So what if the general vision of Miami beach is cocktails, clubs and dancing till dawn? You’ve got little ones and you’re doing the family vacation thing. We hear you! (And we hope you booked one of our awesome Miami apartments, which are perfect for families by the way!). And because we’re such fans of family vacations, we’ve put together a list of some great places to take the kids – spots that you might even enjoy yourselves. Win win!
MetroZoo – Thousands of creatures over a more than 300-acre campus make a trip to Miami’s MetroZoo an exciting all-day affair. Some of the excitement stems from the fact that the animals are separated from spectators by moats instead of cages, creating the illusion of being close enough to touch.
Jungle Island – An expanded version of the tourist attraction formerly known as “Parrot Jungle,” this part-aviary part-petting zoo is a favorite of local children. With shows featuring performances by the birds and the opportunity to hand feed a parrot, kids of all ages will be entertained and might even learn something about wildlife along the way.
Fairchild Tropical Gardens – Though beautiful, it’s not the palm tree varieties that draw the affection of visiting children; it’s the ability to run through the gardens and touch almost everything they see. Butterfly gardens and tropical fruit trees make this a paradise for kids and parents alike.
Biscayne National Park – Boat rides for little ones and snorkeling in a coral reef filled with marine life for older kids make Biscayne a treat of an outing for all ages. The glass-bottom boat offers a different few of the same gorgeous reef for less confident swimmers, allowing everyone to enjoy the wonders of this treasure.
Miami Children’s Museum – Great for an escape from the heat and humidity, an afternoon at the Children’s Museum is still an exciting and fulfilling trip for the ten-and-under set. Interactive and instructional exhibits make this hands-on learning experience one that they’ll really enjoy.
Fruit and Spice Park – Situated on 35 acres of subtropical paradise, Fruit and Spice park is home to more than 500 varieties of fruits, nuts, spices and herbs. While picking is forbidden, visitors are encouraged to pick up any fallen fruit for sampling; everything is safe for consumption and non-poisonous. Be sure to ask about any food allergies your charges might have before venturing this way, as little ones will be certain to eat what they find.
Monkey Jungle – Primates are a perennial favorite of youngsters everywhere, and these charmers are no exception. Free to interact with and even touch the human spectators if they’re so inclined, the endangered species that call this habitat home are not caged. Guides allow guests to feed officially-sanctioned raisins to the monkeys, making this a wonderland for children.
Coral Castle – A sprawling edifice hand-carved by a Latvian immigrant as a testament to his devotion to a lost love, the romance may draw in dreamy, older children. Science-minded types will be fascinated by the mystery of how Ed Leedskalnin managed to move tons of rock without the aid of equipment and the genius of a magnetized system for opening a nine-ton coral gate with gentle pressure. There is a resident expert on site for free tours, and it’s probably the best way to experience this marvel.
Bill Baggs State Park – Perhaps a more suitable alternative to South Beach for younger children, this state park is filled with indigenous wildlife and vegetation. The chance to mix a natural history and ecology lesson with the fun of a visit to the beach is a rarity in most places, but in Miami, it’s par for the course.
Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium – Featuring audience participation shows on the subject of static electricity and hands-on exhibits like the momentum machine, the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit is not to be missed. The toddler-only playroom offers fun for little ones, while older children will be wooed by the demonstrations and planetarium.