupiter are worth exploring, too.

Here are five must-do’s for making the most of your visit:

Take a tour.

Cruising the Intracoastal Waterway with Delray Yacht Cruises. [Photo: Discover The Palm Beaches] / Featured image: Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. [Photo: Discover The Palm Beaches]
Have your travel advisor arrange a tour of Palm Beach with local guide and expert Leslie Diver. Whether you choose a driving, walking, or biking tour, she’ll reveal juicy details and scandals behind the gilded walls of Palm Beach’s beautiful homes. Or enjoy a two-hour narrated yacht cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway with Delray Yacht Cruises, complete with snacks and cocktails as you float by more mansions.

Relax at a spa.

The spa garden at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa. [Photo: Discover The Palm Beaches]
Make time for a time-out at Eau Palm Beach Resort’s Eau Spa, but be sure to get there early to enjoy all of its amenities. There, you’re greeted with a small tea candle and told to make a wish. Your candle joins about 15 other candles in the spa’s wishing well, all floating next to two rubber duckies. Fun touches are everywhere, like the cupcakes and Champagne served before your treatment. After my facial, I made a personalized scrub at the scrub bar to take home.

Take advantage of fresh seafood.

Fresh seafood at The Regional. [Photo: South Moon Photography]
At The Regional, I chose the “meat ‘n three” plate – a classic dish comprising meat and three sides – with the catch of the day, marinated tomato salad, crispy Brussels sprouts, and sorghum tabbouleh. Don’t miss the tomato pie as a flavorful (and cute) starter. At 1000 North, order the grouper and seafood pasta. And at Boca Raton Resort & Club, try Lucca for Italian comfort dishes such as Ragù e Polenta , served tableside with creamy polenta and a ragù sauce featuring a different meat each night.

Try a thrift shop.

Though excellent shopping can be found along famous Worth Avenue (visit Balatro for beautiful vintage pieces from names like Chanel, Dior, and Hermès), you can find real treasures in a thrift store. Many Palm Beach residents live elsewhere part of the year, and instead of hauling all of their stuff back with them, they take it to thrift stores. Find designer clothes, handbags, jewelry, accessories, furniture, and more at The Church Mouse, a well-known resale shop.

Stay in style – and steps from the beach.

A guest room at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa. [Photo: Discover The Palm Beaches]
A vision in pink, the 1,047-room Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, feels like a private, secluded world of its own, with 13 restaurants and bars, two 18-hole golf courses, and views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Improve your swing and footwork at the resort’s renowned tennis center. Virtuoso amenities include a room upgrade (if available), breakfast daily, and a $100 resort credit.

The 309-room Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa sits right on the beach and exudes elegance with a touch of playfulness. The decor feels beach-house chic, with bright whites, sea blues, and pops of yellow, plus fun accents like private balcony hanging chairs and whimsical, one-of-a-kind art pieces hung next to ‘60s-style celebrity portraits by Slim Aarons.  Request a room that overlooks the beachside pool, and drift to sleep listening to the waves below, as I did each night of my stay. Virtuoso amenities include a room upgrade (if available), breakfast daily, and a $100 resort credit.

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