Where to Sleep, Reboot, and Get a Great Smoothie in Boca Raton
In partnership with our friends at Waldorf Resorts
It’s the natural order of life—and vacation planning: By the end of summer, our minds wander to ski slopes. And right around now, we start dreaming of palm trees, fresh orange juice, and straw beach bags. In other words, Florida. A place where the sky is somehow bluer and the Atlantic waves are warmer than you think. But the Sunshine State isn’t exactly a day trip, so where to go?
There are the endless parties of Miami. There’s the quietly grown-up demeanor of Palm Beach. And then there is Boca Raton, a relatively quiet, elegant middle child. Like so many middle children, Boca Raton is understated, well-behaved, and a total joy—a low-key, discreetly luxurious gem between two attention-grabbers. Given that this manicured pocket of South Florida is a speedy three- or six-ish hour flight from New York or LA, respectively, questions of “Why now?” quickly become “Why not?”
where to stay
Boca Raton Resort & Club
Boca Raton Resort & Club’s sprawling estate is more like a dreamy Floridian village than a hotel, a village complete with a golf course, several restaurants, stretches of manicured gardens, and its own marina. And the Waldorf group, which manages the Boca Raton Resort & Club, is not about to rest on the club’s long-established popularity. The resort keeps getting better. The polished Yacht Club—effectively a hotel within a hotel—has reopened following an extensive renovation, and the nautical waterfront rooms, customizable minibars, and next-level service make it an easy favorite. Staying in an ocean-view Beach Club room feels like having a sleepover on a private island—powdery white sand and afternoon naps in a luxe cabana included. For the wellness-led traveler, the cardiologist-run Biostation excels at functional medicine, while sports enthusiasts have their pick of simulated surfing at Flow House, Orange Theory classes, and of course, 365 acres along Lake Boca. All the while, the familial service, private beach, and clever landscaping across the grounds summon all the intimacy of a boutique hotel.
what to do
The Waldorf Spa
A weekend here could—and by all means, should—involve water sports, a round of golf, a friendly (or not) tennis match, and plenty of eating. But this is a vacation, which also means massages: That’s where the Waldorf spa comes in. Inspired by Spain’s Moorish-meets-Renaissance-style Alhambra palace, every ornate inch is spectacular. Forty-four treatment rooms and a novel-length menu means you could spend the whole weekend in the subterranean hammam and never be done. But we’ll help narrow the list. Standout treatments include the Ayurvedic Balance and Restore Ritual (dosha-specific massage, rose quartz facial, and shirodhara—pouring oil—scalp treatment) and the Moroccan Detox Wrap (mint tea exfoliation and a chai-infused mud mask followed by a massage). If time isn’t an issue, book the Ritual Bath, a Boca signature. And considering the spa is scented with lavender and surrounded by lush green gardens, crashing on a bed with a book is an aromatherapy experience all its own.
Boca Museum of Art
Museums are the unsung cultural heroes of smaller cities. The lines are shorter, the curation is generally more daring, and thanks to fewer tourists, you can actually see the art up close rather than from deep in a crowd. In that vein, the Boca Museum of Art is an art lover’s gem in Mizner Park that’s very worth driving for. The permanent collection includes sculpture and contemporary, African, and pre-Columbian art as well as a stellar photography collection (don’t miss Dorothea Lange’s iconic images of the Dust Bowl era). March 2020 will see the arrival of a series of self-portraits by prominent American artists and a selection of Edward Steichen murals. For those visiting with children, check out the galleries on Saturday mornings—they offer painting classes for children. And the outdoor sculpture garden is ideal for little legs to run off one too many ice cream cones. Daily docent tours at 2 p.m. are the way to go if you want to fully appreciate the breadth of the museum’s offerings and learn about the intricacies and symbols within each piece.
where to eat
After a flight or long drive, we’re partial to dinner in the hotel and a quick digestif before settling in for a solid ten hours on those heavenly hotel beds. The omakase menu at Morimoto feels celebratory but moves fast. Chef Masaharu Morimoto has sushi master status and a Top Chef win under his apron and knows how to create a well-paced, tasty experience you’ll come back for. The menu features classic Japanese sushi rolls and local seafood like littleneck clams in the miso soup. It’s a small space and immensely popular with hotel guests, so be sure to reserve and request a seat at the center of the action: the sushi bar.
Bad coffee on any given morning can ruin our mood, but on vacation, it can ruin our day. Boca café and juice bar the Seed is the brainchild of two local women who wanted quality beans and organic cold press to be a daily given, not a rarity. The menu hits all the right notes, with American classics like drip coffee and iced tea alongside Earl Grey, matcha lattes, and nitro cold brew. The acai and dragon fruit bowls are hearty, healthy, and portable for the beach or the airport. And like everything else at the Seed, the cold smoothies and juices—boosted with protein, flax, spirulina, or turmeric—hit the spot on muggy, hot Florida mornings when eggs and toast feel like too much.
The dining room at Casa d’Angelo is a refined, grown-up affair—with its white tablecloths and floor-to-ceiling wine cases of bottles from what looks like every vineyard in Italy. The choice is staggering. A rotating cast of nightly specials draws a loyal South Floridian crowd. Still, deep down, every guest wants a slab of chef Ricky Piper’s many-layered lasagna with a generous slice of tiramisu for dessert. Pasta is handmade in the kitchen every day, and gluten-free varieties are available. Plus, for the exceptional staff, no request is too much.