While Miamians complain about the South Florida heat, on most days, our friends up North are wishing they could just leave their houses without having to pull on 17 layers. They would probably kill for just one day of fun in the sun that Miamians take for granted. Sure, you can sometimes get a little cranky from feeling hot and sticky, but you've gotta acknowledge that not only are you #blessed to live in paradise, but also summer is endless around these parts, and you need to take advantage. Go outside, explore, and uncover some of the best outdoor activities this city offers.
From Coconut Grove to South Beach, here are the ten best ways to spend time outdoors.
1. Canoe or kayak in Oleta River State Park. Sure, you could just borrow your cousin's kayak and take a ride through the canal behind your house. But Oleta River State Park, overlooking Biscayne Bay, is a gem that's begging to be explored. This spot offers a ton of great outdoor activities, but riding through the scenic mangrove trails and into the waters of North Biscayne Bay is an unforgettable experience. On your scenic ride, you'll catch a glimpse of wildlife, but try not to freak out if you accidentally bump into a mangrove and one of those creepy crabs falls into your boat. Just calmly scoop it out and keep moving, because if you overreact, you'll flip over into the water. We know this from experience. 3400 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach; 305-919-1844; floridastateparks.org/park/Oleta-River. Admission costs $6 per vehicle (two to eight people) and $4 for a single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle. Visit bgoletariveroutdoor.com for rental prices.
2. Rent a quad bike at Bill Baggs Cape Florida. When it comes to outdoor activities, this park on
the southern third of Key Biscayne has it all. From beachside relaxation to fishing and hiking nature trails, the park, also known as "El Farito" to locals, is a prime spot for fun in the sun. Though the park offers a ton of great activities for residents to bask in the city's beautiful glory, the real highlight is its 1.5-mile paved bike path. Rent a quad bike from the concession stand near the park's Lighthouse Cafe and take a ride through the park as you and your crew take in nature and incredible views of Biscayne Bay. A quad bike, which seats two adults and two small children, runs $20 per hour and $33 for an hour and a half. For larger groups, a large quad bike seats four adults and two small children and costs $30 for 30 minutes and $48 for an hour and a half. There are a few paths you can take on your ride, so choose wisely. 1200 S. Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne; 305-361-5811; floridastateparks.org/park/Cape-Florida. Admission costs $8 per vehicle or $4 for single drivers.
3. Swim at Venetian Pool. With its grottos and picturesque waterfalls, Venetian Pool is the only place in Miami-Dade where you can trick people into thinking you're in Cancún or hanging at the Playboy Mansion. The 820,000-gallon pool, located in Coral Gables, was created from a coral-rock quarry almost 100 years ago and is still a local favorite today. Before you venture out to the City Beautiful, take note: Arriving early is absolutely vital. If you roll up smack in the middle of the afternoon, especially on a weekend, you'll be stuck parking far and having to lug your pool gear like a noob. 2701 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-460-5306; venetianpool.com. Admission cost varies per season; visit the website for prices.
4. Let your dog romp at Hobie Beach. Your pooch would love nothing more than to spend some quality time playing fetch on the beach. Waiting by the door for you to come home from work day in and day out is exhausting, and your dog deserves to let all of its pent-up energy out, Miami-style. After a long day of romping in the shallow waters of Hobie Beach, cuddle with your pup under the palms and watch the sunset. Fido will be giving you big, wet, sloppy kisses for days after this. 3501 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne. Admission is free, but the causeway toll costs $1.75.
5. Picnic at David T. Kennedy Park. There isn't a shortage of gorgeous spots to picnic in Miami, but this green oasis overlooking the bay is special. In this peaceful Coconut Grove park, you'll often find families tossing balls, adorable dogs prancing, joggers enjoying the breeze, and the iconic A.C.'s Icees lemonade stand that's been stationed at the park for more than 30 years. Make a collaborative playlist with your boo, pack a Bluetooth speaker and blanket, cool off with a frozen lemonade, and come through with the snacks for a serene picnic in the park. 2400 S. Bayshore Dr., Coconut Grove; 305-416-1133; miamigov.com/parks/community. Admission is free.
6. Hop a tram at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. If you're looking for a low-key spot that doubles as an alternative to your standard boozy brunch, look no further than Fairchild. The best way to learn about the history of the 83-acre botanic garden and its plant collections is hopping on a free 45 minute narrated tram tour (available in English and Spanish) with one of the garden's knowledgable guides. This park is huge and is easy to miss key things if you haven't done your research, so be sure to visit the park's art and the Wings of the Tropics butterfly conservatory. Weather is key when planning a trip to the garden, so be sure to come on a breezy day.10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables; 305-667-1651; fairchildgarden.org. Entrance is $25 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and older, $12 for children ages 6-17, and free for kids 5 and under.
7. Explore Everglades National Park. When family comes to town, your first inclination might be to show them a debaucherous time on South Beach. Instead, consider exposing them to the beauty and wildlife that the Everglades has to offer. After all, it was named one of South Florida's tourist traps that actually doesn't suck. From riding through the swamps on an airboat, to bike riding through Shark Valley, and camping, Everglades National Park is the ultimate stop for all outdoor enthusiasts. Just don't forget the bug spray. 4001 State Road 9336, Homestead; nps.gov/ever. Admission costs $25 for cars, $20 for motorcycles, and $8 for cyclists.
8. Enjoy the drag brunch at Palace Bar. Singled out as the best drag show in Miami by New Times, drag brunch at this infamous gay bar should be at the top of your list when spending time on South Beach. Where else can you see a drag queen flying over tables to literally stop traffic on the streets of Miami? Situated on Ocean Drive, Palace Bar offers a fun and hilarious drag show that is unlike any other in town. A fixed price of $45 will get brunchers an entree, an outdoor seat with prime views of the show, and bottomless mimosas during the performance every Saturday and Sunday with seatings at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Watching groups of confused tourists on the sidewalk while gawking at the fierceness is half the fun. After brunch, walk across the street and take a dip in the ocean. Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Palace Bar, 1052 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-531-7234; palacesouthbeach.com. Admission costs $45; call or visit OpenTable for reservations.
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9. Catch a concert. From North Beach Bandshell and Wynwood Yard, to Bayfront Park Amphitheater, the pineapple stage at Ball & Chain, and Gramps, Miami is packed with epic outdoor music venues. All across the city, music lovers can catch an outdoor show at venues that all offer a little something different. For instance, North Beach Bandshell is a prime spot to take in Miami's beauty under the stars, while Wynwood Yard is where you would go to enjoy live music under the sun with a cocktail in hand. Whatever your taste in music, it doesn't matter. Just get out there and explore.
10. Do yoga. After gritting your teeth through a week's worth of hellish commutes, you'll need a moment of zen. And yoga feels even better when it's outside. It isn't difficult to find an outdoor yoga class on any given day of the week, and some of them are even free. Bayfront Park offers free and donation-based classes Monday through Saturday. Museum Park offers yoga by donation Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Coconut Grove's Peacock Park hosts complimentary yoga courtesy of Dharma Studio every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m and every Saturday from 8 to 9 a.m. on the rooftop of the Mayfair Hotel & Spa. And that's just scratching the surface. All you need is a mat and some mindfulness.