Explore Nature, Parks & Gardens in Miami

By: Margarita Wells

Miami’s natural attractions are sure to satisfy your inner explorer.

Enjoy Miami’s natural beauty at a state or national park or discover native species of plants and animals at a local garden.

Miami’s National Parks – Above & Below Sea Level

Everglades National Park is a 1.5-million-acre U.S. National Park created to protect the fragile ecosystems in the southern section of the Lake Okeechobee watershed. The interconnected network of wetlands provides valuable habitat for native, imperiled species of plants and animals, and is critical to the health of the environment in South Florida. The park offers a wide range of activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and camping. 

Biscayne National Park  is the largest marine park in the U.S. National Park System and is recognized for its abundance of underwater resources, including southern Biscayne Bay and its outer coral reefs. The park is ideal for visitors looking for a unique snorkeling or diving adventure. The park’s marine ecosystems can also be explored by kayak, canoe, or boat, all of which are available to rent at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center.

The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016, and everyone can take part in the celebration. Miami offers access to four parks, so it's the perfect home base for exploring these natural wonders. Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park are located in Homestead, in South Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade Transit operates free trolley service connecting downtown Homestead to both parks every weekend from November to May.

Big Cypress National Preserve is located just 45 miles west of Miami, while Dry Tortugas National Park is a few hundred miles to the southwest. It is only accessible by ferry boat or seaplane service from Key West.

Visit nps.gov/2016 to learn more about these parks and special centennial events taking place throughout the year

Parks & Botanic Gardens Across Greater Miami

Biscayne Nature Center at Crandon Park is an educational facility and exhibition space dedicated to providing environmental education and promoting environmental stewardship. The center is nestled in the north end of Crandon Park on Key Biscayne surrounded by coastal dunes, beaches, and tropical hammocks. Its proximity to these habitats makes Biscayne Nature Center the perfect place for hands-on learning. The center offers field trips and family outings guided by a naturalist and features exhibits, workshops, and events.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens is named after plant pioneer Dr. David Fairchild, who introduced species like mangos, dates, nectarine and cotton to the United States. Dr. Fairchild continued his life’s work well into retirement by successfully curating the one-of-a-kind botanic garden that exists today. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the gardens or seek out the displays and exhibits around the park. Their International, Mango, and Orchid Festivals draw crowds annually.

Located in Miami Beach’s city center, Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a welcome oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle. The recently renovated garden is comprised of native plant species and water features that create a serene ambiance. Its beauty and central location makes the garden a popular destination for events, such as public workshops, seminars, and other educational programming. It’s also the perfect place to take a break during Art Basel and enjoy lunch outside at the pop-up café.

Pinecrest Gardens is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as a botanical garden in the suburban village of Pinecrest. Since its inception, it has grown beyond its botanical gardens, butterfly exhibit, and petting zoo to include a Splash ‘N’ Play water playground and a 500-seat outdoor amphitheater that regularly hosts artistic performances. The gardens are also regularly used to host workshops and meetings for local gardening and horticulture organizations.

History in Coconut Grove & the Fruits of South Miami

The Barnacle Historic State Park is situated in the heart of Coconut Grove. The property, which was once the former home of Coconut Grove pioneer and renowned yacht designer, Ralph Munroe, features lush tropical vegetation and incomparable views of Biscayne Bay. Stop by for a tour of the Barnacle House and Boathouse or take a self-guided walk around the property. We also recommend checking out their calendar for upcoming concerts and events.

A Miami staple in the Redland District is the southernmost winery in the Continental United States, Schnebly Redlands Winery and Brewery. The winery is well known for its unique handcrafted tropical wines that are made with fruits like lychee, avocado, and mango instead of grapes. Enjoy a wine tasting or unwind with a tour of their winery and brewery.

While in Miami’s Redland District, don’t forget to stop at Fruit and Spice Park and take a guided tour of the property. There are over 500 species of fruits, herbs, vegetables, nuts, and spices growing throughout its 39 acres, including 150 varieties of mango. During the tour and in the park store, visitors are given the opportunity to taste a small selection of these species.

Insider Tip: If you plan on visiting some of these Miami attractions and others, consider the Go Miami Card. It allows access to 34 area attractions at a discounted price. The pre-paid, all-access pass comes in one, two, three or five day increments over a two-week period with savings up to 55 percent, so go ahead, indulge in the great outdoors and discover Miami’s nature, parks, gardens and more.

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