Listed in the National Register, Pinecrest Gardens is a key park to visit when in Florida, if only to experience the unique building and landscape architecture and maybe spend a day decompressing from city life.
History and Background
In 2003, a 14-acre botanical garden right off Old Cutler Road in the South Miami area was dedicated as a municipal park by the local Village Council. Pinecrest Gardens, as we know it today, hosts a weekly farmer’s market as well as regular events and holiday programming, but once upon a time (in 1936), this same location was home to Parrot Jungle, a world-famous tourist attraction and zoo of sorts. Early visitors to the “jungle” — which was an oasis for tropical birds — include Sir Winston Churchill. And though Parrot Jungle has since moved to another location with birds in tow, Pinecrest Gardens still features over 1,000 varieties of rare, exotic and tropical plants in a native tropical hardwood and cypress setting.
When to Visit
Any time of year is a good time to visit Pinecrest Gardens, really. But Miami weather can be temperamental. Sunny days are ideal; pack a raincoat or umbrella just in case it rains and always remember to triple check the weather forecast in advance. The only time it’s not advisable to visit Miami is during hurricane season, but if you’re already here, you should be just fine. Don’t ever let a little rain ruin your vacation.
Things to See and Do
Pinecrest Gardens has a packed monthly calendar (you can find it on their website) and hosts all kinds of events including family movie night, musicals, orchestra performances, concerts, fine arts festivals, artist talks and much, much more. Festivals and plant shows include Howl-O-Ween, December’s Nights of Lights event, an orchid show in March, a chili cook-off and a cactus and succulent show in May.
In addition to this, the Gardens offer educational programs for adults (think horticulture and conservation workshops), family and youths (Girl and Boy Scouts, art and more) groups and schools (outreach, camp and field trips). Near the playground and petting zoo, there’s also a Learning & Sensory Garden that features seasonal vegetable and herb beds, investigation stations, chalk, games and other fun self-guided activities.
If all this still isn’t enough to convince you, let it be known that Pinecrest Gardens also has a fabulous fine art program including an exhibition of international contemporary artwork, which focuses on new and mid-career artists, with a goal to support talented young artists early on.
At the time of publication, the Artist in Residence program is featuring Xavier Cortada, who showcases his work at the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the NSU Museum of Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, the Whatcom Museum and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Cortada has previously collaborated on environmental installations at the South and North Pole, peace murals in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama and AIDS murals in Switzerland and South Africa and eco-art projects in Taiwan and Holland. He’s also created art for the White House, the World Bank, Miami City Hall and more.
The Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market is held every Sunday, rain or shine, year ‘round here. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekly and admission is always free. Consistently voted the best farmers market in Miami, this outdoor stop-and-shop features coffee vendors, artisanal goods, BBQ, homemade dog treats, Venezuelan arepas, acai bowls, CBD products and fresh baked goods and juices. A sweet arepa with chicken and avocado always hits the spot at this farmers market. Well-behaved dogs are welcome on leashes and might even score some free treats from dog-loving vendors throughout the market.
There is off-site parking available for all festivals and a lot on-site at Pinecrest Gardens perfect for parking on regular days. Parking is free and usually plentiful, making this an even more ideal place to visit with family or small children. Getting a stroller or wheelchair on or off the grounds is also not a difficult task.
Things to Do Nearby
Did you see everything you wanted to see and fully enjoy your day at the Gardens? Maybe your plans are to stick around the area, but you’re not sure where to go next. Right down the street, there’s another garden called Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. There is a cost to get in, but the sights, sounds and smells here are worth it. Stop in at the gift shop on your way out for fragrant candles, nature prints, jewelry and knick knacks made by local artisans. Matheson Hammock Park is also nearby. If you happen to visit during the day, bring a swimsuit and sign up to rent a paddleboard. It’s fun and it’s a workout so you’ll kill two birds with one stone!