The Coastal Star

Book Review: South County landmarks missing in otherwise strong resort guide

Palm Beach: The Essential­ Guide to America’s Legendary­ Resort Town, by Rick Rose; Globe Pequot,

170 pp.; $19.95

By Steve Pike

Rick Rose is passionate about Palm Beach culture and society. Those things sort of go with the territory (pardon the pun), as Rose is co-owner of Grandview Gardens Bed & Breakfast and Palm Beach Vacation Rentals in West Palm Beach. So Rose — a second-generation Floridian — has a vested interest in writing a book that features what he views as “essential’’ information for visitors, be they tourists or snowbirds.

“We have a lot of guests who don’t know anything about Palm Beach,’’ Rose said. “They think it’s Palm Springs’’ in California.

Nevertheless, in many ways, Rose’s book, Palm Beach: The Essential Guide to America’s Legendary Resort Town, published by Globe Pequot, is exactly as its title indicates — a guide to Palm Beach, including its culture, high society and “must visit’’ destinations such as Worth Avenue, The Breakers and Flagler Museum. 

Just published in November and already in its third printing, Palm Beach is available at local bookstores, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

Rose is the official historian and tour guide for the Worth Avenue Association, so not surprisingly the 170-page book is filled with many pictures and information about Palm Beach island and its boutique shops, social life, fashion, mansions and restaurants. 

The book’s introduction provides solid information on the history of Palm Beach and how to navigate the island (and Palm Beach County) by private and public transportation.

Rose’s knowledge and enthusiasm for Palm Beach show up as profound in the book’s first 56 pages (Chapter 1). That’s when the reader gets the most details about places such The Breakers, Worth Avenue and The Everglades Club, along with homes including President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, La Guerida (the former Kennedy estate) and El Solano, which was a favorite hideout of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. 

In addition, Rose’s detailing of the back streets and piazzas and architectural history of Palm Beach is outstanding.

But for all of its insights into Palm Beach, the book comes somewhat unraveled when Rose leaves the island. 

For example, Rose covers a lot of the “off island’’ highlights, including the Kravis Center and CityPlace in West Palm Beach, the Jupiter Lighthouse, the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach and the Boca Raton Resort and Spa. But familiar places such as the Sandoway Discovery Center in Delray Beach and Nomad Surf Shop in the County Pocket aren’t mentioned.

There are also no mentions of Briny Breezes, Ocean Ridge and Gulf Stream. Delray Beach is relegated to three paragraphs 20 pages apart.

Rose details the equestrian scene in Wellington, scuba and snorkeling around Riviera Beach and provides a sentence or two on restaurants and nightlife in West Palm Beach.

The new Bricktops restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens gets a mention, but Rose ignores such restaurant staples as The Old Key Lime House in Lantana, Two Georges in Boynton Beach and Boston’s on the Beach on Delray Beach — each closer to Palm Beach than Bricktops.

Let's hope Rose will correct those omissions in the next edition. But even with those flaws, tourists and snowbirds (and locals) can learn a lot from Chapter 1, and that in itself makes the book worth the price. 

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