A Day at Crandon Park

By Jorge Azze

Crandon Park, a beach, tennis center, golf course, and nature center all-in-one, is a local favorite for residents of Miami-Dade County. Located on the northern part of Key Biscayne, the public park occupies over 800 acres of the island. Getting to Crandon Park is easy: Cross the Rickenbacker Causeway from the mainland, drive through Virginia Key and pass the famous Miami Seaquarium. Get there early, there is plenty to do. Plan on spending a long day enjoying the many, many amenities in the sun at Crandon Park.

About Crandon Park

Crandon Park was once part of the largest coconut plantation in the country and was owned and operated by South Florida pioneer William Matheson whose name is lent to another classic Miami attraction - Matheson Hammock. In 1940, the Matheson family donated a large chunk of land to Miami-Dade County for a public park, and Crandon Park was born. Now, the park on the northern tip of Key Biscayne is open to the public year round and boasts beaches, beautiful wildlife, a gorgeous golf course and a world-class tennis center. At Crandon Park there's something to do, no matter your mood.

Crandon Park Beach

Looking to relax on a white sand beach with amenities aplenty? You’ll be comfortable at quiet Crandon Park Beach this two-mile long beach is one of the most popular beaches in Miami for locals and tourists alike. Consistently named among the top ten beaches in the nation, the beach features soft sand and the calmest waters in town. The beach area also has beach volleyball courts that are popular for groups of friends or a pick-up game amongst strangers looking for some friendly competition. There are concession stands and plenty of covered picnic areas with tables and public grills. With over 3,000 parking spots, that will cost you a few dollars per vehicle, and two miles of beach, there's always a spot for you, your family and your friends.

Crandon's beach also offers equipment rentals such as chairs and umbrellas, but that's not all there is to do at this active but peaceful beach. For fun on the water rent some kayaks or stand-up paddleboards, or rent a single or quad bike to explore the park. Sometimes you don't want to stay in the sun all day, and that's all right, because Crandon Park also has beach cabanas available to rent daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, on a first come first serve basis. The private cabanas provide a 10' x 10' space, a private shower and an assigned parking space.

Golf, Nature and Tennis at Crandon

Is golf your game? Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne is a former PGA Senior Tour stop, and has been rated as a top ten course by Golfweek and one of America's top upscale courses by Golf Digest. One of the most beautiful public golf courses in the country, the course features 18 holes amongst the mangroves and seven salt-water lakes. The seventh hole of the par-72 course is renown in golf circles as "One of the Greatest Holes in Golf" because of its unmatched views of Biscayne Bay’s lapping blue waters facing the Atlantic. If you don't have time for a full round, Crandon Golf also features a lighted driving range, practice chipping, putting greens and a pro shop. After your round, stop by Fairways on the Key in the clubhouse, where they serve light American fare with South American spices overlooking the golf course.

Want to explore the island a bit more? The Crandon Park Visitor and Nature Center, open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., gives visitors the unique experience of exploring the park's landscape full of dunes, mangroves and seagrass to observe wildlife such as ospreys and herons and unique South Florida fauna like the coontie, beach peanut and Biscayne prickly ash. The beach is also home to plenty of marine animals such as sea turtles, mangrove snapper, parrotfish and sea stars. For a more structured tour of all the area’s natural beauty, The Bear Cut Preserve at Crandon Park provides a look into South Florida's past, featuring an Environment Study Area with experts to guide visitors through Bear Cut to explore the natural history of South Florida and Key Biscayne.

We know what you're thinking, "What more can I possibly ask for?" How about some world-class tennis? The Tennis Center at Crandon Park has been the home of the Miami Open since 1987. Lovingly referred to as tennis' "fifth major" by many tennis stars and experts, the Miami Open at Crandon Park takes place annually during the last two weeks of March. Top players such as Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are regulars at the tournament. Throughout the rest of the year, the 26 court tennis center is mostly available for court rental starting as low as $4 per person. It features hard, clay and grass courts, and offers lessons year-round.

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