Early in the morning, warm candy-colored clouds lay close to the ocean. They slowly start to stretch and break as the sun climbs in the sky. It seems as if everything and everyone is still sleeping, save for the birds and the roaring surf. But as I walk from the free trolley to North Shore Open Space Park on Miami Beach‘s North Beach, I realize that I’m not the only person awake. Not by a long shot.
Under a canopy of lush palms, live oaks, and wide, waxy-leaved deciduous trees, I find a group practicing yoga in a semi-circle — greeting the day with hands sweeping up over their heads. Just past them, a group of four carry enormous paddleboards toward the sand, cutting through the green park on their way to the beach. It’s the perfect vibe for an early morning run, and I take off along the winding paths of North Shore Open Space Park — heading south to north, before finally looping around to the south again.
After my run, I spend a few minutes lounging on the powder-white sand — listening to the distant whoops of the paddleboarders — before wandering back through the park to Collins Avenue. I walk south until I find what my stomach craves: Brazilian food. Specifically, Cypo Café, a cozy spot that I’ve heard great things about. The file de peixe, a light, garlic-and-tomato fish, satisfies me in that distinct Miami way: it’s not at all heavy and I leave full, yet energized.
My time at North Shore Open Space Park has me feeling invigorated and craving more adventure, so I embark on a mission to explore a few more of Miami’s unforgettable beaches.
Paddle yourself right into another world: Oleta River State Park
Situated to the north of upscale Bal Harbour and the secret charms of Surfside, Oleta River State Park is one of the best places in Miami to go paddle-boarding. Miami’s largest urban park, this place makes it easy to embrace nature with winding channels of water, prehistoric-looking mangroves, birds calling to one another, and, of course, a nice slice of white sand beach.
Once you get your balance, go ahead and weave in and out of the watery pathways. Cross your fingers that you’ll see a manatee or two, watch for herons and other waterfowl in the sky, and keep your eyes peeled for little hermit crabs crawling around the mangrove roots. It’s a different world out here.
While you’re in the neighborhood… Walk around The Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, maybe take a tour or catch a concert, and marvel at the 12th-century building, which was brought to the U.S. by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.