Delray Beach sits on Florida’s southeast coast and is part of the desirable Palm Beaches area of Palm Beach County — ”Florida’s Village by the Sea.” It is a treasure trove of art galleries and pub art installments. You are sure to love a day trip or weekend getaway to this upscale beach community that doesn’t have as great of a price tag as some of its neighboring towns, nor the crowds. Best of all, the desirable downtown area of Delray Beach is walkable, and there is plenty of parking. Here are the best things to do in Delray Beach, plus where to stay and eat.
Things To Do In Delray Beach
Delray Beach offers impeccable white sandy beaches, dozens of art galleries and installments, top-notch eateries (many with outdoor dining), and a beautiful landscape to soak up along the way.
Pineapple Grove Arts District
This is a designated part of downtown with many art galleries (Artists Alley), an outdoor farmers market, and a treasured museum (mentioned below). Stroll through the Pineapple Grove Arts District and enjoy the impressive murals and sculptures, have gourmet ice cream, shop at the primo boutiques, or even enjoy the great shaded areas to people watch and enjoy the weather.
The Green Market in Delray Beach is one of the best in Florida. Saturday mornings, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Old School Square Park turns into a healthy marketplace filled with 65+ vendors sharing loose teas, prepared foods, fresh bread and pastries, farm-to-fork produce, and the best vegan/vegetarian offerings available. Live music is a real treat.
Morikami Museum And Japanese Gardens
This lakeside treasure is the only place in Florida for Japanese Gardens. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens have an indoor museum for exhibits, tea ceremonies, and workshops. They represent Japanese cultures well, and the learning opportunities at Morikami are unique to other museums you can visit.
Outside, Morikami’s sprawling grounds offer a zenful place to explore. You’ll see a bonsai garden with breathtaking pieces and a sparkling lake with gators often sunbathing on the banks. Five other garden types showcase significant Japanese gardens. Morikami is closed on Mondays.
Silverball Retro Arcade
My favorite thing to do in Delray Beach takes me back to my childhood with a Silverball Retro Arcade visit. This cool attraction is home to hundreds of pinball games and other fun family-friendly games (think Skeeball). It’s a great place to visit if you’ve still got it in terms of being a pinball wizard. It’s a walk down memory lane for me seeing the pinball games featuring KISS, Rocky, and Charlie’s Angels. Other arcade games include the ones I’m good at (probably you, too), like Frogger, Donkey Kong, and Centipede, to name a few. Food and drinks are also available at Silverball Retro Arcade.
Sandoway Discovery Center
Sandoway Discovery Center is a nature center in Delray Beach with ecosystems and marine life, dubbed South Florida’s premier coastal venue. It is literally in a beachfront house. From sharks and shells to stingray feedings and garden walks, you will have a great time learning about Florida life here. Sandoaway is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Admission is $6.
Amanda James Gallery
The Amanda James Gallery is an adorable, colorful boutique featuring fantastic designs on canvas, pillows, bedding, scarves, and handbags. I learned about it on a Taste History culinary tour that takes you to food institutions and art/history attractions in the area. My favorites at Amanda James are the jewelry, one-of-a-kind earrings, and necklaces that are thought-provoking and conversation starters. I could never visit this store and not walk away with something cool and innovative.
Now that you are at the beach, it’s time to pick up a good read for your relaxing sun and fun days. Delray Beach has a hidden gem at the Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore. Specializing in suspense, murder, and thriller novels, this is a great niche bookstore. They even host writers we all know and love for book signings from time to time, including James Patterson, Stuart Woods, and Tim Dorsey, to name a few.
You’ll be in shoppers paradise as you stroll the beautiful main thoroughfare in Delray Beach: Atlantic Avenue. “The Avenue” is the downtown Delray Beach epicenter and where the shopping, dining, and arts scenes overflow. From stunning jewelry and gifts to home decor, custom artworks, and stylish threads, you can pretty much find anything your heart desires to buy in this walkable avenue. An organized tour is a great way to introduce Delray Beach and familiarize yourself with the area, such as the Craft Food Tour.
Best Restaurants In Delray Beach
I love eating in Delray Beach. The food scene is fresh, simple, and really delicious. Prices tend to be slightly higher due to the location and ritzy neighbors, but every meal I’ve had was worth the price. There is also a wide array of choices to satisfy every palate.
At its finest, Greek food is what you’ll find at Taverna Opa, a casual restaurant in the heart of downtown. Start your meal with a lip-smacking Trio Spread with three delicious Greek dips and warm pita bread. Consider a Souvlaki Platter (chicken or pork) or a traditional Greek salad (add gyro meat) for your main course.
Vic And Angelos
Chances are the smell of fresh, hot garlic bread will capture your senses long before you even arrive at Vic and Angelos, the premier Italian restaurant in Delray Beach. Vic and Angelos is a warm and inviting eatery with exposed brick and a relaxing vibe. The Calamari Fritti is a great starter or the house-made burrata. Choose your entree from an enticing list of pizza, pasta, chicken, fish, and beef dishes. I swear by the Tagliolini Alla Bolognese. Reservations are suggested.
Boston’s On The Beach
It’s no surprise that being on the water, Delray Beach has incredible seafood restaurants. Boston’s on the Beach, on Ocean Boulevard, is my favorite. The restaurant group has three eateries (Sandbar Delray Beach, 50 Ocean with an incredible weekend brunch, and Boston’s). Boston’s on the Beach is the New England-style seafood option, with outstanding fresh catch options on the menu.
I’m a seafood lover, so Conch Fritters are my go-to appetizer. Main dish items run the gamut from handhelds and seafood creations to gourmet burgers and salads. Boston’s on the Beach is an excellent place to sip a specialty cocktail, such as a Rum Runner, daiquiri, or tropical Goombay Smash. Beer and wine are also options.
Sloan’s Ice Cream
Your visit to Delray Beach is taken to the next level with a sweet indulgence from Sloan’s Ice Cream. This eye-catching pastel-colored, sparkly ice cream utopia features dipped apples, ice cream, fudge, cookies, and dozens of other candy and dessert options. I recommend the Almond Joy, Coffee and Doughnuts, and Ginger Snappy ice cream flavors, though many are seasonal only. I may or may not have licked the bowl from a sinfully-delicious brownie sundae.
Best Hotels In Delray Beach
Accommodations in Delray Beach include chain and luxury boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnb stays. There are also many timeshares in the area.
My top lodging pick at Delray Beach is the Four-Diamond Opal Grand Resort, a sophisticated oceanfront property with ocean-inspired contemporary accommodations and a fabulous spa. Step into the stylish lobby and be immersed in a lovely waterfall and living green walls setting that welcomes you to beautiful Delray Beach in a fitting way. Treat yourself to appetizers and drinks from Cascades Poolside Grill before indulging in a relaxing hot-stone massage or body treatment from the Opal Spa.
Pro Tip: Opal Grand is pet-friendly to those with under 30-pound fur babies. The villas by the sea are the condo-style overnight options with full kitchens. The villas are great for saving a few bucks and having a legit home-away-from-home.
Another cool place to stay on your Delray travels is Crane’s Beach House, a boutique hotel plus luxury villas. This elegant resorts with 28 rooms and villas tout themselves as “one of the most exclusive resorts known to the Palm Beaches Area. This magical hideaway bristles with tropical Key West style beauty, barely visible through the perimeter treeline, earning its mystique as ‘Delray’s hidden treasure.’” That description is intriguing enough to catch my interest.
Crane’s Beach House rooms are beautifully decorated and have everything needed to ensure a luxury stay. A tropical courtyard, pool, and tiki bar are bonus features.
Delray Beach: A Force To Be Reckoned With
Delray Beach isn’t as well-known as some of its powerhouse neighboring cities, but believe me, it packs an incredible punch. Delray Beach is a place you will delight in the charm, relaxed vibe, and palm-tree lined streets as you explore an area still undiscovered by many.
It’s easy to see after visiting why Delray Beach was awarded “Happiest Seaside Town” by Coastal Living in 2015 and “Most Fun Small Town in America” by USA Today, all while receiving the coveted “All American City” award for three years. If you like the beach, arts, great fresh food, unique shopping, and Florida’s magnificent Atlantic Coast offerings, this is the place for you.
If you’re planning a trip to a bigger city in Florida, check our recommendations in Destin, Miami, and Orlando. For small-town charm, read up on 9 Beautiful Towns You Must Visit On Florida’s East Coast and 4 Hidden Gems In Central Florida You Must Visit!