18 Jul 14 Awesome Things to Do in Delray Beach
Delray Beach, a thriving coastal city located directly on the Atlantic Ocean and part of the bustling Greater Miami region, is an integral contributor to this consensus. Visitors, as well as those seeking a more permanent relocation to the region, can find much to see, do, and enjoy in the way of both personal enrichment and communal participation.
Restaurants, opportunities for appreciation of arts and culture, and numerous outlets for enjoyment of the multitudinous beaches and vistas are all offerings that beckon the discerning man or woman to Delray Beach.
To whet your appetite, here are fourteen examples of the delights to be found in Delray Beach.
1. Atlantic Avenue
Affectionately called “The Ave” by locals, Atlantic Avenue is arguably the epicenter of Delray’s cultural life. Recently named one of the ten best urban shopping centers in America by USA Today, some are even calling it the best street in Palm Beach County.
Those most familiar with the street might call it an exercise in contrasts: it brilliantly manages to balance elements of both gritty beach culture and high-end resort; both fine dining and burger shack; both pricey boutique/gallery and the refreshingly tacky.
Chain stores and local gems jostle for space, and numerous restaurants, specialized eateries (think delicious smoothies, a honey maker, and sandwich artisans), art galleries, massage parlors and spas, and even a regal hotel are all here for the taking.
2. Silverball Museum
If you ever wondered if an entire museum could be dedicated to pinball machines and arcade games, then wonder no more. This location is an extension of the mother campus located in New Jersey; the Delray building opened in May of 2016.
What is most unique about the museum is that every machine is free to play—they do not require quarters, just the price of admission ($7.50 for thirty minutes, $10 for an hour, $15 for half a day and $25 for the whole day).
While the majority of the games are pinball, there are some other arcade and skee ball games available, most of them antiques. A second upstairs bar, an exhibit featuring truly antique games (that are not allowed to be touched), historic video games, and a long shuffleboard table round out the mezzanine level.
Heavily oriented towards the “golden age” of pinball—the 1960s through the 1970s—the museum is at once a step into the past and an enjoyable afternoon for newcomers and pros alike.
3. Sandoway Discovery Center
The Sandoway Discovery Center capitalizes on the unique marine life and ecosystems of South Florida by creating a lavish educational and preservation center.
Since opening its doors in 1998, the Center has enriched the lives of residents and tourists alike through education, hands-on exhibits, nature walks, the largest shell collection in South Florida, and even an outreach program to at-risk youth designed to connect them with the beauty of Southern Florida’s ecosystem.
Many other details, including a butterfly garden, extensive library, alligator feedings, fossil digs, and more encourage all who come to love and work to preserve the fragile animal and floral life that beautifies Delray Beach.
4. Deck 84
This attraction is both a well-respected restaurant and a mini-cultural/communal center. On the restaurant side, Deck 84 has been voted one of the best al fresco dining establishments in the nation.
Located alongside the Atlantic Avenue Bridge, the restaurant boasts of breathtaking views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic. The menu emphasizes the delicious seafood that is most popular in Southern Florida.
But beyond the food and atmosphere, don’t miss the music Thursdays that the restaurant is famous for. On the last Thursday of each month, visitors gather for a night of music, cocktails, and fun that is usually themed (for example, June’s event was a 90’s party).
Expect other events to make use of the dock for which the restaurant is named, like bootcamp workout classes, or more live music on Friday evenings and Saturday/Sunday afternoons.
5. Arts Garage
Designed to promote the enjoyment and creation of art in the Delray Beach populace, the Garage features numerous diverse and enjoyable exhibits, art creation opportunities, concerts, poetry readings, and more.
Local and international artists alike have found a home at the Garage; a current exhibit of oil paintings displays the work of a retired math teacher who moved from Michigan to Florida in 2000, alongside the paintings of a Sao Paulo-born painter whose specialty is in acrylic paint.
Numerous concerts and other events are scheduled for the next months, including spoken word poetry, jazz, saxophone players, pianists, R&B, and more. All venues are handicapped accessible and visitors are welcome to bring their own meals and refreshments, including alcohol.
6. Green Market
An open market staple for the Delray community, the Green Market is open every Saturday in the winter and the summer (the latter being a smaller version of the main winter event). The market is a haven for people looking for locally-sourced produce, foodstuffs, flowers, and other items. The current family of vendors includes a honey company, teamakers, jams and jellies, multiple bakeries, and numerous ethnic offerings (notably, a paella company and Mediterranean and Indian offerings).
Several botanical gardens and even a pet supply company are also at the market. Be sure to stop by before the end of the month; the summer market closes July 29th. The winter market will reopen in the fall for the normal winter season, though note it will be closed for both St. Patrick’s Day and the Delray Affair.
7. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
This local gem has its roots in the lives and outlook of the young Japanese farmers who settled in northern Boca Raton in 1904, creating a farming colon they named Yamato, an ancient title for their homeland.
While their attempts to cultivate the land were unsuccessful by the early 1920s, their legacy led to the founding of the Morikami Museum in 1977. Intended to be an educational resource center to inspire appreciation for the beauty and tradition of Japanese culture, the Museum achieves its mission through diverse outreaches and exhibits.
These include monthly tea ceremonies, partnerships with local schools, Japanese festivals that are open to the public, and a permanent exhibit dedicated to those first settlers whose legacy has impacted Southern Florida till today.
The Collections wing of the museum houses over 7,000 distinct pieces, with over 500 of them devoted to the tea ceremony that is a staple of Japan. The Gardens feature extensive walking areas, koi ponds, and horticulture unique to the styles of Japanese gardeners, featuring designs from the eighth through twentieth centuries.
8. Delray Beach Historical Society
Founded in 1964, the Society is dedicated to preserving and propagating the history of Delray Beach, believing firmly that a right understanding of the past is essential to right understanding of the present and the future.
The Society is comprised of three restored houses: One is an exhibit that recounts the daily life experiences and lifestyle of a typical family in the 1915-1935 period; another features more exhibits, the archival section, and a portable classroom space; the third houses a gift shop and administrative offices, as well as more exhibits.
The Ellen Sterling Williams Historical Archives Center is the perfect place to do in-depth research about the history of your neighborhood or your home, or an aspect of Delray culture. Lectures, tours, and Q&A sessions with historians and local experts are a vital part of the educational and preservation aspects of the Society’s mission.
9. Delray Beach Golf Club
Aside from beaches and humidity, perhaps golf is South Florida’s best-known commodity. Delray Beach does not disappoint, with the Delray Beach Golf Club a lively staple for residents and tourists alike.
Tee times are available to be scheduled as soon as July 7th (11:15 am sharp!); prices vary depending on the date and number of golfers. (Most days you can find lots of opportunity to play a full 18 holes.)
There are training programs available for people who want to learn how to play golf, and junior programs for young golfers are offered each week. The Club is available to schedule tournaments and visitors are welcome to watch for a nominal fee (often barbecues and other events coincide for a well-rounded day).
And for the soon-to-be-married, the Club is happy to host your wedding ceremony and/or reception on its lavish grounds.
10. Old School Square
This most interesting little attraction is comprised of multiple buildings that initially served the children and young adults of Delray Beach as their elementary and high schools.
Threatened with demolition in the 1980s after Palm Beach County closed the schools, a group of concerned residents successfully lobbied the local government to name the buildings as landmarks.
By 1990, the plan to establish the buildings as a historical and artistic center was well underway; both buildings had been restored and the elementary school was opened as the Cornell Museum of Art. Art exhibits, plays, concerts, educational opportunities, and other events unite the present with the past, and establish the Old School Square as an anchor-point in the life of Delray Beach.
11. Municipal Beach
Given its location in Southern Florida, one would expect Delray to have its share of beaches (after all, “beach” is in the town’s name).
Municipal is likely the best known, prettiest, and most popular. The Municipal is also a historical site in a sense, in that the land was donated to the city by a wealthy benefactress in 1922.
While not open to dogs in an effort to keep the beach pristine for its human visitors, many other attractions await: Warm gulf coast waters create an inviting temperature coupled with safe wave heights for surfing and swimming.
The waters are happily open to those who want to sail on them, and the beach will even store your boat for an annual fee. Trained lifeguards are on duty from 9 to 5, 365 days a year.
12. The Delray Affair
This is an annual event that spans 12 city blocks and boasts of being the largest arts and crafts event in the Southeastern US. (It is also one of the oldest, as it has been in operation for nearly sixty years.)
The next event will begin on April 13, 2018, and will do the same thing it has done for decades before: Feature the work of artists and craftspeople in such an explosion of color and life that it regularly draws record crowds from across the country and around the world.
Besides the completed paintings, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, metalworks, soaps, clothing, and other items available for purchase, the Affair also regularly features artists in the direct process of creation; these real-time exercises are open to the public (and the pieces can be purchased afterwards).
Local musicians and culinary experts are a staple of the event, as the organizers believe firmly in dazzling all the senses with creativity! Make plans to be part of one of the most exciting and long-standing cultural events in Delray Beach!
13. Pineapple Grove Arts District
Located just north of Atlantic Avenue, this bustling heart of culture is difficult to pin down. It is home to many old and new cafes and restaurants that vie for the taste buds and dollars of passers-by with tempting ambience, unique menus, and unique fingerprints of atmosphere.
Boutiques are also extremely popular, many of them dedicated to beauty, fashion, and the like. Furniture, home décor, and homemaking shops galore are here—loaded with items that evoke the beach culture of the region, as well as styles and textiles to please the most traditional decorator, alongside doodads and time-savers for the creative cook and homemaker.
Bookstores, thrift shops, and more shops dedicated to personal beauty and wellness than one would expect in a smaller town are here for the exploring (and the personal enriching). Finally, many art galleries and craft shops—to satisfy both collector and the maker—dot the district, which is one of the main reasons it has its name. Many cultural events find their home here, including the popular Oktoberween.
14. South Florida Garlic Fest
A staple of South Florida for nearly twenty years, the Garlic Fest is an explosion of food vendors, concerts, local artists, and other events held each year (the next one runs from February 9-11, 2018; note that this and all future events will be held in John Prince Park).
The event is perhaps best known for its culinary endeavors; so much so that the 2005 celebration was covered live by the Food Network! Numerous chefs and culinary artists make their mark at the festival, and of course all of them find creative and delicious ways to incorporate garlic into their cuisine.
The event is also an opportunity for people to hear famous and enjoyable bands and other musicians, as the main stage regularly draws artists from a diverse collection of genres. Lots of activities for the whole family round out the venue; kids love the Garlic University which offers arts and crafts and other draws, while mom and dad can get lost in the vendors and Gourmet Alley. Tickets are available now, so get yours before they sell out!
Home to a bursting, bustling culture, rich history, delicious food, and myriad activities, Delray Beach is quickly becoming one of the prime jewels in the crown of Palm Beach County. Both tourists and residents can find much to appreciate, enjoy, and benefit from in what may truly be the most fun small town in America!