Most places in South Florida you will have to pay for beach parking. You can kill two birds with one stone by visiting a state park beach if you want to hit the trails for a hike, and maybe do some paddling too!
Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, 6503 N Ocean Dr, Dania Beach, FL 33004
A sandy trail sandwiched between coastal hammocks is your main route for hiking. There were plenty of wildflowers and butterflies to match.
Take the side trails that land you beside Whiskey Creek, a great place to paddle and check out the mangroves.
Keep your eyes peeled for marsh rabbits that like to dart into the roots and raccoons who frequent the trails.When you’re finished running around, hit the quiet stretch of beach situated between two piers. On one side just out of the park boundaries there is the Dania Beach pier, you have to pay to walk out on it. The other side is the northern most point of Hollywood Beach and the pier is free. Even if you don’t want to walk all the way there, you can drive the road down and park. I would highly recommend strolling down this way because you can see colorful tropical fish, vibrant crabs, and all sorts of sea birds.
Watch the boats and huge cruise ships make their way into the ocean. You may come across a plaque in an unsuspecting picnic area which tells the historically significant of the park, it was once the segregated colored beach.
The park was re-named for civil rights activists who petitioned for beach access.
Hugh Birch Taylor State Park, 3109 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Take a shaded walk through the native maritime tropical hardwood hammocks,
but don’t miss the epic Banyan.
There is a free audio tour to learn more about the flora and fauna. Enjoy a stroll beside the waters of the intracoastal, or bike the paved path to get a quicker view.
You never know what you’re going to find,
or who you might see. It was at this park I spotted my only gopher tortoise in the Miami area (I saw LOTS on the Gulf), a keystone species whose dwelling digging skills help house over 300 other critters.
You can paddle the mile long fresh water lagoon to get a different perspective. On the other side of the highway is the beach and there is a convenient tunnel to get there. I really enjoyed the Fort Lauderdale Beach, different from Hollywood with sugary white sand.
There were jetski rentals right at the beach access point if you’re looking for more adventure.
John Macarthur Beach State Park, 10900 Jack Nicklaus Dr, North Palm Beach, FL 33408
A bit farther north is another wonderful park. Be sure to check out the Visitors Center and let me know if Kai the loggerhead sea turtle (native to the area) has reached her goal length for release! She was very cute and tiny when I was visited.
There are some nature trails through the woods, admittedly I was too tired from hiking elsewhere that day to check them out. The main reason I was here was to kayak! The barrier is beautiful and I really wanted to get out on the water to see some bird action. However, there was a long wait for renting late on a weekend afternoon so just took to the beach. I did take the mile long boardwalk to get to the beach.
It isn’t very crowded because the walk is too daunting for a lot of people (there is a tram that runs from 10-4), so it’s my kind of place! The gorgeous two miles of beach and expansive dunes were worth the visit.
This is a really nice place to relax and swim if you find yourself in the area.