Why You'll Love Miami's Baby Cousin

Robbie Caponetto
In Delray Beach, the town is as much fun as the sand and surf.

A town of about 60,000 on iconic State Road A1A, Delray Beach is a couple of hours from Miami, and its downtown clearly channels the color and style of South Florida. Delray is known for its palm-lined main drag, Atlantic Avenue. Closest to the beach, Atlantic has the kind of shops and hangouts you would expect in a coastal town. But follow it over the Intracoastal Waterway into downtown Delray Beach, and you'll discover an incrediable restaurant scene with everything from fresh-from-the-salty-water oysters to fantastic Tex-Mex . The Pineapple Grove Arts District is getting rejuvenated, with the kind of bright murals you might expect to see in some Miami neighborhoods. There are plenty of things to do in Delray Beach—but some of the best involve food and drink. Pick your hotel and then start exploring.

STAY

The Seagate Hotel & Spa is modern and luxurious with its own private beach club, complete with restaurants and an ocean-front pool. They'll take you from the hotel to the club by trolley (or valet your car if you prefer to drive). Towels and beach chairs are provided. Watersport rentals are available. The Seagate also has Esplanades onsite to drive you anywhere within a 3-mile radius, free of charge. This property is about a half-block from a convenient beach-access boardwalk.

The Colony Hotel & Cabana Club is the opposite of sleek and modern. It's a historic stunner, family owned since 1935. From its hardwood floors and striking color palette—the exterior is bright yellow—to its private beach club with a heated salt-water pool and beach cabanas, the Colony looks like the kind of place Humphrey Bogart would've stayed.

PLAY

The Cornell Art Museum at Old School Square is an old schoolhouse turned museum of modern art. They also host art walks, performances, and special events.

The Silverball Museum charges you $10 an hour—no quarters required—to play vintage pinball and video games. Play Pac Man, Gallaga, and Charlie's Angels pinball as many times as you like.

EAT

This could take a while because there's a lot to choose from. The requisite beachfront hangout is Boston's on the Beach. We loved Caffee Luna Rosa, which is also on Ocean Boulevard (A1A) and somehow pulls off white-tablecloth and beach-casual at the same time. Have a breakfast pizza alfresco and you won't be hungry for a long, long time.

Here are just a few of our favorite Delray spots downtown:

City Oyster & Sushi Bar is reason enough to go to Delray, all by itself—a modern, airy restaurant that's very relaxing and has a friendly, knowledgeable staff. You can choose from their impressive oyster menu and order in 2's—you don't have to order a whole dozen or even a half-dozen if you want to try something new.

El Camino serves fresh Tex-Mex, along with drinks made with freshly squeezed juices. The restaurant has an urban-industrial-Mexican feel to it, if that makes sense, and a terrific staff. You should probably eat there last; otherwise, you might never leave and then you'd miss everything else.

Deck 84, right on the Intracoastal Waterway, is another spot where you'll want an outdoor table. Try the Southwestern chicken soup with creama and cilantro.

Gary Rack’s Farmhouse Kitchen serves "just good food," with a commitment to local producers and the environment. Order one of the "Farm Flats"—flatbreads topped with fresh ingredients like chicken, apple, almonds, cheddar, dates, and riccotto.

While you're making your way down A1A to Delray's food and drink, test your Southern IQ by guessing how to pronounce these places:

Think those were tough? Just be glad we didn't choose them all from Louisiana: Bayou Lafourche, Chataignier, Faubourg Marigny, Des Allemands, Port Fourchon . . .

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