Five Miami Day Trips that Highlight Florida History

Miami is a mecca for diverse cultures, arts, and music. But waiting just outside the city limits are prime locations that delve into Florida’s even richer history. Explore literary, military, political, and natural history all packaged to do in just one day. Here are the 5 best historical day trips from Miami.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Much of the park is underwater, so bring a swimsuit and snorkel or scuba gear. The best underwater attraction is the Maritime Heritage Trail. It is the only archeological trail in the entire National Park system that is underwater. The trail sports six shipwrecks that span nearly a century of maritime history. Starting May 7, 2011, the park is offering Ranger-guided tours snorkeling through some of the shipwrecks.

For those that aren’t water-savvy, Biscayne National Park also offers hiking and bicycle trails, fishing, and prime wildlife watching areas. Dante Fascell Visitor Center plays host to short films, shopping, exhibits, and Ranger-led informational programs.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is one of the largest in the National Park system at roughly 1.5 million acres. The closest park entrance to Miami is Shark Valley . Daily admission is $10 per vehicle. The Shark Valley Visitor Center hosts everglade educational exhibits, shopping, brochures, videos, and alligators viewed from an underwater camera. The highlight of the Shark Valley region is a paved 15-mile cycling route into the heart of the everglades environment. For a small fee bicycles can be rented on-site.

If a 15 mile cycle seems daunting, Shark Valley Tram Tours offers 2-hour narrated open-air tram rides along the same loop. The $18.95 tour includes a mid-way stop at the 45-foot Shark Valley observation tower and a bird’s eye view of the surrounding wetlands.

Key West

Key West is a gorgeous three hour drive from Miami across long bridges and surrounded by cerulean water. The trip is worth it for the drive alone. But Key West has its own special gem in the Hemingway Home & Museum. Ernest Hemingway was a Nobel Peace Prize winner and famous writer. Some of his most famous works, like “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, were penned while living in the 907 Whitehead Street home. Hemingway owned the home from 1931 until his death. Since then it has become a National Historic Landmark. Roughly 60 cats remain in residence on the grounds. Some are descendents of a six-toed feline that Hemingway received as a gift. The house contains a number of special features that cater to the furry companions. Guided tours range from $6 to $12 and are available 365 days a year through the museum.

PeanutIsland

Peanut Island is just a short drive up Florida ‘s eastern coast from Miami . Fishing, boating, snorkeling, and swimming are available at the park. But what makes Peanut Island stand out is its bomb shelter built during the Cuban Missile Crisis. John F. Kennedy spent time at the Kennedy compound in nearby West Palm Beach during his presidency. The Peanut Island bunker was meant to act as a command center if war broke out while Kennedy vacationed in Florida . Guided tours of the bomb shelter and nearby U. S. Coast Guard station are available from the Palm Beach Maritime Museum . Tours range from $5 to $10 per person and run Thursday through Sunday.

KennedySpace Center

Be ready for an early morning. The Kennedy Space Center is a 3-4 hour drive from Miami and opens at 9 a.m. The Space Center showcases the history of NASA’s space program with tours, exhibits, and hands-on experiences. The $43 admission includes all exhibits and shows, interactive space-flight simulators, entrance to the IMAX theater, and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Space enthusiasts can expand their Kennedy Space Center experience at additional expense. $24.99 will buy lunch with an astronaut. It includes a meal, a NASA space program briefing. A variety of $21 guided tours offer guests a first-hand view of the space shuttle launch pads, the Air Force Space Museum, NASA’s current unmanned rocket program, and the International Space Station Center. The annual pass is an additional $13 and recommended. Once you’ve been, you’ll definitely want to go again.