WATCH: This is One Florida Town You've Never Seen–and You're Going to Love It
Delray Beach is about 50 miles north of Miami on A1A. Think of it as Miami’s baby cousin. There’s a level of sophistication to the boutiques, dining, and nightlife here that feels big-city, even though the heart of downtown is compact enough to be relatively walkable. Such historic architecture as the incredible Colony Hotel & Cabaña Club, which looks like something out of a Bogart movie, adds to the Miami mystique, as does Delray’s long, palm-lined main street, Atlantic Avenue, with all its shops and restaurants.
Take A Look At This Beautiful Beach Town
It's the ultimate vacation spot!
Steps to the Shore
Just off the A1A highway (which becomes South Ocean Boulevard in town), you can step through a verdant archway and onto a sandy path that leads you straight to the ocean in all its glory. Bisecting Atlantic Avenue is the Intracoastal Waterway, which divides Delray’s biggest tourist draws into two distinct halves—one beach-centric, the other not so much. Some hotels have their own private beach clubs so you don’t have to choose between “in town” or “on the beach.” You can easily enjoy both.
Get the full beach-club experience at the historic Colony Hotel, convenient to restaurants and nightlife. The Colony’s Cabaña Club is just 2 miles from the hotel, with a private beach; heated saltwater pool; and complimentary showers, changing rooms, towels, and parking.
The sleek and modern Seagate Hotel & Spa is close to the beachfront. It offers spa services, fitness classes, access to golf and tennis at the Seagate Country Club, and a private beach club with its own pool and watersport rentals. Two Cadillac Escalades and the Seagate trolley are at your disposal and can drive you anywhere within a 3-mile radius of the hotel, free of charge.
There are some cool shops in Delray, such as the Snappy Turtle, chock-full of fashionable clothes and accessories. (We loved the “Haute Mess” T-shirt that we spotted in the store window.) It’s a stone’s throw from the Seagate. In the up-and-coming Pineapple Grove Arts District, feminine and fashion-forward Roxy Lulu sells “ready to wear, resort wear, gorgeous wear.” The owners of Furst are artists who handcraft purses and jewelry. (The handbags start at $350, but check out the sale table, where they may sell for as low as $79.)
Art Round the Corner
Joining Furst and Roxy Lulu in Pineapple Grove are a variety of shops, galleries, and eateries. Colorful murals in this part of town turn the streets into artwork and will make you feel like you’re in an old Miami neighborhood.
Water Views and Fresh Food
What’s really fun about Delray is the restaurant scene. Caffe Luna Rosa, right across South Ocean Boulevard from the beach, has an old-school Italian vibe, and the breakfast pizza will fortify you for half the day. On the other side of the drawbridge that crosses the Intracoastal Waterway, find Deck 84 right on the water. Their Baja Fish Tacos are served in threes, but good luck cleaning your plate.
And Still More Food
El Camino serves super tasty Mexican food, and its drinks are made with freshly squeezed juices. (Make it your last stop, or you’ll be tempted to park there for the duration.) Gary Rack’s Farmhouse Kitchen is a lively little eatery that’s packed for lunch. Try the chicken flatbread with shaved Granny Smith apples on top.
Order Up Oysters
If you’ve never considered tasting raw oysters, you can’t help but be persuaded by the menu at City Oyster & Sushi Bar, where you can try an incredible array of bivalves in orders of two, so you don’t have to commit to a whole platterful. Serving brunch (with unlimited mimosas or Bloody Marys for $13 with your entrée) plus lunch and dinner, City Oyster is a beautiful, airy restaurant that combines white-tablecloth food and refined service with a beach-casual attitude.
A Little Dose of Culture
Just in case you’re interested in something other than food, check out the Cornell Art Museum at Old School Square. It’s housed in a 1913 schoolhouse and brings contemporary art to the city. One of the quirkiest attractions in Delray Beach is the Silverball Museum, a throwback vintage arcade. Forgoing the need for change machines and pockets full of quarters, the Silverball lets you play anything you want as many times as you can get to the head of the line for $10 an hour. That’s some budget-friendly fun.