It’s the perfect activity in our glorious winter weather: A power walk with stimulating scenery and an outdoor cafe for a snack at the end.
If you’re new to South Florida, you may not realize there are easily accessible rambles through historic neighborhoods, parks and downtowns that dazzle the eyes with exquisite architecture, colorful plants and mom-and-pop shops that would love your business. You can get your daily exercise in as you learn how South Florida lives and works.
Here are six strolls with suggested routes, parking recommendations and a cafe in the middle of your journey or at the end as a reward. Feel free to veer off each itinerary and create your own adventure; that’s the nature of exploration when the weather invites you out on a date.
Watch a flurry of development as the downtown becomes a trendy place to live.
Where to park: Find a spot at Royal Palm Place, a shopping center at 201-299 Via de Palmas. Then walk north on Northeast Mizner Boulevard, crossing Palmetto Park Road.
The walk: You’ll see Mizner Park on your left; enter if you want to check out the Boca Raton Museum of Art or the Mizner Park Amphitheater, which hosts festivals and concerts. Mizner Park also has restaurants, boutiques and high-end home decor shops.
For another route, make a right from Northeast Mizner Boulevard at Northeast Third, Fourth or Fifth Street to see multi-million dollar homes that are newly finished or under construction and not hidden behind a guard gate. Many of these boxy contemporary palazzos have enormous windows that allow a peak into how the other half lives.
Continue east to Northeast Fifth Avenue, where you’ll see even more mansions, these on the Intracoastal Waterway. Make a right, then another right on Palmetto Park Road, where there are stores and restaurants, including Uncle Pinkie’s, a fun kosher-style deli.
This walk takes about 45 minutes, depending how many times you get distracted by the sights.
For your snack: Back at Royal Palm Place, there are several cafes with delicious pastries, including Saquella, 410 Via de Palmas, and Cote France, 100 Plaza Real South.
Boynton Beach/Ocean Ridge
Here’s an hour-long walk along a neighborhood beach road with eye-catching houses and a nature path on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Where to park: There’s plenty of parking near Wendy’s, 600 E. Woolbright Road, Boynton Beach.
Your route: Start at Wendy’s and head east over the Woolbright Road drawbridge. Cross State Road A1A and continue east toward the ocean. When you hit the end, make a left and walk north on Old Ocean Boulevard. There are condos and homes on the left and the ocean on your right, with public access points that allow you to walk on to the sand. Lots of residents jog and walk their dogs along Old Ocean Boulevard, with just an occasional car passing through.
Make a left on Corrine Street. Cross A1A to enter the Ocean Ridge Natural Area, a 27-acre preserve managed by Palm Beach County. There’s a lovely wooden boardwalk surrounded by thick old Florida mangroves. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a blue crab, a woodpecker or a heron. The path ends at a dock in the Lake Worth Lagoon, part of the Intracoastal Waterway, accessible only by boat.
A snack at the end: In the shopping center where you parked, check out Bond Street Ale and Coffee, 1626 S. Federal Highway. They have eggs, quiche, salads and sandwiches, as well as an extensive selection of breads and pastries.
Check out the Marina Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Where to park: Start this 45-minute round-trip at Knowles Park, 1001 S. Federal Highway. Walk north along Southeast Seventh Avenue. The street ends, so make a left to walk along Federal Highway to Southeast Fifth Street, make a right, and Southeast Seventh Avenue will start up again.
The walk: You’ll start to see charming houses, some contemporary, others renovated but maintaining their historic feel. The neighborhood was originally developed from 1922 to 1943 and has examples of Mediterranean and Mission Revival, Monterey, Frame Vernacular and Art Moderne styles, according to a historic marker posted on the street. Check out the Delray Beach Marina at 159 Marine Way, along with the historic Mediterranean Revival style Marine Villas at 100 Marine Way and The Anchorage at 60 Marine Way, both designed by architect Samuel Ogren. Ogren designed more than 250 houses in the city from the 1920s to the 1940s.
Snack time: There are so many options for something sweet or healthy on East Atlantic Avenue on the northern end of this trek. Popsy Pops, 502 E. Atlantic Ave., has creative popsicle flavors, such as banana hazelnut gelato and pineapple mint. For bubble tea enthusiasts, there’s Boru Poke & Boba at 632 E. Atlantic. Whole Green Cafe, 142 SE Sixth Ave., has smoothies and meal replacement shakes as well as salads, bowls and wraps.
Enjoy a walk along the thriving New River and bustling Las Olas.
Where to park: There are many metered lots, which cost $3 for the first hour. The public lot on the New River on the east side of the Riverside Hotel, 620 E. Las Olas Blvd., is centrally located to Riverwalk and Las Olas shopping.
The walk: Riverwalk, a paved pathway on both sides of the New River, is a great place to get your cardio in and get a taste of the new urban Fort Lauderdale, with its condo towers, yachts and riverside cafes. If you start at the hotel, you’re at Riverwalk’s eastern end and can see the century-old Historic Stranahan House Museum, Fort Lauderdale’s oldest home. As you walk, you’ll notice water taxi stands, boats of many sizes and several little parks, as well as new condominium and apartment buildings and their residents, who are jogging, walking baby strollers and checking their phones on benches. It’s about a 20-minute walk west to the city’s Museum of Discovery and Science and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, striking buildings with nearby plazas for taking a break and people-watching .
Snack time: Head over to the Las Olas shopping district and check out Ann’s Florist & Coffee Bar, 1001 E. Las Olas Blvd. They have delicious iced lattes and banana/coconut bread, as well as sandwiches and pastries, and of course, flowers, with outdoor seating for a taste of the vibrant avenue.
Take in a taste of Old South Florida and a lively Broadwalk.
Where to park: Find a spot at the Ann Kolb Nature Center, 751 Sheridan St., a 1,500-acre park operated by Broward County that shows the beach area before it was filled with condos and concrete. There are mangrove forests, an observation tower with an elevator, and walking and paddling trails on a calm lake.
The walk: From the park, take a 12-minute strut east on Sheridan Street to Hollywood’s Broadwalk. It’s 2.5 miles of wide sidewalk promenade and bike path next to the beach, with an assortment of characters in colorful dress or wearing very little. It’s fun to see the old Art Deco-style cottages right on the sidewalk with sunbathers out front, the way it used to be before condo towers took up priceless people-watching space. There are lots of benches for resting and cafes for feeling the breeze, or take a walk right on the beach and let the waves tickle your ankles.
Take a break: There are many cafes along the lengthy stretch, but two within a few-minute walk from Sheridan Street are Latitudes, 2501 N. Ocean Drive, which has an oceanfront bar and live music every afternoon, and the Walkabout Beach Resort, 2500 N. Surf Road, a tiki bar with beer, wine and cocktails.
The Everglades Conservation Levee Trail at Markham Park, Sunrise
See the famous River of Grass and get a respite from traffic and cookie-cutter development.
Where to park: Enter Markham Park, 16001 W. State Road 84, and make an immediate left toward Barkham at Markham, the dog park. Park across from the dog park and follow the trail. You’ll see a sign that says “Levee access.” It’s a five-minute walk to the levee.
The walk: The path is a raised gravel trail, part of a 27-mile loop with the quiet sawgrass of the Everglades on one side and Markham Park on the other. You may see alligators, snakes, birds and grasshoppers. The path feels remote and suburban at the same time, as I-75 always beckons in the distance. There’s no shade so stay hydrated. Turn around when you’ve had enough; it’s a straight path that goes on for miles.
Time for coffee: Cafe Canela, a Venezuelan restaurant at 15960 W. State Road 84, is in a strip center just outside the park and has cafe con leche, arepas, empanadas, sandwiches and pastries.