Things to Do around Boca Raton
Boca Raton is an upmarket planned community 45 miles north of Miami and 28 miles south of West Palm Beach. It has far more in common with West Palm Beach as both cities were planned by Addison Mizner. Luxury shopping malls and gorgeous homes on lakes and golf courses are characteristics of this modern city.
Visitors to the Boca area will find plenty to see and do. Fabulous shopping, dozens of restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes and several interesting attractions are all designed to fill the days when thousands of snowbirds come to town, from November to April.
Museums and Art Galleries
The Boca Raton Museum of Art has a tasteful collection of 19th and 20th century artworks including charcoal drawings by Picasso and Matisse. Located on W. Palmetto Park Road, this compact gallery houses the Mayer’s Collection.
More lighthearted is the International Museum of Cartoon Art featuring 160,000 cartoons ranging from Peanuts to politics. The collection was created in 1974 and was moved to its modern purpose-built space within Mizner Park in 1996. The collection has cartoons from all over the world dating back to the 19th century. The attraction includes a theater and a Laughter Center to show how laughter is good for your health!
The Sports Immortals Museum on N. Federal Highway has 1000s of momentoes of sporting history. Baseball fans can drool over Babe Ruth’s baseball bat alongside Mohammed Ali’s boxing robes. The most valuable piece is perhaps the most insignificant. It is a rare cigarette card featuring a baseball player who objected to his image being associated with tobacco. It was quickly withdrawn, hence the value of the surviving card – $600,00!
Gardens, Parks and Beaches
Further north, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is a truly tranquil and colorful area arranged around a lake overlooked by a traditional Japanese teahouse. The gardens are a tribute to the Yamato Colony of Japanese who were the first real farmers in the Boca area.
Boca Raton’s beach is a long and undeveloped stretch of dunes and sand north of the Boca Raton inlet. It is fairly hard to find and high parking charges tend to drive people to other resorts such as Deerfield Beach.
The beach is accessed from Ocean Boulevard through various parks such as the Spanish River Park, which has picnic tables and a wildlife observation tower overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.
The Red Reef Park further south offers boardwalks over the dunes and an artificial offshore reef for snorkeling. Right next door is the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, which has an excellent educational center and overlooks Lake Wyman, part of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The Town Hall on Palmetto Park Road has some interesting exhibits relating to Boca’s short history. You can also book a guided tour of the original Boca Raton Resort and Club, organized by the Boca Raton Historical Society. This exclusive resort was Mizner’s first hotel, built in 1926 as the ultra-luxurious Cloister Inn. It had 100 rooms and was the most expensive hotel in its day. It was later renamed the Boca Raton Resort and Club. Today it is a Waldorf Astoria Resort and private community complete with golf course.
Located beside the Intracoastal Waterway, it is often referred to as the “pink hotel” and has retained much of its original Spanish style with classical water features, serene pools and a bar overlooking the beach and ocean. It is well worth dining there for the location and historic experience.
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