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Ask A Local — The Palm Beaches

by Christopher McNamara
The Palm Beaches

When it cools down, there’s just a different feel and it becomes so natural to be outside & enjoy everything that Florida has to offer.

The Palm Beaches

If you want to know what makes The Palm Beaches, Florida such a special place to visit, ask a local—and that’s just what we did. Join us as we explore this beautiful and exciting location with three unique individuals who live, work, play, and create here.

The Palm Beaches is filled with many wonderful things just waiting to be experienced and enjoyed. From unique local businesses to art galleries, museums, theatre, scenic tours, culinary delights, and spectacular seaside adventures, The Palm Beaches offers something for everyone.

Rolando Chang Barrero

Rolando Chang Barrero

Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?

First and foremost, I love all things art and culture related as much as I love my hometown. I have been a visual artist all my life (activistartista.com). I’m a bit hyper indulgent of all things bright and beautiful. I have enjoyed having tandem careers in the world of fashion as a designer, in television as a talk show host, and even as a model when I was younger. Today I have had the privilege and honor to maintain a curatorial practice at The Box Gallery (TheBoxGallery.info) dedicated to providing culturally relevant information, access, and art works that reflect current movements and practices in the arts to visitors and collectors. Two of my most treasured compliments have been receiving a Muse Award for Cultural Leadership, and a recent Proclamation dedicating June 7th as Rolando Chang Barrero Day in Palm Beach County. Basically, like many of us in The Palm Beaches, what I really do for a living is to provide joy in the arts, embrace my role as cultural ambassador, and I provide a warm welcome to our guests, clients, and visitors to Palm Beach everyday. I love introducing people to paradise.

How long have you been living in The Palm Beaches, and what influenced your decision to move here?

I am a Florida native, although because of my career and studies I have had the pleasure to live and work throughout the country. After getting my degree from The School of the Art Institute in 1991 I couldn’t wait to return to paradise, so when I was offered a position as interim galleries director in the cultural affairs department at Miami Dade College (mdc.edu) I accepted it without hesitation. After all, it’s home. I get a kick knowing that I get to live and work where so many Americans, Europeans, and Latin Americans come to vacation. I’m never really surprised when any of our visitors decide stay.

What are your favorite places to go for cocktails and/or dinner?

We have hundreds of outstanding places to drink and dine, most of which I have visited and enjoyed. While I cook really well, I do love to go out a lot and I also spend a lot of time traveling. Being on the road I know that my first question is always, “Where is the best places for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?” So, friends ask me what my favorite places are I’ll let them that I have to start my day at one of four places: San Ambroeus (santambroeus.com), Tulipan Cafe and Bakery (tulipanbakery.com), Dontee’s Diner (donteesdinerfl.com), and of course Green’s Luncheonette (greenspb.com/restaurant). For lunch on the run there’s nothing more convenient than The Restaurant at The Norton Museum (norton.org/TheRestaurant) or, Serenity Garden Teahouse (serenitygardentea.com) tucked away on 316 Vallette Way between The Box Gallery and The Norton Museum. As for dinner, I have too many favorites! I would have to know what your budget is because I have favorites all over the board from fine dinning restaurants like Café Boulud (cafeboulud.com/palmbeach) to Taqueria Guerrero for truly authentic Mexican food (lataqueriaguerrero.com) or, Cuban hotspot Don Ramon (donramonrestaurant.com).

Cultural Council Image Photo By Discover The Palm Beaches

Cultural Council (Photo By Discover The Palm Beaches)

What cultural attractions or events are a must see for visitors?

The Palm Beaches is a exceptional place to live or visit, with thousands of places to explore and hundreds of year-round events to enjoy! The Palm Beaches is home to some of the best public art programs and projects that are outstanding. From The City Of Boynton Beach’s Boynton Arts (boynton-beach.org/public-art) to West Palm’s ArtLife (wpb.org/our-city/artlife-wpb) I can spend an afternoon walking around surrounded by beautiful art. Aside from my passion for art I love science and nature, and here in the Palm Beaches we offers a lot of variety. The Cox Science Center and Aquarium (coxsciencecenter.org) is a must see, touch, and experience not to miss. With many interactive installations designed with the latest cutting edge animatronics, I have spent hours there. Another favorite pastime is kayaking, and I always go to John D. MacArthur Beach State Park (macarthurbeach.org) to relax and just enjoy being on the water and watching the beautiful scenery as I paddle slowly along the trails. After spending the day outdoors, there’s nothing better that catching a show at one of our performing arts centers or theaters. The two places to find out more about them are: Discover The Palm Beaches website (thepalmbeaches.com/events) and The Cultural Council for Palm Beach (events.palmbeachculture.com).

Lake Worth Pier (Photo By Discover The Palm Beaches)

Lake Worth Pier (Photo By Discover The Palm Beaches)

A friend is coming to The Palm Beaches for the first time. Please describe the perfect weekend.

I know it’s going to be a perfect weekend when the first thing my friend says, “I packed sunscreen, boat shoes, and flip-flops. I want to spend the next couple of days outdoors!” Clearly we are going to enjoy the warm water and the absolutely great weather that is unique to The Palm Beaches. On the agenda there will be swimming in Lake Worth Beach (thepalmbeaches.com/explore-cities/lake-worth-beach), canoeing at Riverbend Park (discover.pbcgov.org/parks/Locations/Riverbend.aspx), parasailing on Singer Island (adventurews.com/activities/parasailing) .and before heading home, a sunset cruise is a must (getwetwatersports.com) .

What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?

We are basically surrounded by water and wetlands providing us with so many enjoyable options from a stroll through the Wakodahatchee Wetlands (discover.pbcgov.org/waterutilities/Pages/Wetlands.aspx) to guided tours on kayaks at Grassy Waters Preserve (wpb.org/government/public-utilities/grassy-waters-preserve/plan-your-visit). Two of my favorites are John D. MacArthur Beach State Park (macarthurbeach.org) and Riverbend Park (discover.pbcgov.org/parks/Pages/Riverbend.aspx).

What is your favorite time of year in The Palm Beaches and why?

I really don’t have a favorite time. I enjoy living here all year long. 

What locally made product would you suggest visitors bring back for their friends or family?

Locally grown, Locally raised! Locally made! We have some of the best products and produce to bring home to family and friends. You can enjoy them at most of our restaurants. The best place to find out how to visit and pick up a few delicious local gifts is by contacting The Florida Sugar Cane League (floridasugarcaneleague.org). 

Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave The Palm Beaches without…

Actually going to one of our gorgeous beaches!

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