Wednesday, March 1, 2017

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Reveling in the Outdoors at 4 Miami Parks

Given Miami's incredible weather—the number one reason people tell me they live here—parks, greenspaces, and other outdoor gathering spots are our most precious asset. I am particularly fond of them because I spend 99-percent of my life indoors, trapped in an office with no windows from sunrise until way past sunset. On a good week, I see the sun at most 10 hours total. For a nature lover like me, the separation from the sun, from the ocean breeze, from the outdoors is absolute torture.

Motivated by the recurring spurts of dry, cool weather, as well as rare openings in my schedule, this past month I hit the road to revel in the beautiful outdoors at four Miami parks. Each of the parks offers a very different vibe and very different amenities. Most importantly—cue the congratulatory applause—they are spread out all over the greater Miami area. I list them below with highlights on why you need to visit each park, starting with the one located closest to my South Beach home and ending with the furthest.

Which one(s) have you been to? Which one(s) do you plan to visit first? Why? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

1. South Pointe Park (1 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach)
Between the running paths, open grassy areas, stunning vistas, and entertaining people watching, South Pointe Park is my favorite Miami Beach park. (I bet you can tell by the frequency with which I write about it.) It's within walking distance of my apartment and its industrial-meets-natural design contributes to an appealing ambiance that I look to when I'm going for a run, need a place to unwind, or want to enjoy a meal outdoors. It's the total package, everything you could want in a neighborhood park.

2. Margaret Pace Park (1745 North Bayshore Drive, Miami)
I first discovered Margaret Pace Park when I joined a recreational sand volleyball league. Our games were scheduled once a week after work. The park's sand volleyball courts were the perfect place to play because the park is centrally located and the courts are well-lit in the evenings. These days Margaret Pace Park makes for a great waterfront halfway point during my long weekend runs. For those with furry friends, the park's pet-friendly atmosphere and beautiful bay views make this park dog walking heaven.

3. Amelia Earhart Park (401 E 65th Street, Hialeah)
Hialeah's Amelia Earhart Park is pretty much Miami's Disney World. The humongous property—it's 515 acres in size!—offers everything from biking to paddle boarding to fishing to golf. And, on the weekends, Miami takes full advantage. During my first visit, finding a spot in the parking lot by the park office was like mining for gold. There were people everywhere celebrating birthdays in the pavilions, casually strolling around its winding network of paths, pedaling multi-person bikes and paddle boats, etc. My most surprising and exciting find was a petting zoo full of goats. Miami, bro...

4. Deering Estate (16701 SW 72nd Avenue, Cutler Bay)
Last but not least is the historic Deering Estate that Charles Deering (member of one of Miami's pioneering families and older brother to Vizcaya owner James Deering) made his home until his death in 1927. The verdant property makes an excellent backdrop for weddings. In fact, I was introduced to the house, its magical courtyard, and its incomparable bay views during the wedding of two friends. I have since gone back to enjoy a guided nature hike and educational seminar on Biscayne Bay. Next up? A tour of the historic houses and a canoe excursion around the environmental, archeological and historical preserve.

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