Just one year after its centennial celebration in 2011, Delray Beach was named the "Most Fun Small Town in America" by Rand McNally and USA Today. Back in 1911, when the town of Delray — without the Beach — was incorporated, it had a population of 250 people, and pineapples were grown nearby for canning at the factory in town. It was located along the Florida East Coast Railroad about 20 miles south of Palm Beach. In 1927, the Beach was added to its name, and the town was stretched east across the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean.
Today, Delray Beach’s population is more than 64,000, which attests to its popularity among snowbirds and boaters alike. The town has two distinct communities, divided by the ICW: downtown and the beach. In fact, Delray Beach is governed by the rhythms of the ICW drawbridge. Traffic stops along the main thoroughfare, Atlantic Avenue,15 minutes before and after every hour to let the bridge lift.
The well-groomed beach is dotted with umbrellas and wood chaises. Backed by low sand dunes covered in native vegetation, it is a model for how Florida beaches should be maintained. But while relaxing on the beach is a favorite local pastime, the downtown area is what has put Delray Beach on the map in recent years.
The downtown district, along and astride Atlantic Avenue, is lined with eclectic shops such as Snappy Turtle, Love Rick Boutique and Periwinkle that will make any fashionista happy. At night, the scene comes alive in the many restaurants and bars. Visit Blue Anchor for jazz on sundays and classic rock on Fridays, or stop by Boston's on the Beach for Monday night reggae.
The booming Pineapple Grove Arts District is home to Artists Alley, where 26 artists maintain studios and galleries. On the third Thursday of every month, stroll from space to space from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and mingle with the artists.
Where to Dine
- Caffe Luna Rosa (34 S. Ocean Blvd., 561-274-8484)
- Deck 84 (840 e. Atlantic Ave., 561-665-8484)
- The Grove (187 ne 2nd Ave., 561-266-3750)