Thursday, December 11, 2014

Oleta River State Park - A Welcome Oasis From the Miami Hustle and Bustle

Beach at Oleta River State Park
(photo courtesy floridastateparks.org)

Best known for its off-road bicycle trails, Oleta River State Park is a whole lot more than a cool place to ride your bike. In fact, Andre from Amigo's Car Rental says it is one of his favorite places to relax in all of Miami.

The largest urban park in the United States, Oleta River State Park has something for everyone. You can rent kayaks, canoes and bicycles or relax on the 1,200 foot sandy beach and nature lovers will definitely appreciate the native Florida plants and wildlife in the surrounding forest preserves.

With more than 13 miles of bike trails, it's no wonder that Oleta River State Park is known for biking. If you don't have a bike of your own, that's okay; they rent mountain bikes, beach cruisers and kids bikes at the park, too. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned veteran, there is definitely a bike trail that will suit you. There are four miles of novice trails - some of them are paved and even great for roller blading. Daredevils will find plenty of places to jump their bikes, too!

Kayaking at Oleta River State Park
(photo courtesy floridastateparks.org)
Kayaking and canoeing are probably the next most popular activities at the park. Leisurely paddling through the mangroves gives you all sorts of opportunities to see wildlife in their natural habitat. If you're a little more adventurous, there are several islands that you can reach in a kayak or canoe and explore. If paddling a canoe or kayak isn't your thing, you can rent (or bring your own) stand up paddle board and explore the area. Whether you are in a kayak, canoe or on an SUP,  don't be surprised if you see manatees or even dolphins on your adventure!

If you're into a little more laid back exploring, there are plenty of natural trails to hike. Placards throughout the park point out the various flora and fauna you may encounter along the way and the park also offers free nature guides who will point out all sorts of interesting sights along the trails. Commonly seen on your journey are Florida's state butterfly - the heliconian - as well as red-bellied woodpeckers, ospreys, loggerhead shrikes and red-shouldered hawks.

That's not all! There are piers for fishing with a bait and tackle shop in the park as well as a serene, 1,200 foot sandy beach where you can laze in the sun or swim in the water. There are dozens of picnic tables and nine pavilions that can be rented for group functions, too. They even have cabin rentals so you can stay the night for as little as $55.00 per night.

Best of all, a day of relaxation costs next to nothing. It only costs $6.00 per car to enter the park. If you are entering by foot or bicycle, it's $2.00 per person and motorcycles are charged $4.00. Oleta River State Park is open from 8:00 am to sundown 365 days a year.

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