Editor's Note: The article below was written by my good friend Jeff Perlman. Jeff served as Mayor of Delray Beach from 2003 to 2007, so I couldn't think of anyone better to invite here to tell you the Delray story. Jeff now runs the website YourDelrayBoca.com which is well worth a read if you want to learn more about Delray Beach and Boca Raton. Take it away Jeff!
Walkable, vibrant and teeming with culture, dining and recreational options, Delray Beach, Florida is an ideal retirement spot for the active boomer.
Nestled on the southern end of Palm Beach County, Delray Beach is conveniently located 20 minutes from West Palm Beach and 20 minutes from Fort Lauderdale.
Home to around 70,000 people, “the village by the sea” has been called the jewel of the gold coast and a city set apart in South Florida.
What distinguishes Delray is the city’s rich history and its authentic downtown which has gone from sleepy and blighted to vibrant and charming in the past 25 years.
Delray Beach is a two-time All America City, becoming the first city in Florida to win that prestigious award recognizing civic excellence and achievement twice. Most recently, Rand-McNally and The Travel Channel named Delray “America’s Most Fun” Small City.
So What Makes Delray Fun? Let’s count the ways.
A Vibrant Main Street
Delray’s Atlantic Avenue which runs from I-95 to the ocean is alive with activity 12 months a year. Filled with great shops, art galleries and more than 130 restaurants, Atlantic Avenue is a shopper’s and foodie’s delight; Atlantic Avenue’s vast collection of establishments appeal to pedestrians of all ages from senior citizens and boomers to millennials and young families. Activities range from walkers enjoying a morning stroll and breakfast downtown to a vibrant but safe and elegant nightlife.
Plenty More Off the Beaten Path
Atlantic Avenue’s success has also led to other areas of activities including Pineapple Grove and the Sofa District which also feature great restaurants, stores and healthy activities including yoga and Pilates. A recent beautification project on U.S. 1 is also leading to the expansion of downtown north and south of Atlantic.
Festivals & Special Events
If you love art, music and outdoor fun, Delray is your town. The city hosts several notable art festivals, including juried art shows, free outdoor concerts, street fairs and Plein Air competitions.
Signature events include the Delray Affair, a 50 plus year tradition featuring over 350 artists, a family friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration, a 100 foot Christmas tree and winter wonderland, a weekly Green Market, Pet Parades and even a stiletto race for charity.
Delray is also home to an ATP men’s professional tennis tournament and Champions Tour event featuring greats from the past. Those events are held in the city’s 8,200 seat Delray Beach Tennis Stadium, in which there are literally no bad seats, and it's just steps from downtown’s restaurants.
— Delray Beach Open (@DelrayBeachOpen) February 19, 2015
Great Swimming Beach
Delray’s municipal beach is the prettiest and most accessible in the region, with ample parking and a mile long expanse of sand meticulously maintained. The water is never cold and the beach is protected by lifeguards who have won national competitions.
Delray has a small town flavor with big city amenities. When it comes to art and culture, the city punches well beyond its weight.
The Delray Center for the Performing Arts is the city’s cultural hub with events and classes every day of the year. The center consists of three buildings and is on the National Register of Historic Places. An historic gym hosts community events and private parties, the Cornell Museum features Americana and folk art and the beautiful and intimately restored Crest Theater hosts an array of events ranging from a renowned speaker series to cabaret, comedy, Broadway style productions and even ice shows.
Within steps of the center is Delray’s “Arts Garage”, a performing arts space featuring classes, performances and theater. The Arts Garage is known for hosting Grammy winning artists in a venue that enables you to meet the artists in between sets.
Also nearby is Artists Alley, a collective of professional artists who have converted warehouse space into a thriving artist’s colony.
Anchoring the alley is the “Arts Warehouse” which will host studio space, performance space and other activities. Delray is also home to the internationally renowned Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, the Sandoway House Nature Center on the ocean, the S.D. Spady African-American History Museum, the Cason Cottage Museum which celebrates local history, the beautiful Delray Beach Public Library, and historic Delray Playhouse.
Of course, its central location makes living in Delray an easy trip to world class cultural facilities in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches.
Delray is home to several historic districts capturing the old Florida feel, amidst more modern neighborhoods and homes. Among the most historic structures, the Colony Hotel and Beach Club on East Atlantic Avenue and the Sundy House, the home of the city’s first mayor which is now a restaurant, small hotel and event space. Both are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Delray is ideal for the active boomer with great parks, lakes, the ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, a downtown tennis center, public pools, bike facilities and great places to take long walks.
Lake Ida Park is an over 200-acre facility (including the water) nestled on the banks of a freshwater lake perfect for boating, water skiing, fishing, sailing and jet skiing.
There’s also a 2.5 acre dog park (the city is very dog-friendly), walking trails, picnic pavilions and barbecue facilities.
The downtown tennis center works in conjunction with the Delray Swim and Racquet Club, public facilities that have programs and leagues for players of all levels.
The city also has two public golf courses, the main course was designed by famed golf course architect Donald Ross in the 1920s and the smaller executive course Lakeview is appealing to those who want a quick, but challenging round.
The main course also features a banquet facility for private parties and public functions.
The “season”, which runs Christmas through Easter, is a busy time of year but locals find their way around. From late April through early December, nearly 8 months, the city remains lively and vibrant but with less crowded restaurants and beaches.
Delray Beach Area Communities
You will find a range of housing types in greater Delray Beach from modestly priced condo’s to more expensive townhomes, downtown lofts, historic homes and even some new construction in western Delray.
One popular option with Florida for Boomers readers is Valencia Grand, right next door to Delray in Boynton Beach.
Valencia Grand in Boynton Beach offers truly premium 55+ living unlike anywhere else, with a prime South Florida location, sophisticated country-club lifestyle, and all-new unmatched amenities. Valencia Grand takes sophisticated living to the next level with one-story home designs made for 55+ living with stand-out features including expansive high ceilings, transom windows that let in even more Florida sunshine, impressive gourmet kitchens, spa-like baths, spacious outdoor living areas and more
All in all, Delray Beach is for the boomer who wants lots of amenities but small town charm as well.