John U. Lloyd Beach State Park is a hidden gem among the hustle and bustle of South Florida. Located in Hollywood, the state park features plenty of shaded parking, a gorgeous tree-lined wooden walkway, and one of the best beaches in Florida for toddlers and young children. Just walking up the wooden path to the soft sand of the beach can be its own adventure for active moms, dads, and most of all, children.


boys playing in the waves at John ULloyd Beach State Park

The waves at the beach were the perfect size for the kids to play in. Photo Credit: Kelli McDaniel / South Florida TravelingMom

One of the best family beaches in Florida is located in Hollywood, nestled right between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. John U. Lloyd Beach State Park is small as far as state parks go, but the combination of beautiful vegetation and serene beach won’t leave visitors feeling shorted. Spring Break for my 5-year-old son fell on the last week of March this year, so we decided to experience first-hand what the park had to offer.

It was quite a pleasant surprise to find a secluded and relaxing gem right in the heart of a busy metropolitan area.

As any mother knows, preparing for beach trips can quickly become overwhelming; the packing list for a family beach vacation can get pretty long. When it comes to two energetic boys like mine, this normally means packing dozens of toys and tools. Fortunately, the sights and sounds of John U. Lloyd Beach State Park proved more than enough to keep their attention. Next time, I’ll be leaving the toy bags at home.

What Makes John U. Lloyd Beach State Park Different?

wooden path at john u lloyd beach state park

Exploring the foliage on the long wooden path. Photo Credit: Kelli McDaniel / South Florida TravelingMom

Arriving at the park itself is a treat for any nature lover. I paid $6 to enter with my two sons – and the value was immediately obvious. The main road is lined with lush green trees and bushes. The parking lots feature large spaces, and most are shaded thanks to the surrounding vegetation.

An elevated wooden ramp weaves through the Florida “forest” before leading to the beach itself. The trees provide shelter from the sun, which I appreciated even though it was slightly overcast when we visited. The boys were beyond excited by the jungle-like aura.

There were some other paths that branched out from the main one that could have been explored. However, we weren’t prepared to go down any, as we were all wearing swimming shoes. If your family is curious about seeing more of Florida’s foliage and wildlife, bring comfortable shoes.

A Beach Unlike Any Other In Florida

The beach was gorgeous and semi-private. As I mentioned, we visited in the middle of Spring Break, yet had the shore to ourselves. The sand was packed tightly, which made rolling our cooler over it much easier. Thankfully it was devoid of washed-up seaweed, which tends to be a deal breaker for my boys. It certainly should be in consideration as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

enjoying the secluded beach at john u lloyd beach state park

The beach was quiet, with almost no visual pollution at all. Photo Credit: Kelli McDaniel / South Florida TravelingMom

There was just enough sand to run around on without making for a long hike to the water. The trees that lined the beach hid most of the towering skyscrapers from view. It was like being transported to our own private paradise, even though we were right in the middle of South Florida.

There were a few sandbars where the water was shallow enough that even my two year old could walk out to. Although it was windy, the waves weren’t overwhelming. There were plenty of shells to be found and collected as well.

One of the most convenient and welcome discoveries was a bathroom just steps from the open beach. Anyone who has dealt with a toddler at the beach can tell you – a nearby bathroom makes things a whole lot easier.

We spent four hours playing and swimming, and didn’t see a single piece of trash anywhere. This was by far the cleanest piece of beach my family has encountered, completely unlike most other Florida beaches.

Activities That Provide The Best That Florida Has To Offer

view of the water crossing at john u lloyd beach state park

The small waterway that families can use to canoe along at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park. Photo Credit: Kelli McDaniel / South Florida TravelingMom

In addition to the beautiful beach and relaxing wooden walkways, the park allows for canoeing through the inlets that run through it. On our way out, a family of four glided right underneath our feet in a canoe – much to the delight of the children.

The park is well-known for its easily accessible boat ramp – which families with older children and a boat or other watercraft are bound to enjoy. The launch fee is reasonable, at only $9.00.

All in all, I’d recommend a trip to John U. Lloyd Beach State Park to anyone with curious and adventuresome children or in need of a relaxing day for themselves in front of the water. The quiet shoreline is unlike anywhere else, and is the best I’ve found in South Florida. I’m already planning on heading back – this time with some walking shoes and a couple of paddles.

Have you ever found a hidden destination where you least expected it? Please share your stories below.