Miami, USA | A Bike Ride past Villas and Yachts to North Beach

Cycling north on Miami Beach, off the beaten track through residential areas.

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We had enjoyed our breakfast at Oliver’s Bistro the day before so much that we returned. We were early again and able to grab seats on the terrace out front. We had a relaxing time, before getting back onto our bikes. Jerome built more vehicles with his selection of Lego bricks, this time he used his own imagination with a challenge to build a fast boat rather than building to plan, and this kept him busy during breakfast.

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Our destination was to cycle all the way up to North Beach.  However, instead of taking the obvious route along Collins Avenue or the board walk which goes most of the way along the back of the beach we headed North along Alton Road. Alton road is one of the major roads that connects South Beach with the North, and therefore it can be quite busy, especially during rush hour. Jerome cycled most of the time on the pavement, for safety, while Chris and I took the road or pavement depending on the amount of people on the sidewalk.

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We turned left onto North Bay Road as we reached the Miami Beach Golf Club. This street runs parallel for a few blocks through a residential area until we had to join Alton Road again to cross the bridge. We took the right hand lane, crossing the bridge in order to be able to cycle on straight ahead on Alton Road to avoid the difficult junction of the Julia Tuttle Causeway. After a few blocks we were back on North Bay Road, a quiet street that runs parallel to the shore of Biscayne Bay. The area here is very different to the apartment blocks on South Beach, a lot like on the Venetian Islands.

There were beautiful houses, some set behind high hedges or walls. Bungalows from the 1960/70s blended with houses in a mixture of styles, from modern to hacienda to Mediterranean. The lack of people around, apart from the odd gardener, gave the district a isolated feel, some of the houses looked like they were definitely occupied but others appeared to be more like holiday homes for the rich and wealthy, empty and awaiting the next holiday or weekend. We could see yachts moored out in the back garden where we could catch a glimpse of the bay and down town Miami on the rare occasion between the plots. I stopped every now and then to take photos of houses and buildings that I liked or found interesting. The boys always cycled on barely taking notice of their surrounding.

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When we reached W63rd Street we knew we had to turn back to the main drag of Miami Beach, but took the chance for a short break and a drink. We sat down next to the Indian Creek on a low wall in a small park set back from the road, luckily a large tree provided us with some shade. We looked out over the still water of the creek towards the apartment blocks and boat jetties.

Suddenly, we could see something move in the water, the surface broke and we could barely believe our eyes, but there was the pointed fin of a dolphin and shortly after the curved top of its body followed by the fin. We watched in awe, we would have never thought there would be any dolphins so close in, away from the open sea. Jerome was giddy with joy, looking out for others. This seemed to be the only one though, probably got lost from its school. We saw its fin breaking the water a few more times before disappearing under the bridge, I was even lucky enough to get a photo of it. Initially we had thought it might be a harbour porpoise, but its fin and beak looked too much like that of a dolphin.

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From here we cycled across two more bridges and were back in the valley of high-rise buildings near the beach. Pedalling north on Collins Avenue we watched the buildings go by, we cycled past mainly apartment blocks, with some cafes and restaurants, as along this stretch of Miami Beach there are few hotels.

We wanted to have some proper lunch before going to the beach and I remembered a little burger joint, across from a Wallgreen’s pharmacy along the Avenue. We were pleased to find that Burgers and Shakes was still around since our last stay in town some years ago. We ordered our Hamburgers at the counter inside, Jerome also wanted a strawberry milk shake. We sat outside, half in the sun, a fan spraying a cooling mist towards us. The burgers were still as delicious as we had remembered from our last visit, freshly cooked. I had mine with fresh avocado and cheese, while the boys went for the more classic versions.

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The restaurant was just a block away from the beach and so it was easy to push our bikes over and head straight to the beach, after locking our bikes to one of the posts. This far north the beach is hidden behind a small strip of dunes, which are overgrown with creepers and low shrubs.

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There was a lifeguard tower on the white sandy beach even though the beach here was notably less busy than further south, there seemed to be more locals and families on this stretch of beach and few tourists. There was plenty of space and we grabbed a spot close the water edge. While the boys made their way into the water straight away, it usually takes me a lot longer than them, I sat on our blanket, watching them splashing about. We spent a few relaxing hours on the beach here until we felt it was time for us to cycle back to the hotel.

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Taking Collins south we tried to avoid the traffic by using the sidewalk and side roads especially on the wide paths near the water, enjoying the views over Indian Creek. Collins is a huge throughway crying out for a cycle lane as it is the main road north south behind the beach and we spotted a number of other cyclists dodging traffic.

It is safer to cycle on the water side as there are so many entrances to hotels and buildings that it is quite dangerous on the ocean side. Further south closer to South Beach there is a boardwalk behind the hotels at the back of the beach. On North Beach the Atlantic Way runs behind the beach for a while then it appeared there was a path further on joining on to the boardwalk further south. Sadly when we tried to find it we found it blown over with sand and in several places not passable with bikes, so we had to return to the main road after a short distance. I am sure it would be fine to walk.

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We cheekily cycled parts of the boardwalk although parts are actually cycle free, so we had to push the bikes in places especially the last part with many tourists close to South Beach after Lincoln Road. After all day on the road and about 15 miles or 20km cycling we were relieved to watch the sun go down with cocktails, or mocktails for Jerome, and a dive in the pool at the hotel.

Author: wanderlustplusone

I am Vanessa, a Frankfurter living in London with my husband Chris and our son Jerome. We love exploring all the weird and wonderful places the world has on offer. Travelling with children is exciting, sometimes stressful but always worth it. I want to show that weekends away and longer holidays don't have to be boring but a lot of fun. If you are looking for getaways with kids clubs then you are unfortunately looking at the wrong blog but if you are up for adventures I would love to give you ideas. I hope you will enjoy and never stop going away to unknown places...

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