By Emily J. Minor
City & Shore Magazine
Boca Raton has a reputation.
“We kind of have that Seinfeld image, which is totally wrong,” says Chrissy Gibson, the city marketing manager. “But our demographic is people in their 40s, which means families and young professionals.”
Take that, Jerry’s parents. You and your neurotic friends at Del Boca Vista might have eaten dinner at 4 in the afternoon, but that’s not the real Boca.
The real Boca is beach living, complete with city yoga classes and a few really nice dog parks. It’s good schools and great restaurants and jaw-dropping nature. There are parks galore. (Have you seen the carousel at Sugar Sand Park at night?)
And if you can’t find that funky independent film you’ve been wanting to catch, it’s probably playing in Boca.
Of course, Delray Beach, Boca’s neighbor just to the north, is the perfect complement, with its main drag featuring great galleries, funky shops and wonderful restaurants.
So join us as we take you on a little tour of south Palm Beach County. There is so much to love in these two cities – including, some fantastic early-bird specials (see our Fine Dining Writer’s suggestions in the July issue for details).
Sometimes, dinner at 4 is just what you need.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
1801 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton
This little spot of paradise – that is, 20 acres along the Atlantic Ocean on the barrier island – holds so much history and authenticity it’s hard to believe such a place exists in 2016. Here you can go on a sea-turtle hunt, explore the outdoor marine aquariums, sign up your kids or grandkids for camp classes or take a stroll on the boardwalk through the natural hardwood hammock. And when you’re done, sit for a spell under the chickee hut.
Call 561-544-8605 or
14851 Lyons Road, Delray Beach
Go west, dear people, and be not afraid. Of course, if you get to a big lake, you’ve gone too far. But at the corner of Lyons Road and Atlantic Boulevard, past Florida’s Turnpike and almost to the point where you feel you should probably turn around, there’s a relatively new kid in town: Delray Marketplace. The shopping is great, of course: Chico’s, Charming Charlie, Jos. A. Bank. We are also fond of some of the restaurants there, especially Terra Fiamma, Apeiro Kitchen & Bar and Burt & Max’s. But the really cool thing about Delray Marketplace is its offbeat touches: Family Fun Days (the kids will want to ride the little tram), the occasional “tent event” featuring vendors out on the green, a bowling alley and a place to get a massage.
Call 561-865-4613 or visit delraymarket.com (and click “deals” for special offers).
180 NE First St., Delray Beach
A few streets off Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue corridor, located on the ground floor of the Old School Square parking garage, is the Arts Garage, a small consortium venue where you can see a play or listen to live music. On most weekend nights this is where musicians, music professionals, theater professionals and you can listen to great jazz, blues, R&B and soul. The performance hall is small and lovely. The seating is at round tables, so you’re often seated with wonderful strangers. You can take your own anything – beer, wine, cheese and crackers.
Call 561-571-8510 or visit artsgarage.org.
FAU Living Room Theater
777 Glades Road, Boca Raton
Boca Raton is a great place to catch an indie film. There’s the iPic Theater in Mizner Park, which is fun and modern and full of touches that pamper. There’s Regal Shadowood 16 in west Boca. This place just had a complete makeover and offers the occasional foreign or independent movie. But FAU Living Room Theater, on the campus of Florida Atlantic University, always has great, lesser-well-known films in its lineup. Sometimes several.
Call 561-549-2600 or visit livingroomtheaters.com.
Red Reef Executive Golf Course
1221 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton
This city-owned gem – with views of both the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean – was built in 1957 and has been wowing golfers ever since. The 32-par executive course has nine holes, 1,241 yards of fairways and a greens fee that is easy on the wallet. Same day tee time? Usually not a problem. The course was designed by golf architect Charles Ankrom, and the greens are Seashore Paspalum grass.
Call 561-391-5014 or visit bocacitygolf.com.
Boca Raton Resort & Club
501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton
Eleven restaurants, a world-class spa, golf, surfing, tennis, a private beach. We love all that. But the very best thing about the Boca Raton Resort & Club, which is now a Waldorf Astoria property? It was designed by Addison Mizner, the renowned California architect whose Mediterranean Revival designs continue to influence construction in South Florida. Once you step inside it’s almost as if it were 1926 and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda are expecting you to join the party. We recommend treating yourself to cocktails here on a Friday afternoon.
Call 561-447-3000 or visit bocaresort.com.
Delray Beach Tennis Center
201 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach
For locals, there are all sorts of everyday things on the calendar at the Delray Beach Tennis Center: stretching workouts, junior tennis, adult tennis, beginner exercise classes for seniors. But the real crown jewel of this complex is when the big names come to play, particularly during the annual Chris Evert Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic. If you’ve never seen professional tennis up close, this is the place to visit. Built in 1992, the tennis stadium holds 8,200 spectators and, in addition to the Evert event, has been the setting for Fed Cup and Davis Cup matches.
Call 561-243-7360 or visit delraytennis.com.
and Japanese Gardens
4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach
This place is cool. A group of farmers came from Japan in the early 1900s to farm what today is northern Boca Raton. They named their colony “Yamato,” an ancient word for Japan. When the project failed, the farmers fled South Florida – all except one. George Morikami stayed, eventually donating his land to Palm Beach County to be used as a park. Today, the Morikami is a marvelous tribute to Japanese culture: gardens, lakes, museum, theater, painting classes and art exhibits.
Call 561-495-0233 or visit morikami.org (The next date in the Morikami’s popular Sushi & Stroll series will be Sept. 9).
40 City Parks and Five Miles
of City-Owned Beaches
From north to south, Boca Raton’s city beaches are eclectic, renowned for everything from picnic tables and parking to showers and restored dune lines. All this public-beach access was no accident. Boca Mayor Susan Haynie says that back in the ’70s the community saw what was happening in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and created a separate taxing entity to buy coastal land. Farther west, the city’s inland parks are just as special. One of the most popular is Sugar Sand Park, which houses the Children’s Science Explorium, the Willow Theatre and a community center. The 132-acre park also has an authentic carousel, loved by kids and
adults alike. A ride costs $1.
Call 561-393-7700 or visit mybocaparks.org.
Brunch and Bloodies
301 Plaza Real, Boca Raton
Waterstone Resort & Marina
999 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton
Any weekend day that starts with brunch is a winner, and Boca Raton offers some excellent choices. Bottomless Mimosas. Bloody Marys adorned with olives and prosciutto and mini burgers. There’s a lot to choose from. Here are two magnificent choices. Tanzy Restaurant in Mizner Park - a perfect destination all its own with its open spaces, great shopping, fab restaurants and tons of art influences - enjoys an urban setting, and the menu features deliciousness like quinoa salad, orecchiette and Italian tiramisu. A waterfront choice is the old Bridge Hotel, now Waterstone Resort & Marina. This is a modern gem that sits right on the Intracoastal.
Tanzy: call 561-922-6699 or
Waterstone: call 561-368-9500
or visit waterstoneboca.com.
Mizner Park: call 561-362-0606
or visit miznerpark.com
Waterstone Resort & Marina,
call 561-368-9500, waterstoneboca.com