Monday, September 8, 2014

Virginia Key Beach and State Park - A Bit of Serenity Amidst Miami's Hustle and Bustle

Virginia Key Beach and Park
Historic Virginia Key State Park in Miami
To be sure, a day at South Beach in Miami is exciting. A lot of beautiful people, the occasional model or celebrity, great people watching (there are definitely some pretty odd characters) and, of course, you're right in the heart of the action when it comes to nightlife. It is VERY crowded, though, and parking is hard to find and expensive when you do find it ($25.00 and up).

If you're looking to get away from the crowds and spend a peaceful day at the beach, historic Virginia Key beach may be just what you are looking for. During weekdays, there is hardly a soul there but due to the many events scheduled there during weekends, it becomes substantially more crowded.

More than just a beach, Virginia Key State Park has some of the best hiking and biking trails in Miami. Amigo's Car Rental's Laura loves the "mini-forest atmosphere" of the trails and the serenity of the area amidst the rest of Miami's hustle and bustle. Laura says that you don't need any special experience in hiking or off-road biking. Just an appreciation of nature and a fun-loving spirit is all it takes to enjoy your time here.

Officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, this state park was originally a "blacks-only" beach and remained that way through the 1950s. It was known as a great gathering place for the black community and a small mini-train and carousel were added to the park.

Then, as society became more enlightened, a much more diverse mix of people began venturing over to Virginia Key beach and it became THE happening spot in Miami - long before South Beach even existed. Music festivals, big beach barbeques and boat races were a big draw. Due to lack of funding, the city of Miami closed Virginia Key Beach State Park in 1982 and, until recently, it remained closed except as a place for private functions.

In 2008, the city of Miami began renovation of Virginia Key State Park and re-opened it for public use. There is still quite a lot more work to do and every year more things are added to the state park. Picnic pavilions, barbeque pits, two playgrounds, a boat ramp, volleyball nets and a nine hole Frisbee disk course all exist now along with the historic mini-train and carousel. Great efforts are being made to preserve the ecosystem and restore the park to its former glory and various recreational activities and festivals are scheduled throughout the year.

Admission is a very reasonable $5.00 per car, pedestrians and bicycles entering the park are free and it is open from 7:00 am to sunset 7 days a week.

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