The Good Life

Boca Raton is South Florida’s capital of fine dining, retail therapy and luxurious accommodations

 There are subtle ways to measure Boca Raton’s quality of life beyond the hard socioeconomic factors everyone quotes in annual surveys. Two indices we’d like to explore here are dining and shopping—the unofficial bottom line when it comes to good living.

Dining is entertainment in Boca Raton, from the landmark sidewalk cafés in Mizner Park and Royal Palm Plaza, to a wealth of fine restaurants along Palmetto Park Road and Federal Highway downtown. Every shopping enclave and every thoroughfare has a battery of great places to dine, and this mandate extends as far west as the houses go. Every kind of food is available, from American steak houses to Florida seafood to Thai, Japanese, French, Latin. Chinese, Indian—you name it. Even our new Muvico Palace 20 has a gourmet restaurant on the second floor, the Premier Theaters’ Bistro & Bar, just in case your taste runs to prime rib rather than popcorn.

Then there’s the shopping component. Boca Raton in particular is represented by the finest stores in the country. It doesn’t hurt of course, that the city is synonymous with disposable income. (After all, with a per capita income of $38,772, the area ranks tops in the state and third in the nation, behind only San Francisco and the New Haven, Conn., metropolitan areas.)

Some of the many shopping areas include downtown Boca Raton, which extends north and south from the intersection of Federal Highway and East Palmetto Park Road, with a lively variety of boutiques, galleries and restaurants. World-renowned Mizner Park, a city landmark since 1991 and a case study in excellent urban design, is the main magnet for residents and visitors alike. With nine outstanding restaurants, an elegant courtyard and broad sidewalks, this downtown anchor offers theaters, shopping and a general community focal point through a graceful residential and retail design.

Just south of Mizner Park is Royal Palm Plaza, the oldest shopping center in Boca Raton. The Spanish-style center has fine restaurants, more than 80 shops and also is undergoing major renovation.

Other shopping areas in Boa Raton include The Shops at Boca Center, Glades Plaza, Fifth Avenue Shops, Oaks Plaza, Shops at the Sanctuary Park, Polo Club Shoppes, Del Mar Shopping Village, Garden Shops of Boca, Palms Plaza, Point West Centre, Village Point, Mission Bay Plaza, Shadowood Square, Boca Lyons Plaza, Somerset Shops, Regency Court, Shops of Boca, Piccadilly Square, VPC Center, Lakeside Centre and West Boca Square ... to name a few!

Town Center, west of Interstate 95 on Glades Road, always has been one of Florida’s most impressive malls. Some of Town Center’s prestigious stores include Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Cartier, LoriJ & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co. and Williams-Sonoma.

The mall offers patrons a first-class shopping experience with a gallery of superb stores, a complete food court, exotic foliage, handglazed tiles and skylights—even valet parking and car washes while you shop. Town Center is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Boca’s Neighborhood

Boca Raton is just around the corner from quaint downtown Delray Beach and Palm Beach’s world-famous Worth Avenue, where top-notch fashion, gourmet restaurants and fine art galleries line the historic streets. You also can visit CityPlace in West Palm Beach, an impressive retail, entertainment and residential development with architecture reminiscent of a European city.

Just south of Boca, there are art galleries and charming shops on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard and in its upscale Galleria mall.

In Miami, shoppers love the Fashion District, Aventura Mall and Decorator’s Row as well as the Bal Harbour shops.

If you’re a bargain hunter, head straight for the Festival Marketplace (Sample Road in Pompano Beach) or to Sawgrass Mills (Sunrise Boulevard, east of Flamingo Road off the Sawgrass Expressway). You also may want to check out the outdoor flea markets such as the Delray Swap Shop (U.S. 1 north of Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach) and The Swap Shop (Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale).


Boca Raton is a haven for visitors

Boca Raton was put on the map by the elegant Boca Raton Resort & Club (originally the Cloister Inn) in 1926. The tradition of fine accommodations—and meeting facilities—has continued to this day, with the city a perennial favorite for meetings and conventions for corporations and professional groups.

“Boca Raton does a phenomenal job bringing tourists to the area,” says Enid Atwater, spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “As a matter of fact, Boca Raton hotels have a 71.3 percent occupancy rate, providing superior service and accommodations.”

Boca Raton is the perfect setting for a meeting or convention—its miles of oceanfront, tropical climate, lively downtown area and proximity to nearby attractions gives it panache, while the sheer range of diversions make meetings feel like a vacation. Only an hour from Miami (but without the congestion), the city is highly manageable for visitors, with a comfort level unparalleled in the region. The quality of its outdoor recreation and fine dining options are only two of its advantages in attracting both tourists and corporate groups.

The Boca Raton Resort & Club is the largest hotel in Palm Beach County with a beautiful $40 million meeting and conference facility, featuring 128,000 square feet that can accommodate up to 1,800 people. Not to mention its fabulous Spa Palazzo and the sumptuous marina addition—with butler service.

To the east on the Boca Inlet is The Radisson Bridge Resort, the city’s second oldest hotel, with great views and fine cuisine from Carmen’s restaurant on the top floor.

Traveling west, the Boca Raton Marriott, complete with conference and meeting facilities, is the focal point of Boca Center, an upscale shopping enclave with fashionable boutiques and fine restaurants.

The Renaissance Hotel on the southwest corner of Glades Road and I-95 is home to thousands of visitors each year. Guests enjoy the facility’s exercise rooms, its proximity to top-notch shopping areas, its tropical poolside atmosphere and its beautiful conference rooms.

On the northwest comer of Glades and 1-95 is the beautiful Courtyard by Marriott-Boca Raton. The elegant hotel is a favorite among out-of-towners and even Boca Raton residents looking for a weekend of relaxation.

The Embassy Suites Hotel, just one quick I-95 exit north on Yamato Road, features spacious suites, multiple in-room televisions, voicemail and an auditorium.

The Radisson Suites Hotel, adjacent to Florida’s Turnpike, offers cable television, VCRs and stocked mini bars.

The Holiday Inn at Glades Road and I-95 offers ideal surroundings, a swimming pool, dining facilities and excellent meeting rooms.

The Residence Inn by Marriott, west of I-95 on Yamato Road, gives guests a cozy homelike atmosphere, and is known for its trademark chocolate chip cookies.

A few miles to the south is the Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton Hilton, another first-class hotel accommodating both the business traveler and vacationer with a convenient proximity to 1-95.

North of Boca Raton on State Road AlA in Delray Beach is the lavish Delray Beach Marriott, known as the Seacrest Hotel in the 1960s. Over the years it has maintained the same owner, Ocean Properties, as well as some key aspects of its historical charm, such as a bell tower. This beautiful hotel is within walking distance of popular Atlantic Avenue, a hot spot for restaurants, shops and clubs.

Springhill Suites by Marriott, west of 1-95 on Yamato Road, offers a larger room for travelers, as well as separate sleeping, working and dining areas at an affordable price.

Adjacent to the Springhill Suites is the TownePlace Suites by Marriott, which offers a delightful, extended-stay package, ideal for a complete Boca Raton visit.

For more information or a complete list of area hotels, visit the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce at 1800 N. Dixie Highway or call 561/395-4433. For a complete rundown of meeting facilities and lodging, visit

  Source: Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, BOCA RATON ANNUAL 2003-2004

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