By Patti Roth
For those with earnest intentions of adding extra steps to your routine, South Florida offers plenty of picturesque places to put your feet to work. So lace up your sneakers and prepare to stroll along breezy stretches of sand and surf or trek through lush subtropical forests or rack up laps at the mall.
Whether your scenic preference tends toward waterfront, wildlife or storefront windows, we offer suggestions to inspire you to get off the sofa and put some snap in your stride.
Your Own Neighborhood
Obvious sure, but a walk around your block is ideal for its simplicity and do-ability. Open the door and you’re off. Pradeep Vanguri, director of the Athletic Training Education Program at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, is a fan of neighborhood walks, especially when they involve the whole troop.
“We all do a family walk,” Vanguri says.
A nice bonus is mapping out a route that includes a stop for smoothies.
The Hollywood Broadwalk runs along the beach. The sunny palm-fringed stretch is delightfully sandwiched between the ocean and restaurants, resorts and shops. Within the wide 2½-mile promenade, a separate lane is designated for bike riders, and bike-rental vendors are in the area for those who want to pedal the route. For information call 954-924-2980 or visit visithollywoodfl.org.
Delray Municipal Beach offers a postcard-perfect backdrop for a walk on the sand or on sidewalks. A replica of a pavilion from the 1920s is part of the scene, along with numerous shops and restaurants. For a variation, direct yourself west over the Atlantic Avenue bridge and along the pedestrian-friendly downtown area. For information visit mydelraybeach.com.
Deerfield Island Park is a wedge of wilderness on the Intracoastal Waterway in Deerfield Beach. Deemed a gopher tortoise refuge, the island is accessible only by boat, including free shuttles most weekends, weather permitting. A mile-long path loops around the island with wildlife sights that include egrets, ibis and manatees. Park amenities include an observation platform overlooking the waterway and picnic tables. The free boat shuttle launches 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., from Sullivan Park, 1701 S. Riverview Road. For information call 954-357-5100 or visit broward.org/Parks/DeerfieldIslandPark.
Lakeview Park in Delray Beach is a shady, quiet neighborhood park with a path that includes Lake Ida as a scenic treat at least part of the way. Amenities include playground, picnic area and restrooms. 1100 Lake Drive, Delray Beach. For information call 561-243-7250 or visit mydelraybeach.com.
Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach draws walkers and wildlife watchers who follow a boardwalk along man-made wetlands featuring marsh, forest and cypress dome. A full loop is 1.3 miles, or select a 1-mile or ½-mile segment. Open sunrise to sunset most days. 12800 Hagen Ranch Road. For information call 561-966-7000 or visit pbcparks.com/nature.
Malls and Shopping Plazas
The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens opens for walkers most days at 7:30 a.m. Laps around the lower and upper levels are each three-quarters of a mile, with benches, landscaping, sculptures and a fountain. Mall officials may occasionally reward walkers with lite bites and beverages. 3101 PGA Blvd. For information call 561-622-2115 or visit thegardensmall.com.
Festival Flea Market Mall in Pompano Beach features some 350 vendors along parallel aisles, a route that yields a mile of walking. Beside being indoors and weather-friendly, benefits of mall walking include background music for rhythm and food vendors for refreshments. Mall hours are 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Mondays to Fridays and 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. 2900 W. Sample Road. For information call 954-979-4555 or visit festivalfleamarket.com.
The Village at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach is an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district busy during the day and at night. Amenities include an open-air plaza that features live music most Saturdays at 8 p.m. 501 S. Federal Highway. For information call 954-378-0900 or visit thevillageatgulfstreampark.com.
Parks and Natural Areas
T.Y. Park in Hollywood features a two-mile loop shaded by oaks. Part of the route overlooks a lake with a fountain that lights up in the late afternoons. An incentive program gives walkers an opportunity to log distances trekked toward earning T-shirts. The scenic park is pet-friendly, so leashed dogs are permitted on the path. A fitness zone is on-site with outdoor exercise stations. The walking route includes an optional hill. Other amenities include a playground and basketball and tennis facilities. Entry is free most week days, $1.50 for adults weekends and holidays. 3300 N. Park Road. For information call 954-357-8811 or visit broward.org/Parks/TopeekeegeeYugneePark.
Fern Forest in Coconut Creek is a designated urban wilderness area with an abundance of ferns and an assortment of walking options. The Prairie Overlook Trail loops along open prairie and forest, where gopher tortoises and armadillos reside. Another route is the boardwalk over a swamp and along a tropical hammock. 201 Lyons Road South. For information call 954-357-5198 or visit broward.org/Parks/FernForestNatureCenter.
Woodmont Natural Area in Tamarac is a lush oasis within the suburbs. A boardwalk loops about half a mile along pine flatwoods and wetlands. Amenities include benches and e-naturalist stations that provide access to nature information on digital devices. Sightseeing highlights include woodpeckers, great horned owls, wading birds and hawks. 7250 NW 80th Ave. For information call 954-357-5100 or visit broward.org/Parks/WoodmontNaturalArea/.
Delray Oaks Natural Area in Delray Beach offers walkers winding paved and dirt walkways amid a woodsy setting with live oaks, palms and strangler fig. Habitats include wetlands and flatwoods. An observation deck is on-site, but no restrooms or other amenities. 2021 SW 29th St. For information call 561-243-7250 or visit mydelraybeach.com.
Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach includes 15 miles of rugged dirt walking, hiking and biking paths amid tall Australian pine trees, palms and seagrape. For a smoother surface, a paved loop around the park is three miles. Park includes artificial beach with swimming in Biscayne Bay, picnic tables and vendors for rental kayaks and bikes. 3400 NE 163rd St. For information call 305-919-1844 or visit floridastateparks.org/park/Oleta-River.
Worth Avenue, Palm Beach – Guided walking tours, offered during the winter season, highlight the architecture and history of the world-renown shopping district. 11 a.m. Wednesdays except holidays during the winter season, $10. 256 Worth Ave. For information call 561-659-6909 or visit worth-avenue.com.
Downtown Hollywood Mural Project – Guided tours are scheduled the third Saturday most months, 7-8 p.m. Meet at Hollywood Boulevard and 20th Avenue. Participants walk a few blocks among 16 murals on buildings. A map is online for a self-guided tour. Tours are free. For information call 954-924-2980 or visit hollywoodcra.org.
Night hikes at Broward parks – Guided activity with a naturalist are offered at varied venues, including Long Key in Davie, Hollywood North Beach in Hollywood and Deerfield Island in Deerfield Beach. $5 fee and preregistration is required. For information visit broward.org/Parks/ThingsToDo/Pages/NaturalistLedNightHikes.aspx.
Historic Delray Beach Bike and Walk Tour – The self-guided tour focuses on historic points of interest, including some dating back more than 100 years. For information visit the Delray Beach Visitor Information Center, 2 S. Ocean Blvd., or mydelraybeach.com.
Okeeheelee Nature Center in West Palm Beach – Offers occasional guided day and night walks through the forest. Free for day walks. $5 fee and reservations required for night walks. 7715 Forest Hills Blvd. For information call 561-233-1400 or visit pbcparks.com/nature.
BEFORE YOU WALK
Here are a few walking tips from Pradeep Vanguri, associate professor and director of the Athletic Training Education Program at Nova Southeastern University in Davie:
• Recognize the value of supportive footwear.
• Before a brisk walk, warm up with a slower walking pace for at least 10 minutes.
• Cool down after a brisk walk with a slower pace for at least 10 minutes.
• Stretch after warming up. After a walk, stretch again.
• Maintain good posture while walking, with relaxed shoulders and upper body. Allow arms to swing naturally.