Travel the World with Trip
Table of Contents
South Florida is a dynamic region catering to people of all ages and backgrounds. Communities in the Miami metropolitan area leverage their proximity to fantastic seashores and the region’s attractive climate to market themselves as year-round vacation destinations. This is certainly true of the three communities clustered between Fort Lauderdale and Palm Springs: Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach. Featuring more than their fair share of attractions and prime real estate opportunities, these three communities have attracted outsized attention in the past several years with both new residents and visitors flocking to the area. In this guide we take a closer look at the Boca-Delray-Boynton tri-city area. Between the beaches, boardwalks, and backstreets, these three places offer much in the way of fun and excitement. Come along as we take you on a tour of three gems in the Greater Miami Metro Area.
Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach are a string of communities along the I-95 corridor in Greater Miami. Boca Raton is the largest and most well-known and is just under an hour north of Downtown Miami. It is home to Florida Atlantic University, which despite being overshadowed by larger programs at the University of Miami, the University of Florida, and Florida State University, nonetheless has attracted a proud following since the elevation of the school’s football team to the FBS in 2005.
Boca Raton’s neighbor to the north is Delray Beach. Known for the lively happenings along Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach has emerged as something of an anchor community in this part of Greater Miami. In addition to the host of popular places along Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach is also an excellent place to take in some sun and surf. Pinball wizards won’t want to miss the city’s famed Silverball Museum. Last but not least in our trio is Boynton Beach. Despite having sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Boynton has bounced back remarkably well in the intervening years. The city’s large shopping mall is a particular draw. Boynton’s relatively less concentrated layout has made it quite popular with residents. Several largescale private housing estates and golf clubs are located here.
Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach have benefited from the decade long population growth in Greater Miami. The influx has spurred lots of property development in residential homes, gated living communities, condominiums, and commercial real estate. Hotel resorts run along much of the seashore and include places like Boca Beach Club, Ocean Lodge Florida, Waterstone Resort & Marina, Delray Sands Resort, and many more. Additionally, there are numerous hotel options at various price points throughout all three communities. A sizable cluster is located off Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach. In terms of proximity to the ocean and other attractions, this area will likely offer visitors the most in terms of options. It’s hard to go wrong in any of the three communities, however. When looking for a place to stay, consider standard factors like your budget, how close you want to be to the water, and whether you’re want amenities like a swimming pool on premises or access to health facilities. These are typical considerations in any vacation planning so there’s nothing especially unique or challenging about searching for a place to stay in either Boca Raton, Delray Beach, or Boynton Beach.
Florida is a state that caters to drivers. Wide boulevards and spread out destinations make access to some sort of vehicle a near necessity. Public transportation options outside Miami-Dade County are comparatively thin. As with much of the United States, there simply isn’t an effective and convenient public transportation system capable of rivaling access to your own car. If you’re planning to spend time in the area, it makes sense to either drive yourself or rent a car in order to get around.
There are some options, however, to travel from Central Miami up to Boca, Delray, or Boynton. These include Amtrak and the commuter rail service known as Tri-Rail. Tri-Rail makes stops in all three cities, while Amtrak currently only services Delray Beach. zoperates a network of public busses throughout Palm Beach County. There are service lines in Boca, Delray, and Boynton so you don’t have to worry about being stranded in the event you can’t access a car. Bus routes hew pretty close to the main thoroughfares. In the event you opt for public transportation, bear in mind you will end up having to cover a lot of ground on foot. Delray Beach has a free shuttle service running along Atlantic Ave between the waterfront and the Tri-Rail station. Ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft and traditional taxi providers can fill in some of the larger gaps.
Stitched together by the region’s dense network of roads including I-95 and US-1, it makes sense to consider Boca-Delray-Boynton as more or less integrated when it comes to attractions and things to do. Certain considerations will marginally influence where you might choose to stay, for example; but, you need not worry too much about being able to access attractions across the tri-city area. The attractions below are meant to give a taste of what’s on offer in the region. Think of these are guideposts around which you can tailor your individual needs.
Central Boca Raton is more or less bound on one side by North Dixie Highway and on the other by Northeast Mizner Boulevard. Contained within these two streets is the Mizner Park Shopping Mall with its collection of upscale shopping and dining. At the northern tip of the plaza you’ll find the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The gallery features a collection of 19-century works in its permanent collection along with a staple of rotating exhibitions that currently includes paintings by Edward Steichen and photography from Phyllis Galembo. These run through January 3, 2021, and September 20, 2020, respectively. The museum’s spacious building and convenient location make it a fun stop on your tour. Currently, the galleries are open Wednesday through Sunday between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Admission is free between now and September 20, 2020, so there’s an extra reason to stop by. A special members-only hour occurs Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 10:00 a.m. There are four parking garages that serve the museum’s general vicinity or you can opt for metered parking along Mizner Park.
Families looking to take a break from the beach or who are in need of a bad weather activity can visit the interactive Boca Raton Children’s Museum. Located just to the west of Mizner across US-1 and Northwest 2nd Ave, the children’s museum is adjacent to a skate park and shuffleboard court. Though small, this little area of Boca Raton offers something for young and old alike. Billing itself as Florida’s first dedicated children’s museum, the Boca Raton Children’s museum opened its doors in 1979. Permanent, hands-on exhibits help kids explore a range of science-related as well as other topics. In an effort to help combat the spread of COVID-19, the museum is encouraging visitors to make appointments online in order to prevent a rush of people coming at one time. This is possible via the museum’s Facebook page.
Live music fans will want to check out the lineup at the Funky Biscuit, one of Boca Raton’s favored venues. Admission varies between free and moderately priced depending on the evening’s performance. Normally there is something on offer Thursday through Sunday most weeks. The curtain goes up usually between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. with occasional shows earlier and later. In addition to music, the Funky Biscuit offers dining and drink options. The menu includes various salads, burgers, and other typical pub food. A full-service bar can whip up just about anything you might want to drink or you can go in for one of Funky’s specialty cocktails. The Funky Biscuit is located at the south end of Southeast Mizner Boulevard near the Boca Raton Golf Club. The general area contains a lot of other shopping, dining, and drinking options so it’s a good place to spend some time wandering around in Boca Raton.
Ask local people and they’ll tell you Delray Beach has a lovely vibe to it. This place is cheerful, energetic, and fun. Nowhere is this more so than along Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach’s main drag. It’s where you’ll find the best shopping, dining, and entertainment options on offer. Use the free shuttle bus to move along the avenue between the beach and the Tri-Rail station opposite I-95. Much of the action along Atlantic Avenue occurs between South Swinton Ave and the Gulf Stream. If you’re looking for something artistic, make sure to visit Old School Square. There you’ll find the Cornell Art Museum, the Pavilion, and the Arts Garage. These lively places attract a crowd and showcase a range of different styles and mediums. Elsewhere along Atlantic Avenue, you can sample the diverse local flavors in the area’s numerous restaurants. They’re popular on weekends so make sure to scout ahead for a reservation and avoid the wait. Atlantic Avenue is very much the heart of Delray Beach. You can count on spending a fair amount of time here.
This regional gem offers visitors something unique. Early in the 20th century, a group of pioneering Japanese farmers moved to South Florida with the dream of transforming agriculture in the region. Though this vision never quite materialized, their legacy lives on today in the form of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Dedicated to promoting Japanese culture, the museum first opened in 1977 and now exists as a widely-recognized center for Japanese art in South Florida. The gardens are located approximately 15 minutes southeast from Downtown Delray Beach. The open space galleries are tastefully done and feature a lovely collection of Japanese artifacts including sculptures, pottery, and calligraphy. Outside, the garden spaces showcase Japanese gardening techniques and draw on the long tradition of crafting natural spaces into harmonious and tranquil forms. In total there are six gardens designed to imitate prominent garden spaces in Japan. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., admission costs $15 for adults 18 and over, $9 for kids, and $13 for seniors 65 and over.
Just off Atlantic Avenue on Northeast 3rd Avenue in Delray Beach is the Silverball Museum. Dedicated to the collection and preservation of classic pinball and other arcade games, this is one of Delray Beach’s coolest attractions. Row upon row of flickering lights and electronic beeps, buzzes, and whoops will provide you with hours of entertainment. What’s more, the museum has an attached restaurant and bar. Play your favorite tables and then celebrate your high score over a round of drinks. Weekend and evening specials will help you save a bit of money…or save it for the tables anyway. Check ahead of your planned visit to make sure the gallery is operating. Recent COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in some forced closures. Hours will vary depending on the local health conditions. If you’re really a Pinball Wizard or even just an aspiring one, the Silverball Museum offers memberships that provide additional discounts on food and drink as well as playing time. Step up to the flippers and see if you can’t make a run for all the double bonuses and extra balls you can get your hands on at the Silverball Museum.
So far we’ve avoided covering beachfront locations because there are so many. If pressed for a recommendation, however, we’d be forced to admit that Oceanfront Park in Boynton Beach would certainly make the cut. Public parking is available a mere stone’s throw from the sands and there are facilities such as picnic tables and barrier-free restrooms and changing areas. Beach umbrellas available for use are planted an appropriate distance apart along the shore. If you want a bit more space, though, you can walk north to the neighboring stretch of stand at Ocean Ridge Hammock Park. This section of beach is somewhat more secluded as it’s hidden behind a grove of trees. Ocean Ridge is popular at times with anglers looking for a decent place to cast a line into the sea. As we suggested at the outset, the entire Boca-Delray-Boynton region is one big beach. If you’re not staying at a hotel with beachfront access, however, you will do well to checkout Oceanfront Park when you feel the inkling for some time in the sun and surf.
Getting inside with the air conditioning is a necessity in this part of Florida, especially during the high summer months when temperatures can soar. There’s also the occasional (ok sometimes more than occasional) thundershower that passes through and forces people indoors. Boynton Beach Mall is a large shopping center that dominates what is essentially the center of Boynton Beach. The mall hosts community events such as fitness and yoga classes in addition to the large range of shopping options. Big-box retailers there include Macy’s and JCPenny. There’s a movie theatre in the same parking lot and more retail chains and restaurants located along North Congress Avenue. As far as attractions go, this is one for the shopper in your family. Boynton Beach Mall offers everything you’d expect from a modern American shopping mall, which is of course part of its appeal.
When you think nature reserve in Florida, you invariably picture the Everglades. What you may not realize, however, is that’s far from the only nature preserve in the region. The Boca-Delray-Boynton tri-city area features several protected spaces avid nature lovers should enjoy. Green Cay Nature Center & Wetlands is approximately 15 minutes southeast of central Boynton Beach. The 10o-acre wetlands are popular for seeing egret and other seabirds. Kids can explore the exhibits in the nature center while the whole family can stroll along the 1.5 mile boardwalk through the marshes. Another option nearby is the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. This area is home to alligators, turtles, and other species. A boardwalk here too allows you to safely wander around. Make sure that you check before heading out to see if COVID-19 closures are impacting the wetlands. Palm Beach County authorities will close the wetland areas depending on local health conditions.
Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach are a trio of fun places to escape on vacation. Whether you’re from elsewhere in Florida or are coming in from out of state, there’s a lot on offer. Proximity to Miami coupled with a host of attractions and welcoming vide make these three cities perfect for basically anyone. Our short guide only scratches the surface. As they say, you’ve got to see it for yourself to really understand. So what are you waiting for?