Hugh Taylor Birch State Park-Fort Lauderdale
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is the last remaining tropical maritime hammock in Broward County, and it’s just a short walk from Fort Lauderdale Beach. Subtropical coastal habitat that once covered southeast Florida is now preserved.
This property represents a magnificent bequest to the future of Florida from the late Mr. Hugh Taylor Birch. Between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, his former estate, which also included the Bonnet House property, protects four unique ecosystems.
Birch State Park can trace its origins back to 1893, when Chicago attorney Hugh Taylor Birch came to South Florida in search of a remote spot to settle down. He settled on a tiny community in Florida near Fort Lauderdale, with just a few houses, some abandoned military outposts, and a general store.
He spent about a dollar on an acre of beachfront land and now owns 35 miles of coastline. In 1940, at the age of 90, he built an Art Deco mansion on his 180-acre estate and called it Terramar, which means “land to the sea.” He kept up the estate until his death in 1943. As of recently, this building has served as the park’s official information hub.
The park is home to many species of flora and fauna, including the gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake, butterflies, and turtles. In addition to over 200 species of wading birds, hawks, and ducks, tourists can also spot opossums, gray squirrels, and marsh rabbits. After being gone for nearly a decade, gray foxes were spotted again in 2015.
Canoeing, cycling, fishing, swimming, Segway tours, and group camping are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed. Visitors can also take part in activities such as inline skating, hiking, picnicking, and animal watching.
Canoe rentals are available, and there’s also a beach, picnic spaces, a group/youth camping, and two short paths. Just beyond the park’s borders, with a view of the ocean, is Park & Ocean, an outdoor restaurant and bar.
Hugh Taylor Birch, an attorney for Standard Oil, built his Mediterranean and Art Deco style mansion in 1940, which is now the Terramar Visitor Center. Open weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm, the tourist center welcomes guests. Exhibits at Terramar educate visitors about the life and legacy of Hugh Taylor Birch, as well as the natural history of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the park’s flora and fauna.