One of my favorite things about staying in Hollywood, Florida was the easy access to Broward County’s truly awesome and diverse park system.
The parks are free during the week and inexpensive during the weekend (check website for pricing), and there are so many to choose from!
+Anne Kolb Nature Center for its mangrove hiking trails filled with little crabs and birds that live in them.
It has a few unique trails on either side of the road and a tower that lets you see for miles.
+Kayaking is available right down the block at West Lake Park. There are three miles of well marked mangrove trails filled with wading birds and lovely sights.
+There is walking/biking access to Hollywood Beach, less than a mile away – this was the ONLY form of free beach parking I discovered in South Florida and I was very lucky it was so close to my accommodation. This popular beach stretches for miles and you never know what you’re going to see. After a storm there were Portuguese man of war and lionfish blown ashore.
On any given day you’ll see plenty of osprey fishing, frigatebirds, and a plethora of pelicans. On a day I walked to the pier I saw vibrant crabs and all sorts of fish.
There is the famous boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants. Overall wonderful beach and never too crowded, you can always walk to find some serenity.
+Tree Tops Park and adjoining Pine Island Ridge have the longest trails and are quite magical under the live oaks covered in Spanish moss.
+Fern Forest has a nice boardwalk through a swamp environment.
+Long Key Natural Area has a few short paths, but what I loved most was the exceptionally gorgeous pond.
+Topeekeegee Yugnee Park has a 2 mile paved loop and a lot of other amenities such as a seasonal water park, work out station, grills and pavilions. Parrots, coots, and Muscovy ducks are common. You may spot an occasional Egyptian duck as well.
+Snake Warrior Island Park has a peaceful ½ mile paved loop around a lake which is great for bird watching as you run, filled with moorhens, coots, ibis, and even iguanas that jump from trees into the water making quite the diversion! There is a fitness center and you can read historical facts about the island and its inhabitants.
For viewing Florida Burrowing Owls:
+Brian Piccalo Park is a smaller sized park which had an active nest and many unmanned, they are marked with yellow tape. The owl outside of its hut did not seem phased by people. Otherwise the park is mostly athletic fields including a velodrome.
+Vista View Park had a few active nests with more shy birds who would retreat into their nests. The nests were a bit harder to find in the vast park, but I enjoyed walking up the HILLS – a rarity in South Florida, and spotting other birds including a kestral (my first!), Egyptian geese, woodpeckers, jays, and wading birds.
There is also a fitness trail, and checking out the Airfield/Paragliding field.