From Camelot to Mar-a-lago: 6 Presidential Stops in the Palm Beaches

The Palm Beaches have played host to a surprising number of presidents. Here's a list of 6 stops where you can walk in the footsteps of our current and former leaders.

Everyone knows President Trump loves to unwind in the beautiful Palm Beaches.  A lesser known fact is that The Palm Beaches has played host to several U.S. Presidents.  The great weather, golf courses and perfect beaches have convinced no less than three commander in chiefs to relax in this tropical getaway.  It is easy to follow in presidential footsteps while you’re here.  Here’s a list to help you experience the history and beauty of the presidential Palm Beaches.
 


Mar-a-lago is the modern Winter White House and a breathtaking view for visitors driving by.

1: Drive by Mar-a-lago, the new Winter White House.
The breathtaking beauty of Mar-a-Lago as America’s Winter White House is showcased every time the president comes to Palm Beach.   Originally built by heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post in the mid-1920s, the home was an instant icon of Palm Beach’s splendor.  While the property is kept secured, a drive along beautiful South Ocean Boulevard will offer a glimpse of Mar-a-Lago’s gates and a slow drive across the Southern Boulevard Bridge will reveal the majestic view of the property as seen on the news.
 
2:  Cruise North Ocean Boulevard, where two presidents relaxed in sand and surf.
North Ocean Boulevard on Palm Beach is a drive that hosted not one but two presidents.  The Kennedy Family Compound  at 1095 North Ocean is where President Kennedy and his family came to recharge and recover.  Drive just a few houses south and find another residence often visited by Richard M. Nixon.  Prior to becoming president in 1969, Nixon visited 1055 North Ocean so often the owner built a special “Nixon wing” onto the house.   A drive along North Ocean Boulevard will show you both locations as well as a peek at some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the world.
 


The Honey-Fitz served as the official yacht for six presidents.  It now cruises the waterways of The Palm Beaches.

3:  Charter a presidential yacht for special occasions.
John F. Kennedy’s legend can be found in many places in Palm Beach County.  The Honey-Fitz, the motor yacht that served Presidents Truman through Nixon, is still based in West Palm Beach.  Named “Honey-Fitz” by Kennedy to commemorate his maternal grandfather, the boat left official service during the Carter administration and went into private ownership.  The Honey-Fitz has been carefully maintained and while public tours are not available the yacht can be chartered for special occasions.
  


The beauty and serenity of The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens was the setting for a recent meeting of two First Ladies.

4: Visit a garden where First Ladies meet.
A short drive south will take you to Delray Beach’s Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.  This historical and serene place was in the international spotlight when First Lady Melania Trump recently hosted a visit by Japan’s First Lady Akie Abe.  The beautiful gardens and museum is a memorial to an early 20th century settlement of Japanese farmers in Southern Palm Beach County.  The gardens are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Admission is $15.
 


Just outside Camelot Lounge is this mural reminds visitors to enter with an old Palm Beach state of mind.



5:  Return to Camelot and raise a glass to Jack.
Nestled in the heart of West Palm Beach is a lounge known as “Camelot.”  Memories of Kennedy’s love for the sea and surf are honored there, with a special nod to an older and more deliberate Palm Beach lifestyle.  While the establishment is semi-private, a huge, memorable mural of Kennedy in sunglasses is just outside.  Camelot is located at 114 South Narcissus Avenue in West Palm Beach.
 


The fallout shelter designed to save the President from nuclear attack can be toured on Peanut Island, minutes north of Palm Beach.  Photo: Peter W. Cross for VISITFLORIDA.com

6: Climb into a secret part of the Cold War
The threat of nuclear conflict was a very real concern during Kennedy’s years in office.  Every effort was taken to protect the First Family in case of nuclear attack.  Just a few minutes north of Palm Beach, on Peanut Island, a monument to those days still exists.  Buried under the palm trees and white sand is a self-contained fallout shelter, built in secrecy and stocked with enough provisions to support 30 people for 30 days.  While there is no record of Kennedy ever visiting the bunker, it has been noted that the presidential yacht could often be seen navigating the waters near the island.  The bunker has been returned to its original state and is open to tours nearly 60 years after its creation.  Just hop on a water taxi and experience a presidential place kept secret for many years!
 


This photo from 1961 shows "Honey Fitz" docked on Peanut Island, a short distance from the secret shelter.  A nearly untouched West Palm Beach shoreline is in the background.

The beauty and splendor of The Palm Beaches have always been an attraction to world leaders.  There is a reason why presidents and politicians come back to the area and some call it home.  Come discover for yourself all the amazing things The Palm Beaches have to offer!

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