While summer in Miami can be hot and humid, delicious ocean and bay breezes and the smell of the sea are reason enough to embrace the area’s outdoor attractions. Whether you want a cultural experience, athletic adventure or to learn about the city’s history, Miami has a plethora of sun-kissed spots meant for enjoying nature.
Did you know there’s an idyllic park at the southern tip of South Beach, surrounded by Government Cut and the Atlantic Ocean? South Pointe Park is an active space, with walking trails and paths for bicyclists, rollerbladers and runners. There’s a playground and splash pad for the little ones and a bark park for dogs. Plus, the 450-foot pier where you can go fishing or just watch the boats go by. Either bring a picnic or sup at Smith & Wollensky, the gourmet steakhouse situated right in the park with an outdoor bar (they make a potent martini) and ample seating.
1 Washington Ave; 305-673-7006
Boasting 83 acres of tropical foliage, Fairchild is a nature lover’s dream. A respite from the fast-paced city, this only-in-Miami experience features over 3,400 species of tropical plants—from rare orchids, philodendrons and bromeliads to the world’s largest collection of tropical bamboo, with over 125 species. They are known for their mangoes, with over 600 varieties, which is celebrated with an annual Mango Festival every summer. There’s also a butterfly garden, painting and cooking classes and evening concerts.
10901 Old Cutler Road
Probably Miami’s most iconic attraction, visiting Vizcaya is like a flashback to the “Roaring ‘20s.” Explore the Gilded Age with one of the finest private estates in Miami. Vizcaya was built between 1912 and 1922 by James Deering as an Italian-style waterfront villa with Baroque elements and Venetian- and Renaissance-inspired gardens. Today, you can explore the lush property and gardens, including the first floor of the main house. There’s a weekly farmer’s market on Sundays, incredible pool grotto with mural by Robert Winthrop Chandler (you may remember the pool from that infamous scene in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) and delicious café.
3251 South Miami Ave; 305-250-9133
While the Pérez Art Museum Miami is an indoor venue featuring contemporary artwork, this cultural landmark is also known for its outdoor spaces, from the hanging gardens to alfresco dining at Verde, the museum’s waterfront restaurant and bar. A dedicated outdoor sculpture garden features large-scale pieces by Anthony Caro, Gonzálo Fonseca, Edgar Negret, Ernesto Neto, Jedd Novatt, Pablo Atchugarry and Mark di Suvero. The adjacent Maurice Ferré Park is 21 acres of waterfront green space with sculptures by Isamu Noguchi.
1103 Biscayne Blvd; 305-375-3000
Even on the hottest summer day, the Venetian Pool is always a great spot to cool down. That’s because this freshwater pool (the country’s largest) refills itself every day from an underground aquifer (with refreshing water). There are two waterfalls, grottos and lounge chairs. The 820,000-gallon pool was created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, and its magnificent Mediterranean design is charming and historic.
2701 de Soto Blvd; 305-460-5306
Interested in what pioneer living was like in the early days of Miami? Then visit Barnacle State Park with its original home (circa 1891) still intact. It is the oldest house in Miami-Dade County still standing in its original location and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in Coconut Grove, this little sliver of a park is a hidden gem, with winding paths, bay views and the opportunity to spot doves, woodpeckers, herons, pelicans, kingfishers, cormorants and shorebirds.
3485 Main Highway, 305-442-6866