South Florida’s five best picnic spots

A waterfall at FairChild Botanical Gardens. (Veronica Hernandez/SFMN)

South Florida is swarming with tourists all year round thanks to its sandy white beaches and thrilling nightlife. But for locals, these types of activities are sometimes repetitive. We often need a change of scenery to escape our daily routines. 

Do you need a break from all the hustle and bustle of daily life? If you do, you’re in luck. 

Picnics in the park are perfect for relaxing and appreciating the beautiful South Florida scenery. Instead of going to lunch inside, gather your must-haves and visit one of these five spots.

The grassy lawn area at Alice C Wainwright Park. (Veronica Hernandez/SFMN)

Alice C. Wainwright Park
2651 Brickell Ave
Miami, FL 33133 US
(305) 416 – 1300
Park Hours: Sunrise till Sunset

Alice C. Wainwright Park perfectly mirrors the easy-going lifestyle of neighboring Coconut Grove. It is located on the Biscayne Bay waterfront, presenting breathtaking scenery and sea breezes. The park also features a playground and outdoor gym equipment, including a basketball court. Picnickers can select from a variety of shelters or places on the extensive grassy lawn. There are also three pavilions and a grilling area. This dog-friendly spot is an ideal location for bike-riding or marveling at the beautiful waterfront scenery. Parking is limited, so make sure you plan ahead and get there early. 

The limestone pillars near the grassy lawn area at Ingraham Park. (Veronica Hernandez/SFMN)

Ingraham Park
4751 Ingraham Ter.
Coral Gables, FL 33133
(305) 460 – 5600
Open 24 hours

This park is located alongside the Coral Gables Waterway. The highlight is a marvelous Spanish-inspired fountain surrounded by limestone pillars and lush garden landscapes. There are also sculptures, outdoor fitness equipment, bike trails, pedestrian walkways and benches. You can enter by crossing a red bridge neighboring the park over the Coral Gables Waterway that leads to Cartagena Plaza. There are three other ways to enter. Free parking is located in the nearby roundabout. This park is an ideal spot to have fun, exercise, or gaze at the ornate landscape around you. 

Near the oceanfront at David T. Kennedy Park. (Veronica Hernandez/SFMN)

David T. Kennedy Park
2400 S Bayshore Dr.
Miami, FL 33133
(305) 416 – 1300
Park Hours: Sunrise till sunset every day

From seaside mangroves to lush meadows surrounded by shade trees, David T. Kennedy Park is a sanctuary with rich vegetation and a variety of exercise-related activities. Including more than 20 acres of green seafront landscapes, David T. Kennedy Park is the place where locals go to have fun or exercise. With magnificent bayfront sites and a grassy lawn, this park is a relaxing safe haven. Play fetch, volleyball, or have a picnic on the lawn. The park also includes pedestrian walkways and outdoor gym equipment. Even your furry friends can join you at the dog park, which features a gated area for both large and small dogs. There is also a kids’ playground and two sand volleyball courts. Benches alongside the shoreline are romantic spots to watch the sunrise or sunset. Breathe in the salty ocean breeze when wandering on the boardwalk with panoramic views of the bay. Don’t forget, you cannot leave without tasting A.C.’s Icees frozen lemonade. The frosted lemonade truck made its debut in 1978 and has become a trademark. There is limited parking, so make sure to arrive early. 

At the picnic lawn area at Matheson Hammock Park. (Veronica Hernandez/SFMN)

Matheson Hammock Park
9610 Old Cutler Rd.
Coral Gables, FL 33156 US
Park Hours: Sunrise till Sunset every day
Office & Marina Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Matheson Hammock Park lies on South Florida’s coastline and reaches into Biscayne Bay. The park stretches over 630 acres of seaside Miami just south of Coral Gables, circling parts of Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden. Matheson Hammock Park is a captivating place with an array of features, including a man-made pool, sandy white beaches, bike trails, nature trails, restaurant, playground, snack bar, and a full-operating marina accommodating both powerboats and a sailing school. Picnic areas and coral rock pavilions with grills and benches are located throughout the park. It is an ideal spot to share a meal with loved ones. Its curving roads will have spectators feast their eyes on various landscapes native to South Florida, including mangrove forests and an inlet connecting to Biscayne Bay. Matheson Hammock Park’s lush scenery makes it perfect for romantic occasions such as outdoor picnics with that special someone. Entrance fees per vehicle are $5 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays. 

A lake view at Fairchild Botanical Gardens. (Veronica Hernandez/SFMN)

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden 
10901 Old Cutler Rd.
Coral Gables, FL 33156
(305) 667 – 1651
Park Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Overlooking 83 acres of ornate, vibrant tropical gardens and seaside habitats, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden is classified as one of the best facilities of its type in the United States. The garden’s portfolio includes more than 3,400 species, such as tropical vegetation, butterflies, orchids and local exotic greenery. With countless activities available throughout the gardens, Fairchild is an ideal outdoor venture for romantic dates or getting away from it all. Relish the panoramic overlooks of the gardens and lakes, or uncover exhibits like the Wings of the Tropics butterfly garden, the Whitman tropical fruit pavilion, or the Tropical Plant Conservatory and Rare Plant House. You can also savor a delicious lunch at the Glasshouse Cafe by Le Basque. Fairchild hosts annual mango, chocolate and orchid festivals, concerts, art collections, and educational courses. Even though there have been changes due to COVID, the garden has resumed events including plant sales, art courses and dog playdates. Make sure you look over their calendar prior to visiting. Adults’ entrance fees are $24.95, $17.95 for seniors, $15.95 for students and $11.95 for children. If you are interested in becoming a member, please check the website to join today!

Veronica Hernandez is a senior at Florida International University pursuing a bachelor's degree in Digital Journalism. She obtained an associate degree in Mass Communication & Journalism at Miami-Dade College. Veronica would like to be a TV anchor or reporter after she graduates. She is devoted to her community and strives to provide a voice to the voiceless.