Miami is a major attraction for people who are looking to soak in the sun, shop for brand names and party like a rock star. But if the South Beach scene is “been there, done that” for you, consider driving out a short distance to one of the smaller beach towns where you will be able to find a more affordable nightlife, accessible beaches and young professional crowds.  Palm Beach County in south Florida offers city life with an urban vibe without any of the congestion.  It is the ideal destination to relax, shop, eat and party.

West Palm Beach is only an hour drive from Miami, but a world away. Just drive down South Ocean Blvd. and you will see why. With rows of one-of-a-kind Spanish bungalows overlooking quiet and pristine beaches, this place gives you the feeling of being a millionaire (without actually having to spend like one.) Chances areyou will be able to find a spot on the beach where you can spend some alone time. If however, you prefer the crowds, head over to the Palm Beach which is always buzzing with activities. There are free concerts, festivals and food events throughout the year all around downtown.

The area attracts students from Palm Beach Atlantic University, weekend vacationers from Miami as well as tourists from South America. No wonder you can find everything from Mediterranean cuisine and sushi to ice cream and burgers – all within the 5 blocks stretch of Clematis Street. Head over to Rocco’s Tacos for the best tasting margaritas and tacos at an affordable price. While there, don’t forget to try the Mexican chocolate pie, a rich dense chocolate pudding in a coconut crust with a salted caramel sauce. The rooftop of the Sky 309 Bar is the happening place to be for music and dance overlooking all of Clematis Street. Once you are hot from boogying, head over to the outdoor patio bar at ER Bradley’s and cool off by the waterfront.

The arts scene at West Palm Beach will also grab your attention when you need a break from partying. Clematis Street’s 500 Block has live murals, glass blowers, block parties, bands and more, exhibited late into the night. Cityplace, located just around the corner from Clematis is a great place to shop, grab a coffee or watch a movie.  Walk over or hop on the free trolley that goes around downtown. Whether you are a beach body, a fashion diva, a self proclaimed foodies or a music buff, there is something for everyone to do here, only within a few feet of each other.

Another charming downtown and an abundant nightlife is Delray Beach, which is located 20 miles south of Palm Beach, 28 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale and 50 miles north of Miami.  Delray Beach was named All-American City in 1993 and in 2001, the only city in Florida to receive the award twice. Only 10 communities in the U.S. receive this award each year.

Also knows as the “Hamptons of the south” or “Village by the Sea”, Delray Beach boasts 130 restaurants, 110 spas and fitness centers, 20 hotels and 20 art galleries. Everything is conveniently located within walking or short driving distance. During the day, you enjoy the sun, beach and water, indulge in water sports or pamper yourself at the spa. Evening is time to hit the restaurants, bars and clubs on Atlantic Avenue. Most people end up on Atlantic Avenue, the heart of Delray, a one mile stretch of restaurants, bars and shops that ends on the beach. Travel Holiday magazine voted Delray’s Beaches as the top public beaches in thesoutheastern United States for swimming and one of the top 35 beaches in the entire country.

The scene on the street changes completely after 10pm. Bars are open till 2am after which the crowd heads over for pizza. You will only find four and five star restaurants here but at affordable prices. Start at Trysts for a drink. They have variety of beers on tap and bottles from around the world.  Eat at Cut432 if you like to try aged beef and upscale seafood in a sleek setting. Or for a homey ambience, go to Dada where they have poetry readings while serving fondue.  After dinner, chose from a number of locations playing live music everything ranging from 80’s to salsa. Don’t miss The Blue Anchor, a 19th century British pub and the Cabana Club at the Colony hotel, a private oceanfront beach club.

Chances are you will never have a dull moment in Delray. Every month there are events and activities hosted by the city that will blow your mind away. From Florida’s largest dinging table (of 1,000 diners) at Savor the Avenue in March, a 5-hour restaurant crawl called Tastemakers in August to a 100 feet tall Christmas tree in December, Delray will want you keep coming back for more.

Perhaps the best part about the small beach towns in South Florida is the people. They are extremely friendly and welcoming to visitors of all ages. There is strong neighborhood feeling that ends up making the cities very safe and sociable.  That combined with affordability, nightlife and pristine beaches, makes it a great place to visit anytime of the year.

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