For anyone visiting Miami Beach for the first time, a day-trip over to Key Biscayne is well worth the effort. Key Biscayne is a tiny barrier island off to the south of Miami Beach and it’s just a few minute’s drive from Downtown Miami across the Rickenbacker Causeway.
The island is just seven miles long and two miles wide. The Village of Key Biscayne is a posh resort community in the center of the island, and is home to a very wealthy crowd. Worth Magazine recently placed the island at number 134 on its “250 Richest U.S. Towns” list.
Key Biscayne’s residential section boasts a relaxed architecture perhaps best described as South Sea Islands with a sprinkling of Spanish influence. White, pastel and wood-trimmed homes line winding roads bearing peaceful names such as Cypress Drive, Myrtlewood Lane and, of course, Bay Lane, home of President Nixon’s former “Vacation White House.”
There are two parks on the island, and both offer activities to explore the island’s ecology.
South of the hotel, motel and residential section is the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. The park was named after William Calhoun “Bill” Baggs who was editor of The Miami News from 1957 until 1969. Open to the public for a minimal charge, the park offers wide oceanfront beaches, boardwalks, bike paths, picnic facilities, and foot trails through the native foliage. The park also has nature trails and Miami’s oldest building, the restored Cape Florida Lighthouse. After climbing 109 steps to the top of the lighthouse, you can relax and enjoy a meal at the nearby Lighthouse Cafe.
County-operated Crandon Park, which encompasses the northern third of Key Biscayne, attracts thousands of visitors each year especially to the park’s gorgeous 3.5-mile beach. Barbecue pits, picnic tables and cabanas provide entertainment for persons of all ages. Fishing and scuba diving abound all around Key Biscayne. Crandon Park is also the site of the Sony-Ericsson Tennis Open every March.
Nearby are the public Crandon Park Marina and private Key Biscayne Yacht Club, with docking and food facilities. Virginia Key, midway along the Rickenbacker Causeway between Key Biscayne and mainland Miami, has a wealth of water-oriented attractions.
Also at Crandon Park is The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center. It was named for the journalist and conservationist who was instrumental in bringing protection to Florida’s wetlands. It offers guided walks along the island’s east shore, moonlit canoe trips, and turtle release tours. The Park is also home to the 18-hole Crandon Park Golf Course.
Bill Baggs Beach is often the site of movie shoots due to its natural splendor and indigenous foliage and unspoiled beach. Windsurfing and boating are also available. For dining, Le Croisic is one of Miami’s best French bistros.
Miami’s unique Marine Stadium, a cantilever-roofed structure, was once the site of exciting powerboat races and other water competitions, but has since fallen into disrepair.
So much to see and do between the geographic boundaries of Cape Florida State Park and the old Marine Stadium, combined with a relaxed atmosphere, warm sunshine and subtropical breezes, makes Key Biscayne the ideal vacation spot for the relaxation-seeking visitor.