Get In The Game Year Round In Miami
Miami’s sexy urban beaches, dynamic arts scene and celebrity-studded nightlife are always in the news, with a cosmically cool vibe that never fails to entertain – whether you like to people watch or participate. For outdoor enthusiasts, Miami is more famous for its endless fun in the sun adventures rather than J Lo’s whereabouts. From a jam-packed spectator sports roster, to an amazing array of recreational opportunities in and out of the water, Miami offers many ways to get in the game.
Spectator and Recreational Sports Hub
There’s no doubt that Miami is a sports lover’s utopia, with top professional and college teams. In 2011, Sporting News named Miami among the top ten “Best Sports Cities” – not a surprise when you consider the “who’s who” list of teams, from the Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins and Miami Marlins to the Miami Hurricanes and nearby Florida Panthers. The Dolphin’s home turf, Sun Life Stadium, is a regular on the Super Bowl Circuit, with the NFL enamored by Miami’s great facilities, perfect winter weather and exciting entertainment that boosts ticket sales. The Miami Marlins are more popular than ever with baseball fans, who are fascinated by the incredibly cool design of the team’s new home, Marlins Park -- the first LEED Gold Certified retractable roof ballpark in baseball. Fans don’t need to head to South Beach for a taste of nightlife, either, with the hip club Clevelander Marlins Park located in the left-field just 12 inches from the turf, offering guests a player’s eye view and in-seat service for over 100.
For those who like to play themselves, the destination is known for its outstanding golf and tennis facilities, as well as unlimited water and beach activities.
In fact, Miami made Travel & Leisure’s “10 Best City Beaches in the World” in 2012, with its access to beach volleyball, boardwalks, beach yoga and in-line skating to jet-skiing, parasailing, diving, fishing and boating – all with one of the coolest urban backdrops imaginable. Although the ocean is too calm for surfing, it’s perfect for families to boogie board and swim safely year-round.
Whether it is from the deck of a 50-foot (15 meters) luxury yacht out for a peaceful cruise or astride a thundering speedboat or rented wave runner, Miami looks magnificent from the water. Opportunities to experience this VIP vantage abound, with many marinas and waterfront concessions offering ways for every budget to experience the calm, tranquil waters of Biscayne Bay and the ocean beyond.
If you have a passion for fishing, Bill Bird Marina at Haulover Park, home to the largest charter/drift fishing fleet in South Florida is probably on your vacation agenda. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway in Sunny Isles Beach, the 180-acre (73 hectares) Haulover Park also houses a popular kite rental concession, bicycle rentals, a 9-hole golf course and tennis courts, with an underground walkway leading directly to world-renowned Haulover Beach. Those who want to pilot their own course through the waters will find plenty of choices at Miami's many marinas that dot the coastal landscape. Here, knowledgeable fishermen are quick to advise where the breezes are blowing and the fish are hiding. Black Point Marina in Homestead provides access to Biscayne National Park's treasure trove of wildlife, while Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove and the idyllic Matheson Hammock in Coral Gables have popular cityside access and amenities.
Want instant gratification? Rent a motorboat for a few hours and zip around Biscayne Bay, exploring uninhabited islands and communing with local wildlife, including dolphins, sea turtles and sea birds. Looking for a more long-term commitment? Stop by the Miami Beach Marina and charter a sailboat, complete with captain and provisions if you prefer, and set course for the Florida Keys or Bahamas. A very special community is served by Shake-A-Leg Miami, South Florida's only adaptive sailing program, where adults and youths with disabilities, as well as at-risk youth can get out on the water.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the city's love affair with the waters that surround it is the yearly Miami International Boat Show. Taking place at the Miami Beach Convention Center and other locations for over 60 years, the show brings together more than 2,300 of the world’s leading marine industry manufacturers to display the newest powerboats, engines and accessories. The latest in sailboats and related accessories are on display at Strictly Sail Miami, the sail-only portion of the show.
Parasailing is a great way to see the city from above, while Key Biscayne's Hobie Beach gets its name from the proliferation of Hobie catamarans and other multi-hull sailboats that push off daily from the popular beachside launch. Thrill seekers have many avenues for adventure: surfers catch waves at South Pointe Park at the tip of South Beach and points further north, while opportunities for kite sailing, standup paddle boarding and kite boarding are offered throughout the destination.
Divers and snorkelers are spoiled with the choice of a plethora of natural reefs, as well as one of the largest artificial-reef programs in the world. Fish flock to the more than 75 ships, tanks, concrete, limestone and other structures that have been sunk over the past 25+ years off Miami's coast, as far south as Florida City and north to Sunny Isles Beach. Most are located just a few miles offshore, in less than 130 feet (40 meters) of water, providing great diving for all levels. One of the most popular routes is the Wreck Trek, located off Miami Beach, just north of the Art Deco District. Here, divers can explore the 85-foot (26 meters) tug Miss Patricia, the 100-foot (30 meters) steel fishing vessel Miss Karline, a 75-foot (23 meters) barge and Ben’s Antenna Reef, an old radio antenna welded into 19 pyramids. In shallow waters off of Key Biscayne, the Half Moon forms a fabulous underwater archeological preserve. Natural reefs are also found off Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, Surfside and Sunny Isles Beach.
Kayaking is another great way to navigate the waters of Biscayne Bay and Miami's inland waterways. The Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department offers a variety of naturalist-led eco-adventures that combine adventure, recreation, natural history and the opportunity to reflect on and reconnect with our natural environment. Key Biscayne is the setting for a wide range of tours -- with hammock walks, kayak, snorkel and canoe trips, and bike trips for all age groups and skill levels. Canoe trips are popular -- and there seems to be one for every conceivable interest -- along the Coral Gables Waterway, at sunrise, sunset or by moonlight, along the historic Oleta River and through hidden waterways of Key Biscayne. For more information, visit www.MiamiDade.gov/Parks/Ecoadventures.asp. For those with time to venture further from the city, there’s the option of traveling along Everglade National Park’s 99-mile Wilderness Waterway. Adventurers can paddle all day without seeing another soul, and spend the night camping out on remote chickees – raised platform campsites accessible only by water. Florida Bay inside the park is a great spot for fishing, with many enthusiasts renting houseboats for several days. It’s also a popular spot for naturalist-led backcountry and Florida Bay tours.
With several of its golf resorts consistently ranked among the top in Florida, Miami is the perfect place for a little tee time. For example, Frommer’s.com
recently named Miami’s legendary Biltmore Hotel, Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami and Turnberry Isle Miami in the top three on their list of Florida’s best golf resorts, with many other wonderful properties offering access to golfing at or near their properties. Greater Miami and the Beaches is also home to one of four World Golf Championship events, the CA Championship, which features the top 50 players from the Official World Golf Ranking.
Golfers from all four corners of the globe -- particularly those who don’t want to stray far from the party and beach scenes -- are eager to check out the Miami Beach Golf Club. Designed by Arthur Hills, one of America's foremost golf course designers, the course features papsalum turf, the perfect ecological answer to Miami Beach's sand-and-salt-heavy topsoil. The challenging course features plenty of hazards, however the wide fairways, groomed roughs and gentle breezes make a trip to these links memorable.
Golf is the main event at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami, a 650-acre resort (26 hectares) offering five 18-hole championship golf courses that can cater to golfers at every skill level, including the signature Blue Monster at Doral, Great White Course, Gold Course, Red Course and the McLean course. Designed by Dick Wilson, the renowned Blue Monster, which played host to the PGA Tour for almost 50 years, features the famous 18th hole, a demanding par 4 that is ranked consistently as one of the Top 100 Holes in the World. The Jim McLean Golf School at Doral has become the number one Golf School in America, a state of the art teaching facility offers private lessons, group camps and clinics and after-school junior programs – all with golf legend himself, Jim McLean himself at the helm.
The landmark Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables has its own 18-hole, par-71 course, which first opened in 1925 and was recently redesigned by renowned golf architect Donald Ross. Infinitely playable no matter what your skill level, with an Old-World historic resort as its backdrop, this beautiful course never fails to please. In Aventura, the 300-acre (121 hectares) Turnberry Isle Miami is a world onto itself. Golfers staying there can choose from two Raymond Floyd designed courses, notable for graceful fairways and deceitfully tranquil hazards and traps. Known for its classic style and lush tropical landscape, The Senator Golf Course at Shula's Hotel & Golf Club was originally designed by Bill Watts in 1962. In 1990, the course was updated by the nationally recognized Golf Course Architect, Kipp Schulties.
Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department operates several top-notch public golf courses, including the Crandon Golf Key Biscayne. With wonderful water views, the course is considered one of the most beautiful and difficult par-72 courses in the state. From the first hole - a dog leg par 5 that requires a drive over water and mangroves - to the last - another par 5 with water on both sides of the fairway - Crandon Golf Key Biscayne has, in many ways, become one of Miami’s signature golf courses.
Other public courses include International Links Miami and Miccosukee Golf & Country Club down south and Greynolds Golf Course and Normandy Shores Golf Club, further north.
Tennis ranks with golf as a top recreational pursuit in Miami. The highest profile tennis spot is Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park Tennis Center and Stadium -- home to the Miami Open, a 12-day tournament every March featuring the top 96 men and women tennis players in the world. The center is home to the U.S. Tennis Association's Player Development Program, and also hosts fourteen USTA-sanctioned Junior Tournaments and two USTA adult tournaments. The center houses 26 of the finest tennis courts which include all surfaces featured at the “Grand Slams”.
Over 50 locations operated by the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department offer more than 200 courts to serve every corner of the county with amenities that encompass private and group lessons, courts lit for nighttime play and pro shops offering equipment rentals and sales. People with disabilities can also enjoy playing wheelchair tennis at various locations.
For visitors who stay at one of Miami's luxury resorts, there is no need to leave the premises to enjoy top-notch tennis facilities and instruction. Among the many upscale properties that make scheduling court time as easy as ordering room service: Grove Isle Hotel & Spa in Coconut Grove, The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne Miami, Turnberry Isle Miami in Aventura, Conrad Miami in downtown Miami as well as the Biltmore Hotel and Shulas Hotel & Golf Club.
Cycling in and around the City
Key Biscayne is a popular area for cyclers, who challenge themselves with a climb up the Rickenbacker Causeway, then coast along a slender strip of land flanked by swaying palm trees, top ranked beaches and beautiful blue waters of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. For more casual bikers, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park offers beach coasters for rental, as well as kayaks and other recreational equipment.
Miami’s Amelia Earhart Park is an extreme sports hub, especially for hard-core mountain bikers. The Mountain Bike Trail offers 5.5 miles (9 km) of tracks with challenging slopes and runs. The 91-acre (37 hectares) crystal blue lake also offers wakeboarding, waterskiing, knee Boarding and bare footing lessons taught by champion coaches of the Miami Wakeboard Cable Complex. Milton E. Thompson Park lets fans race on, featuring a ½-mile-long (.2 meters) motocross track with moguls, jumps and turns, and a 15-foot-high (5 meters) bridge jump with tunnel, surrounded by lakes, live oaks, palm trees, and a wetland marsh prairie. Out in Everglades National Park’s Shark Valley, nature lovers can rent bikes and eyeball alligators from a safe distance as they pedal around a serene 15-mile (24 km) loop with slight elevation changes.
For those who prefer four wheels over two, Miami offers many places to skateboard, from Ocean Drive to various county parks featuring ramps for all skill levels, such as Country Village Park, South Dade and Westwind Lakes Park.
If your idea of outdoor recreation means slowing down with a gentle swim, Miami offers many opportunities, from many beach communities to Miami-Dade Parks public swimming pools. The destination’s hotels offer some of the most iconic hotel pools too, such as the Biltmore Hotel – the largest hotel pool in the continental U.S. Actor Johnny Weissmuller, better known as Tarzan, used to be a swimming instructor at this 22,000-square-foot (6705 square meters) pool, which today features synchronized swimmers doing vintage routines. The Delano Hotel’s huge infinity pool – also known as the “water salon,” is a popular spot to spy the trendy and fashionable, featuring posh cabanas, drinks, food and D.J. music. The Setai offers 3 pools, each at a different temperature (75, 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 24, 29 and 32 degrees Celsius). The pools are surrounded by what may be the most beautifully manicured grounds in all of South Beach. The Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami has a massive Blue Lagoon water park complete with 125-ft (38 meters) Blue Monster Slide, while the Mondrian hotel comes with a beautiful, bow-shaped infinity pool overlooking Biscayne Bay. The Raleigh hotel's free-form saltwater pool is where Esther Williams cavorted in The Million Dollar Mermaid and models strut in the annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week swimsuit extravaganza. The Fontainebleau Miami Beach offers an enormous lagoon-shaped pool, surrounded by smaller dipping pools and Jacuzzis, beckons from the lobby. Located on the 16th floor terrace on a Downtown tower, the Epic's three hotel pools receive a steady stream of sunlight late into the evening. Guests can look over the edge to watch manatees swimming in Biscayne Bay. Other fabulous hotel pools include the Perry South Beach, Shore Club and The National in South Beach.
At the Races
Those with a "need for speed" will want to check out the races at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 1.5-mile (2.4 km) oval race track on 600 acres (242 hectares) has grandstands that hold 65,000 and a Champions Club Tower with luxury skyboxes. The speedway is home to Ford Championship Weekend, where NASCAR crowns its Champions in all three of its top national divisions—the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series each November. In addition to hosting high-profile sanctioned events, Homestead-Miami Speedway is active more than 280 days each year, playing host to activities that include: race-car and manufacturer testing; car-club events; driving schools and ride-along programs; charitable events; film, movie and photo shoots; product launches; motorcycle racing; and the track’s weekly Friday night “T-n-T/Test ’n Tune” car competition that opens up Pit Road to the public as an alternative to illegal street racing.
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) is an independent not-for-profit sales and marketing organization whose mission is to attract visitors to Greater Miami and the Beaches for leisure, business and conventions. For a vacation guide, visit our website at www.MiamiAndBeaches.com or call 1-888-76-Miami (US/Canada only) or 305-447-7777. To reach the GMCVB offices dial 305-539-3000. Meeting Planners may call 1-800-933-8448 (US/Canada only) or 305-539-3071 or visit www.MiamiMeetings.com.