Popular among the local people, the North Shore Open Space Park overlooking the ocean has plenty of parking space and a far-stretching beach area. The tranquil waters are perfect from swimming and snorkeling in the morning while one can relax under the sun during the noon and afternoon. The barbecue grills in the picnic area are available on a first-come first-serve basis and the green spaces are perfect for private picnics.
Furry friends are allowed throughout the park except on the beach and owners can walk them along the designated oceanfront path. There are several walking trails throughout the park to be explored.
Timings: Beaches are open from 7 AM till 8 PM
Dog-friendly: Park is dog-friendly, not the beach
Listed under the IUCN category IV, the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is named after the editor of The Miami News (from 1957 till 1969), Bill Baggs who strived to preserve the natural resources of this area. Sprawling over nearly the southern third part of Key Biscayne Island, the recreation area boasts of the oldest standing architecture of Greater Miami, the Cap Florida Lighthouse since 1825 that offers stunning views of the Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Once serving as a safe abode for fugitive slaves, Seminole Indians and black Seminoles, the park can now be explored on a bicycle, on foot or in rented kayak and boat. Guided tours are available at the Keeper’s Cottage and the lighthouse where lightshow is hosted during summer. Visitors can enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the Atlantic, go canoeing and fishing from Biscayne Bay seawall and explore the concessions, exhibits and museum at the visitor center. Beach chairs and umbrellas can be rented at the 1.25 mile beach.
Timings: 8 AM till sunset throughout the year
Entry Fee: USD 8 for 2-8 people per vehicle, USD 4 for single-occupant motorbike or vehicle, USD 2 for bicyclists, pedestrians and passengers with Annual Individual Entrance Pass. USD 50 + tax for 15 picnic pavilions with 6 tables and 40 people, USD 100 + tax for 3 large pavilions with 10 tables and 80 people, USD 15 for electricity at large shelters, USD 20 per night per boat for camping at No Name Harbor
Dog-friendly: Must be on 6 feet leash, allowed at picnic areas, sea walk, hiking and biking trails.
The Barnacle Historic State Park covering five acres of land on the shores of the Biscayne Bay of Coconut Grove was built in 1891 and created in 1973 by the Florida Park Service. The park is part of the 40-acres estate of Ralph Middleton Munroe who was among the founders of Coconut Grove and Commodore of Biscayne Bay Yacht Club.
The Barnacle, the oldest house of Miami Dade County can be visited with the daily first-come first-serve tours at 10 AM, 11:30 AM, 1 PM and 2:30 PM. Two of the designed sailboats namely Flying Proa and Egret by Munroe are on display. With semi-deciduous and diver evergreen plantation, it is birding paradise with woodpeckers, nightjars, doves, kingfishers, cormorants, pelican and herons during spring and fall especially.
One can enjoy treasure hunting with geocaching or picnicking with folding chairs, rolling coolers and blankets. Main grounds can be reserved for private events for up to a hundred guests. Bicyclists, pets and pedestrians can explore the out-and-back 0.3 mile trail.
Timings: 9 AM till 5 PM from Sunday to Wednesday except New Year’s Day and Christmas Day, 6:30 AM till 7:45 PM on Monday and Wednesday for Yoga by the Sea.
Entry Fee: USD 2 for 6 years old and above for general admission, additional USD 3 for anyone above 12 and USD 1 for anyone aged 6-12 for guided tours to enter the house
Dog-friendly: Allowed on 6 feet or shorter leash during park hours
Disability-friendly: Yes, parking lot, wheelchair accessible restrooms and trails available
Spanning over 630 acres on the peninsula extending into the Biscayne Bay, the Matheson Hammock Park surrounds parts of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Opened in 1930 and designed by William Lyman Phillips, it was the first park of Dade County with abundance of hardwood trees, open green spaces and Florida Mangroves. The winding trail passes through three types of landscapes including swamp, mangrove and open cove.
The most notable feature is the man-made bayfront atoll pool that is filled naturally by the Biscayne Bay tides. With circular sandy beach, coral reefs and limestone outcrops, it offers a stunning view of Florida coast and the calm waters make it suitable for kids to swim. One can enjoy kit-boarding with the favorable wind or have powerboat lessons from the dock, rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards or catch fish at the pier.
There is a concession stand and Redfish by Chef Adrianne for seafood with American flair. The park also has rock pavilions, benches, loungers, charcoal grills at picnic areas, biking and nature trails, playground and birdwatching spots with rare birds like Townsend’s warbler, black-throated grey warbler and sulphur-bellied flycatchers.
Timings: Sunrise to sunset. Matheson Hammock Marina and office hours from 8 AM till 5 PM
Entry Fee: USD 5 and USD 7 for cars on weekdays and weekends respectively, USD 15 for bus or RV, USD 13 on weekdays and USD 17 from Friday till Sunday for boat ramp, USD 230.05 for picnic shelter for up to 75 guests.
Tucked in the barrier island of the key Biscayne, Crandon Park sprawling over 800 acres of land is rich in idyllic beach, protected wetlands, seagrass beds, dunes, fossilized mangrove, coastal environment and birding sites to observe vibrant butterflies, herons and ospreys. Once part of America’s largest coconut grove, the park with its coastal hardwood hammocks and coastal dunes is now a preserved nesting ground for sea turtles, hawks, songbirds, as well as parrotfish, snapper, puffer fish, shrimps, crabs and sea stars.
Renting a cabana in the 2-mile long beach, getting kiteboarding lessons or visiting the watersports concessions can be enjoyable. There are parking facilities for over 3000 vehicles, several picnic areas with grills and tables, concession stands and winding promenade at the beach. The Crandon Tennis Center equipped with 26 courts including 13 lighted ones offers lessons and has practice facility.
The 18-hole championship Crandon Golf Key Biscayne surrounded by tropical foliage and water is one of the greatest par 72 courses and has on-site diner. Enthusiasts will love fishing and boating from Crandon Marina, as well as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, paddleboarding, guided hammock hiking, self-guided nature walks, mangrove boardwalks, eco-adventure tours and field trips. The nature center has exhibits, audio-visual presentation, amphitheatre courtyard, gift shop and more. Kids will love the sculptures, roller rink and historic carousel at Crandon Park Amusement Center.
Timings: Sunrise to sunset and office remains open from 8 AM till 5 PM throughout the week
Entry Fee: USD 5 and USD 7 for parking on weekdays and weekends respectively, USD 4/hour and USD 3/hour for adults and kids in daytime and USD 6/hour and USD 4/hour in for adults and kids the evening in hard court, USD 7/hour and USD 3/hour for adults and juniors for daytime and USD 9/hour and USD 4/hour for juniors in the evenings respectively in clay court, USD 13/hour and USD 10/hour for adult and junior stadium fee
Disability-friendly: Wheelchair accessible tennis court
Tucked in Coconut Grove, the waterfront David T. Kennedy Park has something for everyone, be it an off-leash pooch area or a great playground with three sand volleyball courts for kids. Off the S. Bayshore Drive, the park sprawling over twenty acres of land is quite popular among the locals. Known for its vast lawn areas, benches, jogging tracks, boardwalk bridge and a serene view of the bay, David Kennedy Park also has the mangrove hammocks for some coastal fun.
Fitness enthusiasts can make the best out of Frisbee courts, low-impact rubber and asphalt paths for running, the resistance-based large gym area and calisthenic exercise stations. The concession stands include the frozen lemonade truck of A.C’s Icees that has been considered as a historic landmark since 1978. Other highlights include bike racks and bicycle paths, picnic tables and washrooms.
Timings: Sunrise till sunset
Dog-friendly: Yes. Fenced areas for small and large dogs and a dog park
Covering eight acres of the urban area within the Edgewater District and Arts and Entertainment District from Miami’s Greater Downtown region, Margaret Pace Park overlooks the Biscayne Bay. Sports enthusiasts can utilize the tennis courts or exercise with the personal fitness equipment. Across the North Bayshore Drive, there are 3 huge condominium complexes built during the 2000’s economic and housing bubble.
After the significant renovation, there has been construction of another large building and there is the iconic Miami Women’s Club to the southern side. Deriving its name from Margaret Pace, a nature preservationist, the park features a waterfront dog walking area and jogging path. From here, onecan spot the Miami Beach and Venetian Islands.
Visitors can enjoy playing basketball, volleyball and tennis while kids enjoy the green picnic space and playground. This is a popular picnic spot with BBQs and famous sandwiches from Daily Creative. Youth programs are often organized here.
Timings: 7 AM till 10 PM daily except Saturday when it is open from 7:30 AM to 10 PM
Dog-friendly: Yes. An enclosed dog park is there
Nestled in Key Largo, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park includes around 240 square kilometers of nautical area of the Atlantic Ocean that is under IUCN category IV and National Register of Historic Places. As the first underwater state park of the country, it offers glass-bottom boat rides, diving and snorkeling tours to explore the coral reefs teeming with a plethora of aquatic flora and fauna.
Within the close proximity of North Dry Rock, the Christ of the Abyss is the most notable underwater attraction featuring the 2.6 meter tall 4000 pound Jesus Christ statue. The 30000 U.S Gallon saltwater aquarium along with 6 smaller aquariums at the visitor center are filled with various sea creatures and informative videos are shown at the theatre. The natural history exhibit showcases different ecosystems and biological communities of the park.
Overnight stay at the youth and group campsites is available. Visitors can explore the short walking trails through the tropical hammocks. Other activities include boat tours, boating, hiking, wildlife watching, picnicking, paddling and fishing.
Timings: 8 AM till sunset all year
Entry Fee: USD 4.50 for single occupant vehicle, USD 8 for double occupant vehicle with 8 people, USD 2.50 for bicyclist or pedestrian, USD 10 per vessel at boat ramp, USD 36+ tax+ USD 6.70 for camping for 8 people, USD 53.75+ taxes for large pavilion with 60 people and USD 32.25+ taxes for small pavilion with 12-15 people
With a rich history of over 10,000 years, the Biscayne National Park is listed under IUCN category V for its protected islands, aquamarine waters and coral reefs with abundance of fish. Its shoreline mangrove swamps are home to fry fish, crustaceans and mollusks, bay waters have abundant fish, sponges, seagrass beds, manatees and soft corals, coral limestone keys have endangered cacti and palm while the beaches are nesting grounds of sea turtles and the offshore Florida reef is home to over 200 fish including endangered smalltooth sawfish and Schaus’ swallowtail butterflies, pelagic birds, hard corals, whales, American Crocodiles and alligators, hawksbill and green sea turtles.
By visiting the Boca Chita Key one check out the ornamental lighthouse structure. Hiking, swimming, picnicking, camping and wildlife watching will be fun at Elliott Key. Visitors will also love to explore the submerged lands of Stiltsville and snorkel through the shipwreck remnants at the underwater Maritime Heritage Trail. The visitor center offers guided boat tours and the museum showcases contemporary local art and exhibits regarding the ecosystem. Jones Family Historic District and Lagoon is a popular paddleboarding spot.
Timings: 24x7 throughout the year, Dante Fascell Visitor Center is open from 9 AM till 5 PM, Convoy point is open from 8:30 AM till 5:30 PM.
Dog-friendly: Allowed on 6 feet leash, not allowed on the Boca Chita Key and Visitor Center
Established in 1986 and managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Oleta River State Recreation Area covers 1043 acres of land overlooking the Biscayne Bay. Located in North Miami municipal suburban area, the park is listed under IUCN category IV i.e. species or habitat management area and boasts of having the largest concentration of Casuarina trees. Birders can spot the ibis, egret, black crabs, manatees, mangrove snappers etc at the estuary.
The mouth of Oleta River has made the park a perfect canoeing area where one can also rent kayaks, stay at the primitive cabins and explore the beach. With some of the most challenging wilderness biking trails, the park is also a hotspot for extreme sports and triathlon events. As the largest urban park of Florida, the park offers activities for anglers, swimmers, wildlife enthusiasts, runners, roller-bladers, snorkelers, bikers, campers, bikers and paddlers with the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail stretching for 1515 miles. It features a restaurant, concession stands, parking lot, playground, restroom, shower stations and picnic pavilion.
Timings: 8 AM till sunset throughout the year
Entry Fee: USD 6 for each vehicle, USD 4 for single-occupant bike or vehicle, USD 2 for cyclists, pedestrians and passengers, USD 55/night for rustic cabin rental with USD 6.7 reservation fee
Disability-friendly: Wheelchair accessible
Earlier known as the Museum Park in Downtown Miami, the Maurice A. Ferré Park sprawling over nearly thirty acres of urban municipal area is operated by the Bayfront Park Management Trust. Created in 1976, the park is equipped with the largest waterfront baywalk of Miami and has a long promenade connecting the Biscayne Bay and Biscayne Boulevard to give pedestrian access to the local landmarks namely the Perez Art Museum Miami, Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science, Bayside Marketplace area and the American Airlines area.
One can enjoy jogging or strolling along the picturesque waterfront and then visit Plaza de la Marina Espanola or Plaza of the Spanish Navy that has a memorial monument as a tribute to Spanish Navy who arrived in the U.S on 12th October, 1492. Opened in 2016, the floating education platform and marine laboratory of Miami Science Barge will give the idea of marine ecology, conservation, alternative agriculture and sustainability. The park also hosts various events like Warped Tour, Ultra Music Festival, Langerado Music Festival and boat tours.
Timings: 24x7 throughout the week
Created in 1972, the Alice Wainwright Park derives its name from the first elected female in the City of Miami Commission. As a municipal waterfront park with abundant gumbo limbo and palm trees, it covers over 28 acres of nature preserve from northern Coconut Grove and offers a great view of the Biscayne Bay. There are lots of green areas alongside recreational and athletic facilities like basketball courts, playground for kids, bike racks and biking paths such as the Rickenbacker Causeway and outdoor gym accessories.
A number of BBQ grills, three large shelters accommodating 20 people in each pavilion and picnic tables set up around the park make way for private picnics. The park is part of the tropical hardwood Brickell Hammock and is a natural forest community with rare protected upland canopy created by semi-deciduous and evergreen shrubs and trees. The exposed limestone outcrop of Miami Rock Ridge from the lower elevation region of this coastal park is noteworthy.
Timings: 9 AM till 5 PM throughout the week
Dog-friendly: Allowed on leash
Drained Everglades slough, tropical hardwood hammock and pine grove are the three types of habitats that make the Bill Sadowski Park covering 30 acres so enchanting. Tucked in the lush Palmetto village of South Dade, the neighbourhood park derives its name from the renowned politician and head of the Department of Community Affairs of Florida, Bill Sadowski who advocated for making natural habitats accessible to all.
Both science geeks and naturalists will find the nature centre interesting with its live exhibit of spiders, bugs, amphibians and reptiles, as well as the endemic South Florida fishes in the freshwater aquarium of 822 gallons. Apart from year-round outreach programs, one can make use of the rented canoes and kayaks for fishing and exploring the canal. Open grassy areas are there for relaxing and the picnic pavilion is equipped with fire pits, benches and tables.
Visiting the native arboretum or spotting birds from the designated bird watching area and guided or self-guided eco-adventure tours through the nature trail are also enjoyable. The highlights include geological formations like pinnacle arches, solution holes and Karst limestone rocks. Free stargazing, lectures, telescope experiences etc are offered at the observatory.
Timings: Park is open from 9 AM till 5 PM throughout the week, Nature Center is open from 10 AM till 4 PM
Tucked in the Morningside neighborhood of the Upper East Side from Miami Dade County, the Morningside Park offers a stunning view of the Biscayne Bay while running 5 blocks along the waterfront. Located near Wynwood, the park comes with a plethora of gaming opportunities like baseball, volleyball and basketball courts, tennis courts, outdoor sports area and outdoor gym equipment.
Popular with kids and parents for recreational activities after school, the park has a recreation center and playground while it also organized summer, winter and spring camps along with cultural activities to keep the young ones occupied. There is a boat ramp to reserve boats and picnic tables alongside a BBQ area where visitors can enjoy picnics or reserve the area for private events.
There is a pool where paddle boards and kayaks are available on rent on a weekly basis in association with Morningside Water Sports Miami. Besides sailing opportunities, tennis lessons are also offered here. The e-Park area is there for recreational or professional computer work.
Timings: 7 AM till 6 PM from October through March, 7 AM till 7 PM from March through October, Tennis Center open from 8 AM till 9 PM from Monday to Friday and 8 AM till 6 PM on Saturday and Sunday, Building remains open from 8 AM till 9 PM from Monday to Friday and 8 AM till 8 PM on Saturday and Sunday
Dog-friendly: Allowed on leash
There is also Big Cypress National Park that will let you spot bobcats, clued deer, wild turkeys etc within the preserve. If you think some other parks in Miami needed to be mentioned, comment below.