The day my husband Paul and I drove to John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, located just south of Fort Lauderdale in Dania Beach, the world was bustling, noisy, and humming with distractions.
Billboards and signs vied for attention, high rises towered overhead, and the road was busy with traffic, brake lights and horns. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry, and everyone seemed to have a cell phone attached to their ear.
But as soon as we rolled down the drive to the park, the whole lot changed.
A smiling ranger gave us a map. We discovered a boat ramp, and a trail that disappeared into a canopy of palms, hardwoods and mangroves. I gazed from atop a bridge at a manatee silently meandering through a canal. A family was grilling something that smelled delicious by the beach, and they all waved and posed when I aimed my camera at them.
And when I ditched my sandals and headed out to the beach, I had to laugh aloud at the empty sweeps of golden-hued sand.
“I needed this,” Paul said.
He took the words right out of my mouth. If you could use a little soul-soothing too, read on. John Lloyd Beach State Park boasts temptations for your whole gang—and it might be exactly the medicine you need.
Picnic at the Park
It doesn’t get any better than relaxing in the shade and reconnecting with family and friends while enjoying an outside feast. The John U. Lloyd State Park offers seven picnic pavilions, all with water, electricity, picnic tables and barbecue areas, and six of them are within 200 yards of the beach. The seventh pavilion overlooks Port Everglades so you can watch cruise ships and barges arrive and depart. The ships are so huge they look like moving buildings, only a breath away from anglers on the jetty. Watching them is a must-do at the ark, whether or not you opt for a picnic.
Dive into Adventure
If you like Scuba or snorkeling, this Park has your flippers written all over it. It boasts a simple shore dive on a reef teeming with sea life that includes tropical and sport fish, sharks and Florida lobster.
Make Concessions to Fun
At the Loggerhead Café, you can enjoy a leisurely lunch or grab a quick snack. And the toys at the concession are delicious, too: you can rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, pontoon boats, gazebos, barbecue grills, and volleyballs. Note: The Park’s concession is temporarily closed.
Ramp up the Experience
Lloyd Beach offers two boat ramps with easy access to the ocean through Port Everglades Inlet. You can beach your craft along the northern end of Whiskey Creek, a manatee sanctuary, and enjoy a swim or a picnic on its shores. Another option is paddling the waters in a canoe or kayak. Make sure to bring your binoculars for better views of the birds and wildlife.
Get Down on the Beach
If you want nothing more than to escape, bury your toes in the sand and throw your cares to the sea breeze, the Park is happy to oblige. The wide, long beach is made for indulgence, and you’re likely to have a stretch of it to yourself.
The Park also boasts fishing, biking, and a 45-minute self-guided nature walk through a subtropical coastal hammock.
If you go:
John U. Lloyd Beach State Park,
6503 N. Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, FL 33004
Phone: 954- 923-2833