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Delray Beach: Florida's Hidden Gem

By: Casey Hopkins

Looking for crystal clear waters, boutiques and galleries, award winning restaurants and nights full of fun and entertainment? "Florida's Village by the Sea" is a must visit. The small, intimate town with big city sophistication, Delray Beach is located along the east coast of South Florida about an hour north of Miami. The warm and friendly atmosphere is home to many, but also a vacation hotspot for visitors from all of the world. The exciting and elegant Delray has been rated "Most Fun Small Town" by Rand McNally, USA Today and the Travel Channel, and was also listed in the top 10 of Coastal Living's "Happiest Seaside Towns."


Settlers originally arrived to Delray Beach in the late 1800s with the intentions to farm, as they heard about impressive soil and water. "Adventurous souls who battled the heat ... and snakes," the Delray Beach Historical Society calls them. Pineapple fields, tomatoes, even flowers become prosperous in the uncharted area. In 1911, the town of Delray was incorporated and the land west of the Intracoastal was named Delray Beach in 1923. These two areas merged to from the city of Delray Beach in 1927.

Delray Town Hall in 1904. It was in the 400 block of East Atlantic Avenue, which was called Main Avenue. Photo taken from SunSentinel.

The Sun-Sentinel features various "Then and Now" historical photos from Delray Beach!

Places to Stay

Delray Beach offers all types of resorts and hotels, from luxurious to quaint and historic to modern. You will surely enjoy your stay at any hotel in the area. Here are some of the most popular places to stay, just steps away from the local restaurants and shops!

Enjoy your getaway at this spot located directly on Atlantic Avenue. Spend your time in the spa, fitness center or restaurant Atlantic Grille on the premises, or take the complimentary shuttle over to the private beach club.

The Sundy House is the perfect spot if you want to stay in the heart of Downtown Delray Beach with a serene, magical setting. The house is Victorian, Queen Anne-style, and the oldest house in town, built in 1902 from Dade County Pine. This is a place of blissful relaxation, featuring historic, unique themed rooms surrounded by tropical gardens. It is most commonly known for its delicious restaurant, specifically brunch!

If you are looking to stay right across the street from the beach, the Opal Grand is the place for you. Look outside your window and see the ocean and walk downstairs to splash in the pool - this 4 star hotel is everything you need for ultimate relaxation. Cross the street and you'll find yourself lounging on the soft white sand while the water glistens in the sunlight.

You can find more beautiful places to stay on your vacation on Downtown Delray Beach's Accommodations page!

The Beaches

Walk along the sandy shores, soak up the sun and swim in the salty ocean. Delray's beach was named in Travel Channel's "Florida's Top 10 Beaches" and Policy Genius' "Best Beaches in Every State." The public family friendly beaches stretch along the coast and include Municipal Beach, where you can find convenient chair and cabana rentals, as well as Anchor Park and Atlantic Dunes Park. Bring a volleyball, as there are quite a few nets on the South End, perfect for a game under the sun!

Head down to Delray Beach Water Sport Rentals to rent equipment like paddleboards and kayaks for exuberant water activities. Sailing, surfing and snorkeling tours and lessons are also available. Get active on the water and explore into the blue to see the underwater wildlife!


Stroll down the avenue and gaze through the glass windows of small boutiques, incredible art galleries, gift and surf shops and more. You will find things here that you won't find anywhere else. The world class city offers truly eccentric shops, featuring young, hip, high-quality and high-fashion must-haves. Get lost on the streets on Atlantic Avenue, and friendly store owners will guide you through your exciting and pleasant shopping experience.

Here is a list of must stop shops in Delray:

  • Periwinkle

  • Circe

  • Love Shack

  • Ramona LaRue

  • Morley

  • Snappy Turtle

  • Coco & Co

  • Surf District

  • Tootsies

The GreenMarket

Every Saturday from 9am to 2pm, the community of Delray gathers at the GreenMarket at Old School Square Park, right off of Atlantic Avenue. Walk through the various stands at the open air marketplace and embrace the small town charm with its live musical entertainment. This market began in 1996 by the Community Redevelopment Agency, and has since become one of the most popular aspects in the town. You'll find more than 65 vendors that will greet you with a warm smile.

Some things you can often purchase at Delray Beach's GreenMarket:

  • Palm Beach County farm-to-fork produce

  • Fresh citrus and juice

  • Farm fresh eggs

  • Raw milk and butter

  • 100% grass-fed and finished (antibiotic and hormone free) Florida beef, poultry, pork and lamb

  • Fragrant artisan baked goods

  • Gluten free, vegan and sugar free products

  • Beautiful fresh cut flowers and plants

Located at Old School Square Park on NE 2nd Avenue. Photo taken from visitdelraybeach.org.

Restaurants, Bars and Entertainment

After relaxing on the beach and hitting the local shops, have a romantic night out or venture out alone and get social. Either way, you are guaranteed to be welcomed by friendly energetic locals looking to have a good time.

From an award winning restaurant to a sidewalk cafe, you're bound to find a delicious meal along Atlantic Avenue. There is an incredibly wide array of cuisine from fresh seafood and steaks to Italian and Japanese, all located in one vibrant and diverse community!

Checkout Oasis Delray's "Restaurants You've Got to Try" and Culture Trip's "10 Best Restaurants" for the best eats in town.

Once, you're stomachs are full, make sure to hit the dance floors and enjoy some live music! Most of the restaurants turn into full-blown exciting clubs as the day becomes night. One popular spot with an outdoor patio and live DJ is Il Bacio. Watch thrilling acts with exhilarating music as you dance the night away!

Check out this video to get a glimpse of the fun and social town of Delray Beach!

I am beyond lucky to call Delray Beach my home, where I grew up with my best friends and have memories with my family that I will cherish forever!

Florida's Village by the Sea, Delray Beach, awaits your visit. Get ready, pack up and explore everything this beautiful oceanside oasis has to offer!

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