Strolling Glamorous Worth Avenue
Amid Fashions, Furnishings and Bling
If you seek designer fashions, clothing, jewelry and linens, as well as decorative arts and art galleries, Worth Avenue makes a great day trip or afternoon diversion.*
By Molly Arost Staub
Worth Avenue in Palm Beach County, FL, is arguably America’s most glamorous shopping street. Sure, Hollywood’s Rodeo Drive lures glamorous movie stars. But Worth Avenue’s three blocks of shops and boutiques draw celebrities, diplomats, foreign royals and the world’s wealthiest people .
Many of the shopping district’s 250 businesses are housed in Spanish Revival buildings. You’ll notice stucco walls and hewn coral facades. They commonly boast red barrel-tile roofs and cerise bougainvillea vines dripping over arcaded walkways.
As you stroll along Worth Avenue, you'll be surrounded by Spanish Revival architecture including this collonaded walkway.*
Look hard. You might spot Pecky Cypress ceilings above certain walkways. Check out iron balconies jutting from some upper windows.
Begin at the Everglades Club
Start your walking tour outside the 1918-era Everglades Club (561-820-2662), 356 Worth Ave. Sorry, you can’t enter unless invited by a member. This "exclusive" club was built by the eccentric Addison Mizner – the "father” of South Florida tropical architecture – and his friend Paris Singer, heir to the sewing machine fortune.
Walk east and visit Phillips Galleries (561-832-6311 or www.phillipsgalleries.net), 318 Worth Ave., with its French Impressionist oil paintings. Outside, look down and see the tile doggie drinking dish, maintained by the Everglades Club. The gallery’s Mitch Denowitz enjoys watching thirsty canines and sometimes two-legged animals pretending to sip.
Stroll into Via Gucci. Looking for an antique suit of armor for your front foyer? Grand Armee (561-835-1958 or www.grandarmee.com) 256 Worth Ave., has First Empire outfits costing $20,000 to $45,000. The shop also carries low-priced ship models. The firm has even lent uniforms to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the Via De Lela, the Fourth Dimension, 250 Worth Ave., offers charming outdoor life-sized sculptures of children at play and other bronze sculptures.
Kassatly's (561-655-5655), 250 Worth Ave., boasts it’s the oldest shop on the avenue, dating from 1923. Owners Edward and Bob Kassatly said their father moved his store here when the Everglades Club opened and a few shops were built on the avenue. It may not have the spiffiest display cases, but the hand-embroidered linens are exquisite.
Hermes (561-655-6655) has moved into new digs at 240 Worth Ave. Nearby, don’t miss the world’s only alligator- and ostrich-skin piano in the window of Giorgio’s of Palm Beach (561-655-2446 or www.giorgiosofpalmbeach.com), 230 Worth Ave; here you will find handmade men’s and women’s Italian skin and cashmere fashions.
Many South Florida vacationers find happiness among Worth Avenue's designer boutiques.*
You’ll pass multiple boutiques of the “in" designers before you cross South County Road. This next block is largely occupied by the two-story Saks Fifth Avenue (561-833-2551), 172 Worth Ave. Behind it await numerous other glam businesses in what’s dubbed 150 Worth, formerly called the Esplanade.
A Beachside Stroll
Now you’ve reached South Ocean Boulevard and the Atlantic Ocean. Palm Beach Municipal Beach is public so you can stroll along and peek at the millionaires’ mansions. The owners have tunnels under the road to reach the beach from their homes.
Cross Worth Avenue and continue your tour by walking west along the avenue's north side. After a stroll by or a stop at the two-story Neiman Marcus department store (561-805-6127 or www.neimanmarcus.com), 151 Worth Ave., you’ll arrive at the Wally Findlay Galleries (561-655-2090), 165 Worth Ave. This gallery is devoted mostly to Impressionist works.
Cross South County Road. Soon you’ll come to the long established American eatery Ta-Boo’ (561-835-3500 or www.taboorestaurant.com), 221 Worth Ave. opened in 1941. It's a great place for a break. Try to nab a seat at the wide window so you can eat and “people-watch” simultaneously.
Ready to continue shopping? It’s a good idea to put on your sunglasses for both the intense Florida rays as well as all that eye-popping bling-bling yet to come in the avenue’s window displays.
Handcrafted leather goods, cashmere sweaters, exquisite paper goods, designer shoes, fine linens and more await shoppers along Worth Avenue.*
At Worth Arcade’s Trillion (561-832-3525), 315 Worth Ave., a rainbow of colors unfolds as 35 to 100 or more men’s cashmere sweaters are displayed on a table. Made of Scottish yarns and usually woven in Italy, men’s styles cost $900 and women’s run from $500 to $2,000.
Pop into Spring Flowers (561-832-0131 or www.springflowerschildren.com), 337 Worth Ave., offers darling fashions for youngsters. Then enter Via Mizner, probably the most charming of the vias. Four lushly landscaped interconnecting patios with comfortable tables and chairs beckon shoppers to sit for a spell.
Il Papiro (561--833-5696), 343 Worth Ave., offers luxurious paper goods, specializing in products from Florence, Italy. In Via Parigi, the small Cashmere Palm Beach (www.cashmerepalmbeach.com), 9A Via Parigi, even offers cashmere sweaters for pampered pooches.
And finally, Mary Mahoney (561-655-8288 or www.marymahoney.com), 351 Worth Ave., has three floors of china, crystal and silver to make any table gorgeous.
Now you’ve returned across the street from the Everglades Club, where you started your walking tour.
If you go....Worth Avenue Inside Secrets
Most street parking is via one- or two-hour meters, taking quarters only.
Valet parking is noted on the web site’s map, but the Apollo lot at 405 Hibiscus Ave. is less expensive than Express Parking at 150 Worth Ave.
If you park at the Apollo you’ll also get a discount on purchases you make at participating Worth Avenue Association merchants. Just keep in mind that not all shops are members, so ask before buying if you plan to use the discount.
In Search of a Sale?
Summer sales begin on June 30 and continue through Oct. 31.
A better-kept secret is that the department stores and many boutiques offer sales around Thanksgiving and early December. Look for the discreet "Sale" sign in the window corners.
Great Information To Know
Call the Worth Avenue Association at 561-659-6909 or visit www.worth-avenue.com for more information. They have a good map of their members' stories online.
And ask about dates for walking tours led by historian James Ponce.
For destination information, contact the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 561-233-3000 or 800-833-5733 or www.palmbeachfl.com.
Molly Arost Staub, a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, contributes to Porthole, Cruise & Vacation Agent, Copley News Service, CruiseMates.com and FamilyFun.com. She also previously wrote "Birnbaum's Miami and Fort Lauderdale" and "Florida for Free" and was a contributing editor to "Gayot's South Florida Restaurants" and the "Unofficial Guide to South Florida." She specializes in Florida, romantic cruises and family travel.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of the Worth Avenue Association and the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.