The Great Winter Escape: Palm Beach County Florida

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Life is short. There's a clock ticking and at my age the hands are moving faster. I decided at the last minute to leave my world behind and head for a little exploration and relaxation to what's described as America's First Resort Destination, Palm Beach County, Florida.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach is on a beautiful skinny sixteen mile long island that's separated by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. It is a year-round town of 10,000 (it grows to 30,000 during the winter months) that makes a statement about style and sophistication. It's where assorted high rollers, billionaire industrialists, designers, movie stars, famous singers not only come to play but to live.

Why? Eighty year old life long resident Marie Jones told me, "It’s quiet; we have little, if any crime, there’s perfection and order, and our streets are clean."

She was correct.

The sleek and comfortable Colony Hotel was my home for the weekend. You'll pay for the pleasure but the memories are worth it.

Our New Book

My first day was spent at the hotel's gorgeous pool and the nearby beach where I soaked up the warm 83 degree weather as a gentle breeze drifted in from the Atlantic Ocean. It was a delicious moment made sweeter by the fact that back home it was freezing.

In the evening, I had dinner in the Colony’s Royal Room Cabaret where Broadway Singer Avery Sommers wowed the sold out dinner crowd. Later, I hung out with the well-healed in the hotel's cool Polo Lounge listening and dancing to a Motown dance band.

Next morning I took a tour in a beetle bug with my guide, Leslie Diver . She drove along South Ocean Beach Boulevard - the Billionaires Row - and pointed out homes of the 22 billionaires who live here. Some included homes owned by Rod Stewart (perhaps he was the guy bringing in the mail), Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Canadian Conrad Black and David Koch (the 4th richest man in America).

We visited the must-see Henry Flagler Museum and saw a giant Kapok Tree planted outside the museum in the 1890s.

Afternoon was spent along tree lined Worth Avenue (only a block from the hotel), known as the Rodeo Drive of the East Coast. Bring lots of money. You'll find an impressive collection of shops like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Chanel, Gucci and Tiffany's. When you're here don't miss seeing the historic Town Hall and Fire Station, the Clock Tower, and the Living Wall -- a tapestry of green living plants. There's much to see in Palm Beach

West Palm Beach

This more affordable city is found on the mainland opposite Palm Beach and is home to two retail and entertainment districts -- City Place, and the Clematis Street District. A free Trolley connects the two.

I visited the Saturday morning Green Market at the end of Clematis Street which was alive with activity. Palm Beachers love their small dogs and don't be surprised to see them at the market, and even in restaurants. Some owners had them dressed up and were pushing them in strollers. There's even a doggy water fountain at the market. City Place, at night, is where you’ll want to hang out if you belong to the generation that comes alive after 11 pm.

Delray Beach

Located at the southern end of the island it has an eclectic feel to it. There's a terrific public beach, a traditional main street with brick sidewalks and gaslight street lamps. Majorie Ferrer is the town's spokesperson. With an infectious smile she said, "we're a village by the sea with one of the most beautiful beaches in South Florida."

Delray Beach has won the coveted All-American City award in 1993 and 2001. Say hello to John Gergen at Caffe Luna Rosa on Ocean Boulevard. You might have to wait to get a seat but it will be worth it.

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George Bailey has explored the far reaches of the world, including Antarctica. He contributes regularly to the QMI Agency's 43 daily newspapers across Canada, as well as numerous magazines. He has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, The Discovery Channel, Canada Am, and Live with Regis .He has published five books on Niagara Falls and one on Marilyn Monroe. Photos courtesy of George Bailey.

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