Get outside: 10 best parks in Palm Beach County

March 30, 2018
Anglers fish as the sun sets upon Lake Osborne at John Prince Park. Jan. 23, 2011: ORG XMIT: MER1101232241088443 012311 (Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post) -- Lake Worth -- Anglers fish for large mouth bass and sunshine bass as the sunsets upon Lake Osborne at John Prince Park in Lake Worth Sunday. ENTRANCES: 2700 6th Avenue South, 4759 South Congress Avenue, 2520 Lake Worth Road and 2728 Lake Worth Road (CMAA Therapeutic Recreation Complex). ACREAGE: 726.36 acres (includes 338 lake acres) HOURS: sunrise-sunset, lighted court facilities open until 10:00 pm; select lighted athletic fields open until 11:00 pm. http://www.pbcgov.com/parks/locations/johnprince.htm zen

Amphitheatres. Equestrian centers. Fishing lakes. Golf courses. Artificial reefs. Water parks. Nature exhibits. Aquatic centers.

There’s a lot more going on in Palm Beach County’s parks than you might realize.

The county runs 83 parks, from tiny playgrounds to thousand-acre behemoths (and then there are state parks, beach parks and parks run by individual cities.)

Of the parks maintained by the county, here’s a list of the top 10 parks you must visit.

1. OKEEHEELEE PARK

Pooch Pines Dog Park in Okeeheelee Park. Photo: Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post

Size: 1,702 acres

Location: 7715 Forest Hill Boulevard, west of West Palm Beach

Hours: Sunrise-sunset

Phone: 561-966-6600

Why you must go: This park has got something for everyone. It features the 111-acre Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, with riding ring and trails for horse enthusiasts. It has a 27-hole golf course. The Okeeheelee Nature Center features exhibits, gift shop and walking trails (the nature center is closed for renovations until mid-April.) There is water skiing, a BMX track, boat launches and a fresh-stocked fishing lake, baseball fields, bike paths, kayaking, disc golf and more. If you can’t find something to do here, you might as well stay indoors.

2. JOHN PRINCE PARK

The sun rises over Lake Osborne at John Prince Park in Lake Worth. Photo: Meghan McCarthy/Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach

Size: 726 acres

Location: 2700 6th Ave S, Lake Worth

Hours: Sunrise-sunset

Phone: 561-966-6600

Why you must go: Another big park that has a lot to do and see. And you can spend the night! The park boasts a 48-acre campground. Golfers needing to brush up on their skills can go to the John Prince Golf Learning Center, which has practice holes, driving ranges and 42 hitting stations. And there are playgrounds, canoeing and kayaking on a lake with 35,000 feet of frontage, fishing, boat ramps and more. (And, depending how things turn out, part of the park may become the new spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.)

3. GREEN CAY NATURE CENTER AND WETLANDS

Wetlands located near the Cypress Swamp and Nature Center at the Green Cay Wetlands and Nature Center in Suburban Boynton Beach (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Size: 100 acres

Location: 12800 Hagen Ranch Road, Boynton Beach

Hours: Vary, nature center open Wednesday-Saturday from 9 am-3 pm; boardwalk open daily from 7 am-sunset

Phone: 561-966-7000

Why you must go: A stunning nature setting with a 1.5-mile boardwalk where you can see all kinds of habitats and wildlife, from bobcats to alligators. Looking for that perfect outdoors Instagrammable moment? This is the place for it. The nature center has wetlands and animal exhibits, a gift shop and a lecture hall.

4. RIVERBEND PARK

Walkers and bikers pass each other on the Reese Boulevard Trail at Riverbend Park in Jupiter.  Photo: Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post

Size: 666 acres

Location: 9060 Indiantown Road, Jupiter

Hours: Sunrise-sunset

Phone: 561-741-1359

Why you must go: If you want to get a little history with your nature walk, Riverbend is the spot. It is adjacent to the Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park, site of two 1838 battles of the Second Seminole Indian War, and the Loxahatchee River, designated a National Wild and Scenic River, runs through it. There are 7 miles of equestrian trails and about 10 miles of walking trails. Fishing and picnicking areas, too.

5. DYER PARK

Edd Allen, West Palm Beach, cools off under a tree after runnning sprints in Dyer Park in West Palm Beach.  Photo: (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Size: 560 acres

Location: 7301 Haverhill Road, West Palm Beach

Hours: Sunrise-sunset

Phone: 561-966-6600

Why you must go: If you play sports, from pickup games to youth leagues in central county, you’ve probably played at Dyer Park. There are baseball, basketball and multipurpose fields, a youth golf learning center, a radio-controlled airplane area, plus the usual assortment of trails, fishing, bike paths, etc.

6. MORIKAMI PARK

 Visitors enjoy the gardens at Morikami  Museum and Japanese Gardens. Photo: Palm Beach Post file photo

Size: 189 acres

Location: 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach

Hours: Sunrise-sunset

Phone: 561-495-0233

Why you must go: The park may not be gigantic like some other county parks, but it’s got one unique amenity: It’s adjacent to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, and if you haven’t walked the museum’s gardens, you haven’t completed your Palm Beach County bucket list.

7. PHIL FOSTER PARK

Visitors enjoy low tide around Phil Foster Park. Photo: Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post

Size: 15 acres

Location: 900 E. Blue Heron Boulevard, Riviera Beach

Hours: Sunrise-sunset (fishing pier open til 10 p.m.)

Phone: 561-966-6600

Why you must go: One word: Snorkeling. The park’s underwater snorkeling trail is a unique spot under the Blue Heron bridge to see all kinds of aquatic life as well as an artificial reef built with 600 tons of rock. It’s a favorite of divers and photographers. Another place for an Instagrammable moment.

8. CARLIN PARK

Size: 120 acres

Location: 400 S. S.R. A1A, Jupiter

Hours: Sunrise-sunset

Phone: 561-624-0065

Why you must go: Sure, most people think of the beach when they think of Carlin Park, but it’s much more. It’s got a restaurant for breakfast and lunch beloved by locals — the Lazy Loggerhead Cafe. There’s an amphitheatre that features everything from concerts to Shakespeare in the Park productions. There’s a bocce court, softball field, tennis, walking and exercise trails and plenty of picnic pavilions.

9. DUBOIS PARK

Here's one of the reasons DuBois Park is so popular. This is the view from the picnic area overlooking the Jupiter Inlet toward the Jupiter Lighthouse.

Size: 19 acres

Location: 19075 DuBois Road, Jupiter

Hours: Sunrise-sunset

Phone: 561-966-6600

Why you must go: Dubois is a spread-out park along the Jupiter Inlet and one of the area’s most visually attractive parks, from the roped-off snorkeling lagoon that’s a favorite of families to the excellent views (another Instagrammable moment) of the Jupiter Lighthouse.

10. BURT AARONSON SOUTH COUNTY REGIONAL PARK

Tom Dellinger walks the fields at Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park at dawn. Photo: Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post 

Size: 848 acres

Location: 11500 Yamato Road, west of Boca Raton

Hours: Sunrise-sunset (some courts and facilities open later)

Phone: 561-966-6600

Why you must go: The second-largest park in the county boasts the Sunset Cove Amphitheatre, which draws major names in rock and country music to its stage (there was even a Donald Trump rally recently.) It also has a golf course, the Daggerwing Nature Center and the Coconut Cove Waterpark, with four-story water slides and an 897-foot river ride. There’s also a dog park, community center and every kind of outdoor activity imaginable.