Homestead is a small city in Miami-Dade county. It is an agricultural region, 35 miles south west of Miami, between the Biscayne and Everglades National Parks. In the early 1900s when the Florida East Coast Railway extension to Key West was being built, the construction camps were situated in an unnamed homesteading area. The engineers designated the area 'Homestead' on the map and the name stuck. The area is on the border between the tropical monsoon and tropical savanna climate zones and in 1992, was devastated by the Category 5 Hurricane, Andrew. It is ideal for growing hops, grapes and tropical fruit.
1. Biscayne National Park
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The park was established in 1968 and covers 270 square miles, 95% of which is water. It extends from Key Largo to Key Biscayne, with pockets of land on the mainland. The park's mission is to protect and preserve the delicate ecology of the ocean, islands, coral reefs and mangrove swamps under its jurisdiction. Many of the campsites are only accessible by boat. Canoeing, kayaking, swimming and hiking are also popular pursuits, as are viewing wildlife, photography and just relaxing. The Maritime Heritage Trail combines a boat trip, snorkeling and scuba diving. Six charted shipwrecks and a marine lighthouse are visited.
9700 SW 328th Street, Sir Lancelot Jones Way, Homestead, Phone: 305-230-1144
2. Knaus Berry Farm
In 1956, brothers Ray and Russell Knaus started raising strawberries on the family farm. They set up a successful roadside stall near the current location of the berry farm. Ray's wife used the strawberries for baking at home and this too became a commercial enterprise. Ray's daughters and husbands now run the farm and have added ice cream, jam and jellies to the processed food range. They grow vegetables and herbs and offer visitors the opportunity to pick their own strawberries and tomatoes. Baked goods can be enjoyed at the coffee shop or ordered to go. The farm is open from November to mid-April.
15980 SW 248th Street, Homestead, FL 33031, Phone: 305-247-0668
3. Homestead Miami Speedway
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After the devastation wrought by Hurricane Andrew, sports promoter, Ralph Sanchez started negotiations with the city authorities to build a facility to revitalize the area. The speedway track was completed in 1995. A thousand palm trees were planted on the 600 acre site. The grandstand can seat 55000 people and there are 750 TV monitors relaying the action. A new media center was built in 2008. The oval track is 1.5 miles long and the road course is 2.2 miles long. In 2005, lighting was erected around both circuits which uses 2.4 million watts. The Indy Racing League, Ford Championship and NASCAR races are held at the Speedway.
One Ralph Sanchez Speedway Boulevard, Homestead, Phone: 305-230-5000
4. AIRIE Nest
AIRIE is an acronym for Artists In Residence In the Everglades. In partnership with the Everglade National Park, artists receive a scholarship for a month's residency in the park. The objective is to enhance the cultural heritage of the Everglades subtropical wilderness. Regular exhibitions of artists' work are held at the Airie Nest at the park's Visitor Center, and at off-site venues. Fundraising events through the year, include air boat tours, annual benefits, champagne receptions and silent auctions. The shop sells branded merchandise.
40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, FL
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5. Fruit & Spice Park
Mary Calkins Heinlein was born into a family of pioneer homesteaders in the Redland area. She developed a passion for showcasing the agricultural diversity of this sub-tropical region. In 1943, in partnership with park authorities, she purchased 18 acres of land. These were landscaped and designed to create park-like gardens using avocado, mango, papaya, sapodilla, citrus and other fruit trees. The park has grown to 37 acres and contains 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts. Guided tours and tram rides run throughout the park. Visitors can buy seeds and cuttings and take the fallen fruit. The park is part of the Redland Historic District.
24801 SW 187th Ave, Homestead, FL 33031, Phone: 305-247-5727
6. Everglades Alligator Farm
The farm is near the entrance to the Everglades National Park and is home to more than 2000 alligators. A highlight of a visit to the farm would be a 45-60 minute trip on an airboat through the everglades. The boats travel at high speed, can spin 360 degrees and are extremely loud. As they are open, passengers are bound to get wet. The boat ride is not suitable for young children. There are regular alligator and snake shows and feeding demonstrations. VIP behind the scenes tours include holding young alligators and feeding the larger ones.
40351 SW 192 Avenue Homestead, FL 33034, Phone: 305-247-2628
7. Coral Castle Museum
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Edward Leedskainin was a Latvian, slightly built and very secretive. When he was 26 he fell in love with Agnes who was just 'sweet sixteen'. They were to be married but she abandoned him on the day before the wedding. He spent the rest of his life building a monument to his lost love. Working at night, he transported and carved 1100 tons of coral into a fantasy world on a ten acre plot outside Homestead. Audio tours are available in various languages and ghost tours are conducted at night time. The gift shops sells replicas of the sculptures and other memorabilia.
28655 South Dixie Highway, Miami, FL 33033, Phone: 305-248-6345
8. Things to Do Near Me: Schnebly Redland's Winery
There are three enterprises on the winery premises. The tasting room and bar of the winery is an architectural marvel, with its tree-like glass racks, ceiling mural, coral waterfalls and grand entrance. There are weekend tours through the estate, covering the wine-making process and the family's history. The Redlands restaurant is open from Thursday to Monday for brunch, lunch and dinner. Farm-to-table, home-style cooking is on the menu. The Miami Brewing Company is also on the premises, selling a range of home brews. The venue is available for hire for special occasions and a catering service is offered.
30205 SW 217th Ave, Homestead Florida 33030, Phone: 305-242-1224
9. Everglades Outpost Wildlife Rescue
Bob and Barbara Freer live and work at the rescue center which is open all year round. They receive wild animals that have been abandoned, neglected or injured. Many of the animals in their care have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. They treat and rehabilitate the animals and if possible, release them back into the wild. Others are rehomed or remain at the outpost. They have rescued foxes, possums, pelicans, lemurs, panthers and even a tiger. Behind the scenes tours are available by appointment. Educational outreaches include field trips and shows about Florida wildlife.
35601 SW 192 Ave, Homestead, FL 33034, Phone: 305-247-8000
10. HM69 Nike Missile Base
This missile base, in the everglades, is a relic of the cold war. It was constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1965, in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis. It was staffed with 140 soldiers and was built to protect the country from air attack from the south. It has remained virtually unchanged since it was abandoned in 1979. The base was listed by the US Department of the Interior on its Register of Historic Places in 2004. There are three missile barns, a missile assembly building, barracks and guard dog kennels to visit. Two Nike Hercules missiles are on display.
40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034, Phone: 305-242-7700
11. Homestead Bayfront Park
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This 1200 acre park is the gateway to the Florida Keys. It is situated at the southern end of Biscayne Bay, next to the Biscayne National Park. There are two miles of bay frontage with palm-shaded beaches. Boats shuttle campers and day-trippers to and from Elliott Key. The park has picnic areas, a pavilion, a boat launch, fishing pier and docking facilities. It is open from sunrise to sunset. La Playa Grill is a private enterprise within the park. The sports bar and seafood restaurant was built on the foundations of a hot dog stand that was destroyed during Hurricane Andrew.
9698 N Canal Drive, Homestead, FL, Phone: 305-230-3033
12. Black Point Park and Marina
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Black Point, close to Biscayne National Park, is the largest public marina in Miami. It was built by the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department in 1982, ten years before Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc in the area. Several fishing and sailing boats and many facilities were destroyed. Attractions now include picnic areas, grills, bikeways and jogging tracks. The jetty extends 1.5 miles into the bay and is the launching point for fishing and diving in the Bay. Saltwater crocodiles and the endangered Florida manatee can be seen in the park. The Black Point Ocean Grill serves seasonal seafood dishes as well as steaks and snacks.
13. Miami Brewing Company
Peter Schnebly loves both wine and beer. After setting up a successful winery, he saw a gap in the market for a small commercial brewery. He envisaged a beer that would have the look and taste of Miami. Inspired by the popular TV series, he chose the brand name 'Vice' and the look of the 80s for the labels. The beer had to be refreshing and taste of the tropical fruits and coconut associated with the area. The company has a 100 acre property on which it grows the ingredients for the beers. More than 20 beers are served in the tap room.
30205 SW 217th Ave, Homestead Florida 33030, Phone: 305-242-1224
14. Homestead Historic Town Hall Museum
The museum is housed in the original Town Hall which was built in 1917. Ruth Campbell, erstwhile councilor and vice-mayor, drove the initiative to create the museum. The building was vacated by the authorities in 1975 and Mrs Campbell moved her office to the first floor to receive donations of material from the public. Hurricane Andrew tore the roof off in 1982. After it was repaired and the museum took full possession. The 1924 La France fire truck is the main attraction. The various cookery books compiled by women's groups and churches are a rich resource, sketching every day life over the decades.
41 N. Krome Avenue, Phone: 305-242-4463
15. Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple
The five acres of land required for the temple were acquired in 1986. The ground was laid in1995 and the complex took till 2002 to complete. The Marble Temple in Bangkok generously donated funds and several decorative items which were made in Thailand and shipped over. At the opening, 150 monks from Bangkok came to pay their respects. The statue of Buddha was also sculpted in Bangkok. It is 23 feet high and almost 7 feet wide. It weighs five tons and is made largely of bronze with brass, copper, silver and gold embellishments. The Thai language, culture and music are taught at the complex.
15200 S.W. 240th St., Miami, FL 33032, Phone: 305-245-2702
16. Miami Gliders
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The agricultural landscape and the expansive everglades create ideal conditions for thermal to develop. The phenomenon is known as the Sea Breeze Front. Since the 1930s aviators from around the world have been attracted to the area. In 1930, the Miami Soaring Club, a chapter of the National Glider Association was established. The first international mail drop by glider happened in 1935, from Miami to Key West to Havana. A gliderport was built in the 1960s. FAA certified pilots and instructors are on hand to offer airplane and glider training and short introductory flights.
28790 SW 217th Ave, Homestead, FL 33030, Phone: 786-243-7640
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17. Homestead Trolley-Everglades National Park
The National Park authorities were concerned that too few people were visiting the Everglades, Biscayne and Homestead Bay parks. They determined that many who would like to visit but did not have transport. It was often too hot, especially for the elderly, to walk to the park entrances. They instituted a trolley system which offers free transport with a free guided tour and free access to the parks. En route the volunteer guides explain the history, the wildlife and the ecosystems of the destinations. There is even free parking at the terminal point in downtown Homestead for those making use of the facility.
18. Seminole Wayside Park
This park is one of the area's oldest. It was established in 1936 to preserved the imperiled pine rocklands. There are 2 endangered and 24 threatened plant species in the 27 acre park. The low coral wall surrounding the park was built in 1930s as part of the WPA works program. The park is used by walkers, cyclists and skaters. It is close to the Mowry Canal where canoeing, kayaking and fishing are popular. There are long term plans to link the two facilities.
19. Biscayne National Park Institute
The objective of this institute is to connect people to the Biscayne National Park through educational and experiential programs, in order to foster a greater appreciation for the valuable natural resource. They offer guided tours by boat to Boca Chita, the most popular island in the park. The trips take 3 hours and passengers are taught about the history, habitats and health of the ecosystem. Another trip includes climbing the lighthouse which offers panoramic views of the bay. Each Tuesday, teams of volunteers clean away debris in the mangrove swamps. The institute also hires out canoes, paddle boats and kayaks.
9700 SW 328th St., Homestead, FL 33035, Phone: 786-335-3644
20. Shiver's Bar-B-Q
© Shiver's Bar-B-Q
Shiver's has been operating in the Homestead area since 1950 and has become an institution. Generations of locals have owned the restaurant, worked there and eaten there. The specialties are hickory smoked spare ribs and pulled pork that is processed for more than 12 hours. They also sell half and quarter chickens, sides, salads and sandwiches. Their sauces are renowned. Home-made desserts such as peach cobbler are a meal on their own. The atmosphere is relaxed in the rustic log cabin with picnic tables and benches. Outside catering services are available for groups of more than 15 people.
28001 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL 33033, Phone: 305-248-2273
21. Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria
This family-owned restaurant is run by a hands-on husband and wife team. They are first generation immigrants from Palermo in Italy and started learning about the restaurant trade back in 1978 in New York. They brought the recipes of those New York pizzas and Italian dishes down south and built a successful trattoria in downtown Homestead. There are also pasta dishes, subs and entrees on the menu. To finish off a meal, dessert items include canneloni and gelato. For beverages, they serve cappuccinos and espressos or patrons can make use of the wine station.
22. Seminole Theatre
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Originally a cinema for silent films in the 1920s, Seminole Theatre has grown to become a creative hub for various performing arts. They passionately showcase a number of live performances from theatre to music to dance, and aim to connect the community with talented artists from all around the world. The theatre also boasts of its own resident theatre company, the Seminole Theatre Players, which produces live productions throughout the year. For dining, the theatre hosts concession stands offering snacks and beverages, as well as a full bar for select performances. Several other dining establishments are also available just steps away from the theatre.
18 N. Krome Avenue, Homestead, Florida 33030, Phone: 786-650-2073