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Key Biscayne: A Relaxing Weekend For The Whole Family!

The Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne just outside of Miami shot from an altitude of about 500 feet during a helicopter photo flight.

 

Key Biscayne is a little barrier island located between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay in Miami.  It is about 20 minutes away from the Miami airport.  It is a really lovely place to spend a weekend with kids, with lots of beautiful nature, outdoor activities, and solid restaurants.  We live close by and yet still sometimes take a weekend to chill out on the island because it is a much more resort-like atmosphere than that of Miami.  

Where Is It

Key Biscayne is a primarily residential island in Miami-Dade county.  It is about four miles long and two miles wide with around 12,000 residents, many of whom get around by golf cart.  The main road, called Crandon Boulevard, runs the length of the island and most of the shops and restaurants are along this road.  It is not the most charming road, but it is very functional.  Meanwhile, Key Biscayne has some of the most expensive real estate in the country, which makes it fun to turn off of Crandon Boulevard and explore around the smaller, more charming streets.  There are some amazing homes around the island.  It’s also worth renting a boat, paddleboard, or a kayak at some point to check out the homes from the water as well – many are really only visible from on the water.    

How To Get There

We have always had a car or rented a golf cart when we have visited, but you could go carless on the island.  Uber is cheap and easy when needed.  The island is very bike-friendly and, depending on where you stay, walking-friendly as well.  Most things in town are within a 10-15 minutes walk, although you would need bikes to get to the beaches on either end of the island.  Key Biscayne has Crandon Park beach at the entrance to the island and Bill Baggs beach at the other end of the island.  Note that on weekends, the beaches can fill up by around 11 AM, so it is important to get there earlyish if you are driving.    

We love using golf carts on the island – they are car-seat friendly for kids, most buildings have charging stations, and there’s a friendly place called KB Green where you can rent golf carts for the days or weeks you are in town.  It runs around $50/day for a four-seater for a week and is a little more expensive for a weekend.  

Why Go

The main reason to go is for a relaxing break in a beautiful, family-friendly, and resort-like place.  Because the island is primarily residential, everything is very easy and convenient once you are there.  You’re very close to Miami with all the conveniences of being in a major city but the island still feels like a world apart.  Many of the activities on the island are also centered around kids, which makes it a really easy retreat for the whole family together.  They have super family-friendly beaches, parks, and restaurants.  

When To Visit

You can really visit the island year-round – the weather is always nice, although it gets hot in the summer and the weather really compares most favorably to the rest of the US from November until May.  Hurricanes peak in August and September.

 

We Liked

For the adults, we like the relaxed, low-key vibe everywhere you go on the island.  One of our favorite activities is to ride bikes around the island, particularly into and around Bill Baggs State Park.  There are bikes available for rental at Bill Baggs for $9/hr, with some good family-friendly bike rental options as well (trailers, quads, etc).  It’s easy to ride a few miles looping around the state park along the water and the road is completely flat.  It’s also worth checking out the beautiful lighthouse at Bills Baggs.  There is some interesting history and it is very cool to climb the stairs and see the lovely view.  They have free 30-min tours at 10 AM and 1 PM on Thursday-Monday.  The beach here is also terrific for families – the water is shallow and the waves are very calm due to an offshore reef.  You can also rent two chairs and one umbrella for $20 for the day, which is really nice if you would prefer not to carry a lot of beach supplies with you.  Lastly, you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and hydro bikes here, which we have never done but this seems like a fun activity as well, particularly for older kids.  

Another one of our favorite activities is wake-surfing and wakeboarding, which we do on Key Biscayne through Gator Baits.  They are really terrific – they rent the boats by the hour ($220/hr), the boats are covered so kids can easily and comfortably join (even if just for the boat ride), and they provide instruction for both wake surfing and wakeboarding.  Both of us now love wake surfing after several weekends of practicing.  For kids, they can start learning around four years old.  The boat leaves from the start of Key Biscayne and takes you a few minutes away to practice with an incredible view of the Brickell skyline behind you, which also makes the activity particularly nice.  Each person probably needs about 20 minutes max of practice time and then they get too tired.  

These are our favorites, but there are several other fun activities on Key Biscayne to highlight.  Kiteboarding is popular, along with golf at the Crandon Golf Course and tennis at the Crandon Park Tennis Center.  The Ritz also has a very active tennis program for visitors and locals.  There are also some nice pilates and yoga classes in town.  There’s also an active PADI diving company on Key Biscayne called Diver’s Paradise (https://www.keydivers.com/), with many reefs and wrecks nearby to visit.  In particular, there’s an interesting and beautiful artificial reef modelled after Atlantis called Neptune Memorial Reef.  The memorial in the name refers to the ability to blend cremated ashes with a natural concrete substance, which are then molded into various artistic structures that are placed within the reef along with memorial plaques.    

For little kids, we also really recommend visiting Crandon Park at the beginning of the island.  Crandon Park beach during low tide has lots of fun flats for toddlers to explore and there’s a great sandbar for little ones as well.  There’s also a little family amusement center, with a charming carousel, a playground to visit, and free pony rides on weekends from 11-3 PM.  

Lastly, our son’s most favorite thing on Key Biscayne is the playground in the town center of Key Biscayne.  It is terrific – it is definitely one of the best playgrounds we have visited.  There are lots of different pieces of creative equipment for several different age groups as well as a little splash pad.  The park is big and shaded, which makes hanging out and watching the kids much more enjoyable.  There is also an indoor ball pit and playground in the community center next door, should it rain while you are on the island.  

Where To Eat

There are some great bakeries in Key Biscayne.  Our favorites are La Boulangerie Boul’Mich for chocolate croissants, Flour and Weirdos (https://www.flourandweirdoughs.com/) for the brisket croissants, and Patagonia (no website) for the ham and cheese empanadas.  The Golden Hog also has some great sandwiches and prepared food.  

For brunch, our favorite restaurant is Artisan Kitchen and Bar (https://www.artisankitchenandbar.com/).  Everything is good here and they are always super friendly and accommodating with our sometimes-impatient kiddo.  For dinner, our favorite restaurant is Milanezza – it’s an Italian-Argentine restaurant with many different kinds of delicious Milanezzas, including vegetarian options, along with other Italian and Argentinian dishes.  They also have excellent Aperol spritzes!  Lastly, the Ritz has one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Miami called Cantina, which is right off the pool on the beach.  

For dessert, there’s a tart frozen yogurt place with many toppings that we like called Yogurt by U (https://yogurtbyu.com/).  We will inevitably ride bikes here at least once during the weekend and our little one likes to push the ice cream handles and pick out his toppings.

For drinks, there is a bar called The Cleat (no website) with really pretty sunset views on the water at No Name Harbor in Bill Baggs State Park.  We highly recommend checking this out.  They frequently have live music and small bites, with pretty close access to The Boater’s Grill next door for a more extensive menu.  

 

Where To Stay

We have stayed at the Ritz, which we highly recommend with kids.  They have an incredible splash pad and a zero-entry pool, both of which our little one really enjoyed.  The room rates at the Ritz vary widely, so I will not attempt a guess here for the typical rate, but the link for the hotel is here.

There are also several Airbnbs at the Residences at the Ritz, which is right next door, grants access to the same amenities, and frequently includes kitchens and living rooms.  There are many other Airbnb options around the island as well and the island is so small that any location around the island is terrific.  These Airbnbs appear to start around $200/night and go up from there.  

We’ve never stayed here, but we also came across a very reasonably priced hotel ($175/night) called the Silver Sands Resort while doing research for this article. Note that this hotel is located on the beach almost directly next door to the most expensive condo building in Key Biscayne, which is called Oceana.  It’s a very interesting contrast to see.  

 

You might also like these articles from the Bébé Voyage Blog:

Duck Key: Planning Your Florida Family Vacation

5 Awesome Things To Do With Kids In Florida That’s NOT Disney Or The Beach

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