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13 things you didn't know you could do at a park in Miami

Explore an abandoned zoo, wakeboard on a lake, bike with gators and 10 more things you didn’t know you could do at Miami parks

Falyn Wood
Written by
Falyn Wood

Longing for a little tech detox? Most of us tend to forget that, aside from gorgeous beaches, this fair land is home to a glorious abundance of green spaces. And many of these green spaces offer all sorts of surprising amenities, hidden historical treasures and little-known things to do. If you can’t imagine visiting yet another of Miami’s best museums or drinking your day away at Miami’s best bars, look no further. Below, find our adventure-ready guide to all the best things you didn’t know you could do at a park in Miami.

1. Slurp frozen lemonade from one of Miami’s longest-running food stands at David Kennedy Park

The A.C.’s Icees frosted lemonade stand has been an iconic landmark at David Kennedy Park since 1978. Slinging perfectly tart slushies in any combination of lemonade, cherry or piña colada flavors, A.C.’s is a Coconut Grove institution for good reason. Located inside the shady, dog and kid-friendly David Kennedy Park, a stop here also delivers stunning views of the bay.

2. Get lost in an abandoned zoo at Crandon Park

In 1948, the broken-down caravan of a traveling animal show provided the impetus for Miami’s first public zoo. What began with a few monkeys and bears purchased by the city eventually became Crandon Park Zoo, an oceanfront destination with more than 1,000 animal tenants. In 1965, Hurricane Betsy unexpectedly blew through, killing 250 animals and sealing the zoo’s fate. Today, its eerily enchanting ruins are still accessible to visitors. Park at the farthest end of the Crandon Park beach lot and continue walking to find graffitied structures slowly being returned to nature.

3. Mountain bike at Virginia Key Beach North Point Park

Considering Miami’s below-sea-level elevation and the entire state’s mind-numbingly flat terrain, the idea that one could go mountain biking in this town is quite frankly absurd. But in the Magic City, anything’s possible, right? At Virginia Key Beach North Point Park, a series of free, gated-off mountain biking trails range from beginner to advanced levels. Just bring your own bike and helmet, or rent from the nearby Virginia Key Outdoor Center.

4. Wakeboard at Amelia Earhart Park

Amelia Earheart in Hialeah is one of Miami’s most amenity-packed parks. They have impressive versions of the typical stuff you’d expect, like a five-acre bark park for dogs, eco-adventure tours, mountain biking trails and a mini replica agricultural farm for kids. Less expected are the wakeboarding, wake-surfing, waterskiing and kneeboarding, all of which are available via the park’s state-of-the-art Miami Watersports Complex. Lessons and boat rentals are best reserved in advance.

5. Explore a historic limestone rock quarry at Greynolds Park

Greynolds Park is a 249-acre urban oasis that was once the site of a rock quarry. In 1936, the land was handed over to become the third park in Dade County’s newly formed county park system. Today, the Spanish moss-strewn park is a designated historic and heritage site most notable for its beautiful limestone rock structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Stroll the winding, tree-shaded walking paths for a truly magical experience of Old Miami.

6. Admire Miami’s first public art monument to the local LGBTQ community at Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park

North Miami’s Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park is smaller than some of the other spaces on this list but packs in the charm. The 22-acre subtropical paradise bordering Arch Creek boasts community and butterfly gardens, a petting farm and horse stables where you can get up close and personal with the animals and even go for a ride. Plus, Miami’s first public art monument to the local LGBTQ community—created by artist Alan Gutierrez—was dedicated and installed here in 2017.

7. Sip one of the best mojitos in Miami at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

We were already pretty big fans of The Cleat before the Wall Street Journal dubbed its mojito one of the finest in the city, but we can’t say we disagree on the point. The hidden-away open-air bar perched at the end of No Name Harbor in Bill Bags Cape Florida State Park is the perfect spot to unwind at the end of a long day of exploring. Time your cocktails with the sunset for a stunning panoramic experience—you might even catch some dolphins or manatees.

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8. Take in one of the last remnants of the famous Brickell Hammock at Simpson Park

Located in the densely populated heart of Brickell, Simpson Park is a disorientingly zen respite from the chaos of Miami’s urban core. Find city dwellers stopping here to take their cafecito with the soothing sounds of the koi pond. One of the first conservation efforts in Miami, this designated Old Forest Growth Community encompasses eight acres of tropical hardwood hammock with over 162 plant species, including multiple endangered species like Wild Cinnamon, Coffee Colubrina and Yellow Boxwood.

9. Nosh on the excellent fish dip and beer at Blue Marlin Fish House

Enjoy tranquil views of the slow-moving river from the sprawling deck at this laidback waterfront restaurant just outside Oleta River State Park. After working up an appetite in nature—the nearby Oleta River Outdoor Center offers kayaks and paddleboards for rent—reward yourself at Blue Marlin Fish House with an ice-cold beer and some of the best fish dip in the city.

10. Unwind next to a waterfall at A.D. Barnes Park

This centrally located Miami park is large and secluded enough to make you feel like you’ve left the city altogether. Opened in 1977, the 65-acre green space is notable for its commitment to integrating activities that serve people with disabilities into its programming. Despite being nestled in a densely populated urban area, A.D. Barnes is quiet, uncrowded and filled with relaxing features like a waterfall, lush botanical foliage and abundant wildlife including turtles, fish and butterflies.

11. Fish and scuba dive out of Miami’s largest marina at Black Point Park

Lots of Miami parks offer watersports like kayaking and paddleboarding, but not every park is the perfect launch for scuba diving and fishing expeditions. Home to Miami’s largest marina and a popular spot for setting out to explore Biscayne National Park by boat, Black Point Park is also home to a dockside restaurant and bar, along with bike and jogging trails and a jetty that extends 1.5 miles into the Bay. Sounds like the ideal fishing day to us.

12. Bike alongside alligators at Everglades National Park’s Shark Valley trail

Rent bikes on site or bring your own to Shark Valley, a scenic loop and brutalist observation tower located in the heart of the Everglades National Park’s freshwater marsh. Get up close and personal with nature: The paved loop is wide enough to keep a safe distance from the abundant wildlife, including dozens of gators that spend their days catching rays along the trail’s edge. The path is also accessible by foot and via a tram tour that departs on the hour and lasts around 90 minutes.

13. Practice yoga under the metro at Underline Park

Similar to New York’s High Line or Chicago’s 606 Trail except on the ground, Miami’s Underline Park utilizes the path carved by its legacy public transportation lines to create an innovative urban park and trail. The 10‑mile linear park and public art destination is opening in phases through 2025, but already visitors can enjoy unique experiences, like a free weekend yoga series. The beginner-friendly flow classes happen every Saturday morning at 9. Attendees must register ahead and bring their own yoga mats, water and towels.

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