Believe it or not, one of the quietest, most charming and enigmatic places in Miami is hidden in plain sight. Crandon Park Gardens houses the ruins of an old Miami zoo and it is an incredible space to take a quiet walk or get lost among abandoned structures in the heart of Key Biscayne.

The gardens are hidden within the 900-acre Crandon Park, a very popular Key Biscayne beachfront public area. Here you can take a pleasant stroll, go for a bike ride, feed the ducks and peacocks or simply explore the former zoo area. 

The place turned into a mini sanctuary for wildlife species that proliferate at this magical environment, away from the incessant noise of urban traffic. 

Before the current Miami Zoo existed, back in the 40s and 50s, there was the Crandon Park Zoo. Animals were placed in cages at this oceanfront location in a hurricane-prone area.

In 1956, when Hurricane Betsy struck the area, more than 250 animals in the zoo unfortunately perished because of the rising waters.

This, along with other concerns about the welfare of the animals caused the city to start planning for a larger, better zoo that opened in 1980. That's the one we all know.

If you go for a hike at this location you may encounter several unused buildings and structures. You will also be walking by large concrete and coral block walls, and water features like some small lakes and a canal, both part of the larger outdoor enclosures. You will even see the remnants tracks of an old railroad ride that used to encircle the old zoo. 

Flourishing wildlife here will leave you speechless. Ducks, iguanas, wild rabbits, ibis, herons, a bunch of peacocks and even gators can appear anywhere.

What a huge irony that in a place where animals lived locked up in the past, today so many species run freely for all of us to see. Marvelous. 

Some of the zoo structures have been clandestinely painted over, which created a very cool spot for pics. But anywhere in the gardens is cool for IG photos really, so be ready. 

Beyond the ruins of the zoo, you can enjoy a public beach, nature center, marina, a golf course, and a tennis center. The park opens daily from sunrise to sunset.

There's a lot to do here all year round, so if you haven't been at the park, or if you haven't explored it fully, don't wait!

Crandon Park Gardens - Old Miami Zoo

Price: Free. Parking is $5 on weekdays and $7 on weekends

Address: 6747 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne, Florida

Why You Need To Go: Explore the ruins of the old Miami zoo and feed roaming peacocks while you take in some of the greatest natural landscapes of the city. 

We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.

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