In chic Delray Beach lies an ideal boutique destination: Crane’s Beach House.
This complex of about 30 guestrooms, suites and villas is convenient to the beach and beloved by enough travelers that it was entered into TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
Perhaps it’s the tiki bar and the over-the-top tropical setting (with two pools!) that attribute to its allure. The resort definitely has a Key West vibe, and it’s a bridge away from a bustling downtown.
You may have to wait a few minutes to get there, however — as this is an active drawbridge that allows the passage of a seemingly steady stream of tall-masted sailboats, pleasure craft and luxury yachts alike.
Exploring downtown Delray Beach
But, once you’ve crossed over, a plethora of activities await in this “Village by the Sea” and vicinity — that is, if you can tear yourself away from the resort itself.
You can visit the Pineapple Grove Arts District and its contemporary art galleries, eclectic shops, outdoor cafes and public art. Or you can head to the Morikami Museum and Gardens for a taste of Japanese culture. Bird lovers will want to visit Wakodahatchee Wetlands to walk the public boardwalks.
Delray Beach Market:A guide to the mega food hall in downtown Delray Beach
My agenda at Crane’s Beach House began with a sampling of its newest hotel amenity — a wellness package in collaboration with Bella Reina Spa. But first, a stroll along the Delray Beach boardwalk to enjoy the early morning sunshine, the palm trees and rolling dunes along the shoreline, and of course, caffeine. I spotted an open table at a restaurant directly across the street and ordered breakfast with a large pot of coffee to sip while I took in the meditative presence — a perfect way to start a day of exploration.
When I approached the drawbridge, it had already yawned open for a stunning yacht to cruise through. Once I crossed the bridge to the downtown, I was reminded of the early hour, as shops were not yet open. My activity was restricted to window shopping before the heat of the day turned me around and back to my air-conditioned suite at Crane’s.
My self-care treatment began when I was ready. And I was more than ready to open a packet of Biodroga Blue Orchid Sheet Mask for me to hydrate my 50-plus face. The rare blue orchid is found in India and China and noted for its anti-aging properties. The mask also has extract of fig, and in less than 15 minutes had removed the squint lines that a few weeks of road travel left on my face.
Another wellness perk available through the hotel is a private, in-room yoga class. Rose, a yoga instructor partner of Crane’s Beach House, arrived on schedule, re-arranged some furniture to accommodate two yoga mats, and began my one-hour session. My road trip had taken a toll on my muscles, so we worked on my sciatica, neck and hip flexors. The final pose was prone, a perfect opportunity to use the lavender-scented eye pillow gifted to me.
I arose from my yoga-induced stupor with a craving for modern art, so I took myself off to one of Delray Beach’s numerous artistic offerings: the Cornell Art Museum. It’s located in a circa 1913 former schoolhouse in Old School Square.
There, I met its curator, Melanie Johanson, who was busily prepping for an exhibition by a who’s who of locally-based artists such as painter Sally Cooper and fiber artist Michelle Drummond, with ink drawings on paper by Jill Hotchkiss, and a sprinkling of theatrical costume designs from the workshop of Sean De Freitas. I departed the museum inspired and thirsty for a drink.
I found one across the street at Dada, an eclectic restaurant in yet another historic structure, this one a house built in 1924. I quenched my thirst with one of its dozen or so signature cocktails, choosing the Salvador Dali (Tito’s Vodka, St. Germain, cucumber and citrus). Revived by that and a few bites of an ahi tuna salad, I scrambled downtown to make my dinner reservation at Elisabetta’s, a popular ristorante, bar and pizzeria.
A seat outdoors, close to lights twinkling from decorated trees, was the ideal spot for people watching. The place was bustling with passersby from all walks of life. But my eyes became glued to my plate as I dug into Elisabetta’s homemade pasta with mushrooms, sausage and truffle oil. Otherworldly.
Portions are extremely generous here, so do as I did and take your dessert of tiramisu to go. Yes, I devoured it for breakfast the next morning.
If You Go
Crane’s Beach House, 82 Gleason St., Delray Beach. 866-372-7263; cranesbeachhouse.com.
Cornell Art Museum, 51 N Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. 561-243-7922; www.cornellartmuseum.org.
Dada, 52 N. Swinton Ave, Delray Beach. 561-330-3232; sub-culture.org/dada.
Elisabetta’s, 32 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. 561-560-6699. www.elisabettas.com/delray
Charlene Peters is a travel writer and author of “Tastes of Travel: Tales of Tastes & Indigenous Recipes to Share.”