Laid back like Key West, yet with the sophistication of Miami best describes the vibe of Delray Beach. After a building boom in the past decade, this once sleepy resort town touted as “The Village By The Sea” has become one of South Florida’s most popular destinations for both its naturally beautiful beach and cozy downtown district. Located in southern Palm Beach County and north of Boca Raton, the attractive coastal city of Delray draws visitors all over the state, including from Miami, as well as beyond.
Along with an impressively expansive public beach that runs two miles long, it is one of the top tennis towns in the United States. The Delray Beach Tennis Center, located downtown on Atlantic Avenue, has hosted the Davis Cup and the Chris Evert Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic.
Downtown and The Pineapple Grove Arts District
Downtown Delray is known locally as “The Ave” as East Atlantic Avenue serves as its main street. This lively avenue is noted for its nightlife, dining, shopping -and frequently occurring art fairs and street festivals. Traffic and parking is a challenge on the two-lane street, but is easily walkable. You can also request a free eco-friendly, street-legal golf cart ride service via the FreeBee app.
The length of East Atlantic Avenue runs until ending at the ocean, at the Delray Beach Pavilion and the boardwalk on Ocean Boulevard aka State Road A1A. But, just before reaching the beach, the road crosses a pedestrian bridge over the gorgeous and boat-loaded Intercoastal canal.
The Pineapple Grove Arts District is located a few blocks north of downtown’s Atlantic Avenue, on 2nd Avenue. This charming, yet quieter, area offers fine dining, boutique shops, and art galleries. Here, you will also find the newly opened The Ray Hotel Delray Beach.
The Ray Hotel Delray Beach, Curio Collection by Hilton
Located a mile from the ocean, The Ray is a luxurious tropical escape as much as it is a modern hotel with a helpful and friendly staff. Approaching the living-walled entrance and on through into the open-space lobby, you will discover a private collection of large-scale sculptures and immersive art installations. An instant feeling of serenity overcomes you as soon as you step into the airy lobby of this beach-toned retreat.
All 141 wood plank-tiled rooms in the smoke-free hotel feature comfy beds, with deluxe bedding and plenty of plush pillows. A long, marble desk shelf with soft upholstered ottoman stools lies beneath the large, wall-mounted flat-screen LED TV, -from which you can access your private Netflix account. Even more important, rooms also have free Wi-Fi, bedside UBS outlets, accessible electrical outlets throughout, and a room safe as well as a bar cabinet with a mini-fridge and coffee maker. The wardrobe closet contains satin padded hangers and a clothes steamer.
TIP: Do request a room with a patio-furnished balcony with street views of the quaint Pineapple Grove Arts District.
Other amenities for travelers include a rooftop pool, state of the art fitness center, lobby bar and coffee café. The pièce de résistance, for The Ray Hotel guests and locals, is the indoor/outdoor bar and lounge, Rosewater, located on the fourth floor rooftop, and two chef-driven restaurants with outdoor dining, Akira Back and Ember Grill, adjoining the hotel. For more about what to drink and eat at The Ray and around downtown Delray Beach, keep reading!
233 NE 2nd Avenue (Pineapple Grove Arts District), Delray Beach, FL
https://www.therayhotel.com/ ; @therayhotel
EAT + DRINK
Golden Hour at Rosewater Rooftop
Located atop The Ray, the hotel’s pool and cabana area lies opposite of the outdoor/indoor bar and lounge. The Rosewater deck is furnished with soft and comfy sherbert-colored seating areas shaded by umbrellas and a teak slatted pergoda.
Sip on craft cocktails while taking in the 360-degree views of Downtown to the beach. Drinks we recommend to get you into vacay mode include:
This summer in a glass is mixed with Espolon Silver Tequila, Watermelon, Sunflower Syrup, Lime Juice, and garnished Cucumber Slices. For a less sweet version, have your bartender leave out the syrup.
A tropical favorite shaken with Hendricks Gin, Pineapple Liquor, Pineapple Juice, Fresh Lemon Juice,and Orgeat -served in a novelty drink pouch or glassware.
Or, an Organic Frozen Cocktail, such as Frosé, which was an available flavor when we visited the bar. Enjoy along with happy hour priced bites, such a flavorful Bang Bang Shrimp and yummy Hamachi Tostadas with a chile-cashew crema.
At 7pm, a live DJ spins, and a dining menu is available should you understandably linger.
Rosewater Rooftop Bar Details
233 NE 2nd Avenue (at The Ray Hotel), Delray Beach, FL; @rosewaterdelray
Golden Hour: Daily from 3pm to 6pm
Happy Hour at Lionfish
Walk over to nearby Atlantic Avenue to this light and airy seafood restaurant housing a bar with an incredible selection of tequilas among its spirits. If you can’t get a seat at the bar, its happy hour seating inside the restaurant as well as on the outside sidewalk patio. We recommend getting social with the locals while sipping on specialty cocktails, such as:
Tart and spicy; and mixed with Cazadores Reposado Tequila, Raspberry, Basil, Smoked Poblano Liquor, Grapefruit Liqueur, and Fresh Lime.
This drink, with a bite, is shaken with Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Spiced Watermelon, Aquafaba, and Fresh Lemon.
Nosh on handies -a spicy selection of soybean paper-wrapped sushi hand rolls, or the scrumptious Crispy Rock Shrimp with Japanese-style aioli. Also, consider pairing a sipping shot of Casa Dragones Joven with their East Coast Oysters -by the half or full dozen, served with white balsamic mignonette.
Bar at Lionfish Details
307 E Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL;
https://lionfishdelray.com/ ; @lionfishdelray
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday from 4pm to 6pm; Saturday and Sunday from 5pm to 6pm.
Akira Back Delray
Akira Back, professional snowboarder-turned-Michelin star chef, opened the only Florida outpost of his namesake restaurant in Delray, which is adjoined to The Ray. The chef blends flavors inspired from his Korean heritage into the cuisine of his modern Japanese restaurant.
Do order the sweet, yet slightly tart, Lychee Martini – shaken with Grey Goose Vodka, St. Germaine, Lychee Liqueur and garnished with Lychee Fruit, or the more boozy Wise Samurai -an , Old Fashioned version stirred with Suntory Toki Japanese Whiskey, Demerara Syrup, and Bitters.
To start, try the flavorful New Style Carpaccio, which is similar to Sashimi. Choose from octopus, salmon or flounder dressed with hot oil, yuzu soy, hoisin garlic, ginger, and szechuan salt.
There are many choices, but we implore you to choose the scrumptious Miso Black Cod with AB Yuja Sake Foam and Shishito -the sauce is unforgettable. Enjoy with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Champagne.
Akira Back Delray Restaurant Details
233 NE 2nd Avenue (at The Ray Hotel), Delray Beach, FL; https://akirabackdelray.com/ ; @akirabackdelray
A second outpost of the original San Diego location, discerning seafood lovers will adore this lovely modern coastal hotspot specializing in sustainable seafood and local organic fare.
The restaurant’s namesake is a fascinating creature to watch in an aquarium, but became an invasive fish species in Florida’s Southeast coastal waters. The remedy found was called the Lionfish Challenge, where recreational and commercial divers were rewarded to catch and sell lionfish to remove them from Florida waters. Local chefs happily purchased the tasty fish from purveyors.
So, when available, do order the delish Lionfish Ceviche starter, perhaps with the refreshing Pirate Booty cocktail – mixed with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Almond Liqueur, Cucumber, Basil, and Fresh Lime.
Also, consider pairing a glass of Sancerre or Chardonnay with the buttery and moist Whole Fried Lionfish main dish -served with charred lemon, blistered tomatoes, arugula salad, and from the sauce choices, we recommend the Tomato Caper Relish.
Another delicious option are the Pan Seared New Bedford Scallops – served over corn pudding with roasted pepper salsa and charred leek, along with a glass of Pinot Noir.
Lionfish Delray Restaurant Details
307 E Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL;
https://lionfishdelray.com/ ; @lionfishdelray
Entering this steakhouse, you have the dim lighting, stuffed leather seating and wood decor you would expect, but you are also surprised by its tropical vibe.
Kick off your dinner with the Passion Star cocktail – mixed with Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Passoa (passion fruit liqueur), Fresh Lime Juice, presented on a shiny serving tray along with a Prosecco chaser that can be sipped separately or poured on top of the cocktail.
If you are a steak lover, you’re in heaven. From the open-kitchen grill, select from Creekstone Farms’ premium Black Angus beef – 8 oz. prime beef tenderloin to 40 oz. prime porterhouse for two.
For something a little lighter, the house specialty Roasted Organic Chicken served with sugar snap peas, Cipollini onions, sweet summer corn, and chicken jus is highly recommended and delectable. Enjoy with a white burgundy or chardonnay.
Ember Grill Restaurant Details
233 NE 2nd Avenue (at The Ray Hotel), Delray Beach, FL; @embergrilldelray
BREAKFAST / BRUNCH /ALL DAY
Part coffee shop, juice bar and bakery, this café is great for a quick stop for a light breakfast or lunch. Conveniently located in the lobby of The Ray, we recommend you start off your day with a Hazelnut Latte -with milk of your choice, and a fresh croissant, chocolate, if available. Add-ons to beverages such as Collagen and MCT oil are available for that extra boost.
233 NE 2nd Avenue (at The Ray Hotel), Delray Beach, FL
Located directly across the street, you will find this little gem of a bistro with amazing baked goods. Perfect for brunch, begin your Sunday Funday with a classic French 75 – Magellan Gin, Lavender and Lemon topped off with champagne and given a twist.
Other brunchy drinks to consider are the sparkling Pear Spritz – Belvedere Pear Ginger Vodka, Fresh Lime and Elderflower Liqueur topped off with Prosecco or the more potent Peach Palmer – Black Tea infused Double Cross Vodka, Fresh Lean and Pear-Ginger Simple Syrup.
Light yummy brunch options include BLTE Brioche -homemade Brioche bread with bacon, lettuce, tomato, fried egg and tarragon aioli, or the rich Short Rib Benedict -housemade English muffins topped with speck (smoked pork belly) , foie gras butter, crisp shallot, poached eggs and Bearnaise sauce.
For heartier fare, go for The Brulé Burger -house blend burger topped with aged cheddar, roasted mushrooms, arugula, tomato and tarragon aioli on housemade brioche bun, or Steak Frites -White Gold Label Flat Iron with tarragon butter and truffle parmesan fries.
All are available both on the weekend brunch menu and for lunch, from Wednesday through Friday. Whenever you visit, always save room for dessert.
Brulé Bistro Details
200 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL
Delray Beach Market
This contemporary 150,000 square foot food hall and community hub offers a unique tasting experience for dining in, taking out, pickup or for delivery. Home to individually curated vendors serving cocktails, burgers, tacos, and more a spacious, colorful food court with a variety of comfortable seating areas – from high tops to lounge setting to dining tables.
The Mezz on the second level serves as a multifunctional event and lounge space, with weekly programming which includes live music and DJ sets.
This circular cocktail bar is literally the center of the Delray Beach Market, and offers handmade artisanal cocktails, craft beer, aromatic wines and an over-the-top bloody mary program. Try their spicy We Voted For Pedro margarita -made with Cazadores Blanco Tequila, Guava Puree, Agave, Fresh Lime Juice, Ancho Reyes Liqueur and Ghost Pepper Bitters, or the tamer Frisky Floridan -mixed with Casa Noble Reposado Tequila, Orgeat, Lemon Juice and Fresh Florida Orange Juice.
Head to Salvo’s Pizzeria for a slice or whole pie; to Voted For Pedro Mexican cantina for a Bisteca Al Carbon street taco enjoyed with a cold Mexican coke or Tecate beer; or to Tip To Tail for New England style lobster roll and parmesan truffle fries.
Delray Beach Market Details
33 SE 3rd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL
Open seven days a week between the hours of 8am and 11pm.
Schedule your ride to the beach via the hotel’s golf cart, and be dropped off in front of the Delray Beach beach pavilion with your complimentary beach tote containing the hotel’s beach towel and bottled water. Give your hotel room number to the beach attendant to secure your umbrella covered lounge chair. Enjoy walking the wide sandy beach, and swim in the ocean under lifeguard supervision, or just chill to the sounds of crashing waves.
TIP: Public restrooms are located directly across the street from the beach pavilion. You can also rinse off the sand at the outdoor showers as you leave the beach.
Surfboard & Paddleboard Lessons
The Ray has partnered with local surf icon Nomad Surf Shop to offer their guests private surfboard and paddleboard lessons utilizing their complimentary Ray boards.
Nomad Surf Shop Details
33 SE 3rd Avenue (inside Delray Beach Market), Delray Beach, FL
delraybeachmarket.com/nomad-surf-club ; @nomadsurfshop
Tennis & Pickleball
The Delray Beach Tennis is full-service public tennis facility has 14 clay courts, 6 hard courts, and an 8,200-seat stadium. Courts or tennis lessons are available for non-city residents for a fee. Plus, there are courts for the latest recreational team sport game of Pickleball – a cross between tennis and badminton. Pickleball is an indoor or outdoor racket/paddle sport where two players (singles), or four players (doubles), hit a perforated hollow ball over a 36-inch-high net using solid-faced paddles. Opponents on either side of the net hit the ball back and forth until one side commits a rule infraction.
Delray Beach Tennis Details
201 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL
delraytenniscenter.com ; @delraytenniscenter
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