Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park sits on a beautiful barrier island. You can drive through 180 acres (73 hectares) and find a spot to soak up the sun for the day. If you crave action, hike or cycle along the nature trails, or canoe in the lake. The park’s white sand beach is quieter than many other public beaches around Fort Lauderdale.
Start at the Terramar Visitor Center for an introduction to the history of the area, as well as information about flora and fauna you will find here. The park takes its name from Hugh Taylor Birch, who saw the beauty of this coastal area and bought three miles (five kilometers) of undeveloped coastline for a dollar an acre in 1895. His winter home, built in 1940, is an example of Mediterranean-style art deco architecture, uncommon in this part of Florida. Today the building is the park’s visitor center. Note that the center has been closed for renovations; check for its reopening date on the Florida State Parks website.
Free, ranger-guided walks are held on certain days, covering a variety of topics. Contact the Ranger Station for departure points and a schedule of tour topics. The Ranger Station also offers a self-guided audio tour you can download to your cell phone. (It’s free but a donation is appreciated.) On the three-quarter-mile (1.2-kilometer) Mid Trail learn about the park’s history, ecology, and wildlife. Birch introduced some of the flora and fauna himself.
See more native species along the 20-minute Coastal Hammock Trail. Signs along the way point out significant plants, such as white stopper tree, which gives off a pungent, musky scent.
Rent a canoe and explore the mile-long (1.6-kilometer) freshwater lagoon known as Long Lake. Fishing is allowed along the inter-coastal waterway on the west side of the park. M. Cruz Rentals has an outlet inside the park, with bicycles and rollerblades for rent, plus Segway tours.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a 10-minute drive northwest of central Fort Lauderdale. Bring a packed lunch or picnic basket as there are plenty of facilities, including restrooms and grills. The park is open every day of the year.