This week’s nominee for Florida’s Special Places comes from Sean Rolland, Audubon Florida’s Summer Law Clerk. Sean is a rising 2nd year law student at University of Florida Law School and we are happy to share his nominee for beautiful Crandon Park on Key Biscayne. Have you visited this special place? Let us know what you think in the comment section below or on Facebook! Enjoy:
Trying to figure out what to do this weekend? Why not visit Crandon Park? If you have never been or just have not found time to visit in a while, this hardly hidden gem is well worth the 10 minute detour from Downtown Miami.
While many tourists (as well as what appears to be most of South Florida) swarm to Crandon Park during the world-renowned Sony Ericsson Tennis Tournament, and others to come to partake of the Crandon Golf course, the best attractions lie on the opposite side of Rickenbacker Causeway where the beach and nature preserves are found.
Crandon beach is a popular location for music videos and photo shoots for a reason. The long and wide beach, soft sand, coastal dunes, hardwood hammock, and clear and calm waters are picturesque. These features as well as the extensive boardwalk, cabanas, barbecues, athletic fields, and children’s playgrounds make Crandon Park perfect for all ages. Walk out to the beach and sunbathe, or walk into the water, where an extensive sandbar allows you to stay in shallow water hundreds of yards from shore.
If just sitting on the beach is not your style, do not panic, you can go to EcoAdventures and rent a kayak, kite board, or paddle board. And for those, like myself, who are more frugal with their funds, I recommend bringing a skimboard if the tide is low (the sandbar makes it a skimboarders’ dream) and your snorkeling gear if the tide is high (yes, there is sea grass and fish in this water, unlike South Beach).
But do not be fooled, Crandon Park has much more than tennis, golf, and a beach. There is also a nature center where you can learn about the local ecology, like the sea turtles who lay their eggs here every year. Also, on the north end of the park is an expansive nature preserve with forested paths to walk or ride through, a boardwalk over mangroves leading to a fossilized reef overlook, and a long stretch of completely undeveloped beach. The highlight of the south end is a former zoo, now a beautiful park complete with diverse plant-life, canals, turtles, iguanas, a wide variety of birdlife, and even the occasional crocodile.
A paradise for runners, bikers, sun-worshippers, bird watchers, snorkelers, swimmers, and connoisseurs of general happiness, Crandon Park is worth the detour.