Simpson Park

06 Jul FIVE OPEN SPACES IN MIAMI THAT STIR THE SOUL

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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5 Comments
  • Helena Alonso Paisley
    Posted at 18:32h, 19 July Reply

    On a morning after a good rain, see the oak trees blanketed with resurrection fern in Matheson Hammock. It’s like an outdoor cathedral.

  • Steve Hagen. Hagan on Face Book.
    Posted at 19:23h, 19 July Reply

    PLEASE STOP refering to green spaces of various catagories as open spaces. Call them what each one actually is. Use Green Space if anything. Parks in an urban are may have athletic purpose but if they are passive they need mored than trees and did to bring visitors back on a regular repeat basis.

    The use of open spaces leads to a mentality that they these spaces need to be changed or improved in some manner as in a vacant lot that needs to built upon. This has lead to a net loss p
    Of great green parks space in Miami over the great building boom of the last 20 years. All Miami leaders and residents should be ashamed of the lack of progress in providing more parks in park poor Miami.

    Steve Hagen. Hagan on. FACE Book. More Parks for Miami NOW. 305 754 0099

  • Barbara A. DeVane
    Posted at 23:51h, 19 July Reply

    I love the Redlands!! Of course, in addition to its lush and colorful tropical beauty, my daughter Mia DeVane lives there with her farmer manfriend Jimmy Sanders. I live in the capital city of Tallahassee with all its many hills. It is a beautiful little city, but so different from South Miami-Dade.

  • Charles Weyman
    Posted at 18:43h, 20 July Reply

    At Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, you can also have an eco-historical tour that not just talks about the wetland and coastal dune biomes at the park but also its human history. It’s a lot more than meets the eye. They even have a few nature trails in their hammock with more in development. Virginia Key is quite a beautiful and peaceful spot!

  • Wallis Hamm Tinnie
    Posted at 21:43h, 21 July Reply

    The Park situation within the actual limits of the City of Miami is deplorable. Even now, there is talk of reclaiming a green space, (a golf course) just to use it as a sports attraction. The City of Miami has gated one of its parks, Morningside Park, to accommodate the residents in the area of the park. Easily, the entrance to the park could have been left readily accessible to the community; however, that entrance from Biscayne Boulevard was closed off. It is shameful, And City Officials are always dreaming up ways to allow developers to build museums, condos, hotels or other “resorts” on the remaining green spaces, Witness the disputed land behind the Heat Arena (itself representative of another loss to the citizens). Witness the Jungle Island proposal of a 300-room hotel. It is disgraceful that in a City with miles and miles of beautiful waterfront and acres and acres of tropical flora and fauna, the citizens of the City of Miami usually have to pay to see the water or go miles and miles to find evidence of the tropical City they live in.

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