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Aug 24, 2021

Greater Miami and Miami Beach may be best known as a sophisticated global, urban playground, but one of its greatest allures is its natural charms. So grand are the outdoor options that the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau created the MIAMILAND campaign dedicated to promoting Miami’s unforgettable outdoor adventures and national, state and county parks including recreational centers, open spaces, and soft adventure. From biking to hiking, boating or kayaking, camping or glamping, Miamiland offers nature splendor for everyone.

How does exploring wild and untamed mangrove forests sound? Greater Miami’s diverse outdoor activities offer deep dives into an ocean adventure, paddle boarding in our calm waterways and peaceful nature walks at our historical sites and heritage neighborhoods. There is adventure to be found everywhere you turn!

Just an hour’s drive from the glittering city, two extraordinary national parks beckon, giving travelers the option to get away from it all. When they’re ready for the sights and sounds of the city, they can be part of it all again in just about an hour.

A peerless and wondrous environment, the Florida Everglades and Biscayne National Parks draw approximately 1.5 million visitors each year to explore Florida’s breathtaking wilderness. For travelers who need an even quicker walk on the wild side, there are many natural opportunities even closer to civilization, from canoeing down a quiet waterway and jet skiing on Biscayne Bay to biking along peaceful back roads and hiking to a pond where wading birds gather. Here, cameras click not for movie stars, but for loveable manatees and sea turtles, amazing alligators or the more than 350 species of birds and glorious sunsets over the Everglades, which were nicknamed the “River of Grass” by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in her famous 1947 book.

For those who prefer a more hands-on or educational interaction with wildlife and nature, Greater Miami offers many opportunities. From eco-adventure tours to special wildlife enrichment programs, Miami offers many ways to immerse yourself in Florida’s unparalleled ecosystems.

Everglades National Park

Covering 1.5 million acres, (607,000 hectares) Everglades National Park is the third largest in the lower 48 states of the U.S. National Parks system. Made up of sawgrass prairies, mangrove swamps, subtropical jungle and the warm waters of Florida Bay, this UNESCO World Heritage Site and its seemingly endless grassy waters are home to a rare community of plants and endangered animals. Visitors can see wildlife year-round, with the best viewings taking place January through April and the fall season. Mosquitos come out during the summer evenings, so visitors should consider wearing repellant if they are wandering outdoors at night.

Visitors to the park can enjoy self-guided and ranger-led tours and activities such as walks, and canoe trips from the Main Visitor Center at the Park’s southeastern entrance, or journey deeper into the Everglades for a more extensive experience in the Florida wilderness. The town of Flamingo, 38 miles from the park’s main entrance, boasts a colorful history as the home to hardy pioneers who spent many years trying to settle the beautifully remote but challenging area. Today, Flamingo is home to manatees, dolphins, sea turtles as well as more than 350 species of birds identified within the park, including pelicans, egrets, cormorants, bald eagles and ospreys. And, the combination of fresh, salt and brackish waters makes Florida Bay the only place on earth where freshwater alligators and rare saltwater American crocodiles co-exist together, occasionally venturing into each other’s territories. Occasionally visitors have been known to catch a rare glimpse of these creatures sunning together on a bank!

World-class fishing is also one of Flamingo’s irresistible lures. The park’s waters provide thousands of acres for fishing: shallow water flats channels, and mangrove keys are home to snook, redfish, snapper, trout, largemouth bass, and sea catfish. Another way to get out on the water is to take naturalist-led cruises of Florida Bay or the backcountry.

For those who long for more solitude, backcountry camping in the park is an unforgettable experience. Visitors traveling along the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway can paddle all day without seeing another soul and spend the night camping out on remote chickees – raised platform campsites accessible only by water. Permits and reservations are required but permits can be obtained in person the day before or the day visitors’ trips begin.

For those looking for shorter adventures, the park offers miles of shorter canoe trips and hiking trails. Many of the quarter mile (400 meters) boardwalks located just off the main park road are easy to venture, offering beautiful views. Biking is a great way to see the park as well, with the best opportunities taking place along the Snake Bight Trail near Flamingo to the south and the Shark Valley entrance to the north. Shark Valley offers guided tram tours for those who want to sit it out, while a 15-mile bicycle route gives guests a good chance of spotting an alligator or rare bird. A 65-foot observation tower gives you a bird’s eye view of the River of Grass.

Just outside the park’s south and north entrances, a variety of private concessioners offer heart-pounding, airboat rides across the Everglades, offering a once-in-a-lifetime way to see the world-famous River of Grass.

Biscayne National Park

A rarity among national parks, Biscayne National Park is primarily aquatic. Of its 173,000 acres (70011 hectares), 95% are underwater. Teeming with sea life and plants, the park encompasses the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay, the longest stretch of mangrove forest left on Florida’s east coast, living coral reefs and 40 of the northernmost Florida Keys. Getting out on the water is the key to discovering the wonders of Biscayne National Park.

At the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, guests can sign up for free canoe and kayak trips, walking tours, nature talks, snorkeling programs and other activities from late November until late April each year. In shallow waters less than 10 feet (3 meters) deep, the living coral is home to a variety of sea life including tropical fish, sponges and the spiny lobster, making it a paradise for snorkelers. Manatees, dolphins and five species of sea turtles call the waters of Biscayne Bay home, as do moray eels, stingrays, squid, starfish and hundreds of varieties of fish.

The visitor center’s beautiful museum offers a virtual journey through the park’s four ecosystems using dioramas, audio and video, while the auditorium features several films about the park. The Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery highlights the works of local artists who find inspiration in the park. Eco-adventurers both young and old can get a hands-on experience at the Touch Table, where they can feel bones, feathers, sponges, corals and more.

Biscayne National Park Institute

Biscayne National Park Institute offers a unique way to explore Biscayne National Park with its “Sail and Trail” program. This sailing excursion gives visitors the opportunity to see, experience, and learn about the underwater park. Visitors sail and paddle around Elliott Key, Jones Lagoon, and camp overnight at Adams Key along the historical “trail.” Visitors also learn about the history of the park and its origins, from Native peoples, to famers, to Rum Runners, all while paddling and hiking in the hardwood hammocks of the islands.

Wreck Diving

Closer to what is consistently ranked among America’s top urban beaches, divers can enjoy the bounty of one of the largest artificial-reef programs in the world. With its close proximity to the Bahamas and the Gulf Steam, Miami enjoys beautiful diving conditions year round. Boasting water temperatures from 70 (21º C) to 85 degrees (29º C),…

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