Spring Break: Delray Beach
If you’re a Florida skeptic, bemoaning strip malls and condos, this is the Atlantic Coast town that will turn you into a Sunshine State enthusiast. Delray is a beachside village with meticulous 1920s houses restored to original clapboard charm. Restaurants line Atlantic Avenue, all with outdoor dining and cocktailing. Residents are a mix of young families, gay couples and snowbirds who give Delray a surprisingly cool vibe: Picture the energy and style of South Beach, without the tattooed “Jersey Shore” kids or the sun-blocking high-rises, and the buzz and beauty of Key West sans rum-soaked crowds.
HEAT INDEX: Average temperature in March and April is 72 degrees, with highs around 80 degrees.
STAY: The Seagate (above) is a year-old reconstruction of a beloved old Delray hotel, combining old Florida charm — pretty pool, tropical gardens, balconies off almost every room — and updated luxury. The lobby, spa and Atlantic Grille restaurant are chic and modern, and guest rooms are generously sized and handsomely kitted out, with absurdly large marble bathrooms. You can walk up the street to all the shopping from the Seagate, and its breezy, Caribbean-style beach club is a few blocks away (the hotel will drive you in one of its white Mercedes sedans, or ferry you on the beach trolley). From $259 per night.
DO: Kick off the day with an early tennis lesson at Delray Beach Tennis Center, which has 14 clay courts and hosts major tournaments during the winter season. Or take a private yoga class at the Seagate Spa, followed by their sea salt body scrub. Later, browse at Delray’s beloved C. Orrico shop, a well-edited trove of preppy-chic dresses and bikinis by Trina Turk, Tibi and (of course) Lilly Pulitzer that’s renowned for its great sales. For “Florida Regency” antiques — really cool ’50s and ’60s modern/tropical chandeliers and furniture from a collection of dealers — Delray Beach Antique Mall is set in a vintage ‘50s showroom.
EAT: The restaurant at the Seagate’s Beach Club has the best crab-stuffed avocado at lunch, plus killer views — staring out at sea grape, sand and ocean, you’ll be pondering: Why, exactly, do I live in the Northeast? (Open to members and Seagate guests only.) Tryst is a popular spot with locals for drinks and casual fare such as mac-and-cheese with bacon. Tramonti serves classic Italian by way of Little Italy to New York expats (rigatoni Genovese, veal scallopine) under a striped awning. For dessert or an afternoon snack, kids and fashionistas will love pink-and-white Cupcake Couture, a sleek temple to sugar with silly and delicious cupcakes named Jimmy Choo-coolate and Karmel Lagerfield.
GET THERE: Take a US Airways or Southwest flight nonstop from Philly to West Palm Beach International Airport, then cab or drive to Delray Beach (a 15-minute drive; you won’t need a car in Delray). Flight time is less than three hours (usairways.com; southwest.com).
STAY: The Seagate, 1000 East Atlantic Avenue, 877-577-3242, theseagatehotel.com.
DO: Delray Beach Tennis Center, 201 West Atlantic Avenue, 561-243-7360, jcdsportsgroup.com. C. Orrico, 1218 East Atlantic Avenue, 561-278-5353, corrico.com. Delray Beach Antique Mall, 645 East Atlantic Avenue, 561-274-8000, delraybeachantiquemall.com.
EAT: Seagate’s Beach Club, 401 South Ocean Boulevard, 561-330-3775. Tryst, 4 East Atlantic Avenue, 561-921-0201, trystdelray.com. Tramonti, 119 East Atlantic Avenue, 561-272-1944, tramonti- delray.com. Cupcake Couture, 328 East Atlantic Avenue, 561-276-2334, cupcakecoutureusa.com.