It’s Thursday evening in downtown Delray Beach, and it’s a happening scene. This tropical hamlet, nestled between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, brings in a crowd six times a year for the well-loved Art & Jazz on the Avenue event. In the heart of it all, downtown’s Atlantic Avenue becomes pedestrian-friendly thanks to barricades extending from Federal Highway west to Swinton Avenue.
Galleries are top stops. Art lovers tempted by just-out-of-the-oven slices of pizza. Others mosey east toward the railroad tracks to Johnnie Brown’s for succulent slabs of baby-back ribs and tunes by a local Delray Beach police officer, who croons a mean Elvis.
A city totaling fewer than 65,000, Delray Beach has a far-reaching appeal. Oceanfront McMansions are few and far between here (you see more in neighboring Highland Beach to the south), but occasional funky beach-house enclaves where you stroll out the door right onto the sand still exist.
One such locale is the Villas of Delray, with 16 detached two-bedroom art-deco cottages that date back to the 1940s. Mixing it up, west of the ocean, housing deals with fixer-uppers have enabled a demographic of 30- and 40-something professionals to buy in the Swinton vicinity.
New condos with a concrete urban mixed-use aesthetic came on the scene in downtown Delray during the building boom. One such condo is City Walk at Pineapple Grove, with 40 one-, two- and three-bedroom options with stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops. Residents can walk right out the door to Brule Bistro, a gourmet dine-in or take-away spot with living-room comfy couch seating. On any given day, locals meet here for a glass of wine and specials such as grilled Scottish salmon and pancetta brioche.
People’s enthusiasm about Delray Beach has a lot to do with their town home’s style and location—five minutes by car to Ocean Boulevard, the beach and waterfront restaurants, such as Caffe Luna Rosa with its elevated alfresco dining room.
There’s a reason that Delray was voted by Rand McNally and USA Today as “Most Fun Small Town” in the U.S. – a place where residents can soak in the pure, calm and breezy feel of this pedestrian-friendly, tropical hamlet.