Miami is famous for its beautiful beaches, cool South Beach clubs, Wynwood art, and Little Havana cultural center, but there’s another great reason to spend time in this southern Florida city. It has amazing pockets of wilderness with winding trails, thick woods, and exotic wildlife. These parks offer a peaceful retreat from city life with plenty of opportunities for biking, hiking, and pure relaxation.
Located along Biscayne Bay and the Oleta River in North Miami Beach, Oleta River State Park boasts more than 1,000 acres that are ripe for exploration. It’s the state’s largest urban park, with plenty of off-road bicycling trails, water sports, and saltwater fishing. Kayaks, canoes, and bicycles are available for rent, as are the pavilions. Pack a picnic and enjoy swimming on the 1,200-foot-long sandy beach, or reserve a campsite or one of the cabins to extend your stay. The park is located at 3400 N.E. 163rd Street.
Pedal to the Metal
Park at Larry and Penny Thompson Park near Zoo Miami to take advantage of 8 miles of the best bicycling in downtown Miami. Black Creek Trail tops the list of local favorites but remains unknown to many visitors. It meanders through an area filled with lush gumbo limbo trees. It’s possible to spot ducks, iguanas, and even manatees along the smooth path that ends at Black Point Park and Marina.
Billed as “The Barnacle”
In Coconut Grove, The Barnacle Historic State Park is situated on a thickly forested property once owned by Ralph Middleton Munroe, a pioneer who built his hidden home along Biscayne Bay. This natural nook is an ideal place for a picnic lunch while enjoying the replicas of Munroe’s two sailboats, a ketch called Egret and the Flying Proa, both dating back to the late 1800s.
A Lighthouse View
Climb to the top of the lighthouse (the oldest structure in Miami — dating back to 1825) at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park with binoculars to enjoy an unobstructed view of Stiltsville, a famous grouping of buildings on stilts in the middle of Biscayne Bay. The unspoiled beach on the southern tip of Key Biscayne is considered one of the best in the country, and the small cove known as No Name Harbor is a fun place to watch sailboats taking shelter from the wind.
Take to the Woods
Located off Old Cutler Road just 25 minutes from downtown, Matheson Hammock Park is a preserve that shows visitors what Miami was like before it was developed into the action-packed city it is today. Donated in the 1930s by aristocrat William J. Matheson, this park is filled with thick mangrove and hardwood forests that keep nature lovers coming back to Miami.
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