Brightline’s Boca Raton station officially opens this month. With it, South Florida’s high-speed rail service has added this ritzy, culturally refined city to the mix, expanding our backyard to include its many attractions. There are numerous hot spots, museums, restaurants, and more within a rideshare radius of the station—and quite a few within walking distance. Here, find all you need to know, see, eat, and do for the ideal day in Boca, no car required.
Attend a concert by The Symphonia, whose current season is themed around the Earth’s elements; catch Boca Raton’s world-class chamber orchestra in action December 4 (with clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, pictured left) at Roberts Theater at Saint Andrew’s School, with spring concerts slated for March 26 and April 30. Bring the next gen to Meet the Orchestra, a program for children held during dress rehearsals prior to each concert on Saturdays. It’s an opportunity to hear a live orchestra play, learn about the instruments, interact directly with the conductor and musicians, and more.
The recent reopening of Boca favorite (and Subculture Group darling) Kapow Noodle Bar across the street from its original location in Mizner Park is exciting not just because of the expanded 5,175-square-foot space—it’s the three private, fully automated karaoke rooms that have locals abuzz. With wireless mics, LED TVs, full control over the song selection, and a food and beverage menu that you can order from via an iPad, the rooms are “fun night out” defined.
At the recommendation of trusted caffeine-connoisseur friends, this writer has personally driven 45 minutes for a memorable cuppa at Mane Coffee—and now you don’t have to. While the artisanal brews, made from beans sourced from all over the world, are enough on their own, the sweet-and-savory, thick-slice toast options are the millennial-inspired pairing you never knew you needed. And for true coffee snobs, there’s a menu dedicated entirely to pour-overs.
The Boca Museum has been a community staple for more than 70 years. The “Reginald Cunningham: Black Pearls” exhibit, on view through January 22, tells the history of nearby Pearl City and its generations of residents, while “Art of the Hollywood Backdrop,” also on view through January, is an ode to the art of scenic backdrops made between 1938 and 1968.
Staycation options don’t get better than The Boca Raton, where you’ll see firsthand just what $200 million in renovations can get you. A “new golden era” has arrived at this storied resort, which first opened in 1926 as a 100-room inn. A luxurious creation of architect Addison Mizner, with his touches still evident in every nook and cranny, The Boca Raton is now a 200-acre, five-hotel property with 14 restaurants and bars, a racquet club, a 34-slip marina, and more. It’s a slice of paradise so impressive, you’ll have to see it to believe it.
Many would be surprised to learn that the personal computer, the “secret weapon that won World War II,” and other innovations have their roots in Boca Raton. That’s the kind of information you’ll glean at the Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum by the Boca Raton Historical Society, located in Boca’s Historic Town Hall. In addition to permanent “History Alive!” exhibits that tell the story of Boca Raton—from the Pioneer Era to the contributions of Addison Mizner to present day—there are temporary displays, such as the current one dedicated to the city’s first responders through the ages.
Hit the Beach in Boca
Boca Raton’s 2-mile stretch of lifeguard-protected beaches is less than 2 miles east of the station, so if your beach days need a change of scenery, head here. Boca’s sandy shores are pristine, with sand dunes, sea oats, and sea grapes adding to the coastal ambience and the Lake Boca Raton waterway abutting the beaches from the west. In various parks along the shoreline, picnicking facilities are available (we recommend picking up a bite, like the cold sesame noodles from Mr. Goode’s Chinese Takeout), and there’s even a recreational snorkel trail at Red Reef Park if you want to sink beneath the surface of Boca’s glittering seas.
The Brightline embraces the holiday spirit with the return of The Polar Express Train Ride. From December 3-29, families will experience the Christmas classic come to life, complete with golden tickets, hot chocolate, music from the motion picture soundtrack, and a visit with Santa. The hour-long, round-trip train ride departs and returns through Brightline’s MiamiCentral station.
Two Boca locals share their favorite spots in town
Andrea Virgin is the president and chairman of the board for downtown Boca’s planned performing arts center, The Center for Arts & Innovation, which is slated to break ground in 2025.
Hidden gem: “Cosa Duci Italian Bakery, run by the most amazing Italian family, is a must. The next best thing is a meal physically in Italy.”
Date night: “I love the romantic and elegant yet intimate feeling I get while eating at Il Mulino New York. What started as a pop-up of the popular NY restaurant ended up being in such demand that it became a permanent feature in our
Expect the unexpected: “Redcon1, the world’s largest dietary supplement company, has its headquarters here and [operates] one of the coolest gyms ever. People from all over the world travel to Boca to work out there. If you’re into fitness, it’s a must-see.”
Get active: “Take a stab at learning salsa, the hustle, or tango at Fred Astaire Boca Raton. It’s located right next to the station, so you can hop off, work up an appetite, then head to dinner.”
Favorite way to spend a Saturday: “Our family enjoys spending our Saturdays at the new Harborside Pool at The Boca Raton.”
Best brunch in town: “Saquella Café in Royal Palm Place has an incredible brunch. The croissants are a must.”
Don’t leave Boca without: “Grabbing a delicious cup of coffee and pastry at The Seed.”
Eric Baker is the chef and restaurateur behind Boca favorites Rebel House, Uncle Pinkie’s Deli, AlleyCat, and Mr. Goode’s Chinese Takeout.
Hidden gem: “At Sunset Sushi, an omakase restaurant in a nondescript strip mall on Federal Highway, you will [have] a world-class sushi experience.”
Touristy but worth it: “Mizner Park may be touristy, but it’s that way for a reason; it has everything from great restaurants to shops, an outdoor amphitheater, and an art museum. You can’t miss it.”
Grab and go: “For amazing pizza, I go to How Ya Dough’n, a small family-owned pizzeria that really raised the bar in the Boca pizza scene.”
Rainy day go-to: “See a movie at the iPic in Mizner Park.”
Outdoor oasis: “A must-visit in Boca is Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, [where you can] get out and enjoy the natural surroundings while helping protect our region’s sea turtles.”
Best brunch in town: “Rebel House, with its unique spin on classic brunch dishes, craft cocktails, and selection of deli fare from the adjoining deli, Uncle Pinkie’s—all served up while listening to the resident weekly brunch DJ on Sundays.”
Shopping spree: “Alene Too in Royal Place. Lizzie, the owner, is amazing. She’s always keeping Boca dressed to the nines.”
Get active: “The Boca Raton Tennis Center is a great way to get active. The courts and facilities are very well maintained.”
Don’t leave Boca without: “Sampling a fantastic beer from Prosperity Brewers.”