- Handcrafted glass ornaments hang at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Credit: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Delray Beach, Fla., is a “Village by the Sea,” an oasis of small-town attitude in the midst of the bustling Miami metropolitan area. Just a hop, skip and jump from West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, Delray Beach boasts a thriving gallery district, vivid public art, and even tranquil Japanese gardens.
Q: Why should I make the trip?
A: Delray Beach has over 100 years of history, from its humble beginnings as a farming community and through its boom times in the 1920s, to today. Fantastic restaurants, delightful B&Bs and a world-class tennis center draw visitors year round. However, the arts are of paramount importance in this little city. After all, it took artists and gallery owners to revitalize the town in the 1990s after decades of neglect. Today, Delray Beach is one of South Florida’s premier arts destinations.
Q: Where can I buy art in Delray Beach?
A: If you’re a collector, you’re in luck. The Delray Beach Art District features nearly 20 independent galleries clustered along Atlantic Avenue. The Avalon Gallery at 425 E. Atlantic Ave. is a must-see, representing around 120 different artists, all from the U.S. or Canada. Vibrant flowers are the subjects many of Ora Sorensen’s paintings. You can view and purchase her art at her gallery at 445 E. Atlantic Ave. Just to the north is the Pineapple Arts District, home to still more galleries and studios, including Salvatore Principe Gallery. Located at 200 NE 2nd Ave. No. 106, Principe offers his own paintings “inspired by the spirit of human emotion.” And just a few doors down, Spotted on 2nd Gallery at 200 NE 2nd Ave. No. 102 sells the work of over 100 American artisans in all mediums. The entire downtown area is very walkable, so you can take a day to stroll around the galleries and stop for a bite at one of the myriad of restaurants.
Q: Are there special arts events in Delray Beach?
A: Every third Friday night, art lovers come out in full force for the Gallery Walk along East Atlantic Avenue and its side streets. Many of the galleries serve cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and musicians play on the sidewalks. The city also hosts a number of arts and craft shows and cultural festivals throughout the year, including a spectacular First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve.
Q: What other cultural attractions will I find?
A: Delray Beach’s Old School Square Cultural Arts Center is a four-acre oasis for the arts. Its centerpiece is the Cornell Museum of Art and American Culture, whose five galleries present rotating exhibits of art from the region and around the world. The center also houses the Crest Theatre and the Old School Square Entertainment Pavilion, which host musical and theatrical events. Just a short drive from downtown Delray, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens exhibits art and artifacts, as well as expansive, traditional Japanese gardens. Delray Beach is also loaded with public art, from murals on buildings to sculpture gardens, to artful water fountains. Check out www.downtowndelraybeach.com for more.