The Palm Beaches, spanning over 75 kilometres along the Atlantic Ocean and made up of 39 welcoming cities and towns, boasts nearly 30 tropical beach parks, iconic historic landmarks, inspiring street art, world-class museums, and breathtaking wildlife. While well-known for great shopping, The Palm Beaches is considered Florida’s Cultural Capital with over 4,000 events each year hosted by more than 200 arts and globally recognized cultural organizations.
While exploring The Palm Beaches you’ll definitely want to add the following cultural must-visits to your itinerary.
The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
South Florida celebrates a century-old connection to Japan. In the early 1900s, Jo Sakai, born in Miyazu, Japan and a recent graduate of New York University, created a community of Japanese farmers in what is now northern Boca Raton. Although the farming colony named Yamato (an ancient name for Japan) never flourished, their legacy lives on today. The mission of the Morikami Museum is to engage a diverse audience by presenting Japanese cultural experiences aimed to educate and inspire visitors and to spread appreciation for the living culture of Japan.
Shime (tighten or cut off) by Juuri. Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas. 2022
Unmei (Create Your Own Fate) by Casey Kawaguchi. Acrylic and spray paint on wood, 2022.
The Yamato-kan, which is the museums original building, is modeled after a Japanese villa and is a permanent exhibit chronicling the history of the Yamato Colony. In response to popular demand, in 1993 the museum expanded and the principal museum building welcomed curious visitors. Its architecture is inspired by traditional Japanese design and the building features three exhibition galleries, a 225-seat theater, an authentic tea house with viewing gallery, library, classrooms, and lakeside terraces for a panoramic view of the gardens. The Morikami Museum Collection houses 5,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts, including a 500-piece collection of tea ceremony items, and more than 200 textile pieces.
The gardens serve as an outdoor extension of the museum. The 200-acre park offers nature trails, pine forests and picnic areas. However, I recommend setting aside a few hours to thoroughly enjoy the 16 acres that surround Morikami’s museum buildings. The gardens, designed by Hoichi Kurisu named Roji-en or Garden of the Drops of Dew, are six distinct gardens inspired by significant gardens of Japan: Shinden Garden, Paradise Garden, Early Rock Garden, Karesansui Late Garden, Hiraniwa Flat Garden, and the Modern Romantic Garden. Take time to stroll through the gardens as one seamlessly leads into the other. Hoichi, in his Designer’s Statement says, “My hope is that visitors will let the gardens speak to them of timeless truths and rhythms which can provide therapeutic insights for today. I hope visitors will listen to, cherish and act upon the inspiration the gardens impart to them individually.”
Located in the heart of Downtown West Palm Beach, The Square (formerly Rosemary Square) is a vibrant 72-acre, experiential destination where you’ll find shopping, dining, and entertainment, as well as a dynamic cultural scene worth exploring.
The Square is home to the largest concentration of public art installed by a private company in Palm Beach County. On a mission to become an unparalleled urban oasis destination for the arts, The Square has commissioned pieces that are prominently displayed for all to enjoy, including Material (SG) II 2021 and The Wishing Tree.
Material (SG) II 2021
Material (SC) II 2021 by Yinka Shonibare. Located in The Square, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Created by British Nigerian artist, Yinka Shonibare, Material (SG) II 2021, is part of his larger Wind Sculpture series. The vibrant fibreglass sculpture is hand painted, stands 20 feet tall and captures the movement of wind and freezing it in a moment of time. The pattern on the “fabric” is commonly considered to be traditional African cloth.
Yinka launched his Wind Series in 2013 and various pieces are now prominently displayed across iconic destinations around the world, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington and the Ndubuisi Kanu Park in Lagos. Yinka says his work is about celebrating the diversity of communities and highlighting our connections.
The Wishing Tree
via: Symmetry Labs. The Wishing Tree. The Square, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Created in 2019 by the San Francisco based collective Symmetry Labs, The Wishing Tree resembles an ancient 26-foot-tall banyan tree that pushes the boundaries of art and technology. An impressive 100,000 individually programmable, full-colour-spectrum LEDs bring the 10,000 leaves to life at night. The lighting algorithm is designed to capture the fluid behaviour of South Florida’s inherent weather system. Symmetry Labs hope the piece will invoke a simple and beautiful feeling: “The wonder of nature and humans working in harmony, the possibilities we can achieve together when we share knowledge and wisdom, and the awe of life itself.”
Silverball Museum and Arcade
Imagine you’re about to step into a local museum, what do you expect to see? The Silverball Museum and Arcade is not that. An interactive museum, visitors are encouraged to not only touch the exhibits but to enthusiastically enjoy hours of hands-on fun while learning about the history of each item. Dozens of classic pinball and arcade machines fill the room with placards giving a brief history of the machine and special signage drawing your attention to a “rare game,” like the 1950 Gottlieb Knockout designed by Harry Mabs with artwork by Roy Parker.
Started as a labour of love for his autistic daughter Morgan, Rob Ilvento has amassed a collection of over 700 machines dating back to the 1940s. After the success of his first museum in Asbury Park, New Jersey he opened his second location in Delray Beach after falling in love with the town.
Your admission includes “free play”, which eliminates the need for coins or tokens, you’re essentially buying game time so you can move from one game to the next and sample one cool game after another. If you’re a pinball wizard you’ll want to check out Evel Knievel, Creature From The Black Lagoon and Mata Hari. If you’re into arcade games, of course, you’ll find classic crowd pleasers like Pac-Man, Asteroids and Centipede.
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re looking for somewhere bright, hip and well situated for your stay in The Palm Beaches, then you need to experience the Aloft Delray Beach hotel. The new hotel blends sleek design, modern style and technology for the savvy traveler and is part of the SofA (South of Atlantic) District, a mixed-use hub exemplifying urban luxury. Close to white sandy beaches, art venues, restaurants, local shopping and a short drive to Boca Raton, the hotel also offers a vibrant social scene with signature cocktails at the popular W XYZ bar, 24-hour Re:fuel with healthy, Grab&Go snacks, a 24/7 fitness center and a Splash Pool located on our swanky, elevated Amenity deck.