This Palm Beach County coastal city used to be a quiet place back in the 1980s, dozing in its acres – a sleepy suburb of Miami. Since the building boom a decade ago, however, it’s become racy and trendy – brimming with art galleries, outdoor cafés, great restaurants, glitzy boutiques and beautiful people with seemingly deep pockets.
Go along Atlantic Avenue, for instance, the city’s jewel in the crown, and you will be dazzled by the magnificent homes and passing yachts in the ocean. So what’s the drill when you have driven to this palm-fringed paradise with your Delray Beach car rental?
Scampi, shrimps and Sundy
Boring people claim they eat to live. Wiser souls, however, live to eat sumptuous seafood in places like Delray. Try the lunch at 50 Ocean (50 South Ocean Boulevard) where the blue crab puffs, mussels and lobster will give you a taste of the Atlantic waters below. Or enjoy an authentic Italian dining experience in one of the city’s oldest restaurants, Caffe Luna Rosa (34 South Ocean Boulevard). Menus change but the pan-seared shrimp scampi has received a top recommendation in the past, alongside the cheesecake martini for dessert.
One of Delray’s most famous landmarks is the Sundy House (106 S Swinton Avenue), just one block south of Atlantic Avenue, and built in 1902 in honor of John Sundy, the first mayor of Delray Beach. From the outside, you would never know about the breathtaking gardens, complete with swimming pool, within. The restaurant, which recently hired a new executive chef, has won plaudits for its grilled pork belly, among other delicacies. It’s an idyllic spot and particularly popular for Sunday Brunch or a romantic weekend …or even a wedding.
If you’re planning an imminent trip to Delray, then your timing is indeed exquisite. You can get there in time for the (second) Delray Beach Wine and Seafood Festival on the weekend of November 9 and 10. Around 50 booths usually decorate the east end of Atlantic Avenue with seafood ranging from 3 to 20 dollars.
Shopping, sipping, surfing
Atlantic Avenue, which offers excellent parking facilities on the street as well as a nearby garage, has great antique shops, galleries and clothing boutiques, and stores trading in everything from olive oil and vinegar, through to health and spiritual products. And, thankfully, not all the eateries are upscale; there’s even a Dunkin’ Donuts for those on modest means!
You can also venture north on 2nd Ave through Pineapple Grove where you will find more fabulous boutiques, restaurants, salons and other diversions. If the weather is stormy and wet, then the recently opened Delray Market Place (9025 W Atlantic Ave) has 258,000 square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment fixtures.
For evening entertainment, try Paddy McGee’s on 307 E Atlantic Avenue which has live music every night. But, hey, you’re truly spoiled for choice in Delray. Stroll down Atlantic Avenue after dark and music spills out onto the streets – everything from classic rock to cool island reggae.
Of course, you probably wouldn’t be visiting Delray unless you wanted to hit the surf. And, in Delray, you have two miles of public beach accessible from Florida State Road A1. There are great waves all year round but perhaps the weather is at its most comfortable in the winter when it’s not so humid but daytime highs still hit around 75 degrees. Winter is also the dry season in this part of the world, especially February – the month that sees the annual Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.
Hideaways in Delray
If you fancy a sleepover in Delray, try the Hyatt Place (104 NE 2nd Avenue), a hotel known for its very spacious rooms – including 42-inch TV and Cozy Corner Sofa Sleeper – great continental breakfasts and excellent business amenities. The Wright by The Sea Hotel (1901 S. Ocean Boulevard) has wonderful grounds that include a large tiki hut, grill and patio area, lawn area and pool as well as a croquet and ping pong area with shuffleboard courts and basketball hoop. There’s a private beach, an observation deck to watch the sun rise and plenty of shady, palm-sheltered spots where you can sit and contemplate life. Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel & Tiki Bar (82 Gleason Street) is another secluded retreat decorated in old Key West style, billed as “Delray’s hidden treasure”.
You are approaching a great time of year to visit Delray. You just need a good Delray Beach car rental to make the most of this, one of Florida’s most atmospheric resorts. We hope you enjoy your stay!