Updated: Oct 13
This article appeared in the October Issue of Up and Away Magazine It is reprinted here with permission. Click here to see the original version: Up and Away.
Looking for fun in southeast Florida, look no further than Delray Beach. With accolades like “Most Fun Small Town in the USA“ and one of “America's Happiest Seaside Towns,” Delray Beach is a small town that gives you a big city experience. In the late 1800’s, Delray Beach was a haven for shipwreck victims, today it is a haven for visitors looking for a vibrant south Florida experience. This walkable city starts at the sparkling, azure waters of the Atlanta Ocean and ends six miles inland at the fresh water Wakodahatchee Wetlands. In between, there are restaurants, shops and attractions that delight visitors and draw them back year after year.
Where to Stay
Start by staying at the most fun place in Delray Beach, Crane’s Beach House. This luxury tropical oasis has beautifully renovated rooms, suites, and villas, surrounded by verdant gardens, all with indulgent amenities and full kitchens. There are two swimming pools, surrounded by lush foliage. Intimate conversation areas and colorful accents that invoke a Key West feel to the property.
Each room is equipped with thick beach towels and backpack beach chairs, allowing you to enjoy the beautiful beach that are only one block to the east. Lively Atlantic Ave, with its multiple art galleries, upscale boutiques, and vast array of restaurants, await you one block to the north. Crane’s Beach House is a relaxing sanctuary in the “Most Fun Small Town in the USA.”
Essential Online Links For Booking Your Trip to Southeast Florida
There are 3 airports that service Southeast Florida, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach: Uber and Taxis are available. Tri Rail and Brightline trains service Fort Lauderdale and Miami Airports. Private and Multiple Passenger Transfers are available from all three airports: ☆Transportation Service Miami Hotel - Miami International Airport
Advanced Tickets for the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi.
Save on entry fees: If you plan on visiting multiple museums or attractions, it is more economical to purchase a Miami Sightseeing Pass to save money, you can buy this pass for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days.
Top-rated Southeast Florida Tours and Experiences:
☆Seven Isles of Fort Lauderdale Kayak Tour (one of my favorite Southeast Florida experience)
☆Downtown West Palm Beach Food Tour (great for foodies)
☆Wynwood Graffiti Golf Cart Small-Group Tour (perfect for art lovers)
☆Skip the Line: Flamingo Gardens Admission Ticket in Fort Lauderdale (essential to avoid lines)
☆1 Hotel South Beach (Luxury, Miami)
☆Yotel (Budget Friendly, Miami)
☆Hollywood Beachside Boutique (Budget Friendly, Fort Lauderdale)
☆The White Elephant (Luxury, Palm Beach)
☆The Canopy (Budget Friendly, West Palm Beach)
☆Crane's Beach House Boutique Hotel & Luxury Villas (Amazing Tropical Vibe, Delray Beach)
My favorite Guidebook for Florida: DK Eyewitness Florida
My favorite Novel about Southeast Florida: The Last Train to Key West
Eat at Fun Restaurants
Choices on where to eat in Delray Beach can be overwhelming. Breakfast fans will enjoy the oceanfront Caffe Luna Rosa, or the covered patio at Over The Bridge Cafe. For the light breakfast eater, head to The French Bakery for a sweet and a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Late risers can get brunch at both Caffe Luna Rosa and Over The Bridge Cafe, daily and at Deck 84 on the weekends. There are many choices for lunch in downtown Delray Beach. A couple of favorites are El Camino, Lemongrass Asian Bistro and Papa's Tapas. Stop in at Gelato Go for a sweet pick me up in the afternoon or as a sugary nightcap.
The deliciousness continues in the evening. For Dinner, try the eclectic DaDa located in one in the oldest historic houses in Delray Beach. They have an interesting menu that changes seasonally. Don’t miss the perennial DaDa Dates, an outstanding take on bacon wrapped dates, accented with Chorizo, Manchego Salsa and Marcona Almonds. Fish lovers “must try” is the Fresh Catch which is sourced weekly from local fisherman.
Another excellent choice for dinner is Lionfish on Atlanta Ave. This is a sea to table restaurant with some tasty land options as well. Named for an invasive species of fish, Lionfish is doing its part to help save the ocean’s ecosystem by featuring its namesake on its menu. Lionfish are ravaging the ocean, particularly the Caribbean, by devouring fellow sea life and damaging coral reefs. The rare, delicious white flaky fish is available as Fish and Chips and a citrus-infused Ceviche on the Lionfish menu. Every Lionfish you enjoy from the ocean, you help preserve future generations of other types of fish.
Fun abounds in Delray Beach
In the evening, downtown Delray Beach comes alive with music, street performers, and a festive atmosphere. The streets are lined with open air cafes and restaurants. Shops stay open later to catch the post beach crowds. It is not unusual to see couples dancing on the sidewalks.
Saltwater Brewery is Delray Beach's first local production microbrewery. Created by Floridians with passions such as surfing, fishing, boating, and the ocean in general, they perfect each batch of the beer, using only natural ingredients. Each style of handcrafted beer is given a name inspired by the ocean to reflect the lifestyle and passion of the founders.
From the beginning their goal was to help maintain the world’s greatest wonder by giving to ocean based charities, such as Coastal Conservation Association, Surfrider, Ocean Foundation.
Saltwater Brewery is the first brewery to package and sell beer with the Eco Six Pack Rings.
This eco-friendly six pack ring is made from by-product waste and other compostable materials. It was developed to replace plastic rings, which are truly damaging to the ocean environment and the animals who live in it.
The Brewery is located in a historic building that was once a Feed Store. The atmosphere is lively and kid friendly. Grab a beer or canned cocktail and have a bite from their rotating food trucks. If Chicagomeup is there, don’t miss their Italian Beef Sandwich. Enjoy this deliciousness while watching a sporting event on the big screen or playing a game of indoor shuffle board.
THRoW Social is a playful, open air, happy hour, evening or late night venue that combines backyard style games with music, entertainment, delicious bites and cocktails. The Throw Social offers 11,000 square feet of a non-traditional bar scene. Live music starts at noon on weekends and at 7:00 pm during the week, with a late night DJ until 2:00 am on weekends. There are light up ping pong tables, corn hole, a giant chess game as well as traditional size board games, all designed for adult fun. Honey and Tin Roof also offer live music, late night DJs and dancing. All are located near the corner of Atlantic Ave and 2nd Street in downtown Delray Beach.
Historically, Delray Beach is steeped in the Arts. In the 1920’s it became a seasonal artists and writer’s Colony. The Arcade Tap Room was the gathering place for these creative minds. This distinct red building still stands on Atlantic Ave. Delray Beach continued to be popular as a winter retreat for creative minds through the 1930’s and 1940’s. By strolling around town, you will see outdoor art installations, galleries, theatres, and wall murals all illustrating the community embracing their artist roots. You can pick up a map of galleries and art installations at the Visitor Center on the corner of Atlantic Ave and A1A. If you are visiting during the first week of the month don”t miss their First Friday Self Guided Art Walk.
Old School Square is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by visitors. Located at the corner of Atlantic Ave. and Swinton Ave., this campus was built in the early 1900’s as the Delray Elementary and Delray High Schools. Today the building have been readapted to be an Arts Center, housing the Cornell Art Museum, the Crest Theatre, an ampitheatre, a vintage gym, and a Live Oak shaded park. The restored, early 20th century school buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Live music performances and community events are frequently held in these spaces. Art lovers will also want to visit the Arts Warehouse. Located on Artist Alley in the Pineapple Grove District, the Arts Warehouse is a creative breeding ground for studio artists. There are gallery exhibitions, visual art workshops, professional development opportunities and special events.
No trip to Delray Beach is complete without spending some time shopping along Atlantic Ave. This trendy, pedestrian-friendly street is shaded with mature Palm Trees and lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Atlantic Ave. is walkable, which is perfect if you want to take your time window-shopping and people-watching. There are multiple upscale tropical boutiques for men and women as well as art galleries and surf shops. Don’t miss the Blue Gallery which encompasses an entire city block, Andrea Dupree for gently used and new designer handbags, Headache Trading Company for collectable sneakers and urban wear, the Delray Kollective for locally designed and crafted jewelry, apparel and home decor and A Blast From the Past for vintage clothing, accessories and home decor.
Explore the Historical Roots of Delray Beach
The Delray Beach Historical Society was founded founded in 1964 with a mission to “collect, preserve and share materials from Delray Beach’s past, so that present and future generations can comprehend more fully their predecessors, their communities and themselves.” Through themed programs, events and exhibits, they showcase Delray’s colorful history. Their lush, one acre campus houses the City archive, three historic cottages and a Florida-native heritage garden.
The cottages are home to several permanent exhibits, illustrating Delray Beach history from the first inhabitants to modern times. There is a new exhibit that explores Delray Beach history from the 1950’s to the 1970’s, covering post-war optimism, tourism & development, the civil rights movement, the transformational 60’s, the Haitian migration, politics and counterculture themes. Call ahead to check for hours or to schedule a docent lead tour. For specific information on the history of people of African descent in Palm Beach County, visit the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum. For specific information on the history of people of Japanese descent in Palm Beach County, visit the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.
Family Friendly Fun
Delray Beach and Atlantic Dunes Beach are named as the some of top beaches in the southeastern U.S. by Travel Holiday Magazine. Delray Municipal Beach is popular with people of all ages. You'll see families enjoying a day in the waves, young people playing volleyball, everyone basking in the warm sun. Visitors can rent chairs and umbrellas at Oceanside Beach Service right on the sand at Atlantic Ave and A1A. To rent skim, body, paddle and surf boards head to Island Water Sports, 1/2 block from the beach on Atlantic Ave.
Silver Ball Arcade and Pub is a large museum featuring more than 150 video games and pinball machines dating as far back as the 1930s. Their goal is to “bring a bit of nostalgia to visitors, evoking childhood memories for adults while creating new memories for younger generations.” You can play classic video games such as Ms. Pac-Man on their two floors that contain pinball machines, arcade games and even the original skeeball alleys from New York’s Coney Island, Eldorado Arcade. The best part about it is that all the games are free to play with your admission ticket. There is a casual dining restaurant that serves soft drinks and adult beverages on site.
To explore south Florida’s freshwater wetlands head to Green Cay or Wakodahatchee Wetlands Parks. They offer over 100 acres of wetlands, accessible by elevated boardwalks. These verdant, tranquil parks offer opportunities to observe Florida's wildlife in their natural habitat. At the Green Cay Nature Center, you will find exhibits focused on the area's natural ecosystem, live animals, a theater, and gift shop. In both parks you will walk on a boardwalks\ system through Cypress swamps, Cabbage Palm wetlands and hardwood environments. The bird watching and wildlife photography opportunities are outstanding. There is no charge to explore these treasures.
Visit the Sandoway Discovery Center for a fun experience for the whole family. Located in a historic house directly on the Atlantic Ocean, this hands on natural history museum offers educational programs, guided tours, and unique exhibits. On the lush grounds you will find a butterfly garden and pollinator habitats. There are nurse shark feedings daily and sting rays to pet, on the covered back patios. Inside there are several intriguing displays, including a large collection of tropical shells, awaiting you on the upper floors. The Sandoway Discovery center endeavors to educate and enlighten visitors on the importance of conservation and protecting our environment. This is a fun activity for a rainy day or if you need a break from the beach.
Whether you are looking for fun, food or fashion Delray Beach truly offers something for everyone. Whether you are exploring the outdoor from a boardwalk, petting a stingray or playing 1980’s PacMan, there is fun for all ages. Atlantic Ave. will keep fashionistas and foodies busy for days. Music, arts and history await you throughout the city. It is easy to see why they call Delray Beach “the most fun small town in the USA.”
Looking for more information on visiting Southeast Florida, check out these Blog Posts:
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