While best known for upscale dining, brilliant nightlife, and numerous yacht clubs, Boca Raton, Florida, is also home to lots of lovely parks. From sandy beaches to nature centers filled with local wildlife, it’s easy to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and the natural beauty of the Boca Raton area at these eight parks.

Daggerwing Nature Center

Daggerwing Nature Center
Image via Flickr by Infrogmation

Nestled in the Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park, you’ll find the Daggerwing Nature Center. Stroll along the elevated boardwalk looking for ruddy daggerwing butterflies as they flitter through the trees. There are several benches to sit on so you can rest and enjoy the beautiful scenery. If you climb the observation tower, you’ll get a birds-eye view of the surrounding area.

While you’re up on the observation deck, watch for birds, like osprey and woodpeckers; butterflies; and animals that live in the water, like alligators and turtles. When open, the Daggerwing Nature Center has a 3,000 square-foot exhibit hall featuring interactive art exhibits, an art gallery, live animals, and a butterfly garden.

James A. Rutherford Park

Bring your kayak, canoe, bicycle, or hiking shoes and enjoy the Intracoastal Waterway and nature trails at the 45-acre James A. Rutherford Park. The park features beautiful water, mangrove, and forest views where you can see native wildlife like alligators, turtles, and wading birds. Take a bike ride around the park on the paved track, or walk along the raised boardwalk through the scrub pine forest. When it’s time for lunch, stop at one of the picnic tables and grills and relax in the shade.

South Inlet Park and Beach

At South Inlet Park and Beach, you can sunbathe on the beach, swim in the protected area, fish along the jetty, or take your small boat or jet skis into the inlet. As you snorkel along the jetty, you’ll see colorful fish and sea life, and as you walk along the shore, you can collect seashells that come in a variety of shapes and designs. Bring food to barbecue on the numerous grills in the picnic areas, and watch the kids enjoy themselves at the playground.

Sugar Sand Park

Take the family to Sugar Sand Park for a day filled with fun and adventure. The 136-acre park, operated by the City of Boca Raton, features a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy. Slip on a pair of hiking shoes and stroll through the park’s two nature trails. The Sand Pine trail takes you through a beautiful Florida scrub forest, and the Seas Pine trail leads you through scrubby pine flat woods. Watch for birds and wildlife along the way.

After a day exploring the trails, the kids will love riding the beautiful carousel with 30 jumping horses and two chariots. As the carousel turns, lights and music make the experience even more delightful. When open, the family can also explore the Science Playground, Science Explorium, and presentations in the theater.

Spanish River Park

Enjoy both the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway at the 95-acre Spanish River Park. Set up an umbrella and sand chairs to enjoy views of the sunrise over the Atlantic. Grab your surfboard and catch some waves or take a jog along the shoreline. Kayak or canoe along the Intracoastal Waterway, and after a busy day of enjoying fresh air, sunshine, and the sea breeze, enjoy a picnic at one of the shaded picnic tables. You can even bring your dog and let them play during the scheduled dog beach times.

Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park

One of the largest parks in the Boca Raton area is the 870-acre Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park. You’ll find the Daggerwing Nature Center here as well as several other attractions to entertain the entire family, including the dog. The Canine Cove Dog Park has separate areas for large and small dogs, water stations, and even a dog-washing area.

Schedule a tee time and bring your clubs to the 27-hole Osprey Point Golf Course with a driving range and putting practice area. When the Coconut Cove Waterpark is open, the family can enjoy the lazy river, numerous waterslides, and the splash pad. You’ll also find tennis and basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, and a pond to fish in. After a fun and busy day, enjoy a meal and watch the sunset from the shaded picnic area.

Pondhawk Natural Area

See some of Florida’s largest pond apple trees at the 79-acre Pondhawk Natural Area named after a dragonfly that lives in the area. Watch for long-legged wading birds in Blue Lake or hike along the two miles of the multi-use trail made from natural surface paths that lead you through scrub habitats and wetlands. Inside of the 8-acre wetland restoration project, you’ll see osprey, black-necked stilts, and white ibis.

Red Reef Park

Bring your mask and fins and go snorkeling at Red Reef Park. The 67-acre park has beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. Just offshore of the main beach, you’ll find a manmade reef that’s home to a variety of colorful fish, sea turtles, and other aquatic life. After snorkeling, set up your beach umbrella for shade and relax to the sound of waves gently hitting the shore. Take a nice long swim in the crystal-clear, calm water, or set up a net and have a rousing game of sand volleyball.

Bring your fishing pole and see if you can catch some surf fish like perch, snook, and if you’re lucky, a tarpon. The Intracoastal Waterway lies on the eastern side of the park and it’s easy to put your kayak or canoe into the water. As you cruise along the mangroves, watch for wading birds, turtles, and maybe even an alligator or two. The park is also home to Red Reef Executive Golf Course. The nine-hole, 1,357-yard course has spectacular views of both the ocean and the waterway.

All of our team at Titan Funding hopes you enjoy visiting these recommended parks. Which one is your favorite? Is there one that we missed that you can suggest? If so, let us know and we’ll add it to our list.