Posted November 14, 2013
By KATHERINE GUEST
MIAMI, Fla.— On his first visit to Miami, Andrew James expected beaches to line the coast of the bustling city but, to his surprise, Biscayne Bay’s waters lapped break walls edging the roads.
With determination to see Miami and experience its waters, he brought these goals together at the epicenter of waterfront activities, Miami’s Bayfront Park.
Not ideal for swimming, Bayfront Park is home to Bayside Marketplace, is located near the port of Miami on Biscayne Bay.
It is the largest and most diverse entertainment area directly on the water.
With 32-acres of land and facilities for eating, fishing, sunbathing, concert-going, shopping and a plethora of other outdoor activities (that don’t require large amounts of sand).
“I love coming here with my kids, even as they’ve grown older, they never get bored because there is so much to do,” said Annie Lapozo, a mother of three and Miami resident.
The open-air mall, Bayside Marketplace, contains stores commonly found in mall across the country (for example, Gap, Bath & Body Works and Sunglass Hut). But it additionally contains unique shops and stands that are sprinkled throughout the walkways.
Visitors can roam the stands for unique gifts that are not the usual hand-made knick-knacks one would expect. Silver drop jewelry, rainbows of sunglasses and photos with exotic birds are just some of the options.
“People love to pose with my parrots, I make an entire business out of selling photos to people of them with the birds,” explained Randy, “the birdman” as he calls himself. “I used to set up shop elsewhere but once I started in Bayfront I’ve never had to move because there are just so many people here day in and day out.”
On the very front edge of the park is one of the main attractions for visitors, boat tours out of the port of Miami.
With expeditions to Fort Lauderdale, North Miami Beach and private islands, these tours offer guests an entirely different view of the water and city.
Typically day trips last approximately six hours and leave from the docks near the Hard Rock Café. Boats of all sizes are available (although dependent on the day of the week and whether a reservation was made or not) including sail boats, cigarette boats, catamarans as well as yachts.
“We sail every day, multiple times a day, unless there’s a hurricane. I love my job because I basically ride boats all day and talk to the people that ride them with me,” said Diego Santos, captain of the catamaran called Tranquility that is owned by Spirit Yacht Charters. “I’ve met people from all over Miami and all over the world, they come to Bayfront because it’s a hugely popular spot in Miami and who wouldn’t want to cruise around the port for a small amount of money?”
If visitors prefer a leisurely day on land Bayfront park offers a small sand area, tropical rock garden, and a small waterfall. A perfect place for all ages, the grounds of the park have shade, sun and water. A popular morning activity for Miamians is walking on the trails throughout the park.
“Just on my first trip here [Bayfront Park] I went sailing to a private island, ate, bought gifts, walked some trails and then watched a mini jazz concert, this place has everything,” exclaimed Andrew James, a first time visitor to Miami.
In the evening, a buzz becomes noticeable along the main walkway that lines the water’s edge as the dinner hour strikes. From the Hard Rock Café to Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company, the array of restaurants, bars and food options is extensive; therefore fitting to the taste buds of many. Whether it be at a dinner table or in the concert pavilion, the sun setting in front of Bayfront park is the sign of a day well spent by the water’s edge.
If You Go
- The park: Bayfront Park: Located at 301 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fla., 33132 (305-358-7550). There is street and meter parking along Biscayne Boulevard and lot parking during events. The park is easily accessible by all modes of public transportation including Metromover, Tri-rail, Metrobus and Metrorail (with a Metromover stop directly one block west of the park).
Sailing/Boat Charters: Spirit Yacht Charters: They are easily booked online and often times have coupons and discount available if booked in advance. On its website (www.Tropicalsailing.com) daily trips to Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach and Monument Island (next to Star Island) are offered weather permitting. Times depend on which destination trip is booked; all charters have washrooms aboard and provide snacks, water and life jackets.
- Shopping: Bayside Marketplace: Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. -11 p.m. Fridays through Saturdays and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays. A directory is available at www.baysidemarketplace.com/visit as well as specific restaurant hours and seasonal events.