Catch Some Rays on Delray Beach
Thinking about a girlfriend getaway in Florida? Tucked in between the understated elegance of West Palm Beach and the high energy of South Beach in Miami is a beach town that sets itself apart from all others in Florida. Don’t be mistaken, however – Delray Beach sits confidently on A1A and isn’t overshadowed in the least by its swanky neighbors to the north and south.
Some friends and I recently spent a weekend in the very walkable downtown Delray Beach – once we arrived, we parked our cars and didn’t move them until it was time to (unfortunately!) head back home. Here’s how we spent 48 hours in the Village by the Sea.
Though the sun sets over the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, what better way to toast the start of the weekend than with a cocktail overlooking the Atlantic Ocean? There aren’t any places directly on the beach, so we went upstairs to 50 Ocean with its ocean views and toasted with signature, hand-crafted cocktails. The décor at 50 Ocean is fun and sophisticated at the same time… the lit bar throws off hues of blues and greens, and the wood beam ceilings are an unusual accent.
Afterwards, we stayed and enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner. The menu at 50 Ocean features northeast favorites such as Maine lobster and whole belly clams, mixed with tropical entrees such as yellowtail snapper with a creamy coconut risotto, and citrus marinated salmon with blood orange and pink peppercorn beurre blanc. We started, however, with a delectably divine conch ceviche with coconut and key lime, served in a coconut shell with plantains.
Dessert is not to be missed at 50 Ocean, though. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze in the Tasting of Crème Brûlée – mango, mocha and honey lavender. A friend had the Banana Tarte Tatin (with vanilla ice cream, run sauce and pistachios), while another more mindful friend opted for a simple scoop of mango sorbet.The next morning, we decided to get a real feel for Delray Beach and decided to go on a Segway tour. None of us had before hopped aboard the two-wheeled vessel, and we were in for an adventure! Surprisingly, riding a Segway is not about balance, but is all about fun! Zach with The Electric Experience patiently taught our group of newbies the nuances of handling a Segway, and we were off! What a fun way to explore the neighborhoods tucked off of A1A – both the historic areas as well as the newer developments. When our hour was up, none of us wanted the tour to end! Segway is definitely my way when I want to explore an area quickly and efficiently!
Running through the heart of Delray Beach, from the Atlantic Ocean west, is, well, Atlantic Avenue. After our Segway tour, I came upon an outdoor market with lots of tasty-looking fresh produce, loose teas and small gifts perfect to take home with me. I then took some time to stroll along the avenue and found some really fun boutiques to peek into. Though very tempting, I decided against a few very cute dresses, fun pairs of shoes, and beautifully made jewelry. Instead, I popped into Ciao, a little sidewalk café tucked into the avenue, and had a bite to eat.
After a busy day of Segway-ing and window shopping, it’s time for some pampering! My friends and I had appointments at N Spa, inside the Delray Beach Marriott. I always love walking into a spa – as soon as I breathe in the “spa” scent, I’m instantly relaxed. And it was no different at N Spa. After slipping into my cozy robe, I poured a glass of fruit-infused water and chose a chaise lounge on the deck overlooking the hotel’s pools, A1A, and eventually the beach. When my therapist came to find me for my massage, I was ready. I love a good massage, and was not disappointed. Afterwards, I returned to the spa’s lounge and decadently sipped a glass of champagne, not to mention chocolate – yes, the spa has sipping chocolate! I had never heard of such a sublime treat, but did indulge. Sure, there was fruit, so I ate a few bites to feel a bit healthy.
Fortunately for all of us, we were staying at the Marriott, so after our treatments, we easily slinked our way up to our rooms to let the full effects of an afternoon at the spa set in. I enjoyed sitting out on my balcony, watching the sunset and seeing the hive of the night’s activities begin to buzz below. The Marriott is right in the middle of everything, and was the perfect place to make “home base” for our getaway.
One thing about Delray Beach is, it’s a foodie’s paradise! Though small in area, Delray Beach is huge in flavor, boasting more than 70 restaurants along Atlantic Avenue and its offshoots. With limited time in the area, it could be hard to choose which to dine in, but we made some excellent choices!
Dinner Saturday night was a sushi feast at Buddha Sky Bar. When we walked, we instantly felt the electrifying vibe and knew this was a hot spot among the “it” crowd. But even more fun than the atmosphere and funky décor was the incredible menu. We couldn’t get enough, and ordered plate after plate of sushi, dim sum and noodles. Our favorite of the night? The Red Dragon Roll – is there any way to go wrong with tempura lobster?!
We finished up our weekend over a luxurious brunch at Max’s Harvest in Pineapple Grove, a small, artsy community around the corner from Atlantic Avenue. Max’s is a farm to fork concept restaurant, so its menu changes often, according to what’s in season at the local farms Chef Chris Miracolo and his colleagues source. Fortunately, though, many items on the brunch menu are available year-round.
When were there, we ordered a number of entrees to share and taste, and a friend and I split a tomato and mozzarella salad with the freshest mozzarella I’ve ever eaten, and the Florida crab and artichoke frittata with feta cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!
When one in our group ordered deviled eggs, I was skeptical. “Really? Deviled eggs?,” I thought. Well, I’d never had deviled eggs like those served at Max’s, with chives and truffle sea salt. All I can say is, decadent, and that I’m still thinking of them.
While my friends sipped glasses of wine and Bloody Marys, I opted instead of a freshly-squeezed cucumber-watermelon juice. Knowing the effect of the weekend on my waistline, I figured I had to get something good in me!
We all had such a wonderful time in Delray Beach, we’re already talking about when we might return. We may even bring the guys along. Nah, we’ll keep it our secret!
Susan B. Barnes is a travel writer and photographer. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since. While Susan has traveled across the United States and into Canada, she has also managed to visit such European cultural hot spots as Paris, London, Ireland, Athens and Rome, and has even explored the second largest reef in the world off the coast of Belize and the cloud forest of Venezuela, among many other exotic locales. Having learned to rock climb in Yosemite National Park, surf in La Jolla and swim with whale sharks in Mexico, she’s always looking forward to her next adventure.