The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is a calm, green oasis of serenity that can restore your sense of inner peace, promote tranquility in your mind and soul and probably even make you a better person.
In other words, it’s the exact opposite of Miami.
This, then, is exactly why you should take a day trip north to Delray Beach to investigate the gardens and gallery and enjoy its many charms.
Sixteen acres of gardens surround the museum buildings (which include galleries and a restaurant). If you show up on the right Saturday, you can watch a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at the Seishin-an tea house (the Morikami also offers classes about the tea ceremony.).
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
At the Morikami, you are encouraged to seek enlightenment. This can be challenging when big groups of visitors are jabbering away behind you - and make no mistake, this will happen - or when your friends in Kendall are texting you to meet them for happy hour at Blue Martini. But find a bench, sit quietly and relax. Breathe deeply. And whatever you do, don’t think about the drive back to Miami.
Here’s what to do at the Morikami.
Stroll around the grounds
There are six separate gardens to visit. Take your time.
Cross the bridge to Yamato Island
Visit the original Morikami building, which includes ongoing exhibits, including one that features SO MANY KitKat flavors you’ve never heard of.
Meander through the bonsai garden
Did you know you could make a bonsai out of a sea grape? We didn’t either. You can learn a lot in this garden, one of three to be named a World Bonsai Friendship Federation Cooperation Center (which means it’s one of the world’s best public bonsai exhibits).
Savor the small surprises
Don’t rush through the gardens. You’re not on the Palmetto. You’re here for contemplation, people. Don’t miss the plaques and the poetry and the poignant memorial to astronaut Ellison Onizuka, the first person of Asian ancestry to travel in space, and the six other astronauts who died in the Challenger shuttle explosion.
Don’t do stupid stuff
They shouldn’t have to tell you this, but they do.
Check out the galleries
The galleries host rotating exhibitions of Japanese art. Through March 31, see “Hard Bodies: Contemporary Japanese Lacquer Sculpture.” Be sure not to miss the video of how some of these pieces are made. You are also going to want to do a drive-by of the Museum Store. The tea sets are amazing.
Eat lunch at the Cornell Cafe
You will likely have to wait a bit, especially on the weekend. But the line moves fast, and this Pan Asian bistro is worth hanging around for, especially if you get a spot on the patio on a perfect day. You can order soups, salads, appetizers and entrees of the teriyaki variety. But we recommend the bento boxes - they come in vegetarian, classic and sushi - for sharing.
Where: 4000 Morikami Park Rd. Delray Beach
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday for grounds and museum; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for Cornell Cafe
Cost $15 for adults; $13 for seniors; $9 for kids