WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - APRIL 4, 2016: The Flagler Museum exterior and grounds. The beaux arts mansion was constructed by Henry Flagler.; Shutterstock ID 402760483; Your name (First / Last): Lauren Keith; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Content Asset; Full Product or Project name including edition: Guides Project Eastern USA

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Flagler Museum

Top choice in Palm Beach

This museum is housed in the spectacular 1902 mansion built by Henry Flagler as a gift for his bride, Mary Lily Kenan. The beaux arts–styled Whitehall was one of the most modern houses of its era and quickly became the focus of the winter season. It was designed by John Carrère and Thomas Hastings, both students of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and collaborators on other Gilded Age landmarks such as the New York Public Library.

Its modish, pink aluminum-leaf wallpaper was more expensive, at the time, than gold. Downstairs, public rooms such as the 4750-sq-ft Grand Hall, the Library with its painted cast plaster ceiling and the silk- and wood-lined Drawing Room wow visitors with their detailed craftmanship and opulence. Upstairs, intimate bedrooms give a insight into family life. Of particular interest is the Flagler/Kenan History Room, which chronicles, through letters, newspaper clippings and photographs, Flagler's personal and professional life and Mary Lily's family history.

If you'd like more than to simply wander around the house, take a look at the website for a whole host of lectures, talks and exhibits, as well as the critically acclaimed Music Series that features intimate chamber concerts in the West Room, followed by a champagne reception ($70 per person).

Time your visit right and you can segue into a 'Gilded Age Style' lunch in the Café des Beaux-Arts, which is housed in the Pavilion, a 19th-century, iron-and-glass railway palace, which also displays Flagler's private railroad car. Here you can dine on finger sandwiches, scones and custom-blended teas while looking out over Lake Worth.

At the time of writing, they were redoing the second level portico, due to be completed in late 2019.

Free, one-hour docent-led tours depart at 11am, 12:30pm and 2pm Tuesday to Saturday, and hourly on Sundays from 12:30pm to 2:30pm; alternatively, you can pick up a free audioguide. This is a fabulous, not-to-be-missed experience and if there's one place to visit to immerse yourself in the Gilded Age, this is it.

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