March 24, 2020

Miami for Nature Lovers

3 Nature Spots to Visit in Miami

Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park
Long Pine Key Nature Trail in Everglades National Park

Being under an official stay-at-home order, I am left to contemplate how to spend this extra time now that I have no jobs and no photos to edit. It’s quite a surreal world we’re living in right now, but I try to take a few moments each day and think about how much I still have to be grateful for.

For awhile now I’ve been wanting to share some sort of Miami travel guide from a local’s perspective, as someone who has grown up here and continues to find this city an exciting, vibrant and culturally diverse place to live.

While I appreciate city life, from the diverse array of restaurant’s to choose from, to having movie theaters and libraries and stores close-by, I also consider myself a nature girl at heart. Give me some wide open spaces, replace the car horns and sirens and incessant construction sounds with a gently running stream and chipper birds however tripe that may sound. Heck I’ll even take a meter’s worth of grass under a tree – just please, please, a break from all those city sounds. (I certainly am getting my wish right now with this coronavirus movie-like reality we’re current living it – albeit I wish it was that minus the horror of death and illness and economic devastation hitting nearly every part of the earth right now.)

With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite nature spots in the city. Check ahead for any potential closing times or events. Tip: Bring along mosquito repellent and sun protection. Umbrellas and ponchos might come in handy too 😉

1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild is a wonderful respite from the city. It is expansive and beautiful and well taken care of. This is truly a nature’s paradise, replete with an abundance of tropical plants. If you get lucky, you might get to see one of it’s resident alligators. Keep your eyes out for iguanas and birds as well. They have a wonderful butterfly conservatory next to a cafe if you need some food, refreshments or just some cold AC. Their gift shop is pretty awesome too!

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

What Fairchild is all about:

Fairchild is dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. We are one of the premier conservation and education-based gardens in the world and a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation. Currently Fairchild has field programs in over 20 countries including support to protected areas in Madagascar and Africa and botanic garden development and renovation projects in South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

As we work around the world, Fairchild’s level of dedication to native plant conservation in South Florida remains unparalleled. We also have one of  the world’s greatest living collection of palms and cycads. This year we will reach over 150,000 students with The Fairchild Challenge, Explorer and Discovery programs and more than 3,000 adults will participate in our Life Long Learning education courses.

2. Miami Beach Botanical Garden

The Japanese Garden

While this garden is quite small and is good for maybe a 1 hour visit, it is centrally located in South Beach and a relaxing place to unwind. Also: it’s free to the public! It is very well maintained and has a wonderful variety of plants. You can take a self-guided audio tour using your mobile phone or attend a guided tour on Saturdays at 11am. If you meet one of the staff or volunteers – say hello! They are very friendly and kind. They recently even added an apiary to the garden. There are events that take place here as well, so check out the events calendar if you might be interested in attending. The garden is closed on Mondays.

3. Everglades National Park

Shark Valley, Everglades National Park
Bike along the path in Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Everglades National Park. Do visit in the winter months if possible, or what they call the dry season from November-March. There are many options in the Everglades: go on an airboat ride, take a hike on one of the many trails, rent a bike at Shark Valley or take the tram, go canoeing or kayaking, or for the more adventurous: camp out in the wilderness!

Camping in Long Pine Key, Everglades National Park.
Camping at Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park