by Sheila Gaspers

When I think of South Florida, cities like Fort Lauderdale and Miami usually come to mind. But during a recent road trip, I discovered the charming coastal town of Delray Beach. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway just 90 minutes north of Miami, Delray Beach offers visitors the perfect blend of history, arts and nature.

For a glimpse into the area’s illustrious past and picturesque landscape, I highly recommend an afternoon tour with Delray Yacht Cruises.

Views from the upper sundeck are not to be missed. Enjoy a cocktail or lunch as the captain navigates the canals. This two hour narrated tour offers a vantage point for seeing some of the area’s most magnificent homes. Awestruck, I could not resist snapping a photo of performer Yanni’s magnificent Mediterranean inspired waterfront estate.

Before heading to the beach, check out the Pineapple Grove Arts Shopping District. You can’t miss the district when walking north on Atlantic Avenue. A colorful mural and an artistic pineapple inspired archway mark the entrance on Second Avenue. Pineapple Grove showcases some of Delray Beach’s best boutiques, shops and galleries. ReADORNment, a funky vintage consignment boutique made top pick on my local favorite list. The shop has racks of nostalgic feminine frocks that will make you feel and look oh-so-pretty. And just a few steps away, a world class true artisan establishment, the Furst Shop.

Here you will find husband and wife team, Flavie and Ronald, deeply immersed in the creation of original eclectic jewelry and accessories. Furst’s lightweight and colorful shoulder bags are top sellers and make the perfect gift for any travel diva or fashionista who doesn’t like to get weighed down by short-lived trends or baggage.

Before you leave Pineapple Grove, pop in to see artist, Salvatore Principe, in his studio gallery. You may recognize his work. His signature Heart Collection is celebrated in the form of a colorful collector wine bottle label for select South American and Italian vineyards.

All this shopping and talk of wine will definitely make anyone thirsty. Head over to join in happy hour at Crane’s Beach House Hotel & Tiki Bar. Cool breezes, lush greenery and a tropical drink in hand while poolside will make you forget all your troubles. On the weekends, it gets even better; the bar features live music and specials. Who could ask for more?

If you want to truly escape from the ordinary, this is the place. The location and ambiance of this private and romantic oasis keep guests coming back year after year. Crane’s is located just one block from the Atlantic Ocean and a short stroll to all the action on Delray’s Atlantic Avenue, home to an array of outdoor bistros, bars, shops and fine dining. The guest suites are large and creatively distinctive. Pet lovers will be delighted to know that the resort is pet friendly; so bring Fido along on your next beach vacation.

Delray Beach is a town with a European attitude when it comes to food and fun. The buzz starts as the sun goes down and lasts into the night. Laughter, good conversation and mouth-watering meals are plentiful. From seafood to steaks, you will find it within walking distance from the hotel.

Here are several establishments that will not disappoint:

32 East, DaDa on Swinton, The Office.

For a decadent snack, try a homemade fritter from Dee Dee’s Conch Shack. The tiny red matchbox building is worth a visit just for the photo opportunity.

Delray Beach lives up to the promise of a memorable and magical vacation experience. Just minutes from I-95, travel to the destination is easy by car and downtown parking is free. Or better yet, hop on a commuter train in Miami or Palm Beach for the ultimate stress-free experience. Complimentary shuttle service is available to the downtown area from the station every day until midnight.

When to Go: Year Round – “as often as you can”.


About the Author:

Sheila is a freelance writer who has crossed the country and the continents to connect to the people and places that will inspire and re-ignite one’s passion for living. Her stories have been published in print and online domestically and internationally. Her successful media and business career spans thirty years. But her discovery that the climb up the corporate ladder could be spiritually crippling, she changed her course. “The view is so much better when you are grounded with eyes wide open.” True to her gypsy heart, Sheila reinvents herself daily and follows her dreams. A storyteller, historian, entertainer and true soul sister – this travel diva can’t wait for her next gig….did someone say “TV Talk Show Host”…or perhaps “Cruise Director”?