R&L - Boca Style!

Recreation and Leisure: beaches, golf and everything fun under the sun 

From beautiful beaches and wonderful weather to A-plus amenities, Boca Raton is an international vacation destination for residents and visitors alike.

The beaches and the warm Gulf Stream waters in South Florida are unmatched, with water temperatures almost always in the ‘70s and ‘80s, miles of pristine coastline and great shopping and restaurants within walking distance.

    More than 30 years ago, the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County had the foresight to purchase land for oceanfront beach parks, which led to the creation of South Beach Park. By the early 1970s, a group of concerned citizens led by Charles Staples pushed for a bond referendum approving the purchase of 67 more acres of beachfront property to be used as parkland and later the creation of Red Reef Park and the oceanfront municipal golf course. In 1974, the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District was formed to ensure money always would be available to maintain the parks and establish others. The result is a system of beachfront parks in South Florida with no equal.

Parking fees are charged for all beachfront parks; however, pedestrians and bicyclists are admitted free. Park entry permits are available for residents owning, leasing or occupying homes within the district. For more information, call the Boca Raton Community Center hotline (561/393-7806). Permits can he purchased at Patch Reef Park, City Hall, Sugar Sand Park Community Center, City Hall Annex and the Boca Raton Community Center. Bring your automobile registration or title and some proof of residency, such as a city or county tax bill, current telephone bill, water deposit receipt, rental agreement or lease, voter’s registration card or current Florida driver’s license.

THE SPORTING LIFE

South Florida is one of 10 metropolitan areas in the United States to be home to all four major professional sports: football, basketball, baseball and hockey.

The Miami Dolphins have been around since 1966 and won Super Bowl VII and VIII in the early 1970s. They presently play their home games at Pro Player Stadium, just 40 minutes south on Florida’s Turnpike (call 800/255-3094 for ticket information). The Florida Marlins, who won the 1997 World Series and are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, also play at Pro Player (call 561/998-TEAM for ticket information). The stadium also plays host to the FedEx Orange Bowl Classic each January.

Home games for the Miami Heat, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, are at the American Airlines Arena on Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami, an easy jaunt down Interstate 95 to the Second Street exit (call 786/777-HOOP for tickets). In addition, during the same October-April period, the Office Depot Center in Sunrise hosts the Florida Panthers. The team practices at the nearby Incredible Ice Arena in Coral Springs (call 954/835-7000 for ticket information)

College athletics, too, are big in South Florida, and the area plays host to the Miami Hurricanes (call 800/GO-CANES for athletic ticket information) and our hometown Florida Atlantic University Owls, who will play their home football games this coming season at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, near the intersection of Commercial Boulevard and Powerline Road (call 561/397-3758 or 561/994-7272 for more FAU information).

If you like pari-mutuel waging, Palm Beach County is home to the Palm Beach Kennel Club, the state’s premier greyhound racing venue and simulcast wagering facility. Built in 1932, the kennel club is owned by the Rooney Family, who also owns the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Next to Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, the venue is open year-round (call 561/683-2222). Horse racing also is big in South Florida at places like Calder Race Track (May-December 305/625-1311), home of the Summit of Speed Racing Series; Gulfstream Park, home of the $500,000 Florida Derby (January-April 800/771-TURF); and Pompano Park Harness Track (September-June 954/972-2000). Additionally, the Basque sport of jai alai, called the world’s fastest game, is a South Florida tradition; enjoy wagering and dining day and night at Dania Jai-Alai in Dania Beach (954/927-2841).

The oldest existing club in South Florida, Boca Raton’s Royal Palm Polo Club (561/994-1876), is known as the sport’s winter capital. The world’s top polo players compete here on Sundays during the season, January-April. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the surroundings. Royal Palm Polo Club also hosts the $100,000 International Gold Club Tournament.

WATER WORLD

Red Reef Park is a great place to experience diving and snorkeling in the Boca Raton area. The park offers plenty to see—reefs, tropical fish, even a few barracudas—in 4- to 8-foot waters. In addition, you can slip on skis or jump on a wakeboard without the hassle of a boat rental at SkiRixen (954/429-0215) in Deerfield Beach’s Quiet Waters Park. If you prefer skiing the old-fashioned way—attached to a boat—Palm Beach Water Sports (561/478-7171), near Palm Beach International Airport, will teach you how to jump the wake.

When it comes to scuba diving, our coastline offers roughly 70 sites for divers—and 25 shipwrecks. Force-E Dive Center (561/368-0555) recommends a spot about a mile off Deerfield Beach, where four wrecks sit virtually side by side in 70 to 90 feet of water (decks are visible at about 50 feet). And off Delray Beach are two wrecks in about 90 feet.

Charters abound for drift boats and deep-sea fishing. One local option is Hillsboro Inlet Marina Sport Fishing Fleet in Pompano Beach (954/943-8222). For freshwater fishing, Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake in the country, is known as the Bass Capital of the World. Call the Palm Beach County Tourist Council for information on guides and boat rental (561/233-3130).

Loxahatchee Canoeing (561/733-0192) rents kayaks for trips through Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge in western Boynton Beach. You also can take an airboat ride through the refuge. Rides are offered from 10 am to 4pm every day, weather permitting (561/482-6107).

LINKS

There are 152 golf courses in Palm Beach County that give tourists the ability to tee off year-round, including the must-see historic Boca Raton Resort & Club course (561/447-3000).

Red Reef Golf Course (561/391-5014) is a nine-hole course in Boca Raton with water views on both sides. Serious players love to tee off at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, where there are five championship courses, including the famed Blue Monster, home to the hole Golf magazine names as one of the top 100 in the world (305/592-2000).

Of all the courses in Palm Beach County, there only are two that host professional golf events. Mirasol (561/624-7555) in Palm Beach Gardens will host the PGA Honda Classic each March through 2006, while Trump International Golf Club (561/832-2600) plays host each November to the LPGA’s ADT Championship, which pairs the Top 30 money winners on the ladies’ tour.

The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce offers a complete list of golf courses in the area and also sells the American Lung Association’s Lung Card, which provides discount greens fees throughout Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana from May through October. Call the American Lung Association for further information at 800/330-5864.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

The Sunshine State is a haven for tennis fans, and there are several superbly maintained facilities in the Boca Raton area. From Patch Reef Park and the Pompano Beach Tennis Center to the Delray Beach Tennis Center, there always is time to squeeze in a set or two.

Early on Sundays, it is important to be aware of your surroundings when traveling on State Road AlA, a popular route for joggers, cyclists, ‘bladers and strollers.

For those who prefer excitement with a little roar, Palm Beach County’s two most-visited tourist attractions should do the trick. Thrill-seekers can get an authentic taste of drag racing at Moroso Motorsports Park in Palm Beach Gardens (561/622-1400), while those who prefer the roar of animals can visit Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee (561/793-1084).

  Source: Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, BOCA RATON ANNUAL 2003-2004

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