You’d probably be surprised to know that you can do close to a dozen different outdoor activities at Florida’s largest urban park (over 1K acres), enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in Miami, and have culinary experiences with Russia, Armenia and Uzbekistan. Where? Sunny Isles Beach. Yes, it’s well worth exploring as part of a Staycation or going for the day. Here’s what’s special, things to do in Sunny Isles Beach. And in case you missed it, for where to stay, Part 1, click here.
About Sunny Isles Beach:
It’s a city located on a barrier island in northeast Miami-Dade County bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Intracoastal Waterway on the west. It runs from 163rd street up to 201th street. Sunny Isles Beach is renowned for having the 14th tallest skyline in America despite its relatively low population.
The over 1000 acre Oleta River State Park is Sunny Isles’ most prominent attraction.Enjoy everything from 15 miles of off road bike trails, snorkeling, wildlife viewing, paddleboarding, hiking through Australian pines and mangroves and swimming. If you’re a guest at Acqualina Resort you can enjoy their Acqua Experience of a private kayaking tour with Lauren, one of the park’s expert lead guides.
The journey will begin as guests paddle through the mangroves and head into the calm blue waters of Biscayne Bay. Along the way, Lauren will share interesting facts about Florida’s ecosystem. Upon arrival to Sandspur Island, an hour’s paddle ride away, guests can swim, relax, and enjoy a light snack. From there, kayakers will paddle through a beautiful mangrove creek before returning to the Outdoor Center. The private kayak tour is offered daily starting at 10am. Cost is $45 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under.
Rent a boat or watersports equipment, enjoy unspoiled totally natural beach and clothing optional beach, and/or buy fresh fish direct from the boats at Haulover Park which also includes Haulover Marine Center.
If you haven’t been to Haulover Marine Center, you must go there and see the incredible,major operation. And while you’re there you can rent or charter a boat for cruising or fishing. There’s also public parking where you leave your car then cross the road and walk through a path to the unspoiled beach.
Note that parking can fill up quickly over the weekend, so get there early. Also put it on your list to buy fresh fish daily when the boats come in, between 12 and 1 p.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. Families can enjoy the kite park near the marina where kites are not only flown but sold and there are often special events.
Check out the two Russian markets – Kalinka and Matryoshka, with traditional baked goods, prepared foods from the mother country, all matter of smoked fishes and a wide selection of caviar and fish roe. I particularly liked the Borodinsky bread from Kalkina, a dark brown sourdough rye bread of Russian origin, traditionally sweetened with molasses and flavored with coriander and caraway seeds. Both places also have outdoor seating for enjoying takeout.
Try Armenian food at Ararat Grill Bar. In particular don’t miss the khachapuri, oven baked pie with cheese filling, lamb ribs, red caviar and blinis, and the fresh cut garlic and dill fries.Wash it all down with a bottle of Georgian wine. Tuesday through Friday lunch is 20% off. There’s also music at dinner on weekends. Outdoor dining, too.
Be sure not to miss one of my favorite restaurants in Miami – Chayhana Oasis. Their specialty is Uzbeki and Georgian cuisine and it’s all first rate. Favorite dishes are any of the varieties of dumplings, all kebabs, and eggplant dishes. Go for dinner on Friday or Saturday and enjoy live music indoors. There’s outdoor dining too. For more on Chayhana, check out my earlier review by clicking here. Free parking too
You can also combine your exploration of Sunny Isles with a visit to Aventura Mall or Bal Harbour Shops which are nearby.
For more things to see and do and a restaurant guide with a wide selection of international cuisines go to www.sunnyislesbeachmiami.com.