Miami is famous for its beautiful beaches, nightlife and Art Deco architecture. While the beaches of South Beach and Key Biscayne are certainly alluring, there is much more to experience in Miami if you are willing to venture beyond the sand and surf. Outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and cultural explorers will all find plenty of hidden gems tucked away throughout the magic city and the surrounding area.
Everglades National Park
Just a short drive from the urban energy of Miami is the wonderfully wild Everglades National Park. Here you can experience a peaceful, watery wilderness teeming with an array of birds, reptiles, and other wildlife. Take an airboat tour and hold on as your captain whips you around at exhilarating speeds through the mangrove forests and grassy marshes known as the “river of grass.” Or paddle your own canoe along one of the many tranquil trails that wind through this unique wetland ecosystem. With over 1.5 million acres to explore, you’ll feel worlds away from the bustling city. Plan ahead to save on the airfare by using a flight alert tracker like Going.com.
Fruit & Spice Park
For a taste of the tropics, head just south of Miami to the Fruit & Spice Park in Homestead. Wander through 37 acres of lush gardens overflowing with over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and nuts from around the world. See cacao and vanilla orchids, sample fresh bananas off the tree, smell fragrant cloves and cinnamon, and discover produce you’ve never even heard of before. Don’t miss the annual Mango Festival each July.
Oleta River State Park
In North Miami Beach, Oleta River State Park offers over 1,000 acres of coastal hammock, mangroves and lush tropical foliage to get lost in. Here you can rent a kayak, paddle board or bike and explore Biscayne Bay and the mangrove trails at your own pace. Be on the lookout for local wildlife like manatees, river otters and native birds. Pack a picnic lunch or fishing pole. With miles of trails plus sandy beaches, Oleta feels remote and rustic despite being right in the city.
No trip to Miami is complete without a visit to the legendary Wynwood Walls. This vibrant outdoor street art park is one of the reasons why Miami is recognized globally as a street art mecca. Wander past building after building adorned with colourful murals by both renowned and up-and-coming artists. New pieces are added on a regular basis, so each visit offers something completely fresh and inspiring and don’t forget your camera! Nearby Wynwood also boasts some of Miami’s funkiest restaurants, bars, breweries and boutiques.
Virginia Key and Key Biscayne
Just off the coast of Miami lie two barrier islands that feel far removed from the city bustle, making them ideal for outdoor recreation. Virginia Key has over 8 miles of bike trails weaving through natural habitats like mangroves and coastal hammocks. Rent a bike, pack a picnic, and spend the afternoon taking in lovely vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and downtown along the Rickenbacker Causeway. Meanwhile, Key Biscayne offers Cape Florida State Park at its southern tip, complete with an historic lighthouse and miles of undeveloped beaches perfect for long walks or swimming in emerald waters.
While stereotypical images of Miami revolve around crowded beaches and poolside cocktail bars, there is so much natural beauty, fascinating culture and outdoor adventure to experience beyond the beaches if you know where to look. From untamed wildlands to historic estates, flavourful spice gardens to an explosion of street art, Miami offers a thrilling diversity of attractions for those willing to go off the beaten path. So, next time you visit Miami, take a break from the beach and discover the magic of Florida’s hidden gems.