Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Ask any real Floridian about alligators and you'll hear an epic story about how an alligator showed up one day to swim in the backyard pool while Grandpa was grilling barbecue chicken. Or that time when a family of gators stole someone's lunch at Lake Alice. Alligator stories are one of the many things that set the old-timers apart from the recent transplants. For those who don't have a legit story yet, it's time to head to Everglades Holiday Park and get to business. At this quiet nature preserve, you can encounter those gnarly beasts by airboat or simply by walking around. You'll have plenty of photo ops and finally get that perfect Facebook cover photo you've been seeking all your life. Just don't get too close. (Gah!)
Now, this stunt will require preparation and a friend or two to document it. First, search the internet and purchase a chicken suit. Once your order arrives, tell your friends to meet you at Anglin's Fishing Pier. Put on your chicken suit and let your adrenaline slowly boil over. Go to the pier and run down it like a goddamned chicken boss. Jump.
What it lacks in amenities, Fort Lauderdale's Esplanade Park makes up for with three assets: location, location, location. You have to thank long-gone city planners who were visionary enough to set aside green space in the center of downtown, steps from Las Olas Boulevard and facing the New River. The grassy lawn is good for picnicking and makes a great waterfront perch for watching yachts parade by. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Museum of Discovery and Science, and an IMAX theater are all within walking distance, and the park is a popular spot for events and concerts, including regular jazz brunches and the annual New Times Beerfest. Once you've sufficiently chilled out, follow the brick path into the Arts and Entertainment district for a quick bite or a cold beer.
Readers' choice: Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Military Trail Nature Area features 20 acres of open greenery perfect for an afternoon run, a meditation session, or a much-needed break from reality. The trail highlights old Florida history, as it was built to act as an access road for soldiers in the mid-1830s, during the second Seminole War. It's also known for having one of the rarest plant communities in Broward, with scrubby flatwoods, pine and oak trees, and even a few bald cypresses. With barely any palm trees, you might even feel like you've stepped out of Florida for a hot minute.
The beach is fun. The beach is great. But getting to the beach can be a major pain in the ass. You have to lug around chairs and coolers, along with your bottle of sunscreen. And wallet. And keys. And radio. Then when you get to the beach, you have to step onto the searing-hot sand as you navigate oily bodies to try to find a spot. Then you need a towel to lie on and an umbrella, unless you're one of those people who likes to slowly broil to death. Then you have to get back up to go buy food on the Broadwalk when you're hungry or when nature calls. It's a goddamned chore. But it doesn't have to be — because Hollywood North Beach Park is right there to alleviate the pain-in-the-ass production that is a day at the beach. It has a bevy of benches with grills, so you can just bring your own food to cook. It's also shaded by trees, so no umbrella is required. There's also a restroom. The park even has the Turtle Cafe, if you should get a hankering for a hot dog. Best of all, it's literally steps from the beach. The park also extends across A1A, where you can watch the boats, fish, have a picnic, or just people-watch. You can either park at the meters or inside the park itself for $8 on weekdays ($10 on weekends). If you arrive after 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, the price drops to $6. We knew you'd love a deal.
Readers' choice: Fort Lauderdale Beach
Flashes of neon blue, orange, and yellow dart in and out of your foggy peripheral vision. A school of grunts appears on your left, and it's getting awfully close. Wait, is that a sea turtle? No, just a coral. Darn. You settle for chasing after the little pufferfish that just swam by and pretending you're an extra on the set of Finding Nemo. The past few weeks have had you itching for some Vitamin Sea, and the Twin Ledges moorings never fail you. Located an easy two miles north of the Port Everglades inlet, these 16 mooring buoys are teeming with marine life, and the visibility is typically good. Blue and yellow angelfish, parrotfish, lobster, and yes, the occasional sea turtle have no qualms with letting you drop by for a visit every once in a while. Don't forget to grab your GoPro and get to snapping. #snorkelselfieDegrees/Minutes N 26 7.750 W 80 5.460
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds N 26 7 45.000 W 80 5 27.600
Readers' choice: Red Reef Park