If you’re itching for an escape from city life, just head down to South Dade, where the tropical, natural landscape seems endless. Bike through the area’s many trails or camp in the middle of a neighborhood park so expansive you feel like you’re in the wilderness. Maybe head a little farther south to explore the biodiversity of Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. If you’re not about that outdoor life, there’s the mysterious Coral Castle, the wonderful Gold Coast Train Museum, and the beautiful Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple.
Black Creek Trail
Plenty of locals get their walk, run, and bike on Black Creek Trail. It stretches 8.5 mostly paved miles from Larry and Penny Thompson Park to Black Point Marina, and connects with the South Dade Trail (US 1), the south end of the Old Cutler Trail, and the Biscayne Trail (SW 87th Ave/Black Point Marina). You’ll pass quiet neighborhoods, nurseries, and palm farms and spot ducks, egrets, herons, turtles, raccoons, plenty of fish, and the occasional gator.
What they do: Trail
Website: Visit Here
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Address: 17600 SW 137 Ave. to 24775 SW 87th Ave.
Burr’s Berry Farm
Burr’s Berry Farm is usually described as “Knaus Berry Farm but without the wait,” but that’s not fair – it’s pretty amazing on its own. You can pick your own strawberries there during the season, then cool off with a delicious strawberry milkshake or ice cream sundae. They’re open from December to early May.
Once upon a time, Cauley Square was a place of “booze, brawls, and a bordello” for railroad workers. Now it’s a historic railroad village with old train cars, tropical gardens, and sculptures that give a glimpse of what old South Florida used to be like, before I-95 and Gloria Estefan. There are also plenty of private businesses that keep their own hours, including art and antique galleries, an exotic bird shop, and a tea house.
Coral Castle Museum
This is one of the more bizarre things in South Florida, and that’s saying a lot. The Coral Castle Musuem was built over the course of 28 years by an eccentric Latvian architect named Edward Leedskalnin, who single-handedly carved more than a thousand tons of coral rock into a sculpture garden with homemade tools. Why? Not sure, but it’s definitely impressive. Pro-tip: Take a guided tour.
Charles Deering Estate
The massive, beautiful Charles Deering Estate was the Florida home of bigwig Charles Deering until his death in 1927. Nowadays it’s owned by Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation. There are tours of the estate and fossils found on site, as well as kayak, canoe, and bike rentals. With gorgeous views of Biscayne Bay, it’s well worth an afternoon. Pro tip: There’s a dock at the edge of the property that is open to the public without an admission fee. It’s nicknamed “The People’s Pier.”
Homestead Air Reserve Park
If you want to get moving after all those cinnamon rolls and milkshakes, Homestead Air Reserve Park is a good spot to head. It’s now home to a disc golf course (the southernmost course in the U.S.), which came out of a Miami Foundation Public Space Challenge grant in 2016. There’s also a paintball course if you really want to get your adrenaline pumping.
Everglades National Park
If you enter Everglades National Park via the Ernest Coe Visitor Center, you’ll hit the mile-long Anhinga Trail, full of wildlife like alligators, herons, and egrets amid the sawgrass. Nearby there’s also the Nike Hercules Missile Site, a cold war relic that people who like thinking about how close we came to blowing each other up will probably enjoy. Join a tour from the Daniel Beard Center at 2 p.m. any day of the week.
Everglades Outpost Wildlife Rescue
We found this place on a whim while taking a side road from getting a smoothie from “Robert Is Here” and casually finding a not-so-native-to-Florida zebra chilling behind a fence. Turns out that zebra and most of the animals here were confiscated from illegal or abusive situations by Wildlife, Fish and Game Officers, or were abandoned by their owners. You can volunteer at this wildlife sanctuary, or just spend an afternoon strolling around, talking to the animals.
Fruit & Spice Park
The Fruit & Spice Park is a lush tropical oasis. It hosts more than 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts, with more than 150 varieties of mango alone. You can try them all at their tasting counter. Guided tours happen every day at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., weather permitting. Be sure to check their site for some stellar stargazing events throughout the year.
Homestead Bayfront Park
If biking through miles of farm roads and ocean views is your thing, then Homestead Bayfront Park and the nearby roads are for you. The starting point for hundreds of bikers daily is the Black Point Marina. From there, they head south to explore the farms of Homestead and mangrove hammocks. The only vehicles you’ll have to share the road with are the occasional tractor. There’s a cafe in the park where you can enjoy a cafecito after your ride.
After Hurrican Andrew devastated South Dade, the Homestead Speedway was built to help the area get some visitors and much needed cash flow. Since then it’s hosted a bunch of racing series, including NASCAR and IndyCar races. If watching cars going around a 1.5 mile oval circuit 400 times doesn’t entertain you (which, weirdly, it will), the rowdy race-loving crowd will. Apologize to your eardrums in advance!
Larry & Penny Thompson Park
Larry and Penny Thompson Park is a gorgeous, 270-acre park featuring South Florida woodlands, trails, and hiking paths. There’s also a massive campground with 240 campsites, full electrical and water hook-ups, and hot showers if you’re into that glamping life. You can hit up the water slides carved into a rock mountain and clear blue lake before settling into your sleeping bag.
Pioneer Florida Museum
Take a look into how homes were built, furniture was made, and the fields plowed in early Florida at this museum dedicated to showcasing how pioneering Floridians lived and worked. Travel back in time by exploring the tools and vehicles from more than a century ago. Then walk outside and explore the grounds which feature a restored “Overstreet House,” a one-room schoolhouse, a church, and even a train engine.
Redland Market Village
This market sprawling across 20+ acres of land includes an outdoor flea market, an indoor farmers market with maybe the cheapest produce in Miami, and a never-ending line of food trucks serving a whole array of cuisines. The Mexican food trucks are the best, as are the freshly made tortillas you can purchase here to take home. There are pony rides and games if you’ve got kiddies with you.
For more than 50 years, R.F. Orchids has been the mecca of orchid farms. They have won more than 1,000 awards for their rare breeds of orchids but still keep the starting price for their flowers around $10. We highly suggest your catch a garden tour with owner Robert Fuchs on Saturday or Sunday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Don’t forget to try their free tropical lemonade!
Schnebly Redland’s Winery
You didn’t know that you were missing lychee wine in your life. Well, maybe you’re not. But the quirky tropical fruit wines produced down at Schnebly’s Winery are definitely worth trying, even if you’re not going to be stocking up on them for your fine wine collection. Miami Brewing Company (not the same thing as MIA Brewing Company) is also based here. You can tour both the winery and brewery, plus the lush property.
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Many credit the extension of the Flagler Railroad down through Homestead for the development of South Dade. That’s why the Gold Coast Railroad Museum’s location in Homestead, full of 40 historic railcars, is so perfect. Peep the rail car used by U.S. presidents before Air Force One was a thing and learn about how South Dade came to be the bustling area it is today.
Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple of Miami
Yes, there is an active Buddhist temple in Miami-Dade County. Opened in 1982 to the public, the temple is available to visitors for Buddhism Holy Days, meditation learning, and food festivals. And for first timers, don’t worry – the monks are very friendly and allow you to take pictures and will answer any questions you may have about Buddha, Buddhism or the temple.
We’ve got the only tropical zoo in the U.S. right in our backyard. Zoo Miami (formerly known as Miami Metro Zoo) has more than 3,000 animals, including lions, zebras, orangutans, and flamingoes (obviously). They also just opened a new rad exhibit on the Everglades. There are a bunch of runs that are set at the zoo, too if you’re looking to have a little distraction while you exercise. And if you’re not quite that ambitious, check out the exercise placards inspired by the animals within the exhibits that encourage you to stretch and meditate, so you’re as limber as a monkey and as relaxed as a sloth.