Simpson Park


A couple of months ago, I attended a story slam at Biscayne National Park. The event, supported by a Knight Arts Challenge grant, was part of a series of events celebrating the park’s 50th anniversary. I’d visited Biscayne Park before, but never at night. We roasted s’mores under the stars as people shared their personal stories from a dimly lit patch of grass that served as a stage.

We’re fortunate that Greater Miami is surrounded by awe-inspiring parks and opens spaces. I should know; as a city tour guide, I’ve visited most of them. From eco-adventure and nature camps to kayak and canoe trips, right now is the perfect time to explore your local parks with plenty of summer-fun happenings across Miami-Dade. Here are four more of my favorite Miami parks that are just as soul stirring and worth a visit.

Beaches of Virginia Key
The beaches of Virginia Key are made up of two parks sharing a sandy shoreline: Historic Virginia Key Beach Park and Virginia Key Beach North Point Park. Virginia Key Beach Park once served as a social gathering place for black people during Miami’s segregation era. Today, the historic park is open to the public, where you can meditate among native plants, tour eco-wetlands or volunteer in a beach clean-up. Mountain biking enthusiasts can also explore trails built and maintained by the Virginia Key Bicycle Club at North Point Trails, 2017 Public Space Challenge winner.

Virginia Key Bike Club
Pictured above: A cyclist explores the Virginia Key Beach Park trails.

Sherwood Forest
Over in the Village of El Portal neighborhood, you’ll find an abundance of wildlife and tree canopy. As a designated “tree city,” the green spaces are as vertical as they are horizontal.

Sherwood Forest is home to a 75-foot tall oak tree, exotic birds and reptiles. Indian Mound, named a historic landmark in 1920, has a cave that provides a cool spot to sit during hot summer days. If you’re lucky, you might catch sight of manatees in Little River.

North Shore Open Park
North Shore Open Park offers 36 acres of lush oceanfront park space with plenty of shady sea grape trees, picnic tables and a fitness area. It’s a bit off the beaten path, so on a weekday afternoon, you could have the beach all to yourself. And if you enjoy outdoor performances, check out the North Beach Bandshell nearby. Miami Music Club won a Challenge grant last year to bring free concerts by the sea.

Simpson Park
Lastly, next time you’re in Brickell, venture to Simpson Park, a nearly eight-acre tropical oasis amid skyscrapers and urban living. It’s one of only a few pieces that remain of Brickell Hammock, which used to blanket South Florida thousands of years ago. The tree canopy alone shelters many endangered and threatened plant species. Inside, a simple pavilion creates a verdant reprieve from nearby rush hour traffic.

What’s your favorite soul-stirring spot in Miami?

Alexandra Bassil is a freelance writer and parks enthusiast.

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