Plan your next trip with our new Dream Weekend series, combining expert picks from GOLF.com and the travel gurus at Travel & Leisure. We’re bringing you the best recommendations for golf courses, hotels, restaurants, and sightseeing--so you can focus on your round instead of your itinerary. Now on the tee: Palm Beach.
Golf in Palm Beach has its pros and cons. Pro: throw a rock in any direction and you will hit a world-class golf course. Con: That golf course is probably private, which means you can’t play it.
Fret not. I grew up in the now winter home of the president and can point you in the right direction. I’ll also throw in some food and lodging suggestions. (You’re welcome.)
I’d suggest landing in time to get checked into your hotel early enough that you can go out for dinner. Splurge a bit on the hotel. You’re in paradise. Having said that, by driving about 20 minutes south from the hotel, you will save yourself a few hundred bucks. Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and even in Delray you can find an affordable hotel close to the beach.
For your first dinner, I would highly recommend checking out the Old Key Lime House in Lantana. At OKL you will dine on a tiki roof right on the intercostal. Not only is the food amazing, after you eat you can pop into the very lively bar that is connected to the restaurant. This is my number one food recommendation for this trip.
Travel and Leisure Tip: Hotel Biba, a former motor lodge in El Cid, was transformed into a riot of color by Barbara Hulanicki (known for the high-sixties London boutique Biba and for her work with Island Outpost). The bar is a psychedelic blur straight out of Blowup: purple plastic-covered hassocks, Day-Glo Plexiglas cubes, rainbow-striped walls. On Friday nights, it's the focal point of local cocktail culture—a lively scene that can spill out into the pool and the garden. Hibiscus House, a charming bed-and-breakfast in Old Northwood, has just opened a sister property, Hibiscus House Downtown that has all the tropical flair of Key West. The 1917 gingerbread house—within walking distance of Clematis Street and CityPlace—is a study in latticework,overstuffed armchairs, and lush gardens.
People retire here for a reason: there is an endless supply of golf. Thirty-six holes it is.
To start, I’d suggest one of the Palm Beach County golf courses. With over 90 holes of golf to choose from, you can’t go wrong: Okeehelee (27 holes), Park Ridge (18 holes), Osprey Point (27 holes), South Winds (18 holes) or John Prince Golf Learning Center (9 holes).
I grew up playing these courses. Okeeheelee is probably my favorite golf course on the planet. Twenty-seven holes of beautiful Florida golf with water on nearly every hole. Each and every hole has character, is fair and fun. What more could you want? Park Ridge is built on an old landfill and offers the most drastic elevation changes you will find in south Florida. The course features six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s, which is quite unique and will make your score look good. Osprey Point is new since I have moved away, but from what I hear, it’s amazing. Twenty-seven holes of championship golf in west Boca Raton featuring paspalum grass from tee-to-green. Hard to top.
For the rest of the trip we will pay homage to the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus has called Palm Beach home for a long, long time and his name is on almost every golf course in the county. Quite a few of the world’s best players in the world live in one of Nicklaus’ private clubs, the Bear’s Club in Jupiter.
Anyway, back to the golf.
For our second 18 we are headed to North Palm Beach Country Club. Back in 2006-07, Nicklaus redesigned the golf course. This work would usually come with a hefty price tag, but the Golden Bear gifted it to the area, charging only $1. Remember that as you make your way around this tough track (Jack isn’t a fan of easy greens).
Tonight for dinner I will leave you with a list of options. The choice is yours: C.R. Chicks, Banana Boat, Two Georges or anywhere in the downtown West Palm/City Place area.
Or you can do a quick dinner and spend your night fixing your slice at John Prince Golf Learning Center, an award winning practice facility that’s open daily until 9 p.m.
Travel and Leisure Tip: Before you turn in for the evening, stop by Clematis Street, the center of West Palm Beach nightlife. The free Clematis by Night music series on Thursdays features live bands, and on the second Saturday evening of every month, Northwood hosts a lively Art Walk; the popular Art & Wine Promenade, a chance to visit the area’s galleries and sample wines as you stroll, for free, is the last Friday evening of every month.
Up and at ‘em!
Get the absolute earliest tee time you can at Palm Beach Par 3. This is one of the best par 3 courses in the country and features scenic views of both the ocean and the intercostal. While not designed by Nicklaus, the Golden Bear has played the nine-hole track many times, as have many golf greats and former presidents. Close your eyes – this is the closest you will get to playing Seminole. Ok, back to reality.
We’re off for 18 more before the flight home.
Like I said, we’re paying homage to one of the GOATs, so today we’re going to PGA National. With five courses to choose from, you could spend your entire trip here – and many do. If you can afford it, I would highly recommend it. We’re going to peg it on the Champion course.
PGA National’s Champion course has played host to the Honda Classic since 2007 and has hosted a PGA Championship and Ryder Cup. The course is also home to the infamous Bear Trap, which helps decide the winner of the Honda Classic each year. Throw a few extra balls in the bag for this one and don’t forget to take a photo with the bear on the 15th tee.
Travel and Leisure Tip: Visit the world-class Norton Art Museum. While you’re there, don’t miss the masterpieces of 19th century and 20th century painting and sculpture in its permanent collection, which includes works by Brancusi, Gauguin, Matisse, Miró, Monet, Picasso, Hopper, O'Keeffe, and Pollock. Plan to go on the early side—the museum closes daily at 5 p.m., except for Thursdays, when it’s open until 9 p.m.
And there you have it, a golf-packed weekend in South Florida, or for many of you, an early look at your retirement.
Enjoy your flight home.
Other courses worth checking out: The Breakers, Madison Green Country Club, Boynton Beach Links, West Palm Beach Golf Course and Atlantis.