Growing up in South Florida — Boca Raton, specifically — I never imagined vacationing there; it was my home. I worked in the mall, attended a local high school and, like most teenagers, never fully appreciated the beauty that surrounded me.
Fast forward several years, and my husband and I were preparing to visit south Florida — this time with our infant in tow. We knew that traveling with an infant would be stressful, but we figured, why not make a mini-vacation out of it? So we planned a fun-filled 48 hours in Delray Beach and its neighboring cities that anyone, with or without an infant, could enjoy.
How to Spend a Weekend in Delray Beach
Fly into either Palm Beach International Airport or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, both of which are about a half-hour drive to Delray. Once you land, check in to the Seagate Hotel in Delray Beach. Atlantic Avenue is the main drag, and the Seagate is situated on the eastern end of it. Its location is ideal: it’s only a quarter-mile from the beach, and it’s away from the concentration of restaurants and bars. As a mom traveling with an infant, it was nice to know that it probably wouldn’t get too loud at night (especially during the offseason).
The lobby of the 154-room hotel is soothing with a neutral palette, stunning aquarium and light fixtures that evoke thoughts of jellyfish pulsing through the ocean. The rooms are equally as inviting. After settling in, it’s time for some R&R. You can catch a shuttle to the hotel’s beach club — a quick half-mile away with a pool, restaurants and poolside drink service. Or, just head downstairs and hang out by the luxurious pool at the hotel. Order a piña colada while you’re at it!
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If you’re like us, you may want to keep it low-key for dinner on the first night. Order in pizza from Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, a South Florida-based chain, and enjoy it on the beach. The meatball and ricotta pie is a standout. Or go to the hotel’s restaurant, Atlantic Grille — the restaurant has even more aquariums and offers modern American dining. The food isn’t revelatory, but it’s solid, especially if you want convenience. These days with a baby, we’re part of the early bird crew. Consequently, we enjoyed their daily happy hour specials, offered from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., which include discounted cocktails and appetizers (the spinach and artichoke dip is a nice bite).
All evenings should end with dessert! Head to Cream, which is just a block down from the hotel; they have gelato and frozen yogurt as well as coffee.
Start the day with a walk to Foxworth Fountain for breakfast. It’s a little over a half-mile walk, but the route takes you over the Intracoastal, so it’s worth it. The Foxworth Fountain resides inside Delray Shores Pharmacy. The art deco-style building features an old-fashioned soda fountain, and the menu features classic items like biscuits and waffles, as well as trendier toasts and bowls. We ordered the Elvis oatmeal bowl, topped with candied bacon and peanut butter, and the Melty Monsieur toast with dijon mustard, ham, cheese, and tomato. Both were delicious!
After breakfast, grab your beachwear and drive south, about 15 minutes, to Boca Raton. Stop by Gumbo Limbo Nature Center to see where some of South Florida’s sea turtles are rehabilitated. The center was founded in 1984 and provides shelter to several rescued sea turtles. It also sits on the Intracoastal and gives visitors a chance to catch a breath of fresh air as they stroll through the center’s butterfly gardens and sit by the water for a bit. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5 per person.
When you’re done at the nature center, you’ll be right by the beach, so crash on the sand for a bit. Or, if you’re in the mood to do something active, try some kayaking on the Intracoastal. You can rent a kayak through Waterstone Resort.
In high school, my friends and I would go to Max’s Grille for our special occasions (hello, homecoming). It was a treat then, and good news! It’s still thriving and worth a visit now. Go for lunch (or brunch, if you’re there on Saturday or Sunday) when those mid-day pangs kick in. The upscale gastropub is found in Mizner Park, a Spanish-style mixed-used development in east Boca Raton. Grab a table inside or outside on the spacious patio. Standouts on the menu include the fried calamari and zucchini appetizer, the Grille burger topped with house pickles, and the miso-glazed salmon salad.
Afterward, take a stroll down the center part of the development lined with picturesque fountains and gazebos.
Head back to the hotel for a brief respite before embarking on a walk down Atlantic Avenue. Head west from the hotel, and you’ll find charming clothing boutiques, gift shops, and swanky art galleries. There are also plenty of cafes if you need a pick-me-up. Subculture Coffee has an eclectic atmosphere (make sure you look up and check out the photo collage on the ceiling) and specializes in small-batch roasted coffee. They roast it at their West Palm Beach location each day and send it down to Delray Beach. Their roasts tend to be lighter (less chocolate notes, more fruit notes), which makes for an especially great cold brew coffee. They also have bites (sandwiches, savory pastries, etc.) if you need a treat.
For dinner, Deck 84 is an ideal casual, family-friendly Delray Beach dining option. It’s just over the bridge, making it a quick walk from the hotel, and it’s practically on the water (a walking path separates it). Seafood lovers would be remiss not to order the fresh fish sandwich. When we went, it was a mahi-mahi sandwich grilled to perfection. I opted for the “simply prepared” shrimp, grilled, and served with a side of mango salsa and pineapple rice.
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Before heading home, go to Boston’s On the Beach for brunch. At night, it’s quite lively, with live music and dancing, but during the day, it’s a casual joint. Sit upstairs on the outdoor patio so you can take in the ocean one last time before you head back to reality.
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