Nature is celebrated at Alys Beach. Through parks and trails, community finds both simplicity and abundances, whether by a meditative walk through lush, protected coastal forest or in a game of pickup in the sunshine. We connect here, to ourselves and each other. These are our parks and green spaces.
The Amphitheatre is Alys Beach’s central gathering spot for concerts and performances. A perfectly sculpted lawn slants toward the Gulf and gives an elevated vantage for viewing a range of town events—music, plays, and movies to name a few. It’s also a preferred place for children to run free, toss a ball, or just roll down the hill. At its north end, a fountain set in smooth Indiana limestone shoots choreographed streams of water into the air, creating a playful place to get wet in the Florida sun.
Entering from the south, Arboleda Park presents a formal allee of live oak trees with whitewashed trunks that bring a pleasing contrast to the green foliage. Venturing within, formality gives way to the vagaries of native sand pine and turkey oak leading to the Park’s namesake—Leda the Mermaid by artist Steve Wagner.
Curves and winding edges replace straight lines at Central Park, as town transitions to nature preserve. A lush, rolling lawn framed by clusters of native vegetation brings a wilder look and feel, offering a perfect framing of the sights and sounds of the neighboring Caliza Pool. The soft grass and shade make Central Park a great place to stretch out a blanket for a quiet picnic, or to read a favorite book.
Firepit Park is one of Alys Beach’s most favored and intimate civic spaces, where homeowners and guests gather around for the warmth and light of a fire and good conversation among friends. The Park was designed only after the surrounding homes were built, allowing it to respond to their scale and to preserve views along Sea Garden Way and to the Gulf. In the tradition of 18th Century English landscape gardens, Firepit Park’s sunken core features a formal green that surrounds a shellstone firepit.
Fonville Park is one of Alys Beach’s original parks, and is a favored spot for kids and adults alike. The park’s simplicity is perhaps its best feature—a moderately steep grass hill with a gentle pathway that winds its way to the top, offering a tall perch and a great town view along the flat coastal terrain.
Alys Beach’s original green space is the largest and most central spot from which to access the private beach. Nestled by beachfront homes on either side, the Gulf Green beckons with a linear water feature that draws the eye seaward. The Green’s two bathhouses are wrapped in a repeating scale pattern like that of a fish, and topped with urns that stand as sentinels perched atop the dunes for all to admire. A wooden deck behind the bathhouses marks the perfect high point from which to catch the breeze and enjoy the endless view to the Gulf horizon.
Along the Charles Street walk to the beach, Palmera Park is a favorite place to gather and relax. Edged by a low stucco wall topped by shellstone planters, the rectangular space features a grouping of cushioned chairs beneath the shade of Sylvester palm trees at each end of the park.
Matching rows of elegant olive trees surround each end of Papilio Park, creating order in this streetside space along North Charles Street. The below-ground sitting area functions as an outdoor room that brings visitors together around a gently flowing fountain. Looking above, a shade cloth held high by stout bamboo poles helps this park stay cool in the summer sun.
Turtle Bale Pedestrian Path provides a welcoming western access to the beach and is named in honor of the sea turtles that return to nest along Gulf coast beaches every summer. In fact, the park’s central feature is a convex mound of turfgrass, evocative of a turtle’s shell. Learn more about the whimsy and inspiration behind the turtles from artist Dan Dutton.
Along the northern edge of town, the winding shores of Lake Marilyn offer a wonderful spot to relax and observe as the town transitions into the forests of the nature preserve. The lake serves the function of providing irrigation water for parks and streetside landscapes, while its calm waters reward with peaceful reflections of white walls and blue skies.
The northern portion of Alys Beach is devoted to a 20-acre nature preserve that provides a quiet and reflective getaway. An 1800-foot-long trail winds its way through the preserve, most of it on an elevated wooden boardwalk that gives a great view of the varied habitats below.
The trail begins in a dense forest of slash pine and cypress trees along an intermittent stream that flows east to Lake Powell, a rare coastal dune lake. Farther along, the tree canopy gives way to the sky, with plenty of sunlight that nurtures a more open meadow landscape of wiregrass and colorful wildflowers. Be sure to look for the carnivorous pitcher plants—their tubelike leaf structure captures and digests insects, giving the plants added nitrogen in this nutrient-poor environment.
The boardwalk itself is a masterful creation, and due to the sensitive location, it was constructed from above, without placing any heavy equipment on the ground. Interpretive signs help guide visitors and tell the story of the natural and human history of the area, and wider “bumpouts” along the trail allow visitors plenty of space to pause and consider the ways of the resident flora and fauna. The nature trail and preserve are a perfect complement to the more active areas of town, offering a shady retreat where nature rules.