Miami is often touted for its after hours attractions and adult-focused entertainments, but during the daylight hours there's just as much magic to be found here. Miami is blessed with a robust array of parks with a little something for everyone, whether you're looking for somewhere to burn off last night's libations, wear out the kids, or take in the town's vibrant live music scene.
Water-bound Miami, no surprise, has a number of parks that double as beaches – including some with space for naturists. Many of Miami's city parks give locals and visitors alike a chance for a cheap workout, offering free or inexpensive yoga classes as well as tennis and basketball courts. And there are even a few green spaces where you can take in a concert, outdoor film showings, or a game of dominos. Even more parks are gathering places for young families where kids can get their wiggles out on playgrounds, in community pools, and along walking trails.
We've got the deets on where to go in Magic City for a chill outdoor experience, whether you're looking to try out the trapeze, socialize Fido, or even rent a paddle board for an hour or two. These are the 14 best parks in Miami.
1. Bayfront Park
Few American parks can claim to front such a lovely stretch of turquoise (Biscayne Bay), but Miamians are lucky like that. Notable park features are two performance venues: the Klipsch Amphitheater, which boasts excellent views over Biscayne Bay and is a good spot for live-music shows, and the smaller 200-seat (lawn seating can accommodate 800 more) Tina Hills Pavilion, which hosts free springtime performances.
Look north for the JFK Torch of Friendship, and a fountain recognizing the accomplishments of longtime US congressman Claude Pepper. There’s a huge variety of activities here, including flying trapeze classes and free yoga classes, plus a great playground for the kids.
Noted artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi redesigned much of Bayfront Park in the 1980s and dotted the grounds with three sculptures. In the southwest corner is the Challenger Memorial, a monument designed for the astronauts killed in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion, built to resemble both the twisting helix of a human DNA chain and the shuttle itself. The Light Tower is a 40ft, somewhat abstract allusion to Japanese lanterns and moonlight over Miami. Our favorite is the Slide Mantra, a twisting spiral of marble that doubles as a playground piece for the kids.
2. Crandon Park
This 1200-acre park boasts Crandon Park Beach, a glorious stretch of sand that spreads for 2 miles. Much of the park consists of a dense coastal hammock (hardwood forest) and mangrove swamps. The beach here is clean and uncluttered by tourists, faces a lovely sweep of teal goodness, and is regularly named one of the best beaches in the USA. Pretty cabanas at the south end of the park can be rented by the day ($40).
3. Arch Creek Park
This compact and cute park, located near Oleta River, encompasses a cozy habitat of tropical hardwood species that surrounds a pretty, natural limestone bridge. Naturalists can lead you on kid-friendly ecotours of the area, which include a lovely butterfly garden, or visitors can peruse a small but well-stocked museum of Native American and pioneer artifacts. The excellent Miami EcoAdventures is based here. The park is just off North Biscayne Blvd, 7 miles north of the Design District.
4. Máximo Gómez Park
Little Havana’s most evocative reminder of Cuba is Máximo Gómez Park (‘Domino Park’), where the sound of elderly men trash-talking over games of dominoes is harmonized with the quick clack-clack of slapping tiles – though the tourists taking photos all the while does take away from the experience. The heavy cigar smell and a sunrise-bright mural of the 1994 Summit of the Americas add to the atmosphere.
5. Haulover Beach Park
Swimsuits are optional at at least part of this 40-acre beach park hidden behind vegetation from the sight of condos, highways and prying passers-by. You don't have to get into your birthday suit if you don't fancy it – in fact, most of the beach is clothed and there’s even a dog park. It is one of the nicer spots for sand in the area. It is located on Collins Ave about 4.5 miles north of 71st St.
6. Peacock Park
Extending down to the edge of the waterfront, Peacock Park serves as the great open backyard of Coconut Grove. Young families stop by the playground and join the action on the ball fields, while power-walkers take in the view on a scenic stroll along the bay front.
7. Soundscape Park
Outside of the New World Center, this park is one of the best places for open-air screenings in Miami Beach. During some New World Symphony performances, the outside wall of the Frank Gehry–designed concert hall features a 7000-sq-ft projection of the concert within. There are free WALLCAST classical music concert projections in the park. Bring a picnic and enjoy the free show. In addition, there are free once-monthly yoga sessions on the lawns. Check the website for dates.
8. Pinecrest Gardens
When Parrot Jungle – now Jungle Island – flew the coop for the big city, the village of Pinecrest purchased the property in order to keep it as a municipal park. It’s now a quiet oasis with some of the best tropical gardens this side of the Gulf of Mexico, topped off by a gorgeous centerpiece banyan tree. Outdoor movies and jazz concerts are held here, and all in all this is a total gem that is utterly off the tourism trail. There's lots of fun for kids to be had, with a petting zoo, a playground, a splashy water play area (don't forget to bring towels) and giant games of chess or checkers.
9. South Pointe Park
The very southern tip of Miami Beach has been converted into a lovely park, replete with manicured grass for lounging and warm, scrubbed-stone walkways, as well as a tiny water park for the kids. There's also a restaurant and refreshment stand for all the folks who want to enjoy the great weather and teal ocean views minus the South Beach strutting.
10. Morningside Park
On the waterfront, this aptly named park is a great spot to be in the morning, when the golden light is just right for getting a bit of fresh air. There's lots going on in the park, with walking paths, basketball courts, tennis courts, sports fields, a playground for kids and a swimming pool (admission $3). If you come on Saturday, you can rent kayaks (from $12 per hour) and stand-up paddle boards (from $20 per hour).
11. Matheson Hammock Park
This 630-acre county park is the city’s oldest, and one of its most scenic. It offers good swimming for children in an enclosed tidal pool, lots of hungry raccoons, dense mangrove swamps and (pretty rare) alligator-spotting. It's just south of Coral Gables.
12. Village of Key Biscayne Community Center
A top spot for the kids: there’s a swimming pool and an activity room with a play set out of a child’s happiest fantasies. On the green out front is a huge playground and an African baobab tree that’s over a century old and teeming with tropical bird life. For the older set, you can get in a good workout or take a yoga class.
13. Greynolds Park
With a playground, green fields, an intact hardwood hammock, mangrove forest, and views of the Oleta river, 249-acre Greynolds Park is a nice spot to cop some fresh air and let the kids run around.
14. Maurice Gibb Memorial Park
A small bit of green space overlooking the water, this park has a playground, benches and grassy areas with fine views. There's ample parking here too.
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