Best Place To Mountain-Bike 2000 | Markham Park | Sports & Recreation | South Florida
Look around and you'll notice we're a wee bit short on mountains round these parts. You'll also gather that the automobile reigns supreme -- otherwise why would we have given so much territory over to it? Tucked in here and there, however, are some very challenging places to get your wheels in the dirt. Markham Park is our favorite. For you weenies, er… novices, Markham offers easy trails with a few hills, a few rocks, and a turn or two. Intermediates get bigger hills, bigger rocks, and some wicked switchbacks. Advanced riders can confront what looks to be hell's own footpath: ruts, logs, loose gravel, and sharp turns. The best part about Markham is that all the trails are accessed off a main trail that winds around ponds and lakes filled with wading birds. If you get in over your head, you're never far from the main trail, where you can take a rest and contemplate the scenery while your buddies are huffing away.
For a place that bills itself as "The Venice of America," there aren't very many good places to paddle a canoe. There's a lot of water around, but on most bodies you'll have to dodge yachts and personal watercraft and deal with their wakes when you decide to hit the water under your own power. Thanks to the low height of the Broward Boulevard bridge, however, motorboats can't make it up this way, which is why this section of the New River offers peace, quiet, and scenery right in the heart of urban South Florida. Launch from little-used Delevoe Park, then head east under I95. Soon you'll find yourself in a lush landscape of pond apple and cypress trees and banks lined with vegetation instead of bulkheads. Between the park and Broward Boulevard are islands galore and channels that wind off the main stream. Check out the old Sweeting Estates, a 22-acre riverfront parcel right in the heart of Sistrunk that used to be home to a revival church but now just nestles quietly in the luxuriant growth. Go west from the park, and the New River turns into a canal, which dead-ends near the Swap Shop in Sunrise. In either case this stretch of river is one of the county's best-kept secrets.
Precious few things in life are as much unbridled fun as go-karts. You may be going only 15 miles per hour, but when you're an inch from the ground, it feels like 60. Driving quickly with so little power requires a certain skill, however; the idea is to cut the corners right at the apex, turning sharply to make a curve into more of a right angle. The Grand Prix course is a tight series of banked and flat turns. It's deceptively long and technically challenging. And there is no better feeling in the world than riding up on the back end of some teenage hotshot who fancies himself a Formula One trainee and stuffing him in a corner. When it comes to carting, age and experience trump youth and enthusiasm every time. We recommend you visit on "Full-Throttle Thursday" for unlimited kart riding from 6 to 10 p.m. You might just get good enough to drive in our league.

Once you've finished this ride, it may be tough to go back to the real world. The path of paved asphalt that stretches along A1A (North Ocean Drive) is lined with so many beautiful houses and beaches that you may just want to turn around and do it again. Beginning at the south end, near Deerfield Beach at the bridge after Camino Real, the trail, which is wide enough for bikes to pass in both directions, goes north along the west side of A1A. To your left you can see boats docked in marinas and cruising along the Intracoastal. To your right, the Atlantic Ocean peeks out from time to time behind the green foliage that lines the road. Along the way are several parks and recreational areas for those adventurers who like to explore. About four miles into the trip, a green, hilly golf course rests on either side of the path, with sparkling blue water as a backdrop. The last three miles are filled with the amazing architecture of seaside villas and homes, most capped with elegant Spanish roof tiles. At this point you can either continue north or take Atlantic Avenue west onto a street full of outside cafés and specialty shops in Delray. On a sunny spring day, this ride is the wheel thing.
The crushed-rock-and-shell roadbed is straight and flat, running for 12 miles atop the L-40 levy, which separates the Everglades from this stretch of southern Palm Beach County. The dike road, which opened to bikers and hikers last October, connects the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in the north to the south entrance of the refuge. A slight promontory in an otherwise flat landscape, the levy service road offers an expansive view of the seemingly endless river of grass, which stretches west to the bright blue horizon unchecked in its green sameness, save for a few stands of tall trees. The path, bordered on the east by thick mangroves, also offers close brushes with nature -- and plenty of bone-jarring abuse on the bumpy road. In the canal that curves along the edge of the Everglades just below the road, white egrets wade on gawky legs and dip their bills into the water as they hunt for food, unconcerned about passing bikers. But if you're cruising along at any decent speed, don't survey the scene for too long. The tight-packed dirt road is rife with washboard ripples and large chunks of rock that poke through the surface. This makes for a rough ride and creates the potential for a wipeout even on this benign-looking trail, which is bordered bucolically on either side by wild grasses and yellow and lavender flowers. With absolutely no shade, the road's white rock and sand glare brightly and amplify the heat of the day. This actually seems to be an attraction for the huge dragonflies that bask on the surface and flutter up as bike tires approach, continually flying into riders. Warning: There is no bathroom or potable water along the way.
We ain't never seen the varmints with our own eyes, but there's been tell of panther and black bear sightings along this section of the Florida Trail. There is no guarantee, but a shot at seeing these once-thriving Everglades species in their natural habitat adds extra excitement to hiking this 10-mile stretch of trail. Part of the state-long footpath, overall Section Two is a 60-mile chunk that snakes through the Everglades from I75 north to Lake Okeechobee, and it is maintained lovingly by the Broward County chapter of the Florida Trail Association. The portion with which we're concerned begins (or ends) at an I-75 rest stop and ends (or begins) a couple miles shy of Billie Swamp Safari on the Seminole Indian Reservation. (Passage into the Seminole portion of the trail requires advance authorization from the trail association or the Seminole Council, so be sure to obtain clearance.) In order to get from the rest stop parking lot to the trailhead, it's necessary to hike through a tunnel under the freeway. Once trailbound the scenery varies from thick pine woodland to open, grassy marshland, and along the way birds, deer, and small mammals are likely sights. The only hitch is that if you want to go only one way, you need to plan ahead for transportation at the other end.
Working late in his lab one night in 1869, Dr. Cyrus Teed of upstate New York saw God. And she was a hottie. Better yet, she showed him that the Earth is a hollow ball with the universe crammed inside, how to interpret the Bible, and how to turn lead into gold. So maybe the good doctor was inhaling the ether. But give the man credit for having the courage of his convictions. Based on these "illuminations," Teed gathered a band of followers and, like all good kooks before and since, headed straight for Florida. Once here he set about building a "New Jerusalem" that was to be home to ten million people. His plans didn't quite turn out, but Teed did manage to build a commune on the banks of the Estero River that supplied its own food, generated its own power, and operated a printing press. When Teed died in 1908, his followers came to their senses and drifted away. The last believer in "Koreshanity" (Koresh is Hebrew for "Cyrus") died in 1981. What's left of the utopian commune is now nestled in a lush state park where you can camp, canoe, hike, and ponder Teed's hallucinogenic view of creation. The park is located just south of Fort Myers, a two-hour drive from Fort Lauderdale.

Best Place To Play Competitive Sports Without Getting Sunstrok

Sports Mall

Two years ago Robert Todoroff's dream came to fruition. An athlete who didn't want to give up his favorite sports, including inline skating, during the most brutal stretches of Florida's heat and humidity, he envisioned an indoor center where entire sports fields could fit in one temperature-controlled building and play would be open to the public. Now entering its third year, the Sports Mall is still the best place for kids and adults to join numerous inline hockey, flag football, lacrosse, volleyball, soccer, and basketball leagues. Team registration fees vary by sport and by league, which include men's, women's, coed, youth, and corporate. But for just $20 per month, members can enjoy any of those sports during open-play sessions scheduled throughout the week -- all indoors in the a/c. Recently added to the center, a sports bar adds to the complex's other amenities, which include a spa, a sports medicine center, a dance school, a martial arts school, and a Gold's Gym location. Gold's and the other businesses charge their own fees, but Sports Mall members can use the gym on Sunday nights as part of their deal.

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