South Florida’s Sprawling Farmland: South Dade

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South Dade
Robert Is Here, a popular roadside fruitstand.

In addition to the warm waters and beautiful coastlines stretching as far as the eye can see, Miami’s natural beauty and outdoor attractions extend even farther. Enter South Dade—a true eco-habitat—which serves as the gateway to two national parks and a national preserve: Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.

The sprawling farmland that is South Dade is a popular destination among agritourism enthusiasts who come to pick seasonal exotic fruits and vegetables or explore the various nurseries in search of exotic plants. It is also the perfect blend of historic sites, natural beauty and hard-to-find tropical produce.

No visit to South Dade would be complete without a stop to some, or all, of these charming attractions.

Zoo Miami, aka The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens, is the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida and the only sub-tropical zoo in the continental United States. Sitting on 750 acres, it’s home to more than 3,000 animals representing over 500 different species. Zoo Miami is also proud to be an active leader in many global wildlife and environmental conservation initiatives, including protecting more than 40 species of species classified as endangered.

Schnebly’s Brewery & Winery
Another one-of-a-kind South Dade attraction is Schnebly’s Winery, a massive estate with a novel approach to winemaking, creating wines from indigenous tropical fruits.

Robert is Here
A favorite activity of agritourists is enjoying the fresh air while picking berries and other seasonal fruits. If you’re not in the mood to do the work yourself, take a drive over to Robert Is Here, a popular roadside fruit stand since 1959 with a wide range of locally-sourced tropical fruits and vegetables like carambola, mamey, lychee, atemoys, papaya and mangoes.

Monkey Jungle
Established in 1935 in a natural subtropical forest, Monkey Jungle is a unique wildlife park and discovery center where the wildlife live here much as they would in their native habitats. Experience up close animal encounters with these amazing creatures as you’re welcomed  by the Java monkey troop, now numbering over 90 individuals, and easily the highlight of the park.

Coral Castle
One of South Dade’s most loved attractions is also one of its most mysterious. The Coral Castle is a labor of love of Floridian Ed Leedskalnin. Carved out of stone from surrounding areas, this outdoor sculpture garden was made entirely, and secretly, by hand. The more than 1,100 tons of carved coral rock have amazed visitors for more than 60 years.

Cauley Square
Cauley Square Historic Railroad Village is a glimpse of Old South Florida at its best. Spend the day or a lazy afternoon shopping and casually strolling through the shaded garden paths. It is located within ten acres of lush tropical gardens, foliage, plants and flowers, birds, fountains, sculptures, private patios and a labyrinth of antique and specialty shops.