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Trip Report West Palm Beach/Palm Beach/Boca Raton day trip from Miami -- trip report

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Was able to manage day trips from Miami to this destination area and Ft. Lauderdale. Original itinerary suggested was posted on this thread:

http://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/palm-beach-or-ft-lauderdale-as-miami-day-trips-suggestions-wanted.cfm

Was seriously considering not doing this day trip after the responses I got on the thread above, but felt better about the idea after asking the same question over at city-data.com, where the response was very positive -- so decided to chance it. In doing this day trip, I found that (as in the case of Ft. Lauderdale), the buses were reliable and ran on time (I had schedules), plus there were sidewalks everyplace I explored.

==================

"S" bus from South Beach to main Downtown Miami bus island. 95X Commuter Express Bus to Ft. Lauderdale Tri-Rail station. Tri-Rail train to West Palm Beach. #1 bus from train station to

10:00 AM: Norton Art Museum.

walk to

12:30 PM: Society of the Four Arts

walk to

1:15 PM: Bethesda-by-the-Sea church

walk to

2:00 PM: Flagler Museum tour

walk to

4:30 PM: Breakers walk-through

bus #41 to downtown West Palm Beach, change to #1 bus to

6:30 PM: Boca Raton Museum

walk a few blocks to catch bus #94 to Boca Raton Tri-Rail station. Train to Miami Airport stop. Cab to airport, then Airport Flyer bus to South Beach.

=================================

The Norton Art Museum is one of two must-sees here. It's a moderate sized collection that takes about two hours to see, but has a high quality to quantity ratio. There are fine works here by the likes of Reynolds, Rubens, Gilbert Stuart, Giordano, Soutine, Picasso, Klee, Pollock, O'Keefe, and several name-brand impressionists. There's also a very nice Chihuly glass ceiling, plus there was a temporary exhibit with some especially nice work by Jose Alvarez and Fred Tomaselli. Had seen the Egyptian artifacts from the Brooklyn Museum when I was there, so decided to take a pass.

The Society of the Four Arts has its galleries open seasonally (which means not when I was there), but their sculpture garden is marvelous, full of unusual plants and some worthy sculpture.

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is a prosaic church from the outside, but there's vibrant stained glass inside and an inviting small garden and Medieval style cloister outside -- not bad at all.

The Flagler Museum was the other absolute must, a staggeringly wonderful Gilded Age mansion that rivals anything Newport RI has to offer. Loads of fancy furnishings and china and glassware and paintings and room ornament. The tour (of the first floor only) is very informative and worth taking. There also Flagler's private railroad car (plenty fancy, too) in a side out-building.

Liked the Breakers as well. No expense was spared in this European style villa, and the lobby, Gold Room, Mediterranean Ballroom, and Circle are worth seeking out.

Unfortunately, the Boca Raton Art Museum was worth a miss. Its collection is wide ranging, but there's not much I found very interesting. Even the few name-brand items (Lichtenstein, Klee, Calder) are of lesser quality. Oh well -- at least I know what's there.

One caveat. The So-called Miami Airport Tri-Rail stop is about a mile from the terminals, and if you catch a late train back, the shuttle to the airport stops running -- and cabs normally refuse to take fares there. Had to wade into the street nearby to hail a cab, and it took a while to get one.

In short -- this was a terrific side trip, well worth taking, and I say don't worry about the buses or any walking you may need to do following the itinerary I took. It works, and I know because I did it.

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