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Ever considered playing hooky for a day? Secretly long to emulate Ferris Bueller's fancy-free frolic through the streets of Chicago in Palm Beach County? Maybe out-of-state guests have arrived, and they need an in-the-know local to show them around town.
We've got you covered, from legitimate dive bars to secluded restaurants, from cool hangouts to hip coffee shops, and from healthy recreation to indulgent nightlife. With so much to do in the area and such enviable weather, the most loyal of workers might find it tempting to call in sick and hop in a Ferrari.
Blowing Rocks Preserve & Coral Cove Park
The magnificent sanctuary on Jupiter Island is a local treasure and stunning display of natural splendor. Dramatically shaped formations of Anastasia limestone along the shoreline create a natural phenomenon when waves break against the rock and form saltwater geysers that shoot up to 50 feet in the air. The protected resource is a popular spot for family photos.
Ralph's Stand Up Bar
113 Center St., Jupiter / 561.746.6812
A historic watering hole that dates back to the 1950s, the small establishment often has a fleet of motorcycles lined up outside. Inside, local patrons—many of them longtime Jupiter residents—belly up, literally, to the bar. A foot rail takes the place of four-legged stools and runs the length of the waist-high counter where beer and booze flow.
Center Street Nook (The Nook)
223 Center St., Jupiter / 561.745.7477
It got its name for a reason. The cozy, family-owned restaurant has 39 seats. The staff knows the customers by name. There is no website. And home-cooked comfort food highlights the menu—biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, and The Real Philly Cheesesteak served on an authentic Amoroso roll with Cheese Whiz, “wit or wit out” sautéed onions.
775 N. Alternate A1A, Jupiter / 561.744.6667 / dunedog.com
A tropical, beach-inspired shack shaded from the sun by a tin roof and cooled from the heat by ceiling fans, diners come to the open-air café to fall in “Love at First Bite” with the award-winning food. The offerings not only include hot dogs (10 variations are served) but also burgers, ribs, salads, sandwiches, seafood and wings.
150 N. U.S. Highway 1, Tequesta / 561.768.7887 / 221 Old Dixie Highway, Tequesta / 561.401.2453 / oceanacoffee.com
Coffee-drinking nirvana awaits those who find the locally owned brewer of artisanal beans from around the world. Among the choice of blends at the aromatic shop are the chocolaty Costa Rica Naranjo La Rosa, hint-of-floral Guatemalan Antigua Los Volcanes and earthy India Monsooned Malabar. The knowledgeable baristas will explain the nuances of each roast much like a sommelier.
Square Grouper Tiki Bar
1111 Love St., Jupiter / 561.575.0252 / squaregrouper.net
Across the street from Guanabanas, at the end of the romantically named “Love Street,” visitors will experience one of the best tableaus of Jupiter and most relaxing places to enjoy it. Order a Castaways Caipirinha signature cocktail and wander out to the sand-covered seating area for a view of the Loxahatchee River and iconic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse—and those waving from the top of the 108-foot landmark.
19075 Dubois Road, Jupiter / 561.966.6600 / pbcgov.com/parks/locations/dubois.htm
The 18-acre recreational area tucked into the northeast corner of town is filled with memories for those who used to play in the swimming hole as youths. Amenities have been added throughout the years, including boat docks and a snorkeling area. The DuBois Pioneer Home, built in 1898 atop a culturally significant shell mound, is available for tours.
Roger Dean Stadium
4751 Main St., Jupiter / 561.775.1818 / rogerdeanstadium.com
The baseball complex in Abacoa boasts two minor-league teams (Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals) during season and two major-league teams (Miami Marlins and Saint Louis Cardinals) during spring training. It is a family favorite because of its fun and quirky events (“Star Wars” Night, Halfway to Halloween, Lip Smackin' BBQ Fest and Dog Days of Summer).
960 N. Highway A1A, Jupiter / 561.747.8878 / guanabanas.com
A lushly landscaped oasis awaits those who cross the wooden foot bridge leading to the outdoor waterfront restaurant that resembles an island paradise. Swaying palm trees, tiki huts, coquina-stone pathways and a boardwalk put everyone in the mood for a margarita and the fresh catch of the day. Adjacent to the property is an area where paddleboarders can launch their vessels and work off their meals.
Cathy's Beach Connection
12850 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach / 561.626.2262
The funky joint on the east side of where the road splits is difficult to locate. Look for a green awning then duck into the parking lot. Sit out on the covered porch or inside an air-conditioned room where everything hanging from the walls is for sale. Order a dollar draft and the house favorite crunchy grouper sandwich.
Juno Beach Café
13967 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach / 561.622.1533 / junobeachcafe.com
Casual convenience has made the breakfast and lunch spot a dining destination during the doldrums of the work week. Try the Uncle Eddie Pancakes (a 60-year-old recipe) before heading into the office or order one of the café's Marvelous Melts to enjoy out on the patio during the noon hour. Come back on Sunday for live music.
731 Northlake Blvd., North Palm Beach / 561.842.4847 / tulipanbakery.com
Those searching for a sweet treat can find it here, along with the best café con leche on the Gold Coast. Artful cakes, eye-popping pastries and mouth-watering desserts fill the store's display cases. Cuban-style appetizers (papa rellenas) and sandwiches (medianoche). Tulipan has a second location on Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
10900 Jack Nicklaus Drive, North Palm Beach / 561.624.6952 / macarthurbeach.org
The only state park in Palm Beach County stands as a symbol of what much of Florida used to look like. The coastal habitat is rich with native trees and tropical hammocks that attract dozens of species of birds. The quarter-mile boardwalk across the estuary teems with marine life. Hit the beach, and then explore the nature center.
4000 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens / 561.630.1336 / luxnightclubpbg.com
It started as Club Safari, a late-night place for drinking and dancing, and later was revamped as JR's Buck Wild Country Bar, a late-night place for saloon drinking and line dancing. Both drew impressive crowds. Now, the 8,000-square-foot room brings the luxury of Las Vegas to the Marriott hotel by introducing bottle service, hookah pipes and electronic dance music.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center
14200 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach / 561.627.8280 / marinelife.org
For families with children, the turtle tanks at the environmental-conservation facility are a must-do. Little ones can witness the specimens up close as the reptiles swim around the water. Each has a name and can be “adopted.” The 1,200-square-foot interpretive center is filled with hands-on exhibits about greens, hawksbills, Kemp's ridleys, leatherbacks and loggerheads. Many visitors finish the day with a stroll down the nearby Juno Beach Pier.
The Spa at PGA National
400 Avenue of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens / 561.627.3111 / pgaresort.com/spa/pga-national-spa
Indulge in a couple's massage with aromatherapy and follow it up with a few hours of lounging side-by-side beneath the pergola at Waters of the World. Each of the nine pools contains healing minerals that soothe and refresh. To top off the experience, order two glasses of champagne from the spa bar, and make a toast.
Polo Steaks & Seafood at The Colony Palm Beach
155 Hammon Ave. / 561.655.5430 / thecolonypalmbeach.com/dining/
Surf and turf meets the Supremes and the Temptations every Friday night in the casually elegant hotel restaurant that serves prime rib and lobster tails with a side of soul. Motown music by the four-piece tribute band Memory Lane begins at 9:30 p.m. in the soothingly ambient lounge.
Renato's Palm Beach
87 Via Mizner / 561.655.9752 / renatospalmbeach.com
An island classic, the upscale Italian-fare destination is nestled on a little pathway off world-famous Worth Avenue. Its cloistered location is a large part of its charm, as is the impeccable service and so-Palm Beach décor. Sit out on the courtyard for dinner beneath the moon and stars.
Royal Palm Way to Palm Beach Inlet / 561.659.4583 / palmbeachbicycle.com
Many of those who grew up here remember their parents shuttling them across the Flagler Memorial Bridge, bicycles in tow, to pedal the paved path along the Intracoastal Waterway. The five-mile stretch of grandeur (mansions to the east) and scenery (skyline to the west) is a recreational must-do.
The Church Mouse
378 S. County Road / 561.659.2154 / bbts.org/about-us/church-mouse
Great finds await sensible shoppers at the high-end resale store that has 4,500 square feet of designer clothing, handbags and shoes, name-brand furniture, china, crystal and other wares from the wealthy. Between October and June, bargain hunters can search to their hearts' content while supporting The Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea's Outreach Ministry.
The Society of the Four Arts
2 Four Arts Plaza / 561.655.7227 / fourarts.org
The cultural jewel's erudite programming covers the categories of art, drama, literature and music in addition to educational sessions for children, a lecture series for adults and the wondrous Botanical Gardens meticulously maintained by The Garden Club of Palm Beach. A visit is sure to stimulate the right brain.
Palm Beach Dramaworks
201 Clematis St. / 561.514.4042 / palmbeachdramaworks.org
The theater on the corner will run its production of “Long Day's Journey Into Night” by Eugene O'Neill from Jan. 29 to Feb. 28. Tickets to the Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork, or any of the season's shows, bring a dose of arts and culture to a digital device-obsessed world.
101 S. Clematis St. / 561.870.0057 / sofloflyboarding.com
A new attraction to the waterfront is the adventurous sport of shooting straight out of the water at heights of 35 feet on a board strapped to the soles of those who dare. Flights range from 20 to 55 minutes, meaning they can be taken during a lunch break.
The Blind Monk
410 Evernia St., No. 107 / 561.833.3605 / theblindmonk.com
Dwarfed by the seven-story apartment building above it, the chic and sophisticated wine and tapas bar is worth uncovering. It is an easy, street-side place to pop into while walking the dog, and has outdoor seating, live music and a surprising selection of beer.
O'Shea's Irish Pub
531 Clematis St. / 561.833.3865 / osheaspub.com
The Emerald Isle-themed public house has been a pint-raising staple for more than two decades. Back in the day, journalists filled the bar and talked shop. While a few things have changed, the fresh beer and traditional recipes that keep customers coming back have not.
517 N. Clematis St. / 561.833.1033 / sub-culture.org/hullabaloo
A trendy gastropub on the not-so-trendy side of the city's main drag mixes the urbanist décor of the Big Apple with thoughtfully prepared food from the old country. The pasta, pizza and polenta all have craft qualities to them that pair perfectly with craft beers and craft cocktails.
509 Lake Ave. / 561.585.8444 / havanahideout.com
The Food Network's “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” dipped in on the edgy eatery a few years ago and put it on the map. Tiki huts overhead and sand underfoot speak to its dress code. The food, cooked in a truck, continues to win awards. Fresh and fruity sangrias are made daily behind the bar.
25 S. J St. / 561.585.2583 / bambooroommusic.com
The intimate club known for blistering blues and classy cocktails is the place to go for a concert fix. Everyone from the Atlanta Rhythm Section to Bo Diddley to Edgar Winter has played the live-music venue's memorabilia-laden stage. The acoustics are excellent, the staff is efficient, and there's not a bad seat in the house.