By: Jennifer Agress
Explore attractions in Homestead and Florida City.
Drive south of Miami, just north of the Florida Keys and you’ll find yourself in Florida City and Homestead. Quieter than bustling Miami, this area is like a rural green oasis offering tons of fun things to do for the whole family.
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park may not be the kind of park you first think of when you imagine the National Parks. This particular park is more than 170,000 acres made up of a series of islands, harbors and campgrounds surrounded by water and accessible mostly by boat.
Visit Convoy Point and The Dante Fascell Visitor Center, which is located about nine miles East of Homestead. You can visit a museum with information about the park’s four ecosystems, see the works of local artists featuring the park, a “touch table” where you can touch bones, feathers, sponges and coral, a bookstore and gift shop. You can also reserve a boat tour here or rent a canoe or kayak.
Those who do have a boat won’t want to miss Boca Chita, Elliott or Adams Keys. Each of these is a great place to dock up and anchor or cruise around. If you need to use an onshore restroom, want to chat with a park ranger or stretch your sea legs on land, these are great places to dock up the boat for very low cost. They each have particular amenities, like camping, fishing and hiking.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is the third-largest National Park in the continental United States. It spans 1.5 million acres in size, and is home to a wide range of rare and endangered animals, as well as hiking, biking and nature trails, boat rentals, camping sites and more for visitors. It has been named a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance.
This park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has three entrances: the main entrance in Homestead, another near Shark Valley, and a third in Everglades City. The park’s visitor center hours change depending on staff levels, locations and seasons. Admission is $20 per private vehicle, $15 per motorcycle and $8 per pedestrian and cyclist. Annual passes to the park are available for $40 per person.
Everglades Animal Farm
A trip to the Everglades wouldn’t be complete without an alligator sighting; it’s the ultimate Everglades attraction. At the Everglades Alligator Farm you can take an airboat tour and be guaranteed to see an alligator at the alligator show.
As one of the few remaining farms in the world that doesn’t process the animals it protects, this one-of-a-kind destination hosts daily alligator and snake shows and feedings multiple times daily. Furthermore, it collects alligator eggs and sells them to other farms in Florida, and is home to the famous 14-foot “Grandpa” alligator.
Everglades Alligator Farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Guided airboat tours take place daily, at 25 minutes past the hour, every hour. Book both the alligator show and airboat ride for $27 for adults and $19.50 for children.
Visit Coral Castle and stand baffled amidst the giant stone structures just like scientists, engineers and scholars before you – not to mention every visitor to the museum since 1923.
This mysterious and mystifying attraction was built by Ed Leedskalnin, who began construction of Coral Castle in 1923. It was a monument to the love of his life, Agnes. Where most people write a sappy letter or deliver flowers, Ed single-handedly built, carved, sculpted and constructed over 1,100 tons of coral using hand tools. Even more unbelievable still, Ed was only five feet tall and weighed approximately 100 pounds.
Visit Coral Castle Museum any day of the week to see this strange and unbelievable achievement and declaration of love for yourself or consider hosting an event there.
Homestead Miami Speedway
Looking for an adrenaline rush? At Miami Exotic Auto Racing at the Homestead Miami Speedway you can experience the thrill of putting the pedal to the metal. You’ll start with a safety training lesson in a demo car, then a veteran racer will teach you the basics and give you the tools you need to go full speed. There are no restrictions on how fast you can drive. There are 11 turns and two long straights, and the speedway hosts major annual races like the Ford ECOBOOST 200, 300 and 400.
Buy your driving time by the lap, in a package or even test out all three cars. If you would rather experience the race car thrill in the hands of a seasoned professional sign up for the Professional Race Car Driver Experience. A professional driver will make it around the track faster than you ever will. Buckle your seatbelts because you’re in for a fast ride.
Fruit & Spice Park
The Fruit & Spice Park is a truly unique attraction. It’s the only park of its kind, not just in Florida, but the whole country. The tropical climate of the area is the only of its kind in the continental United States, positioning it to host over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts in the Fruit & Spice Park. Find more than 150 varieties of mangos, 70 bamboo varieties and 75 kinds of bananas in the stunning landscape of the park organized by areas of the world. A day at the Fruit & Spice Park is a day surrounded by lush greenery, flowers and nature’s most untouched beauty.
Hop aboard the tram and visit the whole 37 acres in one day. Stop for lunch at the quaint and very delicious Mango Café inside a log cabin, which serves local fare with a tropical touch. Come in town at the right time and find a local market, the Asian Festival, a yearly event celebrating Asian food and culture and especially highlighting Asian wildlife grown in the park.
Just north of downtown Homestead, you'll find RF Orchids, a more than 50-year-old oasis of exotic flowers and plant life with an onsite nursery and tropical garden. It’s home to everything from vandaceous alliance orchids, fine mericlones. Vandas, hybrids and mericlones, to private collections of flowers, stud plants and more. Those with a particular interest in orchids can sign up for one of RF Orchids’ annual trips to orchid shows or nurseries in places like Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, to name a few.
RF Orchids is open daily, except Mondays and a few major holidays, and conducts garden tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tours are weather-permitting.
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