About five miles in from the Atlantic shore, West Park is a residential city with a tiny footprint. I’m serious when I say that you could walk from one side to the other in a few minutes.
In one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the country, West Park is a relatively affordable enclave. Beyond that, there’s easy access to a lot of interesting attractions, all within a 15-minute radius.
These include Miami-area icons like Hard Rock Stadium, the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, Gulfstream Park, and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.
On the quieter side, there’s a lot of delightful public parks and tracts of subtropical nature all around.
1. Snake Warrior’s Island Natural Area
Many people spend years in the West Park area without realizing there’s a magnificent wetland site in their backyard.
Purchased by Florida State in 1922, Snake Warrior’s Island is just over 50 acres with a real diversity of vegetation. On the trail you’ll see bald cypresses, live oaks, strangler figs, bumbo limbo and many more.
Snake Warrior is also on the Great Florida Birding Trail, and is flocked by wading birds. In a matter of minutes I saw anhingas, ibises, wood storks, and a variety of herons.
The park has interpretive signs explaining the wildlife, and plenty of places to sit and soak up the natural splendor.
2. Hollywood Beach
It’s easy to forget that West Park is just five miles in from the Atlantic shore. Even better, one of the best stretches of coastline is due east of the city.
You can get to Hollywood Beach in just ten minutes if you get lucky with the traffic. Hand-in-hand with miles of pristine white sand, the star attraction is the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk.
Two and a half miles long, this was first paved in 1923 and is lined with resort hotels, bars, restaurants, shops, and live entertainment. My tip is to rent a bike here, and spend a laid-back couple of hours gliding along the Broadwalk and seeing the sights.
Lastly, no city in South Florida has a free live music program like Hollywood. Come to the Hollywood Beach Theatre for performances five nights a week, Wednesday through Sunday.
3. Aventura Mall
Synonymous with luxury in Miami, this world-famous shopping paradise can be reached in about 15 minutes, traffic permitting.
Opened in 1983, this is the third-largest mall in the United States, and the largest in Florida. There are more than 300 tenants here, but, let me tell you, it’s not a case of quantity over quality.
On the contrary, the Aventura Mall has almost every premium brand you can think of. For a snapshot, there’s Chanel, Givenchy, Cartier, Hermes, Boss, Rolex, Balenciaga, and Louis Vuitton.
To go with that selection is a two-story Apple store, department store anchors, and a lot of mid-market retailers, from H&M to Forever 21.
There’s also dining for all palates, along with museum-quality public art. The most iconic piece is Carsten Höller’s, Aventura Slide Tower, unveiled in 2018.
4. Chef Tally World Famous Jerk Chicken
When I wrote this article there was literally just one eatery within West Park’s limits. I say ‘eatery’, well Chef Tally World Famous Jerk Chicken is more of a food truck.
People travel for miles to line up in all weather for freshly grilled Caribbean Food. The menu is simple, featuring chicken, pork, ribs, or combinations of the three. That’s all there is, and it’s a big part of this spot’s charm.
Each serving comes with that delicious soft festival bread, and there’s a homemade BBQ sauce that you can douse everything with.
5. Hard Rock Stadium
One of the most recognizable sports venues in the country is a ten-minute drive from West Park. I’m talking about the home of the Miami Dolphins, which has changed names several times since opening in 1987.
For many, this will always be the Joe Robbie Stadium. As well as NFL action, the Hard Rock Stadium also has NCAA football courtesy of UM’s Miami Hurricanes.
This 64,767-seat cathedral is also renowned as the home of the Orange Bowl, a New Year’s Day tradition since 1935.
Some forty years after it was built, the stadium remains a dependable stage for big events, from concerts to one-off sports spectacles. Even as I write this article, the stadium is gearing up for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
6. Snake Creek Trail
This 6.5-mile trail traces the namesake canal a couple of miles south of West Park. The Snake Creek Trail is designed for commuting and fitness, but has the added bonus of some idyllic views along the way.
There are fitness stations by the path, and people will often be here first thing in the morning, before the mercury rises. You can also launch a canoe or kayak, and can make your way out to Biscayne Bay from here.
There are several parks on the trail, and I’ve been known to lose a couple of hours relaxing in this tranquill corridor.
7. Pembroke Park Preserve
West Park is densely developed, without a lot of public green space. All the same, because the city is so small you can get to any number of great parks in under ten minutes.
One particularly close is Pembroke Park Preserve, right on Hallandale Beach Blvd. Mainly for passive activities, this place is extremely pretty.
In an urban setting there’s a big swath of greenery, speckled with palms. This is my go-to if you need a place to stroll.
There’s exercise equipment along the trails, as well as a fenced kids’ playground, a community garden, and lots of spots for a picnic.
8. Ives Estates Park
In the care of Miami-Dade County, this large active park is just off West Park’s southwest corner. A place to come for exercise and sports action, Ives Estates Park has a lot of sports amenities.
There’s a whole tennis center, a rec center, a track field, racquetball courts, basketball courts, a synthetic turf field for football/soccer, and lighted baseball fields. To go with all this active recreation, the park is also a good spot for a picnic, with two shelters.
Finally, if you’re looking for somewhere to bring your doggo, I adore the bark park here, with separate spaces for big and small dogs.
9. Mary Saunders Park
At the heart of West Park’s lattice of residential streets is a small but well-appointed community park.
Mary Saunders Park has a tennis court, children’s playground, and a basketball court. Both the basketball court and the playground are under permanent shelters, perfect considering the South Florida climate.
There’s also a large grassy space with a multi-purpose sports field and ballfield. My favorite feature is the perimeter trail, which weaves its way under a canopy of palms and hardwood trees.
10. Aqua Golf Driving Range
I confess, I’m a sucker for 90s Farrelly Brothers comedies. So I was blown away to discover a local piece of movie history at this driving range, which was where Cameron Diaz comes to hit a few balls in There’s Something About Mary.
Aqua Golf Driving Range has been here for more than 75 years, and is a low-cost place to keep your swing loose, with buckets for around $10.
In essence this is a humble practice facility, on a 17-acre lake with synthetic tees, many of which have shade and rain protection. There’s a nice breeze blowing off the lake, and the views are super pretty at sunset.
11. Zinkil Park
This park is one of the quieter ones in the West Park area. Within walking distance of the city, Zinkil Park is on Washington Street in Hollywood. There’s a lot of amenities for visitors to enjoy.
These include a lighted trail, with ten exercise stations at intervals along the way. With beautiful mature trees for shade I couldn’t think of many better places to get a workout in.
There are also two playgrounds for the kids to enjoy, but the highlight for families is an interactive water feature. This is the perfect antidote for those blistering summer days.
12. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
A straight drive north on SR 7 will get you to the ultra-modern Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which completed an impressive expansion in 2019.
With its 450-foot hotel building designed like a Les Paul Guitar, I think it’s fair to say this complex is hard to miss.
Now there’s an epic 140,000-square-feet of gaming space. In truth, the statistics are mind-boggling. You’ve got 2,700 high-tech slots, close to 200 table games with live dealers, and games from Blackjack to three-card poker.
I haven’t even mentioned the big-time entertainment at the Hard Rock Live arena. This was also renovated in the late 2010s, and has welcomed everyone from Prince to Bruce Springsteen.
13. Gulfstream Park
Florida’s premier thoroughbred horse racing track is about four miles east of West Park. Gulfstream Park held its first meet in 1939, and hosts dozens of graded races year-round.
The three Grade Is are the Pegasus World Cup, the Pegasus World Cup Turf, and the Florida Derby, which goes way back to 1952.
The track became a racino in the 2000s, with cutting-edge slots and electronic table games 24 hours a day. Another big landmark came in 2010 with the opening of the Village at Gulfstream Park.
This is a high-end lifestyle center, with luxury boutiques, and nighttime entertainment spots. I love Strike 10, a kind of elevated entertainment center, with bowling, mini-bowling and an arcade.
14. Highland Oaks Park
This large park is a rare thing—a freshwater wetland, one of the last of the Oleta River. Highland Oaks Park combines passive amenities, allowing you to appreciate this nature, with a lot of active facilities.
On the gentler side, I’ve spent a lot of time on the Black Oak Barren Trail. It’s not hard to see wildlife, from alligators to ibises, and even plenty of crabs.
Sports-wise there’s a baseball field, fitness areas, a soccer field and a volleyball court. Meanwhile a wide array of programs take place at the park, including after-school activities and camps during the school breaks.