Posted September 22, 2013
By NICKY DIAZ
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Every Sunday for the past four years, Key Biscayne resident Frankie Azuero, 18, has woken up at 8 a.m. to ride his bike through the island until he gets to the Rickenbacker Causeway. He then meets up with his girlfriend, Anna Corpas, at the Rusty Pelican for brunch.
“It’s become part of my routine,” Azuero said. “One of the perks of living on the key is that there’s so much to do – especially when it comes to outdoor activities – and nothing’s further than a short car or bike ride.”
The island of Key Biscayne, which lies just south of Miami Beach and east of Miami, makes for a perfect getaway for tourists and Miami residents alike. After crossing the Rickenbacker Causeway – built in 1947 and running across Biscayne Bay – visitors can find a plethora of activities.
From shopping and sports to historical landmarks and the beach, Key Biscayne just about offers anything you could be after.
A day at the spa and shops
For those looking to relax and unwind, the Village of Key Biscayne offers several different possibilities.
Hotels like the Ritz-Carlton – located right off Crandon Boulevard – feature spas that offer massages, skin treatments, manicures and pedicures, and even hair treatments. Although the packages might be a bit pricey, you can take advantage of being in the area and spend the rest of the day by the beach after getting pampered at the spa.
Some of the Ritz’s packages include a signature massage ($119 for 50 minutes; $159 for 80 minutes), a manicure ($25) and pedicure ($49), Kerastase treatments starting at $119, and even personal training sessions at the hotel’s gym.
“It’s so relaxing to spend the day by the beach and get spoiled,” said Ana Fernandez, who frequents Key Biscayne when she wants to get away from the hectic lifestyle that comes along with being a Miami resident. “I don’t know what else could be better.”
If massages and getting spoiled don’t seem so tempting, maybe the many restaurants and shops found along Crandon Boulevard will. For a delicious Argentinean meal, visit Novecento. Try the penne al pesto ($15) or the empanadas (2 for $9). Either dish is sure to satisfy anyone’s taste buds.
For something a bit more casual, try the Rusty Pelican’s well-known weekend brunch. The waterfront restaurant was recently remodeled and revamped, making for a fun and comfortable meal. It doesn’t hurt that brunch is served over a beautiful Biscayne Bay view of downtown Miami.
A day on the court and the course
If staying active is more your speed, then spend the day at Crandon Tennis Center. The facility has hosted the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament for more than 20 years. It features 26 courts, including 13 that are lighted.
Not a tennis pro? No problem. Individual private as well as semi-private lessons are available daily.
Adjacent to the tennis center is the Crandon Park Golf Course. Surrounded by mangrove forests and water, Crandon Golf is private yet inviting. It is the only course in North America that has a subtropical lagoon.
The public 18-hole course was originally designed by Devlin/Von Hagge in 1972 and then redesigned by Von Hagge in 1993.
A day at the beach
History buffs can also find something to do on the island. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to a historic lighthouse that was built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846. It is the oldest standing structure in all of Miami-Dade County. Guided tours of the lighthouse as well as the lighthouse keeper’s cottage are offered twice daily.
Of course, there’s more to the park than just the lighthouse. Visitors can also sunbathe or take a swim in the ocean. Many tourists also enjoy kayaking or biking as well as shoreline fishing.
After a few hours at the beach, most people work up an appetite. Fortunately, the park features two restaurants, Lighthouse Café and Boater’s Grill, which offer Cuban cuisine. Picnics are also an option; visitors can reserve a pavilion at the park.
“I love coming to the park with friends and setting up a picnic,” Corpas said. “It’s relaxing and just a 20-minute drive away from where I live, so it’s like taking a mini-vacation. It feels like you’re in paradise here.”
Virginia Key Beach also offers visitors some history. The beach, which was once accessibly only by boat, was established in 1945. It was the only public beach for African-Americans at the time in Miami-Dade County. In 1982, it was closed down and wasn’t reopened until 2008.
“I think it’s one of the most beautiful parks in South Florida,” said Michelle Swaby-Smith, the park’s special events liaison. “We have the luxury of enjoying both the beach and the park. Sounds like a winner to me!”
The park also features a miniature train ride and a vintage carousel, which each cost $1 per ride.
IF YOU GO
- $1.50 per vehicle; required to reach Key Biscayne
Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
- Address: 455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne
- For more information, call 305-365-4500
- Address: 620 Crandon Blvd. #17, Key Biscayne
- Price range: $30-50 per person
- For more information, call 305-362-0900
- Address: 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne
- Price range: $10-25 per person
- For more information, call 305-361-3818
Crandon Tennis Center
- Address: 7300 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne
- Hours: Courts are open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday
- Fees: $4 per person, per hour during the day for hard courts; $6 per person, per hour during evening for hard courts; $7 per person, per hour during the day for clay courts; $9 per person, per hour during evening for clay courts; $11 per person, per hour for grass court
- For more information or to make reservations, call 305-365-2300
Crandon Park Golf Course
- Address: 6700 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne
- Hours: Tee times range from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- For more information or to make reservations and ask about fees, call 305-361-9129
Virginia Key Beach Park
- Address: 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami
- Hours: open from 7 a.m. to sunset, seven days a week; closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas
- Entry/parking fee: $5 per vehicle during weekends, holidays, special events; no entry fee is charged on weekdays
- For more information, call 305-960-4600
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
- Address: 1200 S. Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne
- Hours: Open 8 a.m. until sundown; open 365 days a year
- Entry/parking fee: $8 per vehicle (2-8 people per vehicle); $4 per single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle; $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists and extra passengers
- For more information, call 305-361-5811