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The Best Parks in and Near Miami Beach

Miami is a city that loves being outdoors, and there’s no better way to experience it without visiting a few parks. Ranging from hidden garden hideaways to marine parks for the adventurous, these are some of the best parks around Miami.

best  parks miami

Pinecrest Gardens

This pristine little enclave of greenery is basically a ticket to a tropical paradise. Explore the landscaped grounds lush with Caribbean vegetation, and get lost in this self contained world.

 

Matheson Hammock Park

Locals complain of how this place is always full, but there’s a reason why it can be hard to get in: because Matheson Hammock Park is awesome. Admission is around $5-6 per vehicle, which gets you access to the beach, including an artificial atoll pool. Expect crowds on weekends.

 

Fruit and Spice Park

Little known even among locals, Fruit and Spice is one of Miami’s best botanical parks. Spread over 37 acres, they have hundreds of intriguing species, plus a rather pretty orchard of mango trees.

 

Bill Sadowski Park

A birdwatcher’s paradise, the Bill Sadowski Park is the perfect spot to catch sight of any number of exotic tropical birds. The park organizes its own birdwatching tours, and stargazing events are also available.

 

Crandon Park

Easily one of the most picturesque beaches in Miami, Crandon Park’s white sands are easy to fall in love with. The shallow waters aren’t so great for swimming, but the beach holds its own as a classic spot for a weekend barbecue.

 

Oleta River State Recreation Area

Florida’s largest urban park is great for getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city. There’s endless bike trails, and waterways perfect for kayaking. It’s also a great place to camp, with enough space to make you feel further from the city than you really are.

 

Biscayne National Underwater Park

So this park isn’t quite like the others. For one, 95 percent of the park is underwater, so you’ll need to plan this one a bit. Your best option is a guided boat tour, which takes visitors

 

David T. Kennedy Park

Some people say this is the best park anywhere in Miami, though admittedly there’s been some pretty close contenders. Either way, it’s clear David T. Kennedy Park is one of the best spots in the city for an outing, with plenty of great community facilities on hand. There’s a good exercise course and an even better bike trail. On top of this, there’s a dog park, and even free yoga on weekends. So grab a frozen lemonade from A.C.’s Icees, and explore all the little nooks and crannies of this excellent park.

 

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Another aquatic park, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef is a far cry from the humble urban playground. A visit here usually revolves around a dive down to the 4,000-pound statue of Jesus. It’s approximately 25 feet down, and a favorite for local scuba diving aficionados. If you’re not quite up for a dive, consider taking one of the glass-bottomed boat tours.

Hurricane Irma: How did it affect South Beach?

Hurricane Irma’s trail of destruction through the Caribbean left over 100 people dead, and devastated the region for years to come. It was also the worst Atlantic storm to hit the US in over a decade, bringing back bitter memories of Katrina. Across Florida, the hurricane inflicted an estimated $83 billion in damage, according to an estimate from Moody’s. Over 10,000 homes across Miami-Dade were left without power, and the entire community was in shock.

irma south beach

South Beach was no exception; while being spared of the worst the storm had to offer, the community is still reeling from the disaster. Businesses have been damaged, tourism numbers temporarily slumped, and the environment has been battered.

 

The first casualty in South Beach was the shoreline, which lost much of its sand to erosion during the storm. The recently completed $11.5 million beach widening project on 53rd Street is now barely a distant memory, with the shoreline now noticeably thinner. In some places, the storm threw sand against beach-side condos and hotels, leaving the beach narrow and uneven. Nonetheless, experts say the situation could have been significantly worse if the beach widening project had never been carried out.

 

“It did its job to prevent further erosion on upland properties,” the beach’s environmental director Margarita Wells told the Miami Herald.

 

Luckily, South Beach’s infrastructure went largely unscathed – at least compared to other regions hit by the hurricane. The trees that fell during the storm have already been cleared, and businesses that suffered minor damage are getting back to work. However, a number of local icons were damaged. Epicure Market is indefinitely closed, while both the River Yacht Club and beloved Dashi were still shuttered at the time of writing. A spokesperson from the yacht club said their main building had been deemed unsafe after being damaged by the storm, and part of their seawall had fallen. Meanwhile, one of the most visually disturbing incidents took place at the site of the former Ireland’s Inn, where a crane collapsed. Over at the Stonybrook Apartments complex, a roof reportedly collapsed, forcing residents to evacuate.

 

Despite the damage, South Beach is resilient, and will bounce back. In fact, within days of the storm passing, restaurants were already re-opening and tourists were being encouraged to return. After all, South Beach and the rest of Miami is heavily dependent on tourism, and everyone is pulling out all the stops to keep the industry alive and well. In 2016, tourists brought $25 billion into Miami’s economy, with around 70 percent of that being attributed to international visitors.

 

To encourage visitors to return, the tourism bureau has launched the #MiamiNow campaign, which aims to showcase the best of Florida. Businesses are offering special deals to visitors, including bargains on hotels and resorts. Meanwhile, business owners are doing everything they can to get back to normal.

 

“You don’t go into a battle thinking you’re not going to get it,” Mango’s Tropical Cafe proprietor David Wallack recently told ABC News. His cafe has already reopened, and others like it are quickly getting back on their feet. So even after the worst of disasters, South Beach isn’t giving up.

What to Do in South Beach in October

October is set to be pretty exciting around South Beach. Even as hurricane clean up continues, the spirit of Florida can’t be kept down. So here are our top picks for what to do around South Beach over October.

oktoberfest south beach

Zun Zun Children Fest

Hosted by FUNDarte, Zun Zun is an international performing arts festival for young people, and it’s coming to Miami on October 1. The festival includes an eclectic mix of music, dance and theater, and is as cultured as it is fun. More information here.

 

Celebrate Orgullo

If there’s two things Miami does well, it’s Latin culture and pride. With Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing, you’d better check out Celebrate Orgullo. Running from October 1 to 15, this festival is a celebration of Miami’s Latin@ LGBT community, with live music, food and more. Some events are free, while proceeds from others go to a good cause: the LGBT Youth Scholarship Fund. More details here.

 

La Feria del Mercado de San Miguel

For more Latin culture, head over to the Mercado de San Miguel for some tasty Spanish treats. From October 1 to 31, the market will be hosting its annual foodie fair, featuring Spanish favorites like tapas and paella. Entry is completely free, while food prices vary. Details here.

 

El Tucan Grand Opening

It’s October, which means Octoberfest is here. The party starts at the brand new El Tucan, which will celebrate its opening from October 2-4 with free live music, and cocktails by Bar Lab. Details here.

 

Mandolin Beach x Saffron Supper Club

The exclusive, semi-underground Saffron Supper Club is opening its doors to the public for one night only on October 4. For $65, they’re offering a three course Aegean dinner, showcasing the cutting edge of Florida’s food scene. You must RSVP ahead of time, and spots will probably fill up quickly. Find out more here.

 

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Running from October 6 to 8, the Samuel Adams Octoberfest has beer, live entertainment, drinking games and German food. Plus, they even have an authentic Bavarian beer hall, so you can get wasted in style. More details here.

 

Italian Film Festival

If beer pong and binge drinking isn’t your thing, then perhaps you’d prefer the Italian Film Festival, which runs from October 6-10. For $12, you’ll be treated to the best of modern Italian film, with each installment hitting you like a shot of espresso. So head over to the Colony Theater on Lincoln Road in South Beach, or find out more at the official website.

 

Rock the Dead

It’s a theater show about a rock band battling zombies – what more is there to say? Expect brain-melting music and plenty of fake blood at South Beach’s Coral Springs Center for the Arts. The carnage runs from October 9 through to early November, and details can be found here.

 

The Falls Festival of the Arts

For two days starting October 7, take advantage of the free entry to this festival of expression and creativity, with works from over 100 artists. There’s also a kids zone to keep the little ones occupied. More information here.

 

Oktoberfest Miami

We’ve had two Octoberfest events already, but this is the big one. Taking place between October 13-15 and 20-22, the nation’s longest running, annual Octoberfest event has pretty much everything you’d expect: folk dancing, drinking games and live bands from Germany and Austria. There’s even stuff for kids, so there’s no excuse to flake on this one. Find out more here.