Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park: The Complete Guide

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

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Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Address
1200 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149-2713, USA
Phone +1 786-582-2673

Florida is known for its sandy beaches, gently swaying palm trees, and relaxed lifestyle, and nothing encapsulates the beauty of southern Florida like Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Named after the famous editor of the Miami News, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a South Florida treasure that’s renowned for its natural beauty.

The park has over a mile of gorgeous Atlantic shoreline, a host of friendly restaurants, and a beautiful lighthouse that dates back to the early 19th-century (which is the oldest standing structure in the county). Extremely easy to reach from Miami, this state park makes for a great day trip for a little dose of nature and history.

Things to Do

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is truly a wonderful place for outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy. From bicycling and swimming to hiking and canoeing, there’s a veritable treasure trove of outdoor activities for you and your family to enjoy together with nature trails for walking and biking. There is a launch area for boats and visitors are welcome to go swimming in the ocean but should know that there are no lifeguards on duty.

A visit to the historic lighthouse is a must. Opt to take the tour of the lighthouse and the keeper’s cottage, which runs twice each day. Built in 1825, this lighthouse is the oldest structure in south Florida and the only lighthouse to ever have been attacked by Native Americans. The park is also recognized as a historic Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site. It was from here where enslaved people were able to find a boat captain willing to help them escape to the Bahamas. On a tour, you can learn much more about this history and also about the lifestyle of a lighthouse keeper.

Best Hikes & Trails

This state park is completely flat, so aside from the 109 steps to the top of the lighthouse, you won't be doing much climbing on the easy nature trails. Most trails are located on the west side of the park, but there is also a northern trail that goes through the mangroves. The start of this trail is located 100 feet north of the Boater's Grill Parking Area. There is also another coastal trail that starts 100 feet east of this same parking area, which you can follow south until it ends in Area D.

Where to Camp

Individual camping in Cape Florida State Park is not allowed, as only camping groups have access to the campground. The park defines a “group” as being made up of several members who are sponsored by a non-profit organization, such as a church or civic community group. Please note that the park gives priority to youth groups over other groups. 

If you want to camp in your boat, the park allows you to dock at No Name Harbor. There is a nightly fee that gives you access to showers, restrooms, and a picnic area. It’s recommended that boaters pay these fees in cash.  

Where to Stay Nearby

Just nine miles south of Downtown Miami, there are plenty of beautiful Miami hotels that you can stay in and still be less than a half hour's drive from the park. However, if you want to stay very close you can check out some of the luxury resorts and hotels in Key Biscayne, which is located right down the road to the park entrance.

  • The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne: This high-class resort offers a wide range of amenities like a spa and fitness center and a restaurant with oceanfront dining.
  • Beach Haus: This hotel offers apartment-style accommodation with rooms available for both long- and short-term rentals.
  • Silver Sands Beach Resort: Right on the beach, this hotel also has a heated swimming pool and children's playground.

How to Get There

The park is located in Key Biscayne which is only a few miles south of Miami and can be easily accessed by the 4.8-mile Key Biscayne Bridge. From downtown Miami, you can take I-95 south until you can turn left on FL-913 which will take you over the bridge to Key Biscayne. This road continues all the way to the entrance of the park.

Accessibility

The park has many amenities to help visitors with disabilities enjoy the sand and even get into the water. There are two beach wheelchairs and one swimming wheelchair available at the bicycle rental area on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge. To get onto the beach, there is a Mobi Mat at Beach Access #6 near the Lighthouse Cafe.

The lighthouse, with its many steps, cannot be accessed by wheelchair, but there is a monitor at the base that shows a live feed of the view at the top. Additionally, there are accessible picnic areas, grills, and benches and the fishing pier and playground are also accessible. Service animals are welcome throughout the park.

Tips for Your Visit

  • The park is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until sunset.
  • You can check the official park website for ongoing events and programs like the Junior Ranger Program and the Manatee Educational Program.
  • If you get peckish, you'll find fresh meals and drinks at the Lighthouse Cafe, which also rents recreational equipment.
  • In the winter, Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish sometimes invade the beach so keep your eye out for warnings posted at the ranger station.
  • All pets must be leashed at all times.
  • If you need to rinse off, you'll find cold showers outside of the restrooms in Areas A, B, and C.
  • If you're planning a large gathering, there are 18 picnic pavilions available, 15 of which are large enough for groups of 40 people. However, make sure you clean up after yourself otherwise you may have to pay a $50 cleaning fee.
  • Everyone can enter the lighthouse, but you have to be at least 42 inches tall to walk up the stairs.
  • Bicycles and quad bikes are available for rent at the park.
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Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park: The Complete Guide