This Park Defines Popularity Print
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
September 2017

Something for everyone -- including Fido

WParkPatrol_1ant to visit a park that offers plenty of shade, off-leash spots for your dogs, and access to a clean beach and its blue-green ocean waters -- the destination for hatching baby sea turtles?

North Shore Open Space Park has what you’re looking for.

This Miami Beach oasis runs along Collins Avenue from 79th Street northward to 87th Street. Parking isn’t a headache, at least on weekdays in the summer, with a number of public parking lots located across from the park, as well as street parking along Collins. New, solar-powered pay-by-app meters accept cash and credit cards, and the fee is just a dollar an hour.

Within the tree-abundant park, paved paths that run between 79th and 81st streets, as well as other roads up 87th Street, are active with strollers, power walkers, and bicyclists. Off-road spots are mostly for picnickers. Weather-resistant and traditional wood picnic tables and fired-up grills are everywhere. Blue masonry pavilion shelters are available for rent. Also painted blue are two bathroom buildings able to accommodate the weekend crowds.

ParkPatrol_2Ample lighting during sunset hours and regular police patrols are welcome at this popular family destination, especially at the kids playground located on the northern end of the park. For older folks, there are exercise stations along a Health Trail -- an outdoor fitness challenge course -- and plenty of benches for those who would rather rest than work out.

A favorite amenity here is the fenced-in bark park, which runs from 80th to 81st streets and is one of six fenced dog parks in the City of Miami Beach. It is divided into large- and small-dog enclosures with separate, double-gated entrances and six-foot-high chain-link fencing with ground-level metal poling to deter canine escapes.

The small-dog section, at just under half an acre, has a cement footpath that loops around through the grass, plus lots of shade provided by sea grape and silver dollar trees. The large-dog area, at just over half an acre, has only a small patch of grass remaining on its southern end. It too has a concrete walk, and each side has a recently installed human/canine water fountain, two metal trash bins, two doggie bag dispensers, and five metal benches.

ParkPatrol_3Monday through Friday, litter and trash is picked up and bags are replenished; park attendants always have one side open during renovations and maintenance. The entrance is clearly marked with the dog park rules. One negative: on a hot summer afternoon, city garbage bins, located a few yards from the dog park, reek.

The park has ten access points to the adjacent beach from Atlantic Way, a sandy path that runs parallel to the ocean. One crossover is at 81st Street, just beyond a beach volleyball court. This is where, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m., dogs are allowed on the beach between 80th and 81st streets, better known as Bark Beach.

This is the only beach area in the City of Miami Beach where dogs are welcome. The city website specifies that dogs are allowed off leash only in this restricted area along the beach, but lifeguards on duty during a BT visit in late July said that dogs are supposed to be on leash. There are no dog rules posted here.

In this exact Bark Beach location are a dozen or more sea turtle nests, each cordoned off with orange tape and posted with an English-only yellow sign: “Do Not Disturb Sea Turtle Nest, Violators Subject to Fines and Imprisonment.”

ParkPatrol_4The sign explains Florida law and penalties, as well as the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which carries hefty civil and criminal penalties. Miami Beach Parks and Recreation staff report there have been no known instances of dogs at Bark Beach disturbing the vulnerable sea turtle nests and that all nests are inspected on a daily basis.

Miami-Dade’s marine turtle nesting season runs from May 1 to October 31. Monitoring and surveying the nests is done by the county Sea Turtle Conservation Program’s project manager, Teal Kawana, and is paid for by purchases of the Florida sea turtle license plate, and by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last year Florida’s sea turtles were reclassified from endangered to threatened, with nesting females now estimated at 2250. South Florida has three main species: leatherback, green, and loggerhead turtles. In 2016, Miami-Dade numbers were coordinated by the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute for the Statewide Nesting Beach Survey Program. They found 811 loggerhead nests (up from 529 in 2015); 0 green turtle nests (down from 44 in 2015); and 6 leatherback nests (up from 5 in 2015).

ParkPatrol_5Miami-Dade County has seven marine turtle nesting beaches, located at Biscayne National Park, Cape Florida State Park, Fisher Island, Golden Beach, Key Biscayne, Virginia Key, and Miami Beach. As of early July, nearly 300 sea turtle nests have been counted along Miami Beach this season.

Yanira Pineda, sustainability specialist with the City of Miami Beach, tells the BT: “Sea turtle nests that have been evaluated and approved for relocation by Miami-Dade County are transferred to the beach adjacent to North Shore Open Space Park. The environment within this area has been found to be the most suitable for sea turtles and their hatchlings.”

Female sea turtles nest an average of three to four times per season, but the nesting season may occur only every two to three years. They lay 100 to 120 eggs per clutch, which hatch in eight weeks.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, sea turtle babies face many dangers on land. Raccoons raid the nests for eggs, and sea birds swoop up hatchlings. Natural light over the ocean attracts hatchlings to crawl toward the sea at night, but artificial light from developed beach areas disorients them, making it difficult to find the water. FWC-approved exterior structural and landscape lighting for beach-area developments must be reviewed and approved by FWC; for example, tinted “turtle” glass on all windows and doors, and only turtle-friendly light fixtures.


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North Shore
Open Space Park

8051 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33140

Park Rating


Hours: Sunrise to 8:00 pm

Picnic Tables: Yes
Barbecues: Yes
Picnic pavilions: Yes
Dog Park: Yes
Fitness Trail: Yes
Night lighting: Yes
Swimming Pool: No
Playground: Yes