Biscayne National Park

Visitors to South Florida and the Miami area in particular will want to visit Biscayne National Park if their interests are in boating, camping, and wilderness tours. Situated on nearly 200,000 acres, Biscayne Bay National Park is the largest park in the state of Florida's national park system, and it's home to an array of wildlife, plants, and things to do.

Four ecosystems are protected by Biscayne National Park, including the mangrove forest, a portion of Biscayne Bay, the northernmost area of the Florida Keys, and part of a coral reef that is the third-longest in the world. The waters, islands, and reefs of Biscayne Bay National Park provide ample opportunities for boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Observing wildlife and bird-watching are other activities for outdoor enthusiasts, such as those who take part in a guided kayaking tour.

The visitor center and park headquarters, open daily from 7 am until 4:30 pm, are at Convoy Point. Here, visitors to Biscayne Bay National Park will find a history museum with films and artifacts relating to the park and the Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery, where both established and emerging artists display their work depicting the beauty of the park. Making arrangements for glass bottom boat tours, guided snorkeling excursions, trips to nearby park islands, and kayak and canoe rentals are available at Convoy Point. The center also has a gift shop open from 9 am to 5 pm daily providing souvenirs, food, and beverages.

While many national parks are easily accessible by car or walking tours, only a portion of Biscayne National Park is accessible by vehicle. Other areas of the park require a boat, with the exception of Stiltsville, one of the Biscayne National Park famous landmarks, which is currently closed to the public. Stiltsville began in the 1930s with construction of the first wooden shack. During the following years, more colorful buildings on stilts were constructed as nightclubs for visitors coming from Miami and Miami Beach hotels. Illegal alcohol, gambling, and raids earned Stiltsville the reputation as the so-called place to be seen. At one time, there were 27 buildings but hurricanes and the elements have eliminated many of the original buildings and only seven survive.

The water areas of the park are open 24 hours a day. Adams Key is open for day use and only accessible by boat. Both Elliott Key and Boca Key are accessible by boat and are the locations for overnight camping. Both tent and boat camping are available on Elliott Key and Boca Chita Keys. The fees for camping two tents are up to six people are low, but reservations are not accepted and you must provide your own transportation to the islands. Visitors who come in their own boats will have to pay extra fees for an overnight stay, and docking is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Plans for one of the Biscayne National Park famous landmarks includes renovation of the seven remaining structures at Stiltsville for future use in supporting educational programs and possible use as a National Park visitor center, research facilities, artist-in-residence program, and park offices. Currently, Stiltsville is a secured area with no trespassing allowed while plans are finalized, so visitors who are interested in seeing Biscayne National Park famous landmarks will have to content themselves with other sights for the time being.

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