by Patricia Serrano Delray Beach, FL is the ‘rehab capital’ of the USA, the Most Fun Small Town in America, and also an ideal place to get over a breakup.
There is a quote by American novelist Edward Dahlberg (1900-1977) that reads, “When one realizes that his life is worthless he either commits suicide or travels.”
I love my life way too much to commit suicide, so when I come to a low point in my life, such as a breakup, loss of job, or just plain bad weather, I always find myself traveling to recover.
The first time I visited Delray Beach, FL was at the end of June with Rand McNally and USAToday’s Best of the Road. I was there for three jammed-packed days, fresh from the wounds of a break up, and because of that, I was busying myself with non-stop activity trying to determine the Most Fun Small Town in America with my awesome gal pal, Anna Haas, to keep my mind off things.
Being tasked to pick the most fun small town in America isn’t so easy, especially when there are so many awesome other small towns to choose from. So, after our roadtrip was over, I couldn’t help thinking – did we really make the right choice?
November in Brooklyn – I’m freezing and still not fully recovered from my horrible break up. I’m cooped in my cold apartment because of Hurricane Sandy. My mind’s racing with toxic romantic memories and I need out, pronto. What’s the first thing I think of? My summer memories of Delray Beach.
I couldn’t stop wondering about how much warmer Delray Beach was in the winter than New York. And how much warmer the water was. So, I checked out weather.com and got these results.
So, I did the natural thing and bought a one-way ticket down there ASAP.
I spent the next three weeks exploring the town at my leisure without the pressure of having to squeeze 10 activities a day into an itinerary. I thought 3 weeks would be more than enough time to fully explore this town like a local. I also went there at the perfect time – early November, the very beginning of tourist season so places weren’t jammed packed with Northerners flying south. I spent those three weeks getting to know numerous Delray locals and discovering the spots that they hang out in. I also spent a lot of my time here just giving myself a break after an emotionally tumultuous year. Delray Beach is definitely a destination to do some major relaxing, being the rehab capital of the United States.
Here are 50 things that I did while nursing my emotional health in Delray Beach. All the activities here were recommended to me by local Delray residents.
1. Get up early in the morning for a stroll during Delray Beach’s sunrise. There are many things to do for early risers on the beach. Early morning classes in yoga, boot camp and even stand up paddleboarding. By 7:15am, there are already lots of people on the beach. Just seeing the sunrise in the morning makes me smile.
2. Mark some turtle nests. Do your good deed for our eco-system. These species are endangered! Numerous leatherhead and loggerhead turtles nest on Delray Beach as early as March until late August. It takes approximately one to three hours for the female turtle to lay a hundred ping-pong sized eggs.
3. Ride around town on the Delray Downtowner (561) 702.8519, delraydowntowner.com). This is the town’s 100% electric eco-friendly transport carts. Although convenient, the service runs with limited hours and within a certain radius so I would call in advance to check how far these electric carts travel. Hours: M-F 5pm-11pm; S-S 11am-11pm. You can even go to their website and reserve a table at a restaurant on Atlantic Avenue and book a ride to and from that restaurant online.
4. If you’re in town for Thanksgiving as I was, why not have a No Drama Thanksgiving Buffet at the Marriott Delray Beach (10 N Ocean Blvd Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 274-3200, marriottdelraybeach.com). No turkey to prep, no table to set, no dishes to wash, no family to squabble with. Utter peace during one of the most hectic holidays of the year.
5. Lounge out by the pool. Need I say more? If you’re vacationing in Florida, I fully believe you need to be in swimwear at least 55% of your vacation. All that vitamin D from tanning does wonders to my mood.
6. Sunday brunch at the Holiday Inn Highland Beach (2809 S Ocean Blvd Highland Beach, FL 33487, (561) 278-6241, highlandbeachholidayinn.com) . It’s about a 20-minute bike ride off the main Atlantic Avenue strip, but it’s secluded and you can’t beat the beachfront view. They also have the most extensive Sunday brunch I’ve ever had, complete with unlimited oysters and mimosas! A lot of local residents in the neighboring towns come out here to brunch, so it’s also a great way to meet the locals.
7. Swim in the cenote at the Sundy House (106 S Swinton Ave, Delray Beach, FL, (561) 272-5678, sundyhouse.com). This 11-room luxury boutique hotel has a beautifully landscaped fresh water pool that is modeled after the famous natural swimming holes in the Yucatan peninsula.
8. Cruise along the ocean on a rented bike from Richwagen’s Bike & Sport (298 NE 6th Ave. Delray Beach, FL, (561) 272-BIKE, delraybeachbicycles.com). Cruise down the A1A during the day. This scenic and historic coastal highway stretches 328.9 miles with loads of lush and tropical scenery of the Atlantic Ocean. Very therapeutic.
9. Sit in a cabana on the beach and bask in the SoFlo Sun. You can lay on a beach towel for free but if you want a less sandy experience, rent a cabana for the day. Oceanside Beach Service (beachservice.com) manages the beach rentals that range from $3 per hour for a single chair to $25 a day for two.
10. Eat sushi at Buddha Sky Bar (217 East Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 450-7557, buddhaskybar.com). This discreet Asian fusion sushi bar is on the third floor and yes, here in Delray, the third floor is a high enough to be called a sky bar. Under the glass-incased rooftop, you’ll have magnificent views of Atlantic Avenue all the way to the ocean.