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9 Unexpected Experiences to look forward to at Henry Flagler Museum

The first time I planned to visit, I pulled into the parking lot, eyed the gorgeous view and thought, do I really want to pay almost $20 to go in? I turned it down and decided the outside view was good enough.  Now that I’ve been inside, I really do think it’s worth every penny.

Not just because of the beautiful antiques from a well lived life during the Gilded Age.  There’s so much more to take away than that.  Walking through this home gives you a chance to learn about a lesser known figure to some but also a very important character in U.S. History.  

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experience flagler museum

Who was Henry M. Flagler?

He was a business tycoon that partnered with the more well known John D. Rockefeller and Samuel Andrews in 1870 to form Standard Oil.  Over the next 40 years, he amassed immense wealth while also having controlling interests in the Florida East Coast Railway, Florida East Coast Hotel Company, Model Land Company, major Florida newspapers and utilities.  With his fortune, he provided land for schools, churches, parks, courthouses, libraries, hospitals, and cemeteries throughout Florida.

Henry M. Flagler was an integral part of History for all these contributions as well as for figuring out the necessary structure needed to grow Standard Oil rapidly across states while running from one main office and acquiring competitors’ businesses. Much of Florida tourism could be said to have started with his fascination with extending the railroad all the way to Key West.  In order to meet many of his lofty goals for expansion, engineers had to be innovative with utilizing resources efficiently.

The Over-Seas Railroad to Key West employed up to 4,000 men and suffered damages from 3 major hurricanes during the 7 years of construction.  When it was completed on January, 22, 1912 it linked the entire East coast of Florida with a continental transportation system.  Other places of interest directly linked to Flagler’s philanthropy and vision of modern Florida are Hotel Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine, power systems that eventually became part of Florida Power and Light, Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach, and many more.  

He was one of the Captains of Industry. The Captains of Industry were business tycoons that amassed immense wealth in the late 1800’s similar to the “Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos” of our time and used a good portion of it to benefit society.  

They believed in philanthropy vs charity.  Philanthropy attempts to solve social problems while charity helps the pains felt by the social problems.  Philanthropy tries to give a long term cure while charity just provides a band-aid.

If you love history and these beautiful spaces left behind, you’ll enjoy a visit to Key West:

9 Experiences Waiting for You

Walk into Florida’s First Museum

When you visit the Flagler Museum, you are walking into Whitehall.  A 55 room winter retreat built as a wedding gift for Flagler’s new wife.  Built to be the most modern of its time, it had electric lights, central heat, and a telephone system.  It sounds almost strange today when we barely use or need in-home telephone systems anymore. 

The story of how it became a museum is even more impressive.  The original home was left to Louise Clisby Wise, a niece of the Flagler’s.  She later sold it and it became part of a hotel with a 10 story, 300 room addition.  In 1959, Jean Flagler Mathews, Flagler’s granddaughter, purchased the hotel, created a nonprofit educational corporation, demolished the hotel addition, and restored it to its original condition.  It is now a National Historic Landmark.  

Wonder if you’re headed towards Apollo’s temple.

entrance to flagler museum
doric columns

References to the Greek World are hidden in the details, from the Doric columns to the large marble urns and bronze doors.

Be met with a Choice of Touring Options

grand hall
kids activity booklet

You’re met with a variety of touring options including docent led, self-guided audio tour, map tour, and an interactive children’s tour with scavenger hunts and games to explore along the way through each room.  There is also a free app that you can download and enjoy the tour on your own device.

  • 27 Meaningful Gifts and Unique Treasures They’ll Love

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Reserve A Gilded-Age Tea Service

1890 crystal silver liquor set
china collection

Hosted inside the Flagler Kenan Pavilion, service is set with Whitehall Collection™ china. Reservations are required.  The Prix Fixe menu includes “a selection of savory tea sandwiches, traditional scones, and sweets complemented by the Museum’s own organic Palm Beach Blend tea and pink lemonade”. 

Tickets with tea service are $50 for adult non-members. 

Take in the views of Lake Worth.

Speaking of the Flagler Kenan Pavillion, this modern building reminiscent of a 19th Century Beaux-Arts railway palace houses Flagler’s private railroad car #91.  The floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide sweeping views of the lake and West Palm Beach skyline.

flagler baux arts railway palace

Walk through Flagler’s Private Railroad Car

flagler private car #91

Built in 1886, you can see Flagler’s private bedroom with bathroom, the general sitting and sleeping quarters for family or guests, and even the kitchen where the private meals were made while trekking along.

flagler private bedroom #91

Attempt to read the custom Bronze sundial.  

The Flagler museum sundial was constructed in 1902, its inner hour circle has Arabic numerals for standard time.  The outer Hour circle shows Roman numerals for local time.  You’ll find the horizontal dial on top of a painted pedestal at the entrance to the garden.

flagler museum sundial

Wonder where the kitchen is.

As we finished touring, we realized we never saw a kitchen.  Usually there’s always a kitchen even if it’s in another building.  You won’t find one here because it was removed when the hotel addition was made.  

Fall in love with a space that shouldn’t exist.

One of my favorite spaces was one that shouldn’t even be there! The beautiful open space to the West of the Grand Ballroom was originally a small garden but became the hotel’s dining room.

hotel dining room 3

Find your favorite room.

My absolute favorite was the Drawing Room with its cameos of Marie Antoinette and breathtaking decor.

flagler drawing room

Take your time and enjoy each room as you go through.  There’s treasures everywhere that give you the sense that some people really know how to live well.  Look for the pocketwatch collection, the lace collection which includes original tools used in lace making, and the decanter sets are stunning.  You can almost picture what one of their grand parties must’ve been like.

Flagler Museum FAQ’s

  • How long will it take to tour the Flagler Museum?
    • It can take you up to 2 hours to do a self-guided tour of the entire place.  –
  • What is the address?
    • One Whitehall Way, Palm Beach, FL 33480
  • How much is parking?
    • It’s free.
  • How much is admission?
    • $18 for Adults (ages 18+)
    • $10 for Youth (ages 13 – 17)
    • $3 for Children (ages 6 – 12)
    • Children ages 5 and under are free

3 Recommended West Palm Beach Food Tours

7 More Great Things to Do With Kids in West Palm Beach

Check the current homeschool classes ($20 for non-members) at the South Florida Science Center & Museum to register for a drop-in session of interactive labs and experiments for ages K – 8th grade.  While you’re there, get outdoors on the Fisher Family Science Trail for science-exploring exhibits including a splash pad, a gem panning station, a dinosaur walk, and an 18-hol miniature golf conservation course with babbling brooks.  

  • South Florida Science Center & Museum
  • 4801 Dreher Trail N
  • West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Join the weekly animal talks at Sandoway Discovery Center for live fish and shark presentations. (3+ to Adults – $6, Under 3 – FREE)

  • Sandoway Discovery Center
  • 142 South Ocean Blvd.
  • Delray Beach, FL 33483

Head to Grassy Waters Preserve to catch a stunning sunset or for some wildlife spotting. (FREE)

  • Grassy Waters Preserve
  • 8264 Northlake Blvd 
  • West Palm Beach, FL 33412

Visit Manatee Lagoon during manatee season (Fall through the end of March) for FREE.  This educational center is dedicated to providing a manatee viewing area for up-close observation in addition to hand-on exhibits.  Cold winter days are the best time to spot the manatees swimming in the warm water outflows from the Riviera Beach Energy Plant.  Check the Manatee Cam from anywhere.  

  • Manatee Lagoon
  • 6000 N. Flagler Drive
  • West Palm Beach, FL 33407

Participate in a hands-on gallery experience at the Family Studio at the Norton Museum of Art. ($3 per family for non-members)

  • Norton Museum of Art
  • 1450 S. Dixie Highway 
  • West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Sit in the garden of tranquility, play in the Children’s Maze, cross through the “Windows on the Floating World”, or take in 22 other unique garden rooms at Mounts Botanical Garden. ($12 for adults, $5 ages 6 to 17)

  • Mounts Botanical Garden
  • 559 N Military Trl 
  • West Palm Beach, FL 33415-1311

Bonus: Head to Nearby Boynton Beach for the Kinetic Art Exhibit, use the walking map to guide you to the 16 exhibits found on Ocean Ave.

Opera for Young Adults

Young adults that would like to experience operas have the opportunity to join the Palm Beach Opera Young Friends program ( for ages 18 – 45).  For $50 per year, admission to a Saturday evening performance is included for the season’s performances.

5 West Palm Beach House Rentals Perfect for Families

3 Bedroom, 2 bath home with bikes near the intracoastal & Downtown from $299/nt

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2 Bedroom, 2 Bath home within walking distance to Rosemary Square and the Norton Museum from $199/nt

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Pet friendly 4 Bedroom, 5 Bath home from $369/nt

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Complex of 3 separate bungalows totaling 7 Bedrooms, 4 Baths from $916/nt

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Private pool home in historic area, 2 Bedrooms, 3 Baths from $306/nt

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Photo Courtesy of VRBO

Enjoy West Palm Beach museums and nature areas knowing a little more about the man that invested in Florida’s transportation systems, people, and communities in order to help make Florida a tourist destination.  Find plenty for the kids to do when not at the beaches and even have access to great shopping options and dining.

Happy Wandering in West Palm Beach!

OUR FAVORITE TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES

We know how important it is to save money so we can have more to spend on the things we love. Here are our favorite travel resources for saving money and planning your trips.

Booking Flights: To compare flights and set price alerts, search on Google Flights or Momondo

Accommodations: We typically stay in mid-range or boutique hotels with loyalty programs.  That way we earn ourselves free stays to help extend our vacations and getaways for free.  Learn more about earning your free stays here.  For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO (for the lower fees and better support than Airbnb, sorry, we’re not big fans of the alternative) You can also book vacation rentals on Hotels.com

Travel Insurance: We feel pretty strongly about this, travel insurance is a MUST for international trips, and if you still aren’t sure why, check out our Travel Horror Stories. We recommend comparing your options with Squaremouth , learn more here

Local Attractions:  We utilize memberships to help us see more when we travel. NARM members get free or discounted access to reciprocal member Art museums, Arboretums, Historic Sites, and Nature Centers throughout North America. AHS reciprocal membership includes gardens throughout the U.S. and Canada. ASTC membership gives reciprocal access to Science Centers and Museums. America the Beautiful National Parks Pass allows entry into National Parks for $80 annually.  You could spend less than $300 for all 4 memberships depending on your local museums and have access to hundreds of museums, parks, and gardens.  Memberships often pop up on Groupon so always look there first.
Save more with loyalty programs, read how to get more free flights and hotels here.

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