Thursday, August 30, 2012

Matheson Hammock Park

August in Miami. It is hot, it is humid, it is truly tropical. Where can you escape the heat but still enjoy the outdoors? The best answer might lie along the eastern edge of Miami, in Matheson Hammock Park. Here, the sea breeze cools you with its gentle yet constant presence, and the mugginess melts away.
Matheson Hammock Park is huge, one of the biggest and best in Miami-Dade County. It has that great, only in the tropics feel to it, pushing right into Biscayne Bay. Standing at the edge of the park, one is graced with some of the best views of downtown Miami in the distance.

Since it sits right on the water, the park is a great launching space for people participating in water sports like kite surfing.

Probably one of the most popular features of the park is the man made lagoon and surrounding beach area. Different from any other beach in Miami, this is a unique feature that makes Matheson Hammock one of the coolest parks around.

Retreating inland, the area takes on a different feel, becoming more like a tropical nature park. There are some great trees and funky structures that are perfect for parties or picnics.

The park also has a marina, and a beach side restaurant called Red Fish Grill. After I got home, I was surprised to learn that the park actually extends further inland, west of Old Cutler Road. Here, it turns into a nature hike through a natural hammock habitat that used to cover the whole area before it was developed. My hope is to return to this part of the park, take pictures, and use that for another update. For now, enjoy the rest of the pictures and if you ever need a cool beach to check out, try Matheson Hammock Park.

Friday, June 8, 2012

South Pointe Park

South Pointe Park is one of my favorite places in all of Miami Beach. Sitting at the southern tip of the island (hence the name), the park extends from the bay side all the way out to the ocean on the other end. A great example of how a park can fit into the urban landscape, you can get great views of the Atlantic Ocean, Fisher Island, the Port of Miami and Downtown Miami all in one place. There's even a Miami branch of the famous steak restaurant Smith and Wollensky if you desire high end steak and seafood by the water.

The park is basically on the edge of the water, bordered by Government Cut. There is a concrete walkway with only a thin patch of grass and rocks until you reach the water. It makes for a very nice walk up and down the island as you are always surrounded by the water to your immediate south. Among other views, you can sometimes catch cruise ships leaving from the Port of Miami as they enter into the Atlantic Ocean.

Bordering the walk way is open space, perfect for lounging on the grass, tossing a ball around or playing with the dog. While the western part of the park tends towards a basic open space, the eastern part of the park becomes more controlled, but with a very unique hill that is a mixture of natural grass and concrete steps. In the flat, sea level city of Miami Beach, it is not often that you see even the slightest bit of elevation, and it gives the park a unique trademark.

As you walk further east, you get to the 1st street beach area and a rock pier that you can walk out onto. The rock pier runs parallel to the old wooden pier, which in my opinion should reopen, because what a great walk it would be out into the Atlantic Ocean! The rock pier begins smoothly but soon becomes a mound of jagged rocks that is not as inviting to me as perhaps it is to others.

If you are looking for a park with great views, close to the beach and a place to take the dog or just lounge around with friends, consider South Pointe Park. It does not have the wide open area of other parks reviewed in this blog, but for scenery and location, it cannot be beat! More pictures below!