Spotlight | Key Biscayne
As locals, we’re often asked what are the best things to do in Key Biscayne, and what are the best hotels, restaurants, shops and places for culture and nature on this tranquil barrier island mere minutes from downtown Miami, Brickell and Coconut Grove. Having recently celebrated its 30th anniversary of incorporating as a village, the tightknit community with 15,000 residents is known for safety, plentiful parks and stunning beaches; family-friendly amenities including several highly touted public and private schools, and a laid-back lifestyle where golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation. Many projects are in the works as it continues to evolve for multigenerational visitors and tourists alike. Please enjoy our curated guide to this urban oasis that offers the best of both worlds.
Key Biscayne Hotels
Many international visitors discover the locale through The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne. The 490-room property with premier amenities draws both leisure travelers and luxury conferences and weddings. Partake in its 1,200-foot beach, two pools, and Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center with HydroCourts and padel courts for the fast-growing sport. The resort’s 25,000-square-foot spa with 21 treatment rooms focuses on Native American rituals inspired by the region’s Tequesta people; book a Moon Over Miami sweet orange- and lavender-scented exfoliation and stone massage. Make the dining rounds to the upscale Lightkeepers, St. Tropez-inspired Dune Burgers, Mexican-minded Cantina Beach and Rumbar, a sipper’s paradise stocked with 52 rums, piscos and cachaças from 18 countries. For longer stays reserved through Airbnb, Beach Haus offers 31 condominiums ranging from one to two bedrooms. The chic concept provides contemporary furnishings, a pool and complimentary beach cruisers.
Key Biscayne Restaurants
The Key’s dining options balance beloved institutions and hot newcomers like Amarandino Ceviche Bar for Peruvian Nikkei, empanadas and matcha-infused rice pudding, not to mention a large variety of its namesake fare. Oenophiles and foodies flock to Vinya, a digitally native wine shop gone brick and mortar last year. In addition to its market for wine, spirits, cigars and prepared foods, the hip addition has table service for gourmet burgers, gnocchi and branzino, as well as a great happy hour with bar bites (bacon-wrapped dates, manchego croquetas). Uruguay import Narbona Farm Market & Restaurant also opened last year for homemade pastas, cheese plates, steak Milanese and the family’s dulce de leche to drizzle over signature pancakes. Grab-and-go meals and gourmet gift baskets are in demand in these parts. The Golden Hog, a decades-old market on Harbor Drive with a Key Colony outpost took over the condo property’s poolside Sandbar. With its odd name and delectable baked goods, it’s impossible not to pull over for Flour & Weirdoughs. These professionals mill their own organic flour for an array of sweet and savory choices (croissants, cacio e pepe bread, smoked brisket sandwiches, brown butter and thyme madeleines). Tour the world without leaving the island at ethnic eateries Ayesha (Indian), El Gran Inka (Peruvian), Costa Med (Mediterranean) and Kazumi and Sake Room (Japanese). They’ll soon be joined by Miss Mui Chinese Bistro, which bows at the Square by fall. Specializing in organic veggies, mushrooms and tropical fruit, Paradise Farms is among vendors at Key Biscayne Community Church’s Key Biscayne Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. For waterfront dining with epic sunsets, it’s hard to beat Boater’s Grill. The Old Florida institution on No Name Harbor specializes in whole fish platters and Latin American fare. More beloved destinations that have been around for over half a century are kid haven Sir Pizza and greasy spoon Donut Gallery, and one can’t leave the island without sampling Piononos’s famous strawberry pavlova.
Key Biscayne Culture
Though world-class culture such as Pérez Art Museum Miami and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens lies a quick drive over the Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne has its own gems. With so many multigenerational families ranging from seniors to young children, one of the most anticipated projects is the new Key Biscayne Branch Library. Its $11-million proposal features a 20,000-square-foot, bilevel layout with every state-of-the-art amenity from tech to tutoring to special needs areas. A temporary location will operate during construction. Located in Village Hall, the brand-new Key Biscayne Historical & Heritage Society Pop-Up Museum is open for tours by appointment. Key Biscayne Car Week revs up September 30-October 2, with a dazzling display of vintage, luxury and race cars, plus a glam gala and brunch. Old-fashioned traditions are a big deal here. Residents come out in droves for the Fourth of July parade, while other well-attended annual events are Friends of Cape Florida’s Haunted Hike fundraiser for Bill Baggs State Park, Three Kings Day with a Spanish import market, Easter egg hunt, Key Biscayne Woman’s Club’s Monte Carlo Casino Night fundraiser and the Key Biscayne Community Foundation’s Aqua Party benefit. It wouldn’t be the holidays either without Winterfest, two days of merriment from music to horse-drawn carriage rides, followed by the Winterfest Boat Parade. The Village Green always brings people together, too, from family-friendly outdoor movies to soccer matches.
Key Biscayne Outdoors & Wellness
Key Biscayne is heaven for sporty and outdoor types. Golfers worldwide tee off at Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne, an 18-hole, championship public course dating to 1972 with a 1993 redesign including seven saltwater lakes and one of the game’s most legendary holes—number seven’s par 4. In 2020, the private Key Biscayne Yacht Club unveiled its new 42,000-square-foot clubhouse with multiple dining and bar areas, an enlarged lobby, library and covered veranda. It’s put to good use with nonstop events like the Commodore’s Ball and Sunday Sundowners. In addition to the marina’s 100 slips ranging from 20-60 feet, dry docks and boat ramps, popular amenities are the pool and Har-Tru tennis courts. Tennis is huge on the Key. Home of the Miami Open from 1987-2018, the public Crandon Park Tennis Center offers a mix of clay and hard courts, some of which are lighted for night play. One can book the solo stadium court to channel their inner Serena or Roger. Key Biscayne Tennis Association’s nine Har-Tru and one Deco-Turf courts are also open to the public for lessons and competitions such as spring’s charity All-Island Tennis Tournament. Pickleball is growing, and interested parties can hit Key Biscayne Community Center’s courts. The spotless facility also has a 25-meter swimming pool, basketball court and fitness center and classes of all kinds. Other important longtime outfitters and clubs are Miami Kiteboarding (2001), The Miami Rowing Club (1973), Key Biscayne Soccer Club (1970s) and Diver’s Paradise (1990s). Locals, affectionately called Key Rats, have a deep affinity for salt life. You’ll see them gliding along on paddle boards, sunning on boat and pool decks and picnicking with friends and family at the beach. Donated by the Matheson family in 1940, the 808-acre Crandon Park boasts a two-mile-long beach, as well as a significant chunk of Biscayne Bay waterfront. Stroll Crandon Gardens, Miami Zoo’s former site turned botanical wonderland with walking trails. Occupying the island’s entire southern tip, the 420-acre Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park claims a 1.25-mile beach and Miami-Dade County’s oldest structure, the 1825 Cape Florida Lighthouse. Enjoy lighthouse tours, bike trails and concessionaires, as well as events like the annual, 5K/10K Lighthouse Run on the second Saturday in November. Local history buffs who would like to learn about the park’s namesake can watch WLRN/PBS’s new documentary “The Life of Bill Baggs” online. For private beach clubs with lots of amenities and social activities, check out Grand Bay Club and the 70-year-old Key Biscayne Beach Club. New greenspaces range from Paradise Park, which will be unveiled in December, to hidden pocket park Hampton Park. Islanders practice yoga and yoga fusion classes at Core Lab’s beautiful studio and via its app.
Key Biscayne Shopping
With many chic fashion brands based here and a lively retail scene including its own major grocery store, the Key is self-sufficient. Some Key Biscayne-born brands like Lanhtropy also operate boutiques. For a good overview of women’s clothing and accessories, visit Nouba Boutique. Its Colombian owner stocks items like Serpui Marie’s structured, straw handbags and flirty frocks by Rococo Sand and MISA Los Angeles, as well as hosts trunk shows and fashion shows in season. An extension of its Peruvian roots, the new Isidra Miami lifestyle store specializes in upscale women’s fashions, artworks, home design and gifts. The Polet lifestyle shop focuses on Argentine designers. Home décor mavens should further seek The Island Shop’s exquisite selection spanning 19th-century classics (Bernardaud porcelain dinnerware, Le Jacquard Français table linens) to contemporary minimalists (Tina Frey home wares). Browse its Assouline travel books, too. The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne’s mini mall features posh stores like Lilly Pulitzer, 120% Lino and Sabbia fine jewelry by contemporary designers. Kids love to poke around the quarter-century-old Toy Town, while dog owners pop by the new Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming.