New to South Florida? Just visiting? Here are the best places to start getting to know the area! There is much more to the Magic City than South Beach, after all. In many ways, the area is an independent country when it comes to language, diversity and diet. It can be hard figuring out where to go first. There are so many great spots to visit and so little time. Here is our list of some of the best locations on the Gold Coast!
Knaus Berry Farm
15980 SW 248th St.
Having operated as a family-owned business since 1956, Knaus Berry Farm is truly a hidden gem of South Florida. It is known for assorted baked goods, cinnamon rolls ($12.35 a dozen or $1.35 each), ice cream ($3.90 a cup), fruits and vegetables (produce offered at market price). All the products are homemade and homegrown. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, and until 4 p.m. on Saturday, you can visit and pick your own strawberries! While it is an amazing experience in person, Knaus Berry Farm offers phone and online ordering, as well as shipping for the cinnamon rolls. How about that? As a heads up, transactions are cash only in the farm store, and the farm is closed on Sunday.
Everglades Holiday Park
21940 Griffin Road
Fort Lauderdale, FL
This is a warning: do NOT go swimming here. Refer to the picture above. Everglades Holiday Park is a great location for adventure in South Florida. Catch an airboat ride or enjoy live alligator presentations. The park also offers group tours, birthday parties, summer camps and other excursions. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. The park entry is free and airboat tickets are $21.99 (plus tax) for children 3 to 11 years old and $33.99 (plus tax) for adults 12 and up. There is also plenty of wildlife. If you’re into nature, this 29-acre park is the place for you.
Amelia Earhart Park
401 E 65th St.
Named after the legendary aviator who was declared lost at sea in 1939, Amelia Earhart Park offers a variety of exciting activities on its 515 acres. Among these are mountain biking, golfing and soccer. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, and parking is free on weekdays ($7 on weekends and holidays). Miami Watersports Complex is located inside and offers wakeboarding, waterskiing, surfing and more. Prices vary depending on the activity (lessons range from $59 to $180). You can book lessons, group events and more through the company’s website.
Oleta River State Park
3400 NE 163rd St.
North Miami Beach, FL
Next on the list is a place of relaxation and stress relief. Oleta River State Park is advertised as being a place to get away from the busy and frustrating city life. It is also Florida’s largest urban park, taking up over 1,000 acres of space and operating from 8 a.m. until sundown year-round. Here you can go mountain biking, fishing, swimming and even camping, so there’s something for everyone. It is located by the beautiful Biscayne Bay. Entry fees are $2 for single-occupant vehicles, $4 for vehicles with two or more passengers and $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists. Cabin rentals are $55 per night (plus tax).
Hollywood Beach and Broadwalk
1100 N Broadwalk
Alright, alright, enough parks. Let’s talk about the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about South Florida: the beach. Want an aesthetic, tropical feel to your experience? Walk along the 2.5 mile boardwalk on Hollywood Beach, which was built in the 1920s. On one side are palm trees and the ocean, and on the other are pastel-colored stores and restaurants (and even more palm trees) that complement the vibe. Enjoy some food and music at Nick’s Bar & Grill or treat yourself to a cup of frozen yogurt or ice cream at Yogurt Ur Way Café. Here’s the cherry on top: it’s definitely more accessible than South Beach.
19501 Biscayne Blvd.
Located in (you guessed it) Aventura, this mall is easily one of the best shopping centers in South Florida, if not all of Florida. There are more than 300 stores and 50 food locations, including a brand new Apple Store and a food court that offers 13 food joints to satisfy your taste buds. Outside the food hall, two dozen restaurants and cafés, including a Cheesecake Factory, are scattered throughout the mall. However, there’s more to it than just food and shopping. Events are scheduled every week and listed on the website. Aventura Mall is also home to plenty of art, including statues and paintings. The most bizarre of them all is a huge outdoor slide tower that looks like it belongs in an amusement park.
SW 8th St. (Little Havana)
If you want a taste of Cuba without taking a trip to the country, stop by Calle Ocho. Located in Little Havana, this landmark neighborhood is the center of the Cuban life and culture in Miami. It’s also the inspiration for one of Pitbull’s biggest songs, if you care to know. From delicious restaurants and mouth-watering bakeries to Spanish music and annual festivals, Calle Ocho has everything. Just make sure you learn a little bit of Spanish and Cuban slang before you go. ¡Acere!
2701 De Soto Blvd.
Coral Gables, FL
It looks like the definition of paradise. Splash around in the sun with friends and family in this incredible 820,000 gallon pool in the beautiful city of Coral Gables. Venetian Pool is truly one of a kind, as it is consistently one of the best attractions in the country, not only for tourists but for residents alike. Currently, daily admission rates for non-residents are $15.00 for adults (13 and older) and $10.00 for children (3 to 12 years old). Residents of Coral Gables have it even better, with a year-round rate of $6.25 for adults and $5.25 for children. (All fees are subject to change. Pool is closed from December to March.)
6747 Crandon Blvd.
Key Biscayne, FL
Okay, maybe one more park. This one is the only exception. Opened in the 1940s, Crandon has a lot to offer. Aside from going to the beach, you can explore the Bear Cut Preserve, which is home to many different plants and animals. The park, open from sunrise to sunset, also includes a tennis center, a golf course, a marina and other nature centers. Parking is $5 on weekdays and $7 on weekends. Bring some friends and family, rent a cabana or pavilion and have a good time!
2520 NW 2nd Av.
It’s all about walls — and the art of course. The Wynwood Art District is a cultural capital. Take a walk around the area and you will find graffiti and wall paintings everywhere. There’s also plenty of clothing, artwork and food shops, as well as food trucks. If you’re interested in a true experience of diversity and energy, come to Wynwood on the weekends after sunset. There’s something about being surrounded by light and colors at night that brings everyone out to have a good time. And if you’re 21 and older, there are plenty of nightclubs to visit on the weekends. Try Gramps and El Patio Wynwood. Hipster status not required.