Living in Boca Raton, FL: 2021 Community Guide
Located roughly 44 miles north of Downtown Miami, vibrant, thriving Boca Raton has a population of over 100,000. The southernmost city in Palm Beach County, Boca Raton is known for its upscale shopping, world-class restaurants, and lavish lifestyle.
Known to locals as ‘Boca’, this is a beautifully landscaped city, with wide, palm tree-lined boulevards and pastel-hued Spanish Mediterranean architecture. Living in Boca can feel like a permanent vacation. People from all over the world call Boca Raton home, making the city feel diverse and multicultural. A wide variety of attractions and events keep the community vibrant and connected throughout the year.
Real estate options range from single-family homes and Intracoastal estates in West and Central Boca Raton to luxury condos in oceanfront high-rises in East Boca. With its highly rated schools, lively, walkable downtown, and endless outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone in Boca. And of course there’s the beach: miles of untouched oceanfront stretches that are always within easy reach.
Let’s dive into what makes Boca Raton such a great place to live.
Culture and Lifestyle
As well as being a melting pot for a diverse collection of cultures, Boca Raton offers an interesting clash of architectural styles, with modern oceanfront high-rises nestling among gorgeous historic buildings. East Boca retains a historic feel, with many of the buildings dating back to the 1920s, and offers a very walkable environment. This is a great part of town to jog, cycle, or just stroll, and the picturesque palm trees provide plenty of shade on hot summer days.
Boca Raton’s ideal location means that residents can reach Fort Lauderdale in around 30 minutes, while Downtown Miami is less than an hour’s drive. South Florida is famous for its challenging traffic, and the local streets can get fairly jammed during rush hour, but locals quickly learn to navigate this by driving during lulls in the traffic. Many Boca residents make the daily commute to Fort Lauderdale, and those who don’t want to sit in their cars have some great public transit options. Tri-Rail is a commuter rail system that runs as far as Miami International Airport, while Palm Tran offers regular bus service throughout Palm Beach County.
Boca Raton inlet
Boca Raton residents like to spend as much time outside as possible, enjoying the Florida sunshine and the beauty of their city. Golf, tennis, swimming, and team sports are all super-popular in Boca, and the city’s parks and golf courses are always buzzing. In West and Central Boca, there are numerous gated and country club communities, many of which offer private, luxury amenities like exclusive golf courses, tennis clubs, and resort-style pools.
Boca Raton features lush, tropical landscaping in its parks
Public parks can be found throughout the city, offering a stunning range of amenities. Patch Reef Park is a popular neighborhood greenspace that features athletics fields, a tennis center, a community center, and an awesome, innovative children’s play structure. The gigantic 132-acre Sugar Sand Park is one of the city’s most visited, and never fails to disappoint. There are pleasant nature trails here, as well as pavilions and sports fields. Local kids love this place for its carousel, splash pad, and Science Explorium, and there are plenty of secluded corners in which to enjoy an afternoon picnic.
Boca Raton's beach
Boca Raton’s beaches are among South Florida’s most beautiful and pristine. A good portion of the 2-mile stretch of sand here is free of commercial development, with only seagrass-dotted dunes and palm trees lining the beach. Early morning walks on the beach at Boca can feel magical, and it’s easy to imagine that you’re on a deserted tropical island.
Later in the day, the beach begins to draw more visitors, with volleyball, diving, snorkeling, and kayaking among the most popular local activities. South Beach, Red Reef, and Spanish River are the 3 public parks that offer beach access in Boca, and lifeguards are always on duty during the day. The super-clean beach offers sugary-white sand, clear, warm water, and a chilled-out atmosphere. It’s a supremely pleasant place to spend an afternoon.
High-end shops at the Mizner Park mall in Downtown Boca Raton, FL. Credit: Lacey Lin Photography / Shutterstock.com
Boca Raton is home to some of South Florida’s best shopping and dining, with many of the city’s restaurants and shops clustered in the charming and historic downtown. Mizner Park, in the heart of downtown, is a huge, beautifully landscaped development that’s home to upscale boutiques, cutting-edge restaurants, and an iPic movie theater. Palm trees, fountains, and elegant walkways provide the backdrop here, and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. Nearby, another assortment of boutiques and eateries can be found in sophisticated Royal Palm Place.
West and Central Boca feature an assortment of favorite neighborhood restaurants, as well as the enormous Town Center Mall. This impressive indoor shopping center houses high-end department stores, boutiques, and a range of dining options.
Boca Raton skyline at night, as seen from the Intracoastal Waterways
Although Boca Raton’s nightlife is tame compared to what’s on offer in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, there are plenty of local cafes and bars, and the craft beer and cocktail scene are in full swing. Most of Boca’s nighttime entertainment is centered around its varied and exciting dining scene, and the options are seemingly endless. Everything is on offer here, from friendly eateries serving up enticing comfort food to chef-driven restaurants serving cutting-edge farm-to-fork cuisine.
Boca Raton footpath amidst overhanging trees
There’s much more to life in Boca Raton than shopping, dining, and the beach, though. A vibrant arts and culture scene is growing and evolving all the time. Residents have a wide array of activities to choose from, including annual celebrations like the Seafood and Music Festival and the Boca Raton Festival of the Arts.
The Boca Raton Museum of Art is the cultural heart of Boca, having provided decades of service to the community. There’s always an exciting array of visual art on display here, as well as a host of classes, workshops, and events. Mizner Park Cultural Center, in downtown Boca, is another local favorite. This intimate performing arts center plays host to numerous musicals, concerts, and comedy shows throughout the year. Other beloved cultural institutions include the Wick Theatre, which hosts classic musicals and houses a fascinating Broadway costume museum, and the Boca Raton Children’s Museum, which is a time-tested favorite among local kids.
Boca Raton is a city that is friendly to all ages. There are a number of highly-regarded public schools in Boca, as well as several prestigious private schools including Saint Andrew’s School, Boca Prep International School, and American Heritage School. Both Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University are based in Boca, attracting thousands of students from all over the world. Other options for higher education include Palm Beach State College, Digital Media Arts College, and Everglades University.
Mizner Park shopping center, a popular hotspot for locals
Things to Do
Besides local beaches, parks, museums, restaurants, and boutiques, Boca sure knows how to have a good time, offering a wide variety of cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
At the start of the year, dive into Greek culture at the Boca Raton Greek Festival, an annual festival put on by St. Mark’s Greek Orthodox Church. Enjoy delicious Greek food, music, Hellenic dancers, games, and even a car raffle at this incredible event.
In March, soak in a wide range of culturally enriching offerings at the Arts Boca Festival. Attendees can enjoy a diversity of performing and literary arts. Past festivals have featured Grammy award-winning artists' performances, screenings of classic films shown with live orchestral accompaniment, and inspirational speeches given by notable writers, historians, and artists. This fabulous week-long event is sure to leave you feeling inspired.
In September, celebrate the end of summer at the Brazillian Beat festival, hosted annually in celebration of Brazil’s Independence Day. Enjoy savory Brazillian food and drink, sway your hips to the sounds of famous Brazillian musicians and samba drummers, and get a taste of the original Mardi Gras watching costumed dancers in a Rio-style parade.
Overview of Downtown Boca
For weekend fun, Boca Raton has so many adventures in store for you! From museums to luxurious shopping to state-of-the-art golf courses, Boca offers a wide range of activities:
- Check out Gumbo Limbo, 20-acres of protected barrier island space that provides refuge for plants and animals. Wander down the boardwalk, observe the beautiful wildlife around you, check out the colorful fish in the aquarium, hang out with turtles at the turtle rehabilitation center, or enjoy a dreamy afternoon in the butterfly garden.
- Visit the Boca Raton Museum of Art, the official art museum of Boca Raton and a celebrated cultural destination for over 70 years. Explore the culturally, artistically, and intellectually diverse art collections and exhibitions. Offering education opportunities, free parking, and free admission to students and museum members, this stunning space has much to offer. After exploring the museum, wander through the rest of Mizner Park, maybe stop by the Mizner Park Amphitheater and take in an evening concert.
- With nearly 20 courses to choose from, you’ll find that Boca Raton’s golf scene is considerably above par. Featuring breathtaking views of the Atlantic ocean on one side and the Intercoastal Waterway, the Alan C. Alford Red Reef Family Golf Course is a local favorite and has much to offer. The 9 hole, 1357 yard course was designed by Charles Ankrom and offered tees, fairways, and greens with Seashore Paspalum grass, which provides bright, vibrant color and superior playing surfaces.
- Boca Raton offers curated self-guided walking tours of the downtown area for those who are new to the area, so you can explore some of the city’s hidden gems at your own pace. Dive into foodie heaven on the Food Lover’s Trail, explore the city’s cutest shops and latest trends on the Shopping Tour, or check out some of the downtown parks and recreation spaces on the Outdoor Tour. All walking tours feature various attractions and are contained within a few miles radius of the downtown area.
Boca Raton History
Dive into Boca Raton’s rich history and learn more about the original Spanish settlers. Boca Raton’s rich history can be observed all around in the city’s beautiful Mediterranian-style architecture, parks, or take a step back in time to the roaring 1920s and explore stunning locations like the gorgeous and vibrant historic Colony Hotel and Cabaña, built in 1929. The hotel features the original 1926 staff operated elevator, as well as the original telephone switchboard.
Get a feel for what daily life was like from 1915 to 1935 by visiting the historic Cason Cottage Museum, just north of Old School Square. Take a cottage tour and learn more about local history, South Florida lifestyle, climate, and architecture. The cottage is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm, November through April.
Visit the Boca Raton Historical Society and Museum for more historical information about this beautiful city. Track Boca’s residents throughout history and learn more about the original Tequesta Indian residents, Spanish settlers, Japanese immigrants, and the modern city dweller today.
Mizner Park in Boca Raton
Parks and Recreation
Boca Raton offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for people of all ages to enjoy! Located right on the Atlantic coast and surrounded by palm trees and tropical splendor, it’s easy to wander off into some corner of paradise here, and Boca Raton offers premier access to many stunning outdoor spaces and recreational facilities.
You can find residents of Boca Raton hanging out at the beach, lounging under umbrellas or working on their tans, enjoying leisurely sports like golf or shuffleboard, or practicing kick-flips at Tim Huxhold skate park.
- Patch Reef Park is a beautiful space on the banks of Wyman Lake. This simple recreational space offers pirate-themed playground access, picnic tables, walking trails, lots of beautiful trees for shade, and lakeside benches to sit and observe wildlife. This park is also home to the James A. Rutherford Community and Events Center, offers a baseball diamond and a football field, and has multiple tennis courts.
- For you and your furry friends, for outdoor adventures, check out either Mizner Bark Dog Park or Bark Park Dog Beach. Both Mizner Bark Dog Park, located at 751 Banyan Trail, and Bark Park Dog Beach, located at 3001 N. State Road require park permits, which you can easily acquire at any of the three community centers located around Boca Raton. Dogs can enjoy off-leash play in enclosed areas where they can play with other pups.
- Sugar Sand Park is another fantastic recreation area offering multiple activities to enjoy. Come during the day and enjoy large grassy areas and shade-providing trees, picnic pavilions and barbecue pits, nature trails, and even a carousel - only $1 per ride! The park offers a children’s Science Exploratorium, a roller hockey rink, a 14,000 square foot gymnasium and field house, basketball courts, and volleyball courts. Come to Sugar Sand Park in the evening and take in a performance at the Willow Theater, which offers tickets to family shows, dance and musical performances, and plays.
Check out Boca Raton’s recreation magazine, The Recreator, for more outdoor recreation activities and park schedules!
The Boca Green Market is a beautiful, local farmer’s market located in the City Hall parking lot at 201 West Palmetto Park. The market is open rain or shine from 8 am to 1 pm every Saturday between November and May. Featuring a diverse array of over 40 local produce vendors, meats and cheeses, local artists, prepared foods, baked goods, gorgeous flowers, and even handmade pottery! You’re sure to find whatever you’re looking for here.
Take advantage of free car parking, or ride your bike over and park it at one of the city-provided bike racks. Dogs are allowed as long as they are friendly and remain on a leash. Every market features live music from local artists, and many vendors provide ever enticing free samples.
One of the perks of living in Boca Raton is its proximity to nearby tourist attractions and landmarks. Whether you’re finding events in Boca or venturing out into the surrounding area, you’re never far from fun!
- Miami: For the perfect day trip getaway, drive an hour on I-95 South or hop on the East Coast Railway and take the 2-hour train trip to this thriving metropolis. Show off your bikini body at Miami Beach, or head over to South Beach and check out the stunning Art Deco Historic District. Either provide gorgeous backdrops for an impromptu photoshoot. For European flavor on a local budget, check out the Vizcaya project, a stunning Italian Renaissance-style villa in South Miami. And obviously, you’ll have to end the day with a coffee and cigar down at Calle Ocho in Little Havana.
- Everglades National Park: For more of a nature-adventure, drive an hour and a half south from Boca Raton to Everglades National Park. The Everglades protect one of Florida's most unique natural features. This 1.5 million-acre expanse of swamplands is home to alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and birds.
- Disneyworld: If you’d like to check out the happiest place on earth, take an easy 3-hour drive up I-95 North to Orlando, Florida. Spend the day hanging out with Mickey and friends, riding roller coasters, or exploring the fantasy lands of Harry Potter World and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Credit: Charlie Anzman
If you find you need a little more than a beach to relax, Boca features nearly 50 salons and spas within the downtown radius for whenever you need a little pick-me-up and revitalization. From massage to hair salons to spa treatments to facials and manicures, Boca Raton’s got everything you need to treat yourself.
There’s always live music to be found in the evenings around Boca Raton. Put on your dancing shoes and boogie the night away to retro classics at Platform’s Retro Dance Club. Or if you’re in more of mellow jazz, blues, and rock n’ roll mood, head to The Funky Biscuit to check out local artists and cover bands.
For those interested in live local sports, Florida Atlantic University’s Division I athletics program is always offering tickets to local sporting events. With men’s teams offering game tickets to football, soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, or swimming and diving, and women’s teams offering tickets to basketball, beach volleyball, soccer, softball games, and spirit competition, you’re sure to find an event to attend year-round. Come and tailgate at FAU stadium before heading in to cheer on the Owls and show off that Paradise pride.
As you can see, Boca Raton offers a wide variety of known and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. For these reasons and more, Boca Raton is a stunning, luxurious location for any prospective homeowner wishing to invest in a slice of paradise in Palm Beach County and the greater coastal area of Southeast Florida.