By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter

DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – With the beaches closed and the stay-at-home order, Delray Beach has not been itself after the coronavirus pandemic arrived. However since April 29th, the city has opened over twenty parks and recreation space, and many are excited to get out and expand their walking routes.

Delray Oaks Park, Walking, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
Delray Oaks contains some of the best remaining examples of prairie and xeric hammock ecosystems in Palm Beach County, photo by City of Delray Beach.

The announcement made confirmed that City of Delray Beach parks, and natural areas – with the exception of beach parks – shall reopen provided that CDC Guidelines, including all social distancing guidelines, are practiced.

This included a statement that “police, park rangers, and designated staff shall patrol parks and monitor and ensure compliance with physical distancing guidelines.” While social distancing has somehow become politicized in recent weeks, we recommend wearing masks anywhere when you are in 6-12 feet of others while visiting these locations.

Delray Oaks Natural Area – 2021 SW 29th St., Delray Beach, FL 33445
Delray Oaks contains some of the best remaining examples of prairie and xeric hammock ecosystems in Palm Beach County. The 25-acre site also contains a small wetland and areas of mesic flat woods. Public use facilities include a parking area, an accessible nature trail with observation platform, information kiosk, and a hiking trail.

“On the plus side, there are very few remaining wooded areas with trails in this region – especially in the urbanized area – so it’s nice to have this resource to take advantage of,” a review on TripAdviser explained. “On the negative side, it is very short. One would have to loop around several times to get in an hour of walking.”

Orchard View – 4060 Old Germantown Rd., Delray Beach, FL 33445
Orchard View is a six acre park with six picnic pavilions, barbecue grills, playground area, walking trail, drinking fountain, restrooms and parking for 25 automobiles. The land for this park was purchased from the Blood Family and was formerly known as Blood’s Hammock Groves.

Lake Ida Park – 1455 Lake Ida Road, Delray Beach, FL 33444
The actual name of this county recreation space is the Lake Ida Park and Dog Park, and it offers lakeside access for boating and fishing, a large area for dogs and playgrounds for ages 2-12 and 5-12 (both still closed at the time of writing), plus two miles of paved multipurpose paths and picnic areas with grills. Including the lake, the linear park is 189.26 acres.

Lake Ida Park and Dog Park, Walking, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
Lake Ida Park and Dog Park offers lakeside access for boating and fishing, plus two miles of paved multipurpose paths, photo internet recreation.

Barwick Park – 735 Barwick Rd., Delray Beach, FL 33445
Barwick Park consists of a just over a mile paved multipurpose trail, a playground, open field space, picnic tables, barbecue grills, restrooms and a pavilion which can be rented throughout the year. A review on TripAdviser “The park is always well maintained, with a long exercise track and now they have installed a couple of outdoor gyms. There is an area of the exercise track that is shaded by trees.”

Some of the best walking ares in Delray Beach are still closed but in anticipation of reopening, they are:

Wakodahatchee – 13270 Jog Road Delray Beach, FL 33446
Situated on fifty acres of previous wastewater utility property, Wakodahatchee is a constructed wetlands that is free to the public. The site features a three-quarter mile boardwalk that crosses between open water pond areas and islands. A part of the South section of the Great Florida Birding Trail, Wakodahatchee is home to an abundance of wildlife as more than 178 bird species have been identified along with turtles, alligators, rabbits, fish, frogs and raccooons.

Morikami Japanese Garden – 4000 Morikami Park Rd, Delray Beach, FL 33446
Since opening in 1977, Morikami has been a center for Japanese arts and culture in South Florida. The sixteen acres that surround Morikami’s two museum buildings include expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, resting areas, our world-class bonsai collection and lakes teeming with koi and other wildlife. The wider 200-acre park features nature trails, pine forests and picnic areas.

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