(Courtesy: Miami-Dade Parks)
Long before the attraction of South Beach, there was Crandon Park. An undisturbed strip of nature where coconut palms, softy sandy beaches and native vegetation tempt locals and visitors to escape the busyness of the city. Where two miles of picture-perfect shoreline offer year-round fun in the sun. It’s the perfect spot for families to enjoy kite flying, picnics and a stroll through the gardens.
Crandon Park’s beaches are still the park’s greatest attraction for tourists, locals and even fashion photographers and filmmakers. Dr. Beach, USA Today’s 10Best.com and other travel sites have consistently ranked this beach among the top beaches in the nation.
Once the site of a coconut plantation, Crandon Park still has plenty of coconut palms along the shoreline. There are also hundreds of picnic tables and more than 70 barbecue grills throughout the park that beachgoers can lay claim to. If you don’t want to pack gear, there are two concession stands operated by Lighthouse Concessions where patrons can buy lunch or snacks and rent lounge chairs, umbrellas, and even single and family bicycles to take advantage of the park’s bike trails.
Water sports enthusiasts can visit Miami Kiteboarding — located on North Beach — for kiteboard, paddleboard or kayak rentals. If you don’t know how but always wanted to learn, Miami Kiteboarding also offers lessons, summer camps, paddleboard yoga and more, and instructors speak various languages. Visit the Miami Kiteboarding website for more information.
Safety is always important and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue lifeguards are on duty every day at the park’s eye-catching yellow lifeguard stands, built in the South Florida Vernacular architectural design style that encompass all of the buildings throughout Crandon Park.
People with mobility impairments can call 786-336-6982 to reserve a beach wheelchair.
For those who want to make their beach outings a more regular enjoyment, Crandon Park offers beach cabana rentals on a daily, monthly or even annual basis. These enclosed cabanas are ideal for large gatherings or for people who want a more private experience. Call the park office at 305-361-5421 for fees and availability or click here to check out more park amenities.
Family Amusement Center
Children flock to Crandon’s Family Amusement Center for a day of play away from the water where the main attraction is the historic carousel with its jumping horses, crafted of wood and molded aluminum in 1949 by the famous Allen Herschell Company. Other attractions include an outdoor skating rink, playground and tot-lot, and a picnic pavilion popular for children’s birthday par- ties. The Family Amusement Center is only open on weekends and holidays.
Crandon Park was the original site of Zoo Miami (formerly known as MetroZoo), which was located at what is now known as Crandon Gardens. The zoo structures, which were formerly animal enclosures, still exist but are now empty and open to all. Bike rentals are available to help you take in the scenery. It’s also a popular site because of the animals that still live there — not in enclosures, but in the wild. At every turn you’ll find native bird and fowl, including Sandhill cranes, spoonbill cranes, Ibis, various species of ducks and geese, and peacocks, which you encounter equally on the ground or up in a tree as you stroll through the garden.
Various reptile species can also be found including lizards, iguanas and the elusive and non-threatening crocodile. The Gardens also have picnic tables and benches. Insider tip: On most afternoons, people rush to stake their spot at one of the benches along the water to take in the breathtaking scenery after a long day at the office.
Crandon Park Visitor and Nature Center
The Crandon Park Visitor and Nature Center on North Beach is the start of the park’s nature trail through endangered mangroves, tropical hardwood hammock and other native fauna. The nature trail leads you to the boardwalk to Bear Cut Preserve, a designated natural environment study area and home to a fossilized reef.
Miami-Dade Parks’ naturalists are available to guide visitors through the preserve to explore the hammock, ocean and beach communities. At the end of the boardwalk, don’t miss the spectacular view of Miami’s skyline and the fragile fossilized ref that can only be viewed from the lookout point.
Let Crandon Park be the spot to get you started living a park life!
Above content provided by Parks-Foundation of Miami-Dade and Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation