By Lois K. Solomon
From South Florida Sun Sentinel
“We will be in the Boca Raton area for two days next month. Do you have any suggestions for us on where to go? We would like a day for outdoor activities, such as hiking or kayaking, and a day for cultural activities, such as museums.” — Joanne, Potomac, Maryland
Joanne, you are very brave to want to explore the outdoors in our scorching weather. Temperatures have been in the high 80s/low 90s daily, with extreme humidity levels that prompt us locals to spend much of each mid-day in our air-conditioned indoors.
Hopefully you’re an early riser and can enjoy some outdoor activities before or after the daily temperature peak, from about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you like to walk, I’ve created a list of easy strolls through South Florida neighborhoods that combine nature with really cool architecture and downtown sights. I especially love the walk through eastern Boca Raton, with lots of architecturally interesting houses and an emerging and distinctive downtown. For a taste of Florida nature, head for Palm Beach County’s sliver of the Everglades, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, at 10216 Lee Road, west of Boynton Beach, home to a boardwalk through a knee-deep cypress swamp and a section of the Great Florida Birding Trail. It’s about 20 minutes from central Boca by car.
If you want to hang out near the ocean, you have to shell out $25 to park at one of the city’s three beaches for the day. There’s also metered parking not far from the beach if you want to spend just a couple of hours. Options include South Beach Pavilion (Palmetto Park Road), Red Reef Park West and Spanish River Boulevard (just west of State Road A1A).
If you’re at the beach, you’re near Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, a beloved marine educational hub at 1801 N. Ocean Blvd. that’s dedicated to sea turtles, mangroves and other aquatic and plant life that used to be plentiful along South Florida’s coast. They have canoeing and kayaking sessions and also offer sea turtle walks and talks, aquarium feedings and science seminars all summer. Try to make it to an evening sea-turtle scouting mission; it’s a thrill to watch a colossal loggerhead turtle lay her eggs and return to the water. Cost: $20.
For some culture, try the eastern side of town. If you’re here on a Saturday, check out yoga studio owner Leslie Glickman’s 9 a.m. Saturday classes in Sanborn Square, 72 N. Federal Highway. The free sessions are outdoors and attract dozens of people spread out in the grass among the trees. (Don’t forget your mat!) You may enjoy brunch after class at one of the many nearby cafes; I recommend Saquella Café, 410 Via De Palmas, or Cote France, 100 Plaza Real S.
Then get to Mizner Park, at 327 Plaza Real, where there are stores, restaurants, boutiques and the excellent Boca Raton Museum of Art. The museum has a really fun exhibit now called the “Art of the Hollywood Backdrop,” with 20 selfie-friendly authentic and gigantic backdrops from movies made from the 1930s to the 1960s, including “The Sound of Music,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “North by Northwest.” The museum has a rotating schedule of exhibits, lectures, classes and tours.
There are free concerts in the Mizner Park Amphitheater every Friday night through the end of July as part of Boca Raton’s Summer in the City series. They’re playing Baby Boomer favorites, including songs by Chicago on July 22 and Queen on July 29. These outdoor shows are entertaining and relaxing; bring your folding chairs or a picnic blanket. And be prepared for unpredictable weather. In summer, you never know when you’ll find yourself drenched under a single rain cloud. One thing we can guarantee: It won’t get colder than about 75 degrees on a summer evening.
©2022 South Florida Sun Sentinel. Visit at sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.