Take a trip back in time and see how the South Florida subtropical coastal landscape might have looked in the 1940s! On Sunrise Boulevard, between the Intracoastal Waterway and Fort Lauderdale Beach lies Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.
The 180 acres of beachfront property was a gift from the late Hugh Taylor Birch in 1941. Taylor’s only stipulation when donating the land was that it be kept in the same natural and pristine condition. Thanks to Taylor’s stipulation, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is home to the only remaining Tropical Hardwood Hammock in Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County.
Taylor enjoyed the area so much that, at the age of 90, he had a home built on the land and aptly named the property Terramar or “land to sea.” The Mediterranean-style residence ended up being the last home the Chicago attorney had built, which he maintained until his death. Today the structure is known as the Terramar Visitor Center.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park opened to the public in 1949. Today it is a barrier island of trees and foliage in the middle of bustling Fort Lauderdale and is often compared to Central Park in New York City.
Here are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park:
- Ranger-guided walks
- Full Moon Mangrove Tour
- Bicycling or skating on almost 2 miles of the paved park road
- 20 minute stroll along the nature trail
- Picnicking at a pavilion or in one of many shady locations
- Fishing from the seawall
- Canoeing along a half-mile-long freshwater lagoon
FUN FACT: Hugh Taylor Birch discovered the Fort Lauderdale area in 1893 when he was shipwrecked and brought to the Stranahan camp for 10 days to recover. A couple of years later he returned to South Florida and purchased the land for about $1 an acre. The land today is called the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.