Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Holland Park

Holland Park in Hollywood, Florida, marks the first appearance of a non Miami-Dade park for The Parks Department. At first when I started this blog I figured it would be easier to just limit myself to Miami. I've come to view this as foolish. While I don't spend too much time in Broward County (and even less in Palm Beach), this is afterall, the era of the staycation, and maybe a trip to a park in adjacent counties is a good way to explore close but unfamiliar territory.

Holland Park sits alongside the intracoastal waterway in Hollywood. It can be difficult to find, but it is basically at the east end of Johnson Street on the mainland (Johnson Street technically extends to the barrier island where Hollywood Beach is located.) Located across the intracoastal waterway from Hollywood Beach, you get a full view of Ocean Avenue/A1A from the park. It is a really cool place, and definitely has a more "natural" feel to it than the parks I've visited in Miami. In this sense, it reminds me more of the parks and springs I've visited in Northern Florida areas like Gainesville.

Since the park is bordered by water, aquatic activities are the norm here. Kayak launches, rowing, and jet skis are all good ideas for fun at Holland Park. There is also a boat launch area, and a nature walk/wooden boardwalk around the edges of the park that are next to the water. There are spiders and birds and other animals all along the walk

One of the best features of the park is the waterfront observation tower. From the top of the tower you can see all across the intracoastal waterway, and over to Hollywood Beach. You can even catch a slight glimpse of the ocean from the top of the tower. This is a really cool place to just hang out and take in the sunshine. Lower portions of the tower also have seats to sit and relax, while still enjoying the view.

Holland Park was such a cool place to visit. As I said, it seemed more of a natural place than many of the parks I've been to in the past. This is not to knock parks in Miami, just to point out some differences in how parks are planned. Whereas many of the past parks I've been to are so clearly the works of careful planning and design, Holland Park seems to be a natural area retrofitted with certain man made improvements to make it a park. Both concepts serve a purpose, it is just nice to experience both and have some variety. I look forward to coming back to Holland Park in the future, and recommend everyone, whether you live in Dade, Broward or anywhere else, to visit the park. Thank you to Michelle for the pictures, more after the jump.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dante Fascell Park

Dante Fascell Park is located in the suburban city of South Miami, on Red Road east of US1. It is a small, but pleasant park located in what is basically a small, and pleasant city. Despite its smaller size there are plenty of recreational opportunities. The park has clay tennis courts, a handball court, half court basketball and beach volleyball.

The best thing about Dante Fascell Park is the shade. If tanning is your thing, this park might not be for you. There are a lot of trees and it was so nice to be able to relax from the hot sun. As seen above, even the handball courts are given the benefit of tree coverage. This park would be a great park for a picnic. There are plenty of picnic tables, and a chickee hut as well.

Other features of this park are a nice playground, an exercise trail circling the park and an interesting but strange statue. Dante Fascell Park is a great community park and a fitting tribute for the man it is named after. Dante Fascell was a long serving Representative of Florida in the U.S. House. Among other things, he championed the creation of Biscayne National Park. Anyone with an interest in Florida history would do well to seek out The Dante B. Fascell congressional papers at the University of Miami Special Collections. Thank you to Michelle Nakah for the photos, more after the jump!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

David T. Kennedy Park

David T. Kennedy Park is in the Miami neighborhood of Coconut Grove, the city's oldest neighborhood and certainly one of its most vibrant. The park sits on the eastern edge of the city, just before Miami gives way to the water. Public access to waterfront land is a big thing that is missing from Miami, but as long as places like Kennedy Park exist we should take full advantage of them.  Though at times the water might be hidden behind trees entirely, you can never truly forget it is there. In a way it is comforting, knowing that at some point the land must stop, Miami's rapid development must stop, we can all stop to sit and look out at the ocean.

When I first came to Kennedy Park, it was to play soccer, and we picked one of the many open space areas to set up matches. At times there were even nets to play with, although they were absent on this visit. There is also a sandpit and nets set up for beach volleyball.

Other features of the park include a playground for young kids, a bike path that surrounds the whole park, and a dock that leads you to the other side of the park, bordered by the water and mangroves. Mangroves surround the park, and the area is dotted with a mixture of different kinds of trees, from pines to palms. The most interesting trees to me were those seen below, all bending at the same way towards the water. 

 Once you cross the small dock to the other side of the park, there are two separate, fenced off areas exclusively for dogs. Although there were many dogs on leashes in the other parts of the park, this would seem to be the area where dogs can truly stretch their legs, roam free, and just act like dogs. There is even a water fountain fit for man and beast!

On a hot day like today, you might be tempted to jump right into the water that borders the park. Luckily there is A.C.'s Icees, a Miami institution! Quench your thirst with a frozen lemonade or delicious fresh squeezed juice.

Kennedy Park would be a cool place even away from the water, but sitting on the edge of Coconut Grove along Biscayne Bay really sets it apart. What Miami needs is public access to waterfront land, and more of it! More waterfront parks, more public beaches, more places where we can go and enjoy the coastal region we all live in. Thank you to Michelle for taking the photos, there are more after the jump.