Known as the epitome of shopping excellence and one of the most iconic streets in America, Worth Avenue has left an indelible mark on Palm Beach.
Dating back to the 1900s, it has been a haven for high-end shopping and a fascinating destination. The legendary avenue boasts a mix of more than 200 shops, offering everything from world-class designer jewelry, clothing and shoes to internationally acclaimed paintings and antiques, as well as fine and casual dining restaurants too.
Founded by Addison Mizner, the area in the 1920s, was well-known along the Eastern seaboard for its high-quality, exclusive merchandise. In fact, Saks Fifth Avenue opened its first store outside of New York on Worth Avenue in 1926.
Over the decades, the avenue grew to three blocks, spanning from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway on the west to the Atlantic Ocean on the east. And over time, more and more well-known designers opened their doors along this strip of coveted real estate, including Cartier, Chanel, Gucci and Hermès, to name a few. A small number of people actually know that Worth Avenue was established long before California's Rodeo Drive.
But along the exclusive shopping district it's not all about the designer brands, however. The avenue and its enchanting "vias," or courtyards are filled with local businesses.
In fact, more than 60 percent of all businesses found here are local. What's more, many of these local shops are mainstays on the avenue, such as Kassatly's, the first store to open here in 1923, and whose doors remain open today.
"Being in a 'via' is like being in Italy or in the Mediterranean ... [or] in someone's private courtyard," Sherry Frankel of Sherry Frankel's Melangerie (200 block) said. A local shop on the avenue since 1979, filled with fun and unique gifts and home accessories. "We're just a tiny island and Worth Avenue is three blocks long and encompasses every name you can imagine," said Sherry.
Betteridge (formerly Greenleaf & Crosby, on the 200 block), a fourth-generation, family-owned jewelry business, has been in Palm Beach for more than 120 years and on Worth Avenue since the 1930s, according to manager Inez Fogel Heery. It's not just the store that's multigenerational, either.
Local merchants of the shopping district talk easily about the sense of community and small-town feel, even amid the allure and glamour of their luxury retail neighbors. "What we try to do to keep a local feel is offer a wide range of jewelry ... everyone can come in and shop—for their daughters, their granddaughters, themselves," she said.
When John Maus' father started his clothing business in Michigan in 1934, he opened his first Florida store in Fort Lauderdale in 1939, followed by Palm Beach in 1961.
"Folks on vacation in a resort area such as ours needed a place to shop with offerings that mirrored the temperature, color and times in Florida," John Maus said. "In late fall, we started offering early-spring goods instead of what was found back in New York or Chicago, where it was cooler and shops were offering heavier clothing."
More than 50 years later, Maus & Hoffman, on the 300 block, continues to offer the finest in men's and women's clothing.
Another Palm Beach institution is Ta-Boo Restaurant (200 block), with more than 75 years of history on the historic street. Inside, locals, visitors and celebrities dine side-by-side.
Decades ago, the restaurant drew the likes of John F. Kennedy, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Frank Sinatra; today, Rod Stewart, James Patterson, or Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee may be spotted. "Ta-Boo is a comfortable, neighborhood place that has a serious reputation," said co-owner Franklyn P. de Marco Jr. "We have three—and sometimes four—generations eating in the restaurant."
- Staying at The Breakers, Eau Palm Beach, The Brazilian Court, Chesterfield, Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa or Four Seasons hotels? These are among the hotels that participate in a program by the Worth Avenue Merchants Association that provide hotel guests the opportunity to shop Worth Avenue retailers and can enjoy extended store hours to fit your schedule. Guests can make these arrangements through their respective hotel concierges.
- Walk in the footsteps of Worth Avenue's founder, Addison Mizner, on a historic walking tour offered every non-holiday Wednesday at 11 am, November through April. Tour departs from Via Amore, across from Tiffany & Co. and Chanel, 256 Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida. $10 per person. No reservations required. Free two-hour parking along Worth Avenue or paid parking at Apollo parking lot behind Tiffany & Co.
- Map of Worth Avenue