What To See
Hugh Taylor Birch, after being blown ashore in a freak accident in 1893, believed this part of the world was where God wanted him. Subsequently, he purchased 3 miles of beachfront property (for $1 per acre) and developed it. Today, the picturesque Bonnet House stands as a tribute to Birch and features 35 subtropical acres overflowing with native and imported plants, including a vast orchid collection.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Recreation Area
This fragrant, lusciously tropical park contains one of the last significant maritime hammocks in Broward County. There are mangroves and a freshwater lagoon system (great for birding) and several endangered plants and animals (including the gopher tortoise and golden leather fern). You can fish, picnic, stroll the short Coastal Hammock Trail or bike the 1.9-mile park drive.
Fort Lauderdale Beach & Promenade
In the mid-1990s, this promenade received a $26-million renovation, and boy-oh-boy, does it show. A magnet for runners, inline skaters, walkers and cyclists, the wide, brick, palm tree–dotted pathway swoops along the beach, running parallel to A1A. You can also surf at Fort Lauderdale beach.
And what a beach it is, stretching from the southern edge of South Beach Park, where the cruise ships pass, north 7 miles to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Thirty public-parking facilities serve the smooth, white beaches here, recently declared among the nation's cleanest, safest and most accessible. The park's 27.5-acre South Beach is the most family friendly, regularly hosting basketball games, beach-volleyball tourneys and family reunions at the on-site grills and picnic tables.