Last Updated on August 2, 2023
One of my favorite Florida beach towns for shopping, dining and family fun is Delray Beach. Located at the south end of Palm Beach County between West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, it is easily accessible from the West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale Airports. By car, it is directly off I-95.
Delray Beach is a walkable city, so taxi, Uber, or car service from Palm Beach International Airport would be a cost-effective option for getting to this gem.
The beach is wide and fringed with mangrove and sea grape trees along Delray Municipal Beach and the Atlantic Ocean sparkles in gorgeous shades of Caribbean blue. Beach set-ups and water toys are available for rent directly on the beach. The ease of enjoying a day or more at the beach adds to its favorability with me.
Delray Beach Restaurants
Delray Beach is a foodie town. Breakfast fans will enjoy the oceanfront Caffe Luna Rosa, or the covered patio at Over The Bridge Cafe. For the light breakfast-eater, try one of the many locally owned coffee shops along Atlantic Avenue for a sweet pastry 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 89 on weekends.
There are many choices for lunch in downtown Delray Beach. Some of my favorites are El Camino, Lemongrass Asian Bistro and Papa’s Tapas. Stop in at Gelato & Go for a sweet pick me up treat in the afternoon or as a sugary nightcap.
The deliciousness continues into the evening. For dinner, try the eclectic DaDa located in one in the oldest historic houses in Delray Beach. I love their interesting seasonal menu. Don’t miss the perennial DaDa Dates — a decadent combination of sweet and salty.
Another excellent choice for dinner is Lionfish on Atlantic Ave. This sea-to-table restaurant has some good 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. The rare, delicious, white flaky fish is available as fish and chips or in a citrus-infused ceviche.
Other great Delray Beach choices are Rose’s Daughter if you’re craving Italian, or Amar Mediterranean Bistro, and The Colonial for a unique French-Vietnamese meal.
What to do in Delray Beach
Each evening, downtown Delray Beach comes alive with music and street performers. I love its lively, festive atmosphere. The streets are lined with open-air cafes and restaurants. Shops stay open later to catch the post beach crowds and it’s not unusual to see couples dancing on the sidewalks.
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. It 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.
Honey and Tin Roof also offer live music, late night DJs, and dancing.
Saltwater Brewery is Delray Beach’s first local production microbrewery. Created by Floridians with such interests as surfing, fishing, boating, and the ocean in general, they perfect each batch of the brew using only natural ingredients. Each style of handcrafted beer is given a name inspired by the ocean to reflect the lifestyle and passion of its founders.
This is Delray Beach’s first brewery to package and sell beer with the Eco Six-Pack Rings. The atmosphere of Saltwater Brewery is lively and kid-friendly. Grab a beer or canned cocktail and have a bite from their rotating food trucks. If Chicagomeupis 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.
A variety of under the radar Delray Beach museums are also worth your time.
The Arts Scene
Historically, Delray Beach is steeped in the arts. From the 1920s to the1940s, it was a seasonal artist and writer’s colony. Strolling through the town, you’ll see outdoor art installations, galleries and wall murals illustrating the community embracing its 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. Art lovers will also want to visit the Arts Warehouse, located on Artist Alley in the Pineapple Grove District and the Cornell Art Museum in Old School Square.
Family Friendly Fun
Silver Ball Arcade and Pub is a large museum/pub 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 skeet ball alleys.
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’ll find a butterfly garden and pollinator habitats. There are also nurse shark feedings daily and sting rays to pet on the covered back patios.
Inside the museum, 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 an ideal activity for a rainy day or if you need a break from the beach.
Atlantic Ave. in Delray Beach
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. Don’t miss the Blue Gallery which encompasses an entire city block.
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 local surf shops.
Visit 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 décor, and A Blast From the Past for vintage clothing, accessories and home decor.
Atlantic Ave. will keep fashionistas and foodies busy for days.
Delray Beach Boutique Hotel
In Delray Beach, Rovology enjoys staying at Cranes’ Beach House one block west of the beach.
Music, arts and history await you throughout the city. It’s easy to see why Delray Beach has been called “the most fun small town in the USA.”
NOTE: Visitors to Delray Beach from outside of Florida should be aware that the NAACP has issued a travel advisory for the state noting, and warning, that under its current governor, Ron DeSantis, Florida has “engaged in an all-out attack on Black Americans, accurate Black history, voting rights, members of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, women’s reproductive rights, and free speech, while simultaneously embracing a culture of fear, bullying, and intimidation by public officials.”