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Hugh Taylor Birch Park
3109 East Sunrise Boulevard Fort Lauderdale, 33304 (954) 564-4521. Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.

In 1893, the Chicago attorney came to south Florida in search of a secluded area for his home. He settled in a small village called Ft. Lauderdale that included a store, a few houses and the remains of the old Fort Lauderdale Army Post.

Purchasing oceanfront property for about a dollar an acre, he eventually owned a three-and-a-half mile stretch of land along the beach. In 1940, at age 90, he built his last home here. He called his 180-acre estate Terramar, "land to sea." Wishing to preserve his subtropical paradise from the development that was springing up all around it, Birch donated his estate for use as a public park.

On July 1, 1949, Hugh Taylor Birch State Recreation Area officially opened to the public. It is now an island of trees and greenery in the middle of urban Ft. Lauderdale.

Easterlin Park
1000 N.W. 38th St., Oakland Park 33309. (954) 938-0610. 47 acres.
This 47-acre site was acquired in 1944 and developed in the early '60s as a 44-campsite county facility called Cypress Park. It was renamed John D. Easterlin Park, after the former County Commissioner, in April 1965 and later became a Designated Urban Wilderness Area.

Relatively undisturbed buffer areas of thick wild coffee, ferns, dahoon holly, cabbage palm, oak, and red maple shield the park from surrounding developed areas. Cypress trees 250 years old and 100 feet tall are common in the park, which is also home to such wildlife as ducks, squirrels, and peacocks.

Easterlin's features include 55 RV and tent rental campsites, 45 with water and electricity, as well as a shower/restroom facility, playgrounds, and the æ-mile Woodland Nature Trail. There is one 40-capacity picnic shelter with grill, water, electricity, and picnic tables; additional tables and grills are located in shaded picnic areas near the park's entrance. Fishing is permitted along the shore of a lake (licenses required for ages 16 and up), and there are facilities for basketball, horseshoes, and shuffleboard.

Hollywood North Beach Park
3501 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood 33019. (954) 926-2444. 56 acres.
Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, this 56-acre site stretches along a thin strand of land along famous A1A. The east side of the park provides access to the City of Hollywood's public beach and its 2.2-mile Broadwalk. The northwest section includes four picnic areas with tables and grills and a 1,600-foot boardwalk along the Intracoastal, where fishing is permitted. Just south of the boardwalk, there are two 80+ capacity rental picnic shelters, each with water, electricity, tables, and a grill.

Additional picnic areas can be found in the park's main section, along with a 60-foot observation tower, a walking/biking/jogging path, playgrounds, snack bars, and a volleyball area. There's also a sea turtle hatchery with holding tanks, part of the Endangered Sea Turtle Protection and Relocation Program. Group educational programs are available by request.

Markham Park and Range
16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise 33326. (954) 389-2000. 666 acres.
Opened in 1973, this sprawling 666-acre park is perched at the edge of the Everglades Conservation Area, which is accessible from one of the park's two boat ramps. A series of interlocking lakes offers opportunities for fishing (licenses required for ages 16 and up) and the use of personal watercraft, and there's a swimming pool complex with mist pool, snack bar, lockers, and showers/restrooms.

One of the site's most prominent features is its outdoor target range, built in 1984. The complex includes 50-yard and 100-meter rifle/pistol ranges, skeet/trap fields, a mile-long sporting clays course, two pro shops, and a clubhouse with snack bars and a meeting room. Among the park's other distinctive amenities are the Fox Observatory, a model airplane field, and a mountain bike trail. A large campground includes 86 sites for RV and tent camping, eight with full hookups and 78 with water and electricity.

Athletic facilities include a tennis/racquetball center, two basketball courts, a biking/jogging path, and volleyball areas. Bikes and boats are available to rent, and there are nature and equestrian trails.
Two 120+ capacity and three 60+ capacity picnic shelters-all with grills, tables, and water, two with electricity-are available for rentals, and there are other picnic tables and grills scattered throughout the park. A 1,600-square-foot clubhouse adjacent to the target range can also be rented.

Plantation Heritage Park
1100 S. Fig Tree Ln., Plantation 33317. (954) 791-1025. 90 acres.
Formerly a University of Florida agricultural experimentation farm, this 90-acre park retains a strong agricultural/horticultural theme. There are tropical flowering trees and palms throughout, along with displays of local landscape plants, and the Broward County Audubon Society's Anne Kolb Memorial Trail winds through re-created representative plant communities. A rare fruit area is maintained by park staff and the Rare Fruit and Vegetable Council.
The park, which opened in 1984, also offers picnic areas, playgrounds, nature trails, and a fitness trail. The 2,000-square-foot Fountain Room can be reserved for meetings and other activities, and there are three picnic shelters with 60+ capacity, and nine with 40+ capacity. Eight of these have electricity, 11 are with water, and all have grills and tables.
Bikes, boats, and other sporting equipment are available for rental, and fishing is permitted from the shore of the park's lake (license required for ages 16 and up). In the park's extension on the south side of Peters Road, a historic gazebo overlooks a duck pond with waterfall.

Secret woods Nature Center
2701 W. State Rd. 84, Dania 33312. (954) 791-1030. 56 acres.
Purchased with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy, this Designated Urban Wilderness Area was Broward County's first interpretive nature center.

The 56-acre park, which opened in September 1978, comprises three vegetative communities found along, and influenced by, the New River: a freshwater cypress-maple wetland, a pond apple and mangrove community along the river, and, at a slightly higher elevation, a laurel oak hammock.

The nature center's two trails are the Laurel Oak Trail, a 1,200-foot wood-chipped trail that runs through the oak hammock, and the New River Trail, a 3,200-foot wheelchair-accessible boardwalk that goes through the oak hammock and freshwater and saltwater wetlands. An exhibit building contains interpretive displays on the park's flora and fauna, along with an active beehive. An 1,800-square-foot assembly hall (135 capacity), with a full kitchen and tables and chairs, is available for rental, which also includes use of the adjacent open-air amphitheater (135 capacity).

Tradewinds Park
3600 W. Sample Rd., Coconut Creek 33073. (954) 968-3880. 599 acres.
At 599 acres, this is one of Broward County's largest and most diverse parks. On the south side of Sample Road, the park includes batting cages, disc and miniature golf, nature trails, a lake for fishing, boat and bike rentals, a biking/jogging path, and soccer/football and softball fields available for rental. Butterfly World, a walk-through tropical garden with thousands of live butterflies and a hummingbird aviary, is also on the south side.

On the park's north side, the Tradewinds Stable provides equestrian programs, and the Tradewinds Educational Farm include barnyard animals and a farmhouse museum and is available for guided tours for preschool through middle school students. The north side is also home to a model steam railroad, horses and the handicapped, and the annual Holiday Fantasy of Lights, a drive-through light display that runs from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day.

Both sides of the park offer playgrounds, snack bars, and picnic areas. Rental facilities include a 200+ capacity pavilion, along with picnic shelters-one 120+ capacity, five 60-100 capacity; two 40+ capacity, and one 25+ capacity. All have grills, water, and tables, and eight have electricity.

Tree Tops Park
3900 S.W. 100th Ave., Davie 33328. (954) 370-3750. 356 acres.
The 356 acres of this suburban park range from 23 acres of restored freshwater marsh accessible by a 1,000-foot boardwalk to the 101-acre Pine Island Ridge, an archaeological site that includes equestrian and nature trails and is the highest natural elevation (29 feet) in Broward County.

Two other nature trails (one with an observation tower), a sensory awareness trail, a biking/jogging path, and additional equestrian trails wind through the park, and there are playgrounds and picnic tables and grills throughout the area. Two 100+ capacity and three 50+ capacity picnic shelters, all with water, electricity, tables, and grills, are available for rental. The 3,440-square-foot building at Tree Tops Center includes rental meeting rooms, an outdoor pavilion, and kitchen facilities.

Elsewhere in the park, there's a butterfly garden, a gopher tortoise preserve, a sculpture dedicated to the Seminole leader Sam Jones (Abiaka), and Safety Town, a miniature two-block village designed to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety to children. There are also volleyball areas and a marina that offers boat and sports equipment rentals and a snack bar.

T.Y .Park
3300 N. Park Rd., Hollywood 33021. (954) 985-1980. 150 acres.
The Seminole name of this 150-acre urban park means "meeting or gathering place," and one of the park's amenities is a 375-square-foot rental meeting cabin with picnic area that can accommodate 300+ people. There's also a lakeside gazebo, along with one 200+ capacity picnic shelter, four 90+ capacity, eight 40+ capacity, and one 20+ capacity, all with water, electricity, grills, and tables.

The park's Whispering Pines Campground includes 60 rental RV and tent sites, 48 with water and electricity. Showers/restrooms, laundry facilities, a playground, and the Trading Post mini grocery store are nearby.

Elsewhere in the park are Safety Town, a miniature two-block village designed to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety to children, and the Falling Waters Swimming Lagoon, which includes a waterfall, bathhouse, and a freshwater beach. The new Castaway Island water playground complex features two pools, a picnic area, a concession stand, and restrooms. Wild Dolphins, a Kevin MacIvor fiberglass sculpture that's part of the Public Art and Design program, is also in this complex. T.Y. also offers bikes and several kinds of boats for rent, two hard tennis courts, two basketball courts, a biking/jogging path, volleyball areas, and concessions.

West Lake Park/Anne Kolb Nature Center

751 Sheridan St., Hollywood 33019. (954) 926-2480. 1,500+ acres.
The 88 acres that make up the West Lake Park Recreational Area, on the south side of Sheridan Street, include picnic areas, a biking/jogging/fitness trail, tennis and racquetball courts, volleyball areas, and a playground. Two 45+ capacity picnic shelters are available for rental, and there's a marina where several kinds of boats can be rented. The Manatee Play Area is a children's wheelchair-accessible playground.

The rest of the West Lake Park/Anne Kolb Nature Center complex is a 1,400+ acre coastal mangrove wetland that's home to an abundance of plants and animals, including some threatened and endangered species. Five boat trails offer access to this wilderness area for fishing and sightseeing (electric motors only).

The Anne Kolb Nature Center, opened in 1996 and named after the late County Commissioner and environmentalist, includes a five-level observation tower, picnic areas, a fishing pier, two nature trails, and an outdoor amphitheater (250 capacity). An exhibit hall features nature displays, a 3,500-gallon aquarium, and a 10-minute ecological-themed video, and the 6,060-square-foot Mangrove Hall (277 capacity), complete with kitchen facilities, can be rented for weddings, receptions, meetings, and other activities. Environmental boat tours depart from the nature center dock for 40-minute narrated excursions onto West Lake on a 32-foot shaded boat (42 capacity).



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