While the rest of the nation is celebrating just being able to leave the house without mittens and and a scarf on, it will be just another warm, sunny weekend for us here in South Florida. So why not grill a fabulous selection of barbecued meats while taking in a wondrous view? No we don't mean by pulling over on 195 on our way to the beach. That is illegal. Try these five cooking spots.
5. A.D. (Doug) Barnes Park
Named after Miami's first director of parks and recreation, this South Miami destination since 1977 has reflected Barnes's belief in the importance of fun to the lives of every citizen. In addition to grills, the park also features The Sense of Wonder Nature Trail and Center, a large pool and a playground for the kids. Park hours are from sunrise to sunset, which will occur around 8 p.m. on Memorial Day. The Nature Center will be closed during the holiday, as it is every Monday and Tuesday, but is open until 5 p.m. every other day of the week.
4. Oleta River State Park
Oleta River is a huge 1,043-acre state park system on Biscayne Bay in North Miami that stands as Florida's largest park located in an urban setting. The park opens at 8 a.m. and closes at sundown. It is best known for miles of off-road bicycling trails, from novice to expert. Nine pavilions that all feature running water can be rented with advance notice (305-919-1844) for a small fee that ranges depending on the season. Additional overnight cabins are also available for $55 a night plus tax.
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3. Amelia Earhart Park
Located in the northern tip of Hialeah just south of State Road 924 (the Gratigny), Amelia Earhart is a wonderland of lakes that features the Bill Graham Farm Village with live cows, goats, chicken, pigs, sheep and goose. You can fish at all five lakes and canoe at three of them, and at the largest you can even learn to wakeboard with a trained instructor. There is also a dog park, volleyball courts and six picnic shelters with barbecue grills ready for charcoal.
2. Alice Wainwright Park
This small patch of land right on the Atlantic Ocean was named after the first woman to serve on the Miami City Commission. Featuring basketball courts, a kids playground and several covered pavilions, the park offers what is perhaps the best view anywhere on this list. As every other park so far, this one opens from sunrise to sunset, but doesn't offer many amenities or much space to roam. If you live in the Brickell area, however, it is a quick way to escape from the rigors of city life.
1. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
The lighthouse that stands in this popular Key Biscayne destination is the oldest standing structure in the county, built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846. Guided tours are given twice daily Thursday through Monday, when you can take mesmerizing shots like the one above. Pavilions are available, but have to be reserved in advance (305-361-5811). Bicycles, umbrellas and beach chairs can be rented and there are two dining options (Lighthouse Cafe and Boater's Grill) for those that run out of food. Or, if you bring fishing equipment, you can catch your own food casting reels on the seawall along Biscayne Bay.