With inviting warm weather, beautiful blue skies, lush tropical foliage, and incomparable soft sand beaches, it’s not wonder that Miami, Florida is a world-class getaway destination. Aside from its famous sights and attractions, Miami features numerous hidden gems that most visitors do not know about. Located in proximity to many Miami vacation rentals are fun activities, fascinating museums, and lovely parks. Check out the best hidden gems in the city of Miami.
1. The Kampong
The Kampong is a spectacularly beautiful botanical garden in the southern Miami neighborhood of Coconut Grove. Originally established by famed horticulturist Dr. David Fairchild as an experimental laboratory, the name comes from the Javanese word for enclosed village. Fairchild brought thousands of species of tropical plants to this luxuriant site from all over the world. Among the exotic fruits are egg fruit, peanut butter fruit, candle fruit, cocoplums, and more than 50 types of mango. The garden also has numerous species of flowering trees, palms, and bamboo. Another of its features is a large saltwater mangrove forest. Self-guided or docent-guided tours of the facility are available by reservation.
2. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in southeastern Miami on the shore of Biscayne Bay is the erstwhile estate of James Deering, who made his fortune with International Harvester and the Deering Harvester Company. The 50-acre property includes an enormous villa, numerous outbuildings, an Italian Renaissance garden, and an extensive tropical forest. Guided tours take you through the breathtakingly beautiful gardens and many of the 54 rooms in the 38,000 square foot main house. The interior of the villa features much of the original furniture as well as Deering’s impressive collection of artwork.
3. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Because of its location, the astonishingly beautiful soft sand beach at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is less crowded than other popular Miami beaches. To reach it, you drive across the Rickenbacker Causeway all the way out to the end of Key Biscayne. On the pristine beach, enjoy swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, snorkeling, and other water sports. Fishing is also possible from the seawall along the bay. Don’t miss a tour of the lighthouse and keeper’s quarters at Cape Florida Light.
4. Miami-Dade College Museum of Art and Design
The Miami-Dade College Museum of Art and Design lies within the historic Freedom Tower near vacation rentals in downtown Miami. This fascinating museum emphasizes visual art and design through rotating exhibits of culturally and historically significant cross-disciplinary art. Designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Freedom Tower served as a processing point for Cuban refugees in the 1960s. Besides the Museum of Art and Design, the building also houses the Cuban American Museum, which features an exhibition on the Cuban diaspora.
5. Bayfront Park
Bayfront Park is a small and easily overlooked gem on Biscayne Bay in the heart of downtown Miami. This lovely 32-acre park features a small sand beach, a children’s playground, a rock garden and waterfall, and numerous monuments. A walkway with a beautiful view follows the edge of Biscayne Bay, and benches allow you to sit and contemplate the panoramic scenery. The park, which also has an amphitheater and an open-air pavilion, hosts numerous events such as concerts and celebrations.
6. Gold Coast Railroad Museum
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum lies in southwestern Miami near the northern edge of Zoo Miami. The family-friendly museum has over 30 historic trains, including the luxurious presidential train car known as the Ferdinand Magellan, which was used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. The museum allows visitors to board and explore the train cars and also offers rides in vintage locomotives and railway cars. Another fascinating museum feature is an exhibition of model train sets.
7. Simpson Park Hammock
Simpson Park Hammock, formerly known as Jungle Park, is a small 7.8-acre hideaway of tropical hardwood foliage in the midst of downtown Miami. This lush paradisiacal wonderland protects numerous endangered and threatened plant species. A footpath takes you through the luxuriant foliage and past a pristine pond full of turtles and fish. The park is a perfect spot to get away from the hectic urban scene of Miami for a relaxing walk and quiet contemplation.
8. Monkey Jungle
The 30-acre Monkey Jungle wildlife park lies on the southern edge of Miami not far from Zoo Miami. The facility houses close to 20 species of apes and monkeys in environments simulating their natural habitats, including gorillas, golden lion tamarins, and squirrel monkeys from the Amazon Rainforest. Unlike in traditional zoos, the monkeys roam free in their vast environments, while the humans observe them from tunnel-like cages that wind through the various habitats. Monkey Jungle also hosts a lovely collection of parrots in spacious geodesic domes where they can fly freely.
9. Fruit and Spice Park
Located near the southern edge of Miami, the beautiful Fruit and Spice Park contains over 500 types of fruit, spice, and nut trees on 37 acres. These include many varieties of mangoes, grapes, jackfruit, guavas, and other exotic fruits. Visitors are allowed to sample fallen fruit but not to pick it off the trees. Tram and walking tours with expert guides take you around the various sections of the park, which are separated according to the plants’ places of origin.
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