Beaches and Outdoors

By KARA FRANKER

A trip to Florida isn’t complete without some much-needed beach time.

Spend the day swimming, kayaking and snorkeling in crystal-clear water at Bahia Honda State Park, located between the historic Seven Mile Bridge and Big Pine Key in the lower Florida Keys. This stretch of sand has been listed many times among the best beaches in the USA.

Home to two sprawling beach parks, Key Biscayne is perfect for oceanfront family picnics. Visit either Crandon Park Beach at the entrance to the island, or Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park at the island’s end. At Bill Baggs, climb the steps of the historic Cape Florida Lighthouse (c. 1825) or kayak along the water’s edge. Or fish on the seawall of Biscayne Bay where you can spot the remnants of Stiltsville, a collection of historical structures on stilts hovering over the water that dates back to the Prohibition-era rumrunner days.

Of course, in Miami, you’ll not want to miss the sparkling sands of South Beach. Families love the kid-friendly facilities and mini splash and play area at South Pointe Park Beach, while those who want to be in the “scene” head to the beach along Ocean Drive. Farther north, the beach in Surfside is a favorite among locals because of its laid- back vibe and access to a waterfront walking path. Or check out Oleta River State Park Beach, ideal for kayaking and canoeing.

Famous for its bustling beachfront district and an entertainment destination in its own right, Hollywood beach features a variety of sidewalk cafés, boutiques and ice cream parlors—so go for a dip and then cruise the Broadwalk. Spend the day boating or canoeing at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach, a popular turtle nesting spot.

Drawing spring break crowds for years, Fort Lauderdale Beach runs the length of North Atlantic Boulevard and makes the perfect beach day easy because of its proximity to a variety of restaurants and amusing attractions. Seeking a quiet respite? Enjoy serenity in the shaded picnic areas at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which also features monthly mangrove habitat walks.

In Boca Raton, the Daggerwing Nature Center features a 3,000-square-foot exhibit hall surrounded by 40 acres of natural area to explore.

Check out the panoramic views from the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum at Jupiter Beach Park.

In Juno Beach, venture out on a wildlife turtle walk then navigate through the rare coastal hammock and natural dune systems, part of Florida’s most precious habitat.