Old street, new source for entertain

Despite what you may have heard, West Palm Beach is not just where your grandparents went to retire. In the past five years, downtown West Palm has become a youthful and vibrant place filled with some of the best bars, clubs and restaurants in South Florida.

Weekends are complete with boisterous crowds of 20-somethings celebrating, so next time you’re on I-95 make an extra stop in West Palm and hit Clematis Street off Exit 70. You won’t regret it.

Clematis Street is in the heart of Downtown. Home to the famous fountain that is built into the sidewalk and springs to life when children daringly run through its center, there are swinging benches and soaring white lights overhead.

Then there is the food. Walk to the end of Clematis Street and you will run into a hot pink building that is impossible to miss: Sloan’s Ice Cream Shop. Its walls are painted with baby angels and clouds, its counters are filled with stuffed animals, invisible ink and sparkling pens, and the ice cream and pastry collections available are just as colorful as the lime green chairs outside.

Once the sun has gone down and the old-fashioned streetlights have turned on, Clematis turns from a cute place to take a date into a giant party with the popular nightclub Off the Hookah in the middle of the buzz.

One word to describe Off the Hookah: exotic. The club, which is also open for lunch and dinner, is decorated with sphinxes, pyramids and Middle-Eastern artwork. The Japanese room has a sushi bar and overstuffed cushions for seating, while the VIP room is lined with curtained beds instead of couches.

It may not be Mansion or Pizza Rustica, the more typical south Florida hits, but downtown West Palm Beach holds its own. The bars, restaurants and shops have found a way to mix local charm with a trendy A-list style to create an atmosphere all on its own.