Explore Nature, Parks & Gardens In Miami

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By: Margarita Wells

Enjoy Miami’s natural beauty at a state or national park, then discover native species of plants and animals at a local park, botanical garden or even the country’s southernmost winery!

Miami’s National Parks

The Greater Miami area offers access to four incredible national parks, making it the perfect home base for exploring natural wonders.

Everglades National Park

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 habitats for imperiled native species of plants and animals, and is critical to the health of the environment in South Florida. The park offers a wide range of watersports and boating activities, plus hiking, biking and camping.

Explore the largest marine park in the U.S., photo by Matt Ratner
Explore the largest marine park in the U.S. at Biscayne National Park in Florida (photo by Matt Ratner)

Biscayne National Park

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. In addition, guided boat tours are available for a fee by several companies.

Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park can both be accessed from Homestead, in South Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade Transit operates free trolley service connecting downtown Homestead to both parks on select weekends. 

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Nature in bloom at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Big Cypress National Preserve

Just 45 miles west of Miami, the freshwaters of Big Cypress National Preserve encompass 729,000 acres of vast swamps that support rich marine estuaries along Florida’s southwest coast. Its tropical and temperate climate is home to a diverse collection of wildlife (including the elusive Florida panther) and abundant outdoor activities. Enjoy guided swamp tours, ranger chats and canoe trips – or pitch a tent at one of several campgrounds to sleep under the stars.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Only accessible by ferry boat or seaplane service from Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a hidden gem located about 70 miles west of that city on a tiny island surrounded by aqua blue waters, magnificent coral reefs and a variety of birds. Its most notable draw is stately Fort Jefferson, an awe-inspiring site that’s also one of the nation’s largest 19th century forts. Exploring it is a must, but leave plenty of time for epic diving, snorkeling, boating, swimming and just lounging on the shore.

Gardens & Botanical Parks in Miami

South Florida’s national parks may be larger, but an impressive collection of parks and botanical gardens packs a big punch as well. Visit them to soak up the sights and sounds of an incredible array or plants, wildlife and incomparable scenic beauty.

Biscayne Nature Center

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, while also featuring exhibits, workshops and events.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden
Miami Beach Botanical Garden offers a lush oasis in the heart of the city.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Located in Miami Beach’s city center, Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a welcome oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle. The renovated garden is comprised of native plant species and water features that create a serene outdoor setting. Its beauty and central location make it a popular destination for public events and educational programs. It’s also the perfect place to take a break during Art Basel.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is named after plant pioneer Dr. David Fairchild, who introduced mango, date, nectarine and cotton plants 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 and exhibits around the park. The International, Mango and Orchid Festivals draw crowds annually.

Pinecrest Gardens

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

The BarnacleThe Barnacle Historic State Park offers garden tours and Biscayne Bay views.

The Barnacle State Historic Park

The Barnacle Historic State Park is situated in the heart of Coconut Grove. The property that was once the home of Coconut Grove pioneer and renowned yacht designer Ralph Munroe now 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 park.

Schnebly Redlands Winery

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

Jackfruit at the Fruit & Spice Park
Giant jackfruit grow at Fruit & Spice Park in Miami’s Redland District

Fruit & Spice Park

While in Miami’s Redland District, don’t forget to stop at Fruit & Spice Park and take a guided tour of the property. There are more than 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 selection of them when in season.

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