Florida is pretty flat. Pristine beaches, wetlands, rolling hills, and low forests make up most of Florida’s landscape, and Miami-Dade County is no exception. If you’re planning on visiting Miami and want to find some high peaks with panoramic views, don’t be surprised when people look at you funny. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave disappointed. However, even with its low elevation, there are plenty of places that rise above the landscape and offer beautiful and interesting experiences, whether man-made or natural. You’ll also be happy to know that Miami-Dade County boasts the highest man-made point in the entire state. So, read on!
Miami-Dade’s Highest Natural Point
The highest natural point in Miami-Dade County is a particular point of Miami Rock Ridge on the coast at Alice Wainwright Park. This limestone outcropping actually used to cover a large portion of southern Florida, but human development has eroded most of it. Miami Rock Ridge rises an impressive seven meters above sea level. This puts the flatness of the rest of the area into perspective.
While Miami Rock Ridge stretches for many miles through the area, the part that we can consider the “peak” of Miami Rock Ridge in Miami-Dade County is Alice Wainwright Park.
Alice Wainwright Park
Alice Wainwright Park is a rare protected upland plant community. It contains a closed canopy forest that includes evergreen and semi-deciduous trees and shrubs and native animals. Miami built it in 1972 as part of the Parks for the People project.
Even though Miami Rock Ridge is relatively low in elevation, it rises high enough above the wetlands and everglades of Florida to support an entirely unique and thriving ecosystem of pinelands filled with pine trees and hardwood hammocks. This interesting mix of plant life between the lowlands and the limestone outcroppings creates a perfect ecosystem for unique plants to thrive. In fact, you can’t find 20 percent of the plants found on Miami Rock Ridge anywhere else in the world.
However, many experts consider this unique environment of tall trees and thick foliage to be a critically endangered ecosystem. Many of the surrounding lowlands have been developed into farmland or residential homes, and the Miami Rock Ridge has been all but destroyed. What remains of the original Miami Rock Ridge ecosystem is only in tiny fragments of the region. This prevents plants and animals from propagating and spreading from area to area, and makes them much more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Valuable apartment buildings and expensive shops surround the point found at Alice Wainwright Park. City officials names the park after the first woman elected to serve on the City of Miami Commission.
Where Is Alice Wainwright Park Located on a Map?
Since Miami Rock Ridge is a continuous limestone outcropping, there are many places where it reaches its “highest point”. You can find points throughout South Florida and within Miami-Dade County Itself. However, you will find Alice Wainwright Park, where our particular point is located, in Coconut Grove, Miami, along the Biscayne Bay waterfront. This is just south of downtown and right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The address for Alice Wainwright Park is 2845 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL 33129.
How to Get to Alice Wainwright Park
No matter how you get to Miami, follow the signs to Virginia Key. Alice Wainwright Park is located at the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway that will take you over the ocean.
What Is There to Do at Alice Wainwright Park?
Alice Wainwright Park has many things to do besides admiring the ocean view and appreciating the natural wildlife. This includes basketball courts, an outdoor gym, playgrounds, picnic tables and shelters, pavilions, barbecue areas, and public restrooms.
What About Man-Made Points?
Florida does not rise very high above the sea. Many man-made structures tower above the low hills, including Miami Rock Ridge. If you’re looking for the highest point in Miami-Dade County by elevation only, then we have to include these structures. In Miami-Dade County, Panorama Tower, is the tallest building and also the tallest structure in the entire state.
Panorama Tower is actually a relatively new addition to the Miami skyline. It was completed in 2017, so you won’t find any interesting building history here. The mixed-use building rises 265 meters above sea level. The style and architecture fit in perfectly with the style of modern Miami. Miami approved the plans for the building in 2005. The contractor at the time, however, had to pause work during the housing crisis and development changed hands before construction began in 2014.
Besides being the tallest building in the county and the state, Panorama Tower is unique because it was the first building in Miami to be funded entirely by ED-5 visas. This means that immigrants who live in and around Panorama Tower could have contributed to its construction.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Demetrius Theune/Shutterstock.com
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