Do you have a national park near you? We are so fortunate in Miami to not only have a 70 acre park across the street, but to live within a few miles of two National Parks, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. While they each are largely centered around the water (everything in Miami is), Biscayne National Park is more ocean-centered, with fishing, snorkeling and beach activities, while Everglades National Park is better known for camping, fishing, biking and its large population of American Crocodiles! I've partnered with Trust for Public Land on this sponsored post to share my love of the outdoors with you, and to encourage you to GO OUTSIDE! The Trust for Public Land believes everyone should have a healthy connection to nature through nearby parks, working lands, and wild places. Join in the effort to protect our precious lands and open spaces. I think that all human beings need to connect with nature to feel grounded; they need to smell the fresh air and bask in the sunshine - it's not healthy for us to sit indoors, breathing in recycled air under artificial lights every single day.
Getting outside together is such a fantastic bonding experience. Bonding with nature, with our natural surroundings, seeing all of the wildlife that live in our parks - a day at the park is a day well spent.
Miami is such a beautiful city and we have an incredible climate that allows us to spend time outdoors - comfortably - year round. We began making an effort to get outside more often last year; sometimes this might include a quick lunch at the park, a snorkeling trip down in the Keys, a morning of fishing or a simple afternoon walking through the park and enjoying the wildlife.
Biscayne National Park is just a few miles away from our home and provides campgrounds, opportunities for hiking, boating, canoeing and kayaking, snorkeling and fishing. Like most natural areas in Miami, a large portion of Biscayne National Park is water-based, so canoes, kayaks and small boats are the way to go! Though there are also plenty of areas accessible by foot, as well as bike paths.
There are over 500 species of fish in Biscayne National Park, and there are also butterflies, crocodiles, manatees, and many bird species. So many that Biscayne National Park was named an Important Bird Area due to the large population of protected species, migratory, nesting and wading birds.
Everglades National Park is where I spent a lot of my childhood, as I lived nearby and my father was a fishing and camping enthusiast. While my family does not own a boat yet, Chris and I still enjoy driving down to Biscayne National Park to take scenic drives, long walks and to see my favorite Miami animal...the American Crocodile!
While we do have crocodiles in other areas in Miami, the portion of Everglades National Park known as "Flamingo" is a surefire way to see them up close and personal. I'm a little obsessed with Crocodiles and I get such a kick out of seeing them in their natural habitat!
Everglades National Park covers 1.5 million acres, across Miami-Dade, Collier and Monroe counties. I live in Miami-Dade county, so that's the portion of the park that I am most familiar with - though I have been fishing in Monroe county on many occasions.
Every so often, we will jump in the car for a long drive down to Flamingo to see the crocodiles and stop along the way to walk through the nature trails. I do not recommend doing this without bug repellent during the summer months, as the mosquitos can be overwhelming!
During the dry season, you can find wading birds, cormorants, Purple Gallinules, and nesting Anhingas - and you'll see Hawks fishing in the waters year round!
While I am not a birding expert, I always get a kick out of seeing the different species of birds in the park. If you are a bird watcher, you can find a lot of helpful information on the Florida Bird and Wildlife Trail here. It's one more fantastic way to get outside and take advantage of our beautiful Florida weather!
We are incredibly fortunate to live in an area with access to so many parks and recreational areas. In many parts of the country, there are people who aren't as fortunate. Did you know that one in three people live in cities where they don't have access to parks or natural areas? I think about all of the natural areas that we have here in Miami and that just breaks my heart!
The Trust for Public Land wants to change that! They are working with communities nationwide to save the places that people love. The Trust for Public Land aims to create and protect parks and other natural areas so that we all have more opportunities to go outside, enjoy the sunshine and breath in the fresh air. Since 1972, the Trust for Public Land has protected over 3 million acres and created over 5,000 parks and natural areas! Their goal is to ensure that everyone in the United States has access to nature within a short ten minute walk from their home, and they are doing a great job of it - but they need your help!
"The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. We protect the places people care about and create close-to-home parks—particularly in and near cities, where 80% of Americans live."
Do you have a local park or natural area that you visit with your family? I can not imagine growing up without my local parks, or raising my daughter without a special place to go outdoors. Even now, I still love packing a snack, grabbing my tablet and heading to the park down the street for a relaxing lunch. I am always happiest when I am outdoors.
Share your story and join the movement to protect #OurLand! Simply visit TPL.Org and upload a photo of your favorite park or natural area and explain why this place means so much to you!