Key Biscayne, Florida is an island off the coast of Miami. It is reached by the Rickenbacker Causeway that originates in the Brickell Avenue area of Miami. It is well signed from both I-95 and US-1.
As you drive across the causeway you will first see the Rusty Pelican restaurant on your left and then Miami Seaquarium on your right.
These two businesses, along with a charter high school, the old Miami Marine Stadium, and a marina are all located on Virginia Key.
This key is located between mainland Miami and Key Biscayne. As you drive across the causeway you will have a wonderful view on your left of the downtown Miami skyline.
Virginia Key and Key Biscayne are separated from the South Beach area of Miami Beach by Government Cut. Government Cut is the main ship channel from the Atlantic Ocean into the Port of Miami.
As you leave Virginia Key, you will cross a bridge that spans Bear Cut. Bear Cut is for smaller vessels traveling in and out of Biscayne Bay.
A bit further down the road you will see the large Crandon Park ocean front beach and parking area.
Your next stop is the Village of Key Biscayne.
Key Biscayne was the center of civilization for the Tequesta, a small tribe of sea-savvy Indians who fished the crystal waters of the Florida Keys.
Because Key Biscayne is only about five feet above sea level, the Tequesta raised their villages on palm pilings, much like the summer homes that today line Florida's coasts.
Long before sea turtles were endangered, the Tequesta hunted them for their meat and harvested their eggs for valuable protein.
In 1513, Ponce de Leon "discovered" the island and presented it to the King of Spain as Santa Maria. The Tequesta were fortunate in that Ponce only had time to restock provisions before leaving.
The toll on the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami to Key Biscayne is $2.25 per two axle cars or trucks, but a lot more for big vehicles with three axles or more.
The trip from the mainland along the causeway lined with palms and beaches along Biscayne Bay is a beautiful and calming transition from the bustle of Miami to the quiet paradise of Key Biscayne.
After World War Two, Key Biscayne was still largely undeveloped.
While the city saw growth from tourism and land speculators, it was still an island isolated from Miami on the mainland.
It took the completion of the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami to Biscayne in 1947 to really bring major residential development.
The Mackle Brothers began developing their Villages of Key Biscayne in 1950, and typical houses sold for less than $10,000.
These homes were concrete block houses of about 1200 square feet with three bedrooms, one bathroom and a small screened-in porch.
These original homes were primarily sold to retirees and young families headed by World War II veterans who purchased them with GI Bill financing with a $ 500 down payment.
Many of these same homes, known locally as "Mackles", are worth much more than one million dollars today. They are becoming scarcer by the day.
Affluent people - many from South America - buy the old homes and tear them down to build McMansions with room for large families and live-in maids.
The only bank on the Key in the early days was owned by Charles "Bebe" Rebozo, who later became famous as a friend of Richard Nixon. His Key Biscayne Bank & Trust was founded in 1964.
Bebe was of Cuban descent, but regularly attended Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church, sometimes accompanied in later years by Richard Nixon.
Bebe instituted a tradition in his bank of always having fresh popcorn in an old fashioned popping machine in the lobby. The wonderful aroma teased your nose the moment you walked in the door.
When I lived on the Key in the mid 1990's, the SunTrust bank was in the old location and carried on the Bebe popcorn tradition.
In 1969, Key Biscayne Florida saw major presidential development as well when Richard Nixon purchased his winter retreat there, the "Florida White House".
The President of the United States wanted to be close to his old buddy, Bebe.
His visits to the Key became celebrity events, and the citizens got used to the Secret Service spending a lot of time before the presidential visits making sure everything was secure.
The ranch-style compound, bulldozed in 2004 by new owners, was Nixon's fortress of solitude during his administration and even after he was forced to resign due to the Watergate scandal.
Key Biscayne suffered some damage when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, but luckily Bill Baggs State Park took the brunt of the storm's fury.
The hurricane turned out to be a blessing in disguise as all the invasive species, such as Australian pines, in the park were wiped out by the heavy winds and rain.
The Park Service restored the area with all native plants, and today Bill Baggs Park is a rare glimpse of what old Florida's wilderness might have looked like when the Tequesta thrived here.
Perhaps the current economic storm will be the next blessing in disguise for the Key's natural beauty as it might slow down development.
The beaches in Key Biscayne are gorgeous soft white sand, and the best of these is at Crandon Park on the north side of the Key.
Key Biscayne is traditionally mentioned in any list of the top safest cities in Florida.
All of this tremendous beauty and security comes with a price. Realtor.com says the median listing price for a Key Biscayne home in 2021 is $1,495,000.
Most of the residences are McMansions or ocean front condominiums. I lived there from 1992 to 1996 and sold my one bedroom condominium for $82,000.
Needless to say, home prices have gone up in those past 25 years.
Sir Pizza. 712 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne FL 33149. 305-361-5701. Usual Key Biscayne prices, but very good pizza nevertheless. Very popular with Key natives and still one of my favorites.
Donut Gallery Diner. 83 Harbor Drive, Key Biscayne FL 33149. 305-361-9985. Iconic 50 year old restaurant for great lunches and breakfasts. Very popular with locals.
Silver Sands Beach Resort,
301 Ocean Dr, Key Biscayne Florida 33149. 305-361-5441. Good Location. The great beaches of Bill Baggs State Park are a stone's throw away.
Lots of European tourists love this hotel, so you'll be amongst interesting company. A bargain for Key Biscayne (expect about $170 a night during the tourist season).
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park,
1200 South Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne Florida 33149. 305-361-5811.
Named after Miami newspaper editor Bill Baggs, this state park is part of an extensive system of barrier islands. Also contains historic Cape Florida Lighthouse which you can ascend for one of the most exhilarating views in Florida, as well as the accompanying lighthouse keeper museum. You can also have lunch in the park at the Lighthouse Cafe.
1 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne Florida 33149. 786-713-8006.
Windsurfing, kayaking, you can learn how to do it all here. The staff are very helpful and experienced.
Key Biscayne's unique location is in the Miami Metro area as an island in sparkling Biscayne Bay. It is conveniently located for doing and seeing many interesting things. Here are some of them.
Visit the Cape Florida Lighthouse: Located within Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, the lighthouse is a historic landmark that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse for panoramic views or take a guided tour to learn about its history.
Relax on Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Beach: This secluded beach is located on the southern tip of Key Biscayne and offers white sand, clear water, and stunning views of the ocean. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding.
Explore the Miami Seaquarium: This popular marine park is located on Virginia Key, just a short drive from Key Biscayne. Visitors can see a variety of marine animals, including dolphins, whales, sea lions, and manatees. The park also offers interactive exhibits and animal encounters.
Take a sunset sailboat cruise: Key Biscayne is known for its beautiful sunsets, and there's no better way to enjoy them than on a sailboat cruise. Visitors can enjoy the sea breeze and stunning views of the Miami skyline as the sun sets over the ocean.
Go snorkeling or scuba diving in Biscayne Bay: Biscayne Bay is home to a diverse array of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and coral reefs. Visitors can explore the underwater world by snorkeling or scuba diving with a local tour operator.
Tour the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: Located in Coconut Grove, just a short drive from Key Biscayne, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a historic estate that was once the winter home of industrialist James Deering. Visitors can explore the ornate mansion, beautiful gardens, and art collection.
Rent a bike and explore Crandon Park: Crandon Park is a large public park on Key Biscayne that offers a variety of recreational activities, including biking, hiking, kayaking, and fishing. Visitors can rent bikes and explore the park's many trails and scenic vistas.
Go fishing in the Atlantic Ocean: Key Biscayne is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, with a variety of species available in the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can charter a boat and try their luck at catching marlin, tuna, sailfish, and more.
Visit the Deering Estate: Located in Cutler Bay, just a short drive from Key Biscayne, the Deering Estate is a historic estate that offers a glimpse into South Florida's rich history and culture. Visitors can tour the main house, explore the gardens, and participate in educational programs.
Take a helicopter tour of Miami: For a bird's-eye view of Miami, visitors can take a helicopter tour of the city. Tours typically last around 30 minutes and offer stunning views of the skyline, beaches, and landmarks such as the Port of Miami.
Explore the Miami Children's Museum: Located on Watson Island, just a short drive from Key Biscayne, the Miami Children's Museum is a fun and educational destination for families. Visitors can explore hands-on exhibits that encourage creativity, imagination, and learning.
Watch a Miami Marlins baseball game: Located in Little Havana, just a short drive from Key Biscayne, Marlins Park is home to the Miami Marlins baseball team. Visitors can enjoy a game of America's favorite pastime and take in the lively atmosphere of this modern stadium.
Check out the Miami Art Museum: Located in Downtown Miami, just a short drive from Key Biscayne, the Miami Art Museum features a collection of modern and contemporary art from around the world. Visitors can explore the galleries and attend special exhibitions.
Go kayaking through mangrove tunnels: Key Biscayne is surrounded by beautiful mangrove forests, which can be explored by kayak. Visitors can paddle through narrow channels and tunnels, spotting wildlife such as birds, crabs, and fish. Guided tours are available for those who want to learn more about the ecology and history of the area.
Visit the Ancient Spanish Monastery: Located in North Miami Beach, just a short drive from Key Biscayne, the Ancient Spanish Monastery is a unique and historic landmark. Originally built in Spain in the 12th century, the monastery was dismantled and shipped to the United States in the 20th century. Visitors can explore the beautiful gardens, cloisters, and chapel, and learn about the fascinating history of this unusual attraction.
Take a day trip to the Everglades: Located just a short drive from Key Biscayne, the Everglades National Park is a unique and beautiful wilderness area. Visitors can explore the wetlands by airboat, hike through the trails, and spot wildlife such as alligators, panthers, and manatees.
Play golf at Crandon Golf Course: Crandon Golf Course is a beautiful 18-hole golf course located on Key Biscayne. The course is known for its challenging layout, stunning views, and championship history. Visitors can play a round of golf or take lessons from a professional instructor.
Go on a sunset paddleboarding adventure: Stand-up paddleboarding is a fun and relaxing way to explore the waters around Key Biscayne. Visitors can take a guided tour at sunset and enjoy stunning views of the skyline and ocean as the sun sets over the water.
Visit the Miami Zoo: Located in South Miami, just a short drive from Key Biscayne, the Miami Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from around the world. Visitors can see animals such as lions, tigers, and elephants, and explore the zoo's many exhibits and attractions.
Explore the Wynwood Walls street art district: Wynwood Walls is a colorful and vibrant outdoor art exhibit located in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami. Visitors can see murals and installations from some of the world's most famous street artists, as well as galleries and shops showcasing local art and culture.
Take a Miami city tour: For a comprehensive overview of Miami's history and culture, visitors can take a guided city tour. Tours typically cover highlights such as the Art Deco District, Little Havana, and Coconut Grove.
Check out the Miami Beach Botanical Garden: Located in the heart of South Beach, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a tranquil oasis of greenery and flowers. Visitors can explore the gardens, attend events and workshops, and learn about the diverse plant life of South Florida.
Go on a food and wine tour of Miami: Miami is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine, and visitors can experience the city's food culture on a guided tour. Tours typically visit local restaurants and markets, and offer samples of traditional dishes and drinks.
Visit the Miami Design District: The Miami Design District is a vibrant neighborhood that is home to a variety of high-end shops, galleries, and restaurants. Visitors can explore the streets and see the latest in fashion, art, and design.
Take a yoga class on the beach: For a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, visitors can take a yoga class on the beach. Classes are typically held in the morning or evening, and offer beautiful views of the ocean and sky.
Enjoy a meal at Rusty Pelican restaurant: Located on the water in Key Biscayne, Rusty Pelican is a popular restaurant that offers stunning views and delicious seafood. Visitors can enjoy a meal on the outdoor patio and watch boats sail by on the bay.
Take a private charter boat tour: For a more personalized boating experience, visitors can book a private charter boat tour. Tours can be customized to fit the group's interests and can include activities such as fishing, snorkeling, or simply relaxing on the water.
Go on a jet ski tour of Biscayne Bay: Jet skiing is a fun and exciting way to explore the waters around Key Biscayne. Visitors can take a guided tour of Biscayne Bay and see the city skyline and wildlife from a unique perspective.
Visit the Perez Art Museum Miami: Located in Downtown Miami, the Perez Art Museum Miami is a modern and dynamic art museum that features a variety of contemporary art from around the world. Visitors can see rotating exhibitions.
Go on a Segway tour of Miami Beach: Segway tours are a fun and unique way to explore the city, and Miami Beach is no exception. Visitors can glide along the beachfront and through the historic Art Deco District, seeing landmarks such as the Versace Mansion and the Lincoln Road Mall. Tours typically include a brief training session, and guides provide historical and cultural information along the way.
Visit the Barnacle Historic State Park: Located on the shores of Biscayne Bay, the Barnacle Historic State Park is a unique attraction that offers a glimpse into Florida's early days. Visitors can tour the historic home of Ralph Middleton Munroe, a yacht designer and early pioneer of the area, and explore the beautiful gardens and nature trails. The park also hosts a variety of events and activities throughout the year, including moonlight concerts and guided kayak tours.