DANIA BEACH — When it comes to beaches, the closest you can get to natural and authentic in Broward is Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park (formerly known as John U. Lloyd Beach State Park) in Dania Beach.
The park offers 2.5 miles of beach, lined with sea grass, sea grapes and other vegetation rather than the more typical hotel/highrise scene you find elsewhere. (The Australian pines, which provided shade, have been eliminated and replaced with native plants that only beginning to help with that task.)
While you’re visiting John Lloyd State Park, it’s fun to go to the far northern point of the park, which ends at the Port Everglades Inlet.
If you’re lucky, you might see a mammoth cruise ship pass by; up close it feels like you’re watching a skyscraper float by. The best time for seeing cruise ships depart is Saturday afternoons starting around 3 or 4 p.m. On some weekends, you can watch as many as a half dozen cruise by in an hour, with passengers waving and cheering. (The long breakwater and fishing pier is closed because of storm damage.)
At the southern end of the park is the Dania Beach fishing pier.
Between those two ends, there is a wide expanse of beach, often with few people.
During turtle nesting season, you’ll plenty of nests marked with yellow caution tape. This is an important nesting area.
The park features shaded picnic areas and stand-up-paddleboard, canoe and kayak rentals.
The park’s Whiskey Creek is a favorite paddling place — so shallow you can walk most of the 1.5 mile length. It’s lush with mangroves and a great spot to see birds and fish.
This park also has a small open-air restaurant overlooking Whiskey Creek and the ocean. Here’s the menu, which includes a variety fo local draft and bottle beer, wine and sangria.
The park celebrates an important moment in Broward County history. Originally the “colored” beach in the era of segregation, it is named for two Civil Rights Movement leaders who led “wade-in” protests to desegregate South Florida beaches in the 1950s and 1960s.
Admission is $6 per vehicle.
Leashed pets are allowed in the park, but not on the beach.
Things to do near Dania Beach:
- Good local kayaking: West Lake Park in Hollywood
- Flamingo Gardens in Davie is a good place to enjoy the plants and animals of South Florida
- A great family bike trail: Hollywood Broadwalk
- Ten favorite South Florida bike trails