In a tropical forest across the street from Fort Lauderdale Beach, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is the former estate of Chicago attorney Hugh Taylor Birch. Built in 1940, Birch’s home, TerraMar, displays both Mediterranean and Art Deco architecture and serves as the visitor’s center.
Location: Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fees: $4-6 per vehicle
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Leashed pets welcome
Birch enjoyed gardens, and the center of this island has tropical gardens gone wild from the TerraMar days. The Exotic Trail leads you past such botanical oddities as arjan from India, natal plum, and the Tarzan-evoking zulu fig. The lofty fig dominating the main picnic area is a forest onto itself, with a crown spread of 173 feet.
The loop road around the park is perfect for in-line skating and bicycling. Beach crossovers provide access to Fort Lauderdale Beach, picnic spots are everywhere, and you can rent a canoe to ply the waters of a coastal dune lake. Across the street is Birch’s original Florida homestead from 1895, where he built a grand home and gardens for his daughter Helen and her husband, Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett, in 1919; it’s now open as a private historic attraction, the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.
Explore the park
- Beach Hammock Trail- In the southern corner of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, the Beach Hammock Trail traverses a maritime hammock dense with sea grapes, myrsine, gumbo limbo, and stopper
- Exotic Trail- Running down the middle of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, the Exotic Trail traces a path through the exotic gardens of the former estate of Hugh Taylor Birch, Terramar