Sports & Recreation

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Best Playground Best Beach in Palm Beach Best Beach in Broward Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2003 - John D. MacArthur Beach State Park Topeekeegee Yugnee Park

3300 N. Park Rd.

Hollywood 33021

954-985-1980 Lake Worth Municipal Beach and Fishing Pier

10 S. Ocean Blvd.

Lake Worth 33460

561-533-7367 Fort Lauderdale Beach

Readers' Choice: Spanish River Park

So what do you want from a picnic spot? A little quiet. A little solitude. A nice view. And, if you have kids, a playground nearby to keep them entertained while you soak up the best Mother Nature has to offer. If that's your criteria, you can't do better than John D. MacArthur State Park. The 336-acre idyll (161 acres are underwater) is the perfect place to peel off the stresses of work-a-day life. While some naturists have taken the park's allure literally, stripping off their bathing suits much to the dismay of park staff, this is no place for controversy. With towering pines, a nature center, a 1,600-foot boardwalk, playgrounds, and 1.8 miles of beach, the place allows visitors to do as much or as little as they like. And in this setting, less is truly more. Grab a picnic table. Grill a hotdog. Sit back. Enjoy.This place rocks if you're 7 years old or younger. It swings too. And it has one of those gizmos that kids hold with both hands as they slide across a rail while suspended eight feet in the air. There's also stuff from smaller, less-sophisticated playgrounds like slides, climbing bars, and bridges to walk over. Lots of 'em. There are even two sections to this monstrous facility, one for very little ones and one for big kids. Then there are the huge sun shades that keep it cool in the summer. And the facility, located in the center of TY's 150 acres, is close to dozens of other recreational activities like the water park at Castaway Island, boat rentals, tennis and basketball courts, picnic shelters, and a campground. The place's name means "meeting place" in the Seminole language; your kids are sure to meet others here. Thus, you can kick back and enjoy some peace -- a rarity on the parental front. On weekends, as many as 100 kids jam this place, so get there early. The park is open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the summer and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter. Admission is a buck a person. Kids under age 5, the real target audience for this sixth wonder of the juvenile world, are admitted free.

Memo to the Lake Worth City Commission: You have spent much of the past decade wringing your hands about what to do with the city's municipal beach. Stop it! Leave it alone. This throwback to the 1950s has everything any beachgoer could want. For those who are content to spend an afternoon soaking up the rays, there's 1,300-feet of uninterrupted white stuff. For those who begin to get bored shortly after the sunscreen kicks in, there are plenty of diversions, including a 962-foot fishing pier, surfing, volleyball, and even a pier-side restaurant where you can down a couple of cold ones while checking out the near-naked crowd. Like your water without salt? Venture across the street and do a couple of laps in the city's Olympic-sized swimming pool, then cool down by taking a stroll through a half-dozen kitschy shops. Improve it? How do you improve upon perfection?Two words: free parking.

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