The Biscayne National Park's Visitor Center, the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, is a great structure in a most beautiful setting right at the edge of Biscayne Bay with fantastic views of the water and beyond.
This is a practical starting point to exploring all the park has to offer.
The Visitor Center like all National Park visitor centers, is where you find maps and brochures, great wildlife and habitat exhibits, films about the park and the fragile ecosystems, a bookstore, restrooms, and the super-friendly staff that can answer any question you might have.
The Visitor Center facilities and highlights include:
- The nature exhibits
- Trails and Boardwalks: offer great views of the bay and the mangrove coastline and wildlife sighting opportunities
- Tour departures: Boat Tours depart from the docks of the Visitor Center, tour can be operated by the National Park system
or private outfits operating under park's permit.
The following are normally available through the park facilities but note that circumstances change frequently, please check before heading out there:
- Canoe and Kayak Rentals - temporarily unavailable
- Boat Trips to Boca Chita Key including sailing and paddle eco-adventures
- Snorkel Trips to the reef
In addition, there are many ranger-led programs during the dry season, mid-November through April as well as special events conducted by sponsors and volunteers.
Family Fun Fest is held on the second Sunday of the month during the "dry and cool" season with lots of fun and educational activities for kids and adults alike.
Check their website at National Park Service Biscayne National Park for any events that might be scheduled during the time of your visit.
Biscayne Bay National Park Nature Exhibits
These are some great hands-on exhibits that the children really enjoy handling and learning about: sponges, corals, fans, turtle shells... and a great introduction before heading out to the reefs.
Trails and Boardwalks
Trails and a spectacular elevated boardwalk that line the shore offer great views of the bay and the mangrove coastline.
These are great for strolling around, just relax by one of the many benches, admire the beauty of the bay, look for manatees in the water, watch the sunset...
The trails and boardwalk start just in front of the Visitor Center on both sides of the Jetty, which is also a great place to scout for manatees. There are picnic tables and grills throughout with trees and palms providing most welcomed shade.
How long does it take? As long as you wish to make it. The boardwalk and trails are short, but it is nice to take the time to enjoy them.
Biscayne Park Concessioner
The Biscayne National Park Institute is the park's concessioner that offers many programs and tours departing from the Dante Fascell Visitor Center. Programs range in duration from a few hours to a full day and highlight the park's amazing wildlife, rich history, and awe-inspiring marine ecosystems.
There are also a number of outfits that are authorized to operate within the waters of the park, although tour departures are from their own different locations in Miami, Homestead, Miami Beach and the Florida Keys. For a list of current tour operators and their offerings click here.
Boat Trips to the Keys
If you don't have access to a boat, tours to the islands are provided from the Park.
There are many tours and programs that bring you to the islands. From short 3-hour boat excursions to Boca Chita Key to full-day sailing adventures including snorkeling, paddling and a stop ashore Boca Chita or Adams Key and even night photography cruises.
Tours and programs vary with the season and not all are offered on a daily basis, check before you head out there.
Here's more on Boat Tours and our excursion to Boca Chita Key.
Canoe, Kayak, SUP Rentals and Guided Paddle Tours
The park's concessioner has a great selection of canoes, kayaks, and SUPs. Whether by canoe, kayak or SUP, this is a great way to explore the mangrove coastline.
From the Visitor Center you can paddle along the shoreline, through the canals and sheltered bays.
Before setting out, stop at the Visitor Center for route suggestions and current conditions. There are also guided paddling tours in the vicinity of the park as well as far in the islands.
Here's more on canoeing, kayaking in Biscayne Park.
Snorkeling Trips to the Reefs
Snorkeling the Florida Keys is often one of the "must" activities for water lovers. The reefs are beautiful and teeming with life, make sure you make some time to enjoy this wonderful underwater world.
The Park conducts snorkeling trips to the colorful reefs year-round. It is a 3-hour tour and they provide you with mask, fins, and snorkeling vest. The trips include an orientation by a Park ranger or volunteer, who are knowledgeable and passionate about the marine life and the habitat. It is a great introduction to the marvels you are about to see and also teaches you about the fragility of the ecosystem and conservation efforts.
Boats leave directly from the dock in front of the Biscayne National Park Visitor Center, reservations are a must.
Here's more on Snorkeling Trips in Biscayne National Park
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