Delray Beach, Florida, the hidden gem of Palm Beach County, has been rated “Most Fun Small Town in the United States” by Rand McNally, USA Today and the Travel channel, and last year Coastal Living named it among the top 10 “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns.” A mere 15 minutes from Palm Beach International airport, this exciting, elegant and unpretentious oasis attracts those searching for the best of South Florida. A beach destination with culture, sports, art, shopping, and nightlife on a backdrop that smashes the glamour of South Beach into the island ease of Key West…ah, finally somewhere new and exciting to visit in Florida!
Palm Beach County has many beautiful beaches, but the beach is just the beginning in Delray. Delray Beach sets itself apart from the rest of the area with an endless offering of other things to do. Here are 10 ways to spend a perfect day in Delray:
1. The Ave
Atlantic Avenue, the main artery of the city, is becoming known as a restaurant haven across the country. The mile-long stretch heading to the beach is lined with every kind of food you could want. The outdoor café style dining & palm-tree-lined avenue makes for a beautiful thoroughfare to stroll down tasting various cuisines, or you could stop and enjoy the people-watching. Don’t be surprised to see local resident Kevin James or his buddy Adam Sandler enjoying a meal or checking out a boutique. The great restaurants filter into the sidestreets and other parts of town, so don’t let your search for amazing food stop there.
2. Meet the designers
Whether you’re on vacation or a local on your day off, Delray is a great place to shop. Its walkability and very few chain stores make for optimum browsing conditions. The unique stores and growing contingent of local fashion designers serve as a breath of fresh air for those looking to break free from the homogenous shopping centers that have saturated most cities.
3. The arts district
If it’s culture you’re into, you don’t have to jet off to the big cities to get a dose of art or history. Delray Beach is home to Artist’s Alley, an incubator of homegrown artists creating and showcasing their art in the town in which they find their inspiration. See original pieces and meet the creators. If galleries are more your speed, then slow down and take a look at the assortment of galleries tucked throughout the town. Enter through the trademark arch on NE 2nd Avenue into the Pineapple Grove Art District for a day of cafes, shopping and local art.
4. Get your culture on
Delray Beach has an interesting cultural history. A visit to the Spady Museum, one of the only African-American cultural history museums in the state, will provide some insight into the people that helped shape this village by the sea. A trip to the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens will land you in beautiful tranquility while offering another culture’s viewpoint on the history of this coastal settlement. For another museum I dare you to find in Manhattan or Chicago, coast into the Surf History Museum and see the rich history of surfing that has risen from the east coast. It’s a great place to catch a break.
5. Listen to the music
Set within several restored 100-year-old school buildings is Old School Square. It houses a variety of venues showcasing something to satisfy every musical palate. Catch a musical at the Crest Theatre, experience a silent disco at the Fieldhouse, or enjoy a free Friday night concert at the Pavilion.
6. Delray knows how to throw a party
Delray Beach is an entertainment hub. Scattered throughout the restaurants and bars, city venues and even the streets, there’s always something going on. With original amazing events such as the lighting of the famous 100-foot Christmas tree or Bacon & Bourbon Fest, to some of the largest events in the state—like those for the 4th of July and St. Patrick’s Day—the streets of Delray are always alive with excitement and intrigue. The city calendar is packed with fun activities for morning, noon and night!
7. Park it
With such a beautiful backdrop of beaches, parks and palm trees, Delray Beach is a great place be out and about. It’s a quaint city with beautiful parks and peaceful landscapes. A nice relaxing stroll or a picnic in Lake Ida Park may be just the afternoon you need.
8. Carting around
Rent a bike and take a ride up A1A or down the streets of the historic district, taking in the sights. If you really want to see the town in style and comfort, head over to Exhilaride and rent one of their top-of-the-line golf carts. Delray is a golf-cart-friendly town, so you can putter around the beautiful back streets exploring, or pull up to your favorite café all while enjoying the refreshing beach breeze. Better yet, call on the Delray Downtowner, a free golf cart service.
9. Get wet
One of the world’s largest coral reefs is just off the coast if you’re down for a dive. There are plenty of watersports above the waves as well, including paddleboarding, parasailing and kayaking. And there’s always a beautiful afternoon or sunset cruise along the Intercostal Waterway on the Lady Atlantic from Delray Yacht Cruises.
10. Grab your racket and clubs
The Delray Beach Tennis Center is home to the Delray Open, an ATP World Tour Event that features tennis legends and top-ranked players. Feel free to stop in for a lesson or play some doubles. The Seagate Country Club is host to The Legends Tour. Play 18 on this top-notch course or check out some of the other courses in the area for a day on the greens.
For more on Delray Beach, visit visitdelraybeach.org.