Driving through Miami-Dade, runners and bikers can be seen traversing through manmade turf as kayaks and paddleboarders navigate the serene and sometimes choppy waters of the county’s coastline. Picnickers and family reunions share greenspace with solitary birdwatchers and hikers seeking to commune with native flora and fauna. The city's parks offer a respite from the chaos — and that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Post-pandemic, the area's better-known and more heavily trod urban oases are brimming with activity, but they're not the only games in town. Below, in alphabetical order, are New Times' picks for Miami’s best parks — in all their shapes, sizes, and locales, from Palmetto Bay to Sweetwater and up to the edges of North Miami.
A.D. (Doug) Barnes Park3401 SW 72nd Ave., Miami
Named in honor of the first director of Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation, this 65-acre park is located in the unincorporated area of Coral Terrace, just minutes from the Palmetto Expressway. Featuring a native tropical hardwood hammock and pine rockland hiking trail, the park’s aura aligns with the mission of its namesake, who sought to make recreation a critical component of community life and whose 40-year career brought us Miami’s park system as we know it today. As a space providing accessible pavilions for those with special needs and camp programming for children with disabilities, A.D. (Doug) Barnes Park allows everyone to benefit from its natural treasures. Open daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Barnacle Historic State Park3485 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove
Only steps from CocoWalk and the bustling restaurants and shops of Coconut Grove’s entertainment district, Barnacle Historic State Park is the location of the oldest home still in its original location to be built in Miami-Dade. It also happens to be one of the more secluded, quieter parks to discover on one’s own, as the winding, canopied entryway leads to a grassy lawn with a head-on view of Biscayne Bay. Built by Ralph Middleton Munroe, a 20th-century settler of the area who fought off developers seeking to build artificial islands offshore and engineers who wished to pipe raw sewage into the bay, the passion project of a man who loved yachts and boats and, most of all, his Grove home, continues to be enjoyed by visitors today. Admission is $2 per person. Sunday through Wednesday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bill Sadowski Park17555 SW 79th Ave., Palmetto Bay
When you think of going to a park, the idea of arriving at night might seem a little...off the beaten path. For stargazers and awestruck enjoyers of space, Bill Sadowski Park’s 33-acre terrain can be experienced quite nicely in the evening, thank you very much. With the largest telescope in the county available for visitors to use, the Southern Cross Astronomy Society has utilized the park to host weekly star parties since 1986 (interrupted only when the pandemic forced a suspension of operations). Named after William “Bill” Sadowski, an environmental lawmaker who worked to create accessible homes and landscapes for Floridians, the southernmost park on this list also features vast geological landscapes, from solution holes to limestone rock formations and even a drained Everglades slough. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park1725 NE 135th St., North Miami
This park, named in honor of Elaine Gordon, whose political activism in support of human rights, especially for women, is located only steps away from Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus, where Gordon helped raise funds for scholarships. The park is brimming with North Miami’s best-kept treasures, including the county’s first public LGBTQ+ sculpture, created by Miami-based artist Alan Gutierrez, and borders Arch Creek Park, a historical site where a Tequesta Indian village once existed. Open daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Kendall Indian Hammocks Park11395 SW 79th St., Miami
This hardwood hammock in suburban Kendall, which provides a much-needed a breather from the harsh Miami sun, is located alongside a 14,000-square-foot plaza where adrenaline junkies and skating rookies abound. Inspired by Philadelphia’s Love Park and San Francisco’s Embarcadero, the Indian Hammocks Action Sports Plaza features ramps and rails where skaters of all levels and skillsets can thrive and grind, with a shaded bleacher section available for those who prefer to watch from a safe distance. Open daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Lummus Park Historic District360 NW Third Street, Miami
While Miami Beach’s Lummus Park tends to be the one that comes to mind, there happens to be another Lummus Park: in downtown Miami. Built in 1909, the park continues to provide a glimpse into Miami’s early years as a pioneering city in the South. The majority of the buildings surrounding the park were built prior to 1926, and their architecture is unique in its construction and diverse in style, from the militant native limestone of Fort Dallas to the Masonic columns of the Scottish Rite Temple. Stroll the historic promenade with a direct view of the Miami River and find yourself transported back in time. Open daily sunrise to sunset.
North Trail Park780 NW 127th Ave., Miami
Another skate park on this list that’s not Lot 11? This Spohn Ranch concrete creation offers a cozier, community-based atmosphere for skaters looking to practice and mingle on the county's western fringes. Besides existing as a hub for the local skate scene, the park offers after-school programming opportunities for kids, along with a well-rounded assortment of facilities for all of your fitness needs. Open daily sunrise to sunset.
Simpson Park55 SW 17th Rd., Miami
Encased by Brickell highrises and I-95 traffic is Simpson Park, formerly known as Jungle Park. While on the smaller side of the parks on this list, Simpson Park is more about what it provides to city dwellers than what’s actually within — though it's stunning in its preservation of one of the last remnants of the tropical hardwood hammock in Brickell. With over 96 varieties of native tree and plant species, 15 endangered species, and nine threatened species — and even a pavilion constructed in collaboration by Miami architect Chad Oppenheim and Swiss landscape designer Enzo Enea — the park is a testament to the persistent commitment of those who have fought to preserve the city’s natural roots from heedless urbanization. Open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Soundscape Park400 17th St., Miami Beach
If life has brought out anything from deep within us of late, it’s the desire to enjoy each other’s company in the natural environment. But the same goes for entertainment. Soundscape Park in Miami Beach includes a grassy area where one can recline to view the screen that’s projected on the side of the New World Center. With Walllcast concerts scheduled to play live classical music performances and the Soundscape Cinema Series providing a weekly 7,000-square-foot screen projection on which one can watch movies for free at night, the urban park enables Miami’s nightlife to thrive in an organic way. Designed by West 8, an urban-planning and landscape-architecture firm based in the Netherlands, the park is complete with aluminum structures that supply shade for its visitors and support the many bougainvillea trees scattered throughout the space. Admission is free depending on special events. Open 24 hours.
The Women’s Park10251 W. Flagler St., Miami
Rather than being named after a singular woman who has impacted the history and state of Miami, the Women’s Park pays homage to the endless contributions of yesterday, today, and tomorrow’s South Floridian females. Greeting visitors with a sculptured gate and fence designed by artist Lydia Rubio, which was created in partnership with the Miami-Dade Art and Public Places program, the park bears the name of many women who have had an impact on the city’s development. Historical bonus: A time capsule buried under the oolite limestone in the park at its inauguration in 1992 is set to be opened this year, revealing the zeitgeist of the city at the time of its creation. Open daily 7 a.m. to sunset.
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