Just as New Year's Eve can make one feel like a loser for not attending the most amazing party ever, Fourth of July has a way of making one feel like a slouch should a backyard barbecue fail to factor into holiday plans. But you needn't write off your Fourth just because you don't have a backyard and a grill to call your own. With some careful planning and a willingness to rise and shine early on Wednesday, July 4, you may be able to snag a space at one of the many grills available for public use throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties.
To help you narrow your choices for your Fourth of July 'cue, Clean Plate Charlie has assembled a select list of parks with grilling facilities available to the general public. Some can be reserved ahead of time with a deposit, while others are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Wherever you wind up, find some useful grilling tips here and here, plus a list of five easy recipes here. And in case the whole grilling thing doesn't materialize, here's a list of restaurants, bars, and festivals where you can spend the holiday in South Florida.
C.B. Smith Park, 900 N. Flamingo Road, Pembroke Pines; 954-357-5170
There are more than 20 shelters available to rent and many have grills. Call ahead to make a reservation; a deposit is required. In addition to eating hot dogs and hamburgers, occupy your day at the park's adjacent Paradise Cove Water Park or the golf center.
Hollywood North Beach Park, 3601 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood; 954-357-5187
A few things to know (according to the park's staff) if you plan on hitting this immensely popular park for the Fourth of July: Get there early in the morning if you want to score a spot with a grill, because the line to enter the park will likely start before they open at 8 a.m. Also note that the Turtle Cafe in the park will be closed that day, so plan accordingly.
Okeeheelee Park, 7715 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-966-6611
This behemoth of a public park space has disc golf for the stoners, a kick-ass nature trail for the tree-huggers, myriad sports facilities for the active types, and water attractions for all. There's also a variety of picnic areas and some of them have grills. Call ahead if you want to reserve a shelter with a grill.
Quiet Waters Park, 401 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach; 954-357-5100
When not overrun with busty maidens and gents hoisting huge turkey legs aloft, Quiet Waters (site of the annual Ren Fest) is a multi-use public park with tons of picnic areas and charcoal grills. They're free to use, but are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you'd better haul ass in the morning if you want to secure a spot. There are also a few shelters available for reserve.
Sugar Sand Park, 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton; 561-347-3900
If you're a resident of the City of Boca Raton (or can convince a Boca buddy to join you on Wednesday) you can reserve a pavilion at this multi-use park. There's a charge of $50 to $75 to reserve a picnic pavilion (which comes with at least one grill). Or, you can cross your fingers, hope for the best, and arrive early in the day and claim any unreserved pavilion on a first-come, first-served basis.
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TopeeKeegee Yugnee Park, 3300 N. Park Road, Hollywood; 954-357-8811
There are picnic shelters with grills available by reservation, or you can arrive early to scope out the grounds and snag one of the first-come, first-served grill areas. The park has a water park and other picnic areas, plus two miles of paved paths to walk, bike, or run off the meal.