When you live in a tightly packed space, whether it’s in the city or the suburbs, you need somewhere green as your go-to place nearby. We know – we lived in the Orlando metro for many years. These are our top picks for parks in Florida’s urban areas, chosen for their diversity of outdoor activities and/or their unique green spaces.
In the greater Miami metro in Sunny Isles Beach, this is the destination for quick immersion into the outdoors. You can kayak the mangrove tunnels out to Biscayne Bay (rentals on site), mountain bike the gnarliest set of tightly-wound trails in Southeast Florida, camp out in the cabins, swim at the beach, have a family picnic, or just walk the extensive paved and unpaved paths around the park. The only downside? A crush of visitors on weekends. That’s what population + popularity will do for you. Best to enjoy this park on weekdays.
The high rises of Panama City Beach are bookended by two state parks, and it’s the busier one that has more to see and do. Most visitors come here for the uncluttered beach and camping. Two nature trails provide scenic views amid dunes, coastal scrub, and ponds, plus a walk out to Sandy Point on St. Andrews Bay will reward you with a quieter beach. Again, it’s busy on weekends, and they will close the gates if full. Your backup plan is Camp Helen State Park at the west end of Panama City Beach, much quieter with more extensive trails and a longer walk to the beach.FTA Loxahatchee Chapter meets monthly. Here you’ll find the nature trails through a tropical hammock. Butterfly World and athletic fields, but also provides extensive paved walking/biking trails. At the far south end of the park is the Pond Apple Boardwalk, a hidden piece of pre-development Broward, winding through a cypress swamp with a dense pond apple understory.
We’re big fans of wetlands parks in urban areas, too. Check this list of wetlands parks for more urban ideas.
Do you have an urban park you’re especially fond of? Let us know what’s worth the visit in the comments below. Thanks!