Just like many of Florida’s transplanted northern residents, Hugh Taylor, one of south Florida’s first northern immigrants, left his Chicago home in 1893 to escape the crowds of people, flocking to the Columbia Exposition. However in 1893, this Chicago attorney purchased beachfront property at about a dollar per acre, an impossible amount by today’s standards.
Taylor eventually ended up owning a 3.5 mile stretch of beachfront property in what is now one of the most expensive and developed beach communities in the nation. At the age of 90, he built his beachfront art deco home on his 180 acre estate; calling it “Terramar”-land to the sea.
On December 31, 1941, he donated the property to the state of Florida as a park, to prevent this gorgeous wooded estate from being developed. Today, it is often compared to Central Park as an island of trees in a sea of concrete and buildings. It is widely known in Fort Lauderdale as a refuge from the bustling city streets and traffic.
Located directly next to one of Florida’s busiest beaches in the state, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is more than just a gorgeous place to swim, sunbath and beachcombing. It’s also home to a great paved trail. Bikers, rollerblades, hikers and all forms of human powered transportation use the nearly two mile, one way trail year round.
For hikers who like a little less pavement under their feet, a 20 minute nature trail winds its way along coastal dunes and through the various ecosystems of the park. Native plants as well as tropical non-native species personally planted by Hugh Taylor dot this scenic trail.
You can also canoe or kayak on the parks largest freshwater dune lake. Once a railroad track ran around the lake and park, taking visitors on a three mile trip across trestles and through a tunnel to enjoy the parks beautiful scenery. Bring your own boat or rent a canoe for just $5.30 plus tax.
After nice swim, leisurely hike or canoeing on the dune lake, visit Hugh Taylor’s 1940’s Art Deco/Mediterranean style home turned interpretive center/museum. This fantastic home hosts park history and cultural exhibits about the park and Fort Lauderdale region.
For more information on park fees, directions and other amenities of this great Florida east coast beach state park, visit the website here.