The coastal city of Boca Raton is located in Palm Beach County, Florida, about 20 miles north of Fort Lauderdale and 30 miles south of Palm Beach. The city is also situated about 50 miles north of Miami. Highways servicing the city include U.S. Route 1, which passes through the city's downtown and commercial districts; U.S. Route 441 which crosses through some of its agricultural areas; and Interstate I-95 which bisects the city from north to south. The meaning of the city's name is often mistakenly interpreted as the literal translation of the Spanish "Boca Raton" ("Rat's Mouth") but the origin of the name is more likely derived from a more colloquial translation, "Thieves Inlet", which probably refers to a nearby geographical inlet in the Biscayne Bay area.
Incorporated in 1925, Boca Raton has experienced a steady rate of substantial growth since that time. In the 1930s and 40s, the city became known for its winter vegetable crop, particularly its prolific output of green beans. In 1942, the Army Air Corps established its only war-time radar training school in Boca Raton, bringing tens of thousands of servicemen as well as families and civilian employees to the then-tiny community. The 1950s saw the development of two amusement parks which are now defunct: Africa U.S.A. (a wild animal park in which the tourists rode a "Jeep Safari Train" through the park with no fences separating tourists from animals) and Ancient America. In the 1960s, a South Florida land boom resulted in a population spurt and it was during this decade that IBM moved one of its computer facilities to Boca Raton, the same facility where the very first IBM PC (personal computer) was developed in 1981. Boca Raton today is enjoying a steady increase in its industrial base and is now a major hub of innovative computer development.
Attractions in Boca Raton
One of South Florida's leading cultural institutions is the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The 44,000 square foot facility attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to its galleries and programs, which include permanent and traveling exhibitions, an educational gallery, and an expanded sculpture garden. The Boca Raton Historical Society Museum is housed in a restored Mediterranean Revival style building featuring a gold dome, cypress millwork, and fan-lit windows. The Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex, named for an indigenous hardwood tree with continuously shedding bark, is a 20-acre complex protecting one of the few surviving forest islands (also known as coastal hammocks) in South Florida. Visitors can walk on a half-mile long elevated boardwalk terminating at a 40-foot tall observation tower. The Sports Immortals Museum houses a huge collection of sports memorabilia, including notable mementos encompassing several varieties of sports. Annual events in Boca Raton include the Meet Me Downtown Festival, a fun filled two day festival which includes a flower show, live entertainment, festival foods, and a children's area; and the Boca Raton Holiday Boat Parade, a city tradition for over 25 years, where magnificent boats make their way on the Intracoastal Waterway from the Boca Raton-Delray Beach border south to the Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge.
Hockey fans can watch NHL action less than 30 minutes away in the city of Sunrise, where the Florida Panthers play their home games. Other high quality professional sports are less than an hour away in the city of Miami, home to the following major league pro sports teams:
- Miami Dolphins: National Football League
- Miami Heat: National Basketball Association
- Florida Marlins: Major League Baseball