This blog post was updated on January 9, 2020.
As a tried-and-true nature lover, you probably never thought that Miami would have you packing your backpack. Isn’t it just filled with shirtless (and pantless) kids lounging on beaches, listening to EDM tunes, and paying way too much for mixed drinks? Well … yes. But it also has a completely different side, a side that tree-huggers, nature lovers, and adventurous trekkers alike would agree makes for an alluring vacation. What’s more, Southeastern Florida also has so much environmental diversity, it offers a completely different experience than you can’t find anywhere else in this country. Intrigued yet? Good. Read on to find out how you can craft an extraordinary outdoors experience in Miami!
Camp Out in Oleta River State Park
As Florida’s largest urban park, there is much more than meets the eye here. Spanning over 1,000 acres just north of Miami proper, this park is known as a haven for bicyclists looking for challenging terrain. Beyond just biking, visitors can also camp out here – either in rustic cabins or on primitive camping sites – and engage in the many other activities the park has to offer. Whether you want to kayak through mangrove forests, swim off of the 1,200-foot sandy beach, fish for your dinner, or explore the area on foot, Oleta River State Park is sure to have what outdoorsy travelers are looking for.
Pick Your Own Fruit in Southeast Florida
Blueberries, blackberries and oranges – oh my! Just a quick one-hour drive south of Miami lies a host of opportunities for the sweet-toothed traveler. Pick your own fruit on family-owned farms, all while spending the entire day outside. PickYourOwn.org is an informative website with a section that lists all of the Florida farms, as well as the ideal seasonal times to visit, where you can pick different types of fruits and veggies. After picking your seasonal snacks, you can head to nearby Florida wineries to cap off your day. You may also want to check out the Fruit and Spice Park, a botanical garden of sorts that features over 500 exotic fruits, herbs and spices for guests to ogle and taste.
You may also enjoy reading: What to See and Do in Miami’s Historic Little Havana District
Snorkel and Go Boating at Biscayne National Park
Just off of Miami’s bustling downtown area is the stunning Biscayne National Park. Fun fact: nearly 95% of the park is underwater, which means that the park is best explored with a boat and a snorkel. Discover the park’s 172,000 acres of coral reefs, wildlife and shipwreck remnants behind goggles and explore the 5% of land when you camp out on the park’s two islands. Hiking trails tunnel through the area and offer unique vistas to the park’s many maritime wonders.
Solo Canoe in Everglades National Park
It’s a wonder that over 1.5 million acres of swampland could possibly be just outside of major American city. The lush greenery that populates Everglades National Park isn’t the only thing that will astound you. Its impossibly varied ecosystem plays host to the American crocodile, herons, the endangered manatee, AND the Florida panther. It’s an experience to take in the richness of nature that’s worth the cost of any flights to Miami! Take a guided tour through the swampy forest or go in your own– the park’s official website as a great section to help visitors plan their trips. The most interesting offering that we saw was a week-long solo canoe trip, finding solitude in the picturesque setting as you camp alongside the 99-mile water trail. Beyond canoeing, the park is perfect for bikers, boaters, and foodies. Try some Everglades traditional dishes like frog legs and gator bites – yum!
Take a Nature Hike on Matheson Hammock Park
This 630-acre urban park is located just south of Miami. Rent a stand-up paddleboard, take a kayak for a spin or try your hand at kiteboarding in this urban beauty. Though its nearby coral reef is man-made, the water and marine life that inhabit it are natural and stunning. Take a quick hike through the green canopies that cover the wild nature of Matheson Hammock Park. The 1.5-mile trail is deceptively short: the rugged terrain and unique habitat are sure to make the hike a challenging and drawn-out one, as stopping to admire your incredible surroundings are practically mandatory.
Did we miss any other outdoorsy hot spots near Miami? Let us know in the comments!