To distinguish the city from the surrounding county of the same name, the moniker "Island" is often added to "Palm Beach." This tiny metropolis, located in southeastern Florida, stretches out like a fancy needle on a north-south strip of land that's separated from the mainland by an intracoastal waterway and then joined by a few bridges. The city itself measures about 12 miles long and just over two-thirds of a mile at its widest point.
The perks of private rentals depend on whether you're looking at one-bedroom condos for rent or an estate with five bedrooms. However, apartment rentals generally grant you a pool, fitness center, BBQ areas and parking. (These perks are one way they keep highly desirable tenants from moving to another complex.) Depending on your unit, you may also get a terrace or balcony, walk-in closets, and either a built-in washer/dryer or laundry facilities.
When you visit a potential rental, try to dress like you belong on the island. No torn jeans and T-shirts please, no matter how avant-garde they look. You can't go wrong with a summer-weight suit or fashionable dress and a bit of bling. However, no amount of flash will help you if you don't have the income or impeccable credit to afford an apartment complex in South Beach. So before starting the apartment hunt, get your finances in order.
Get your say about what's going down in the neighborhood by joining the Palm Beach Civic Association. The organization has its multi-ringed fingers in everything from protecting the beaches to water-saving measures to local taxes and government.
Because the island is skinnier than a fashion model on a diet, you can't live more than a few minutes from the Atlantic and its coastal sands on the east, and the inland waterway and its docks on the west. Your desire for water access is assured, so stick to neighborhood as your main reason for finding a place to live.
North End: Bordered on the north by the Lake Worth inlet and on the south by Royal Poinciana Way, this community appeases with the placidity of single-unit homes. Many streets boast beach-side cabanas, so locals have a place to celebrate a birthday. You won't find apartments here, but you can lease houses for a season or a year.
Midtown: The main (and quite popular) drag of Palm Beach reigns from Royal Poinciana on the north and continues to Southern Boulevard in the opposite direction. This is your cup of Earl Grey if you enjoy the buzz of perfectly-manicured debutantes and the pull of beautiful shiny things. You can live in anything from cottages and mini-palaces to condominiums and townhouses for rent. You're never more than a few minutes' walk from retail.
South End: That's not a hotel - it's just one among the many single-unit behemoths looming from the Estate Section, which lies in the northern part of this community. Rental apartments are confined to the residential towers in the southern end, which is bordered by South Palm Beach.
You can get to the city through Palm Beach International Airport, or via Amtrak or Tri-Rail. Palm Tran connects both city and county with buses. The fastest way to get around is by private car. Street parking is generally free but pay attention to the signs that limit the times or require permits. Spots can fill up quickly with mainlanders during prime beach days.
Walking is another efficient mode of travel, especially if you're heading east or west. You can also pedal through the scenic Lake Trail, which meanders from Royal Palm Way (State Road 704) to the north tip of the island. Take care when biking on Ocean Boulevard, which only has one line in either direction, and be aware that most roads don't have bicycle paths.
It's always sunny and wet in the outdoor life of Palm Beach residents. Sun, surf and swimming rule on the Atlantic Coast. Boats are the headliners on the intracoastal waterway, and high-tech poles snag low-tech fish around the inlets. If your pad doesn't boast a private dock by your back patio, park your 260-foot yacht at the public marina of the Town Docks.
For fun without water, the city boasts four golf courses. One is the Par 3 Golf Course, which "Golf Magazine" dubbed as one of the top 50 most fun in the country. Another is Everglades Golf, a private facility with 18 holes and no alligators. Visiting players are allowed only when leashed by members. Non-players can still enjoy a bit of green at Peanut Island, which includes picnic areas, a campground, restrooms and water fountains. Nothing is sold here, so bring whatever food or drink you need.
If you can't lease a mansion, you can still see what one looks like by visiting the Flagler Museum, which was called "more wonderful than any palace in Europe" by the "New York Herald" in 1902. Its 73 rooms display many original furnishings and artwork.
The Breakers Hotel offers more accessible luxury. You don't ever have to leave the property to enjoy some of the best amenities in the city. Lounge in a daytime bungalow on the private beach, play a strenuous round of 36-hole golf, or dine on international delicacies in nine restaurants.
If you need a culture fix, head for The Society of The Four Arts. Among its attractions are an art gallery, sculpture and botanical gardens, and libraries that serve both all ages. A 700-seat auditorium often hosts speakers, concerts and films, making it a comfy place to nap.
Need a Tiffany ring to go with your Louis Vuitton handbag, Ferragamo shoes and Armani outfit? You'll find these luxuries at Worth Avenue, the Rodeo Drive of Palm Beach. At night, however, only a handful of bars provide rather sedate entertainment. For more action, join the club hoppers and night owls who migrate over the bridges to the hotspots of West Palm Beach.