Do I really want to take the kids to Miami? I’m sure you asked yourself when you read the title of this post. The land of sparkle and glamour, bachelorette bashes, famed night-clubs, rowdy beach parties. Shouldn’t Miami be reserved for a girls or couples weekend away? Absolutely. But it can also be a lot of fun with kids.
More and more people are taking their kids to Miami as more family-friendly hotels and resorts pop up. Places such as the Loews, Ritz and Fountainbleau all cater to families. And let’s face it – just because you’re a parent it doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. Book a sitter while you’re there if you can, even if for 1 night, and go out and enjoy the nightlife! You can’t go to Miami and not go out. Hang with the kids the next day in the big and beautiful white sand beaches, poolside or at one of the many animal attractions and parks, and you have the best of both worlds.
Fun Things to do in Miami with Kids
Head to the Beach
Of course the number one thing has to be, hit the beach! The beaches in Miami are beautiful and the water has that Caribbean blue we all love. If you’re able to book a hotel room with private access – or nearby a beach entrance – that will make your life much easier with the tykes. We stayed at the Savoy in South Beach, which has its own private beach entrance. Though not one of the big, fancy resorts, it’s located in a mellow area, without the throngs of people on the beach. Miami is big, so wherever you wind up staying, see this guide to help you plan which beach(es) to go to. You can sort by things such as playgrounds, chair rentals, picnic tables, and concession stands.
Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! One of the super-fun things to do when traveling with kids is to check out the local zoo, and Miami is no exception. A wonderful and large zoo, attractions include the Children’s Zoo, camel and giraffe feedings, water play areas, playgrounds, among many more. One of the things I love about this zoo is that it has Safari Cycle rentals, making it easy and fun to navigate around its large space.
The great thing about Monkey Jungle is its uniqueness. A zoological park where the people are “caged”, and where the monkeys run free, it’s a totally one of a kind experience. Located in Southern Miami on a 30-acre park, it has 300 primates where there kids can enjoy observing monkeys up close. “Experiences” include the Wild Monkey Swimming Pool, Hanging with Orangs, Cameroon Gorilla Forest and the Amazonian Rain Forest. Monkey Jungle has been around since 1935, and is a Miami favorite.
Take a Bike Ride
Biking in Miami is a past-time, and it’s also a must-do for visitors. There are many bike paths but one of our favorites has to be the Miami Beach Boardwalk in South Beach. Here you will see all the beautiful Art Deco buildings and hotels along Ocean Drive on one side, and the scenic ocean and beach on the other. It is also fabulous people-watching. The Boardwalk is how you can really see South Beach and experience it in all its glory. We love it! Just make sure to go early in the day as it gets very crowded and will be too tough to do with the kids. Bike and Roll Miami and Miami Beach Bicycle Center both have rentals. Note: bikes are not allowed north of 21st Street, but there is another parallel path you can connect to.
Tip: for a break, park your bike at Lincoln Road and stroll or grab a bite to eat at Lincoln Road Mall, South Beach’s outdoor and pedestrian-only shopping mecca.
Another popular zoological park, Jungle Island has been around forever and used to be called Parrot Jungle. It initially opened as a place to see birds run free, and changed over the years to include many more exotic animals. Known for its entertaining animal shows, my girls loved Jungle Island. I thought it was ok. It’s very expensive! Adult tickets, for example, are $39.95, and with Miami’s high taxes it rung in at about $48. I will not be paying that again, but having said that, the girls did enjoy it, and from where we were staying in South Beach it was very close (it’s located in between Downtown and South Beach).
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was one of the highlights of our trip and a great alternative to the everyday beach. An Italian-style villa built in the early 20th century by international businessman James Deering, this National Historic Landmark was not something I expected my girls to enjoy as much as they did. They’re old enough that I knew they would like exploring the estate’s exquisite gardens, but they also very much enjoyed wandering around the house and seeing how things looked and operated from another era. With so much history and beautiful interior and exterior design, I consider this a not-to-be-missed attraction if you can swing it with the kids.
Save this one for an overcast day. Located in Biscayne Bay, the oceanarium has all the sea animals the kids will want to see. Shows include dolphins, killer whales and sea lions. They also have penguin and dolphin encounters. A bit run-down and pricey – it’s not popular with everyone- but should the weather not cooperate it’s a good place to go.
My girls adored Miami, actually for a lot of the same reasons adults do. They loved all the action of being in a city on the sea. That magic combination of city-meets-beach-life. The energy of Miami is contagious, and for all ages!
**Sidenote: I booked my babysitter through the Babysitter Boutique (through our hotel), and while expensive it was worth every last penny. My sitter was professional, reliable and fun. I liked her so much that I wanted to acknowledge the service here.
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