Beyond the Beach

Oct 27, 2022

There’s so much more to see and do in South Florida—discover it all this fall.

South Florida may be known for its pristine beaches on both coasts—but sand and surf aren’t the only way you can get out and enjoy nature in the Sunshine State. 

After you’re done touring towns, spend some time exploring the mangrove forests, pinelands, hiking trails, nature preserves, and other peaceful—and beautiful—natural settings that are found throughout South Florida.

Bear Cut Nature Preserve at Crandon Park (Key Biscayne, FL)

Escape the hustle and bustle of Miami at Bear Cut Nature Preserve at Crandon Park. Check out the Crandon Visitors and Nature Center, then hike the trail that snakes along the waterfront and ends at Fossil Reef, a stunning 6,000-year-old fossilized mangrove forest reef with a glittery backdrop of downtown Miami.

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Deering Estate (Palmetto Bay, FL)

You can spend hours exploring the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay. Once the Florida home of industrialist Charles Deering, this 444-acre state park is now a destination for nature lovers that offers everything from canoe tours and moonlight kayaking to hiking, nature trails, and eco-tours. It’s home to some 170 different bird species and several rarely seen types of butterflies—take an expert-led Bird or Butterfly Walk and see how many you can spot.

Oleta River State Park (North Miami Beach, FL)

The Oleta River cuts through this 1,033-acre park that’s a haven for mountain bikers, paddleboarders, anglers, snorkelers, and swimmers. Pack a picnic to eat along scenic Biscayne Bay or stop and enjoy local favorites, a microbrew, and picturesque water views at the Blue Marlin Fish House as you’re leaving the park. Need more time to take it all in? You can stay overnight in one of the park’s quaint, air-conditioned cabins.  

Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park (Hollywood, FL)

Many threatened and endangered species call the 1,501-acre Anne Kolb Nature Center home. Situated along the Intracoastal Waterway, it features an exhibit hall, a 3,500-gallon aquarium, hands-on activities, an outdoor amphitheater, a fishing pier, and a 68-foot observation tour with sweeping views of the surrounding area. Need more reasons to visit? There’s also hiking, biking, and paddling trails and public art displays—and it’s free on weekdays.

Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center (Davie, FL)

This 164-acre park is a natural oasis in the middle of Davie, FL. Hailed as “one of the best natural spots in South Florida to get away from it all” by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center gives visitors a taste of archaeology, history, and ecology with miles of pedestrian nature trails and equestrian trails underneath majestic oak hammocks. After exploring the property, stop at the exhibit hall to experience a real archaeological dig pit, kid-friendly hands-on exhibits of native vegetation and birds, and live animals including snakes, scorpions, frogs, and alligators.  

Constitution Park & Arboretum (Deerfield Beach, FL)

The city of Deerfield Beach is well-known for its award-winning “Blue Wave” beach and International Fishing Pier. But locals know that the city’s Constitution Park & Arboretum is a can’t-be-missed gem. The park features a playground, tennis courts, and basketball courts, but the park’s crown jewel is the “Tree Zoo,” nine acres of land planted with more than 200 varieties of trees and palms from around the world. 

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A white heron stands in the pond amid reeds.

Fern Forest Nature Center (Coconut Creek, FL)

After shopping the Promenade at Coconut Creek, head to the Fern Forest Nature Center, a 247-acre designated urban wilderness area just 30 minutes outside of Fort Lauderdale. Hike one of the many trails for an up-close look at wetlands, a butterfly garden, swamps, and more than 30 species of native ferns. It’s part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, a network of more than 500 viewing sites across the state, so keep your eyes open for native birds, butterflies, animals, and more.

6 Acre Wood Park (Parkland, FL)

With nine beautiful parks within the city limits, the city of Parkland truly lives up to its name. Residents enjoy biking and walking in 6 Acre Wood Park on the east side of town—it’s quiet, secluded, and shady. Hike the ¼ mile loop trail through pine flatwoods then follow the path to the recently renovated Covered Bridge Park, a new “passive park” designed for walking, meeting friends, and relaxing.    

Green Cay Nature Center (Delray Beach, FL) 

Bring your binoculars and a camera! You’ll see birds, turtles, alligators, and maybe even a bobcat at the Green Cay Nature Center. Nature and technology intersect along the center’s self-guided boardwalk tour. Scan QR codes located all along the 1.5 mile boardwalk to learn about different wildlife and their habitats along the way. Afterwards, spend some time exploring the busy shops, galleries, boutiques, and restaurants of Atlantic Avenue.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (Naples, FL) 

Snowbirds aren’t the only birds that flock to Naples. Just 30 miles from the beaches, golf courses, boutiques, and art galleries of Naples is the National Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Make a visit and journey into the heart of the Everglades ecosystem, home to a variety of birds and raptors, alligators, otters, deer, turtles, and the famed “Super” ghost orchid growing in an old-growth bald cypress 50 feet off the ground.

Myakka River State Park (Sarasota, FL)

Spanning two counties and 37,000 acres, Myakka River State Park has something for everyone. Soak in wildflower-covered prairies, unspoiled wetlands, and pristine pinelands along 15 different hiking trails, rent bikes or canoes, book a boat tour to see wildlife up close, and get a birds-eye view of life among the treetops on the Myakka Canopy Walkway, a 100-foot long treetop trail suspended 25 feet off the ground.

Ready to make a move to the ‘burbs of South Florida? Connect with our Strategist and we’ll help you start planning your town tours—and will leave some time for you to take a walk on the wild side. 

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