While this location may not be your usual beach spot, Oleta River State Recreational Area can transport you to a different side of South Florida. The 1000-acre is the largest urban park in Miami and is located on Biscayne Bay at the north end of Miami-Dade County.
This park breaks away from Miami’s chaotic metropolis and offers guests a glimpse into the natural tranquility of the Florida wilderness and is a haven for outdoor activity enthusiasts and those looking to refresh in the swaying mangroves and calm waters.
Oleta River Park is bisected by its namesake river, the Oleta River, but also hugs the edge of Biscayne Bay, offering multiple places to rest near the water or take a quick dip.
The area is also filled to the brim with activities and amenities and throughout the year hosts events that showcase the natural wonder of the Park.
Sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and tons of other fun activities to discover at this public park.
Kayaking is certainly one of the more popular activities in the park as the river and estuary’s flat calm waters are ideal for beginners and advanced paddlers alike. There are also places to rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.
Exploring the park by the water will give you the best glimpse into the Florida that once was. Creeping shores of mangroves protect the land from erosion and create a unique cave-like shaded environment that is almost alien.
Mountain biking is also very popular, with around 15 miles of trails to discover.
For those looking to catch some rays and go for a swim, there is a beautiful sandy enclave that hugs a saltwater lagoon in Biscayne Bay. A perfect spot to spend the morning.
Restrooms, showers, outdoor grills, picnic pavilions, a canoe/kayak launch, rentable air-conditioned cabins, and a wide range of accessible amenities so everyone in your group can enjoy the park.
The park is home to a beautiful butterfly garden. This half-acre of native plants is home to butterflies like the Gulf Fliterary and the Zebra Longwing. Visit the park after a light rain to really experience the fullness of insect activity in the garden.
The beach that is located on-site offers calm and temperate waters, but keep in mind that no lifeguards are on duty. The beach is also wheelchair accessible, and beach wheelchairs are available for rent daily.
The Oleta River Outdoor Center offers guests guided and self-guided tours of the park. There are also classes like yoga that you can take and even a restaurant located on-site to grab some food or a cold beer after a day of hiking and swimming.
Just a short drive away from the park, you can find The Ancient Spanish Monastery. This 12th-century structure gives visitors a glimpse into South Florida’s pre-colonial past.
In the 1800s, the Oleta River was known as Big Snake Creek and was used by federal soldiers in the Second Seminole War.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a famous Florida conservationist, was at the grand opening of the park in 1986.
Address: 3400 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach, FL
Website: Floridastateparks.org – Oleta River