Welcome to Zoo Miami, which features Mission Everglades, showcasing wildlife from the River of Grass.
By Lauren Tjaden
Planning a. visit to Miami with your kids? Discover the best things to do in Miami, and the most fun places to stay and eat in this handy guide.
Here are some family-friendly adventures, activities and experiences in the Magic City that are bound to please both you and the kids.
Give a kid a sandy beach, a plastic shovel and a few waves, and you’re guaranteed a hit. Miami offers miles of glorious beaches that stretch from Sunny Isles Beach to Key Biscayne, so you have plenty of options for a day in the sun.
You can avoid crowds in quaint Surfside, a laidback, family-friendly beach town with a retro feel. Surfside offers free community activities that include beach picnics, wellness activities and standup paddleboard festivals.
Another family favorite is Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, which encompasses a stunning two-mile beach famed for its pristine sand and calm water, making it a perfect choice for little ones who are worried about crashing waves. It features a beach playground, snorkeling, hiking, cabana rentals, concession stands, picnic areas with tables and grills, and convenient parking. Make sure to take a seaside ride on the carousal at Crandon's Family Amusement Center.
You can’t go wrong at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, also located in Key Biscayne. It promises one of the top-ranked beaches in the United States as well as activities that include swimming, hiking, kayaking and biking. Don’t miss exploring the historic Cape Florida Lighthouse on a tour; kids 42 inches and taller can climb the 112 steps to its top for mind-boggling views.
There’s no better place for little kids or toddlers to get in the water than Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables, an outdoor paradise festooned with coral rock pavilions, swaying palms and picnic areas. The park boasts a manmade “atoll pool,” a bayfront pool naturally filled by the tides of Biscayne Bay, which is utterly calm and inviting.
Check out these one-of-a-kind adventures for animal lovers and their kids.
Elephants, rhinos and crocs, oh my! With bragging rights as the only subtropical zoo in the United States, Zoo Miami is home to exotic species you won’t see at your local zoo. Its lush, open-air exhibits showcase more than 3,000 animals, spread across 750 acres. Climb aboard the air-conditioned monorail to discover experiences that include hand-feeding a giraffe, parrot, or even a rhino, cooling off on the Lostman’s River Ride, and learning about animals and the environment through hands-on creative play at the Animal Fun Factory.
Could anything be more magical than splashing in the water with an intelligent, friendly dolphin? That’s just one of many unique adventures you and the kids can enjoy at Miami Seaquarium. Interact with penguins, come face-to-fin with a stingray, or dip your fingers into a touch pool. The Sea TREK® Reef Encounter is a must-do; thanks to special helmets that let you breathe freely underwater, your posse can take a stroll through a 300,00-gallon tropical reef.
In and on the Water
Beat the heat in Miami with these kid-friendly aquatic adventures.
Take the plunge in the 820,000-gallon Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, the most unusual pool in the country. Created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, the pool is filled with fresh spring water from an underground aquifer. It’s a treat for the eyes, bordered by coral rock and graceful palms, two historic lookout towers, a signature bridge and two waterfalls. The kids will love exploring the pool’s cave-like grottos. Children must be a minimum of three years old and 38 inches tall.
Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, a staggering 1.5 million acres of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pinewoods that are home to manatees, crocodiles, Florida panthers, and countless alligators. Miami’s just next door to this ‘River of Grass,’ and you and the kids can experience it on an airboat tour, flying over the glassy, shallow waters. You have an abundance of options for an airboat ride; the Miccosukee Indian Village is one that’s sure to please. This hammock-style camp comes complete with a museum promising visitors a glimpse into the Tribe’s way of life and daily alligator wrestling shows. Afterwards, refuel at its casual eatery, dubbed "Our Little Shack." Offering treats like Spam and eggs and ‘gator bites, it’s hardly fine dining, but it’s all part of the unique Everglades experience. Here are more places to take an airboat ride from the Greater MIami Convention & Visitors Bureway.
Both a sightseeing experience and an exciting adventure, Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures invites you to explore the waterways of Miami aboard a 55-foot power catamaran. You’ll blast through the Atlantic at speeds up to 50 miles an hour, and slow down to glimpse South Pointe Park and the luxurious Fisher Island, with the highest per-capita income homes of any neighborhood in the United States, as well as sites like the Cruise Ship Channel, PortMiami, the US Coast Guard Station, and more. Children need to be three years old or more to participate.
Tidal Cove, at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Aventura, offers the ride of a lifetime.
Picnic tables, playgrounds and splash pads highlight many of Miami’s parks, making them a perfect – and economical- choice for a family outing.
North Shore Open Space Park, situated on the ocean in North Beach, is a shaded oasis complete with jogging trails, picnic tables and a dog park. For a family lunch that won’t break the bank, try Burgers & Shakes. The burgers are juicy, the shakes are thick, and the sweet potato fries are just salty enough to satisfy.
In South Beach, South Pointe Park offers a shaded playground, splash pad, and panoramic views of the Atlantic as well as Fisher Island and Downtown Miami. The kids will love to watch the enormous cruise ships navigating to and from PortMiami.
You’ll find 36 acre Flamingo Park in the heart of South Beach, packed with a kids' splash area, zero-entry pool and kids’ water playground. It caters to all kinds of sports, including baseball, basketball, racquetball and too much more to list. Its tot lot/playground includes a rock-climbing wall and choo-choo train from the 1950’s.
Toss a frisbee or picnic in Coconut Grove’s Kennedy Park; nestled next to the bay, it promises jogging trails, beach volleyball, and a dog park. If you’re hungry after all that fun, Kush by Spillover is a great choice. Everything is made from scratch from local ingredients, which will keep serious foodies happy, but it’s got a kids’ menu too.
Downtown Miami is home to Lee and Tina Hills PlayGround at Bayfront Park. It’s centered around an incredible "play sculpture" that features a dolphin, turtle, and manatee emerging from a rising wave.
For more parks in and around Miami, check out Miami-Dade County's lists.
See the Sights
Miami neighborhoods are vivid, eclectic, and renowned for their cultural flavor – and your vacation wouldn’t be complete without exploring them with your family.
Visit Ocean Drive in South Beach to explore the iconic, pastel-colored Art Deco buildings and hotels that symbolize Miami. Kick back with the kids in a sidewalk café for unparalleled people-watching; pick up a souvenir in a funky boutique; and check out Lummus Park, South Beach’s version of Muscle Beach.
Cuban culture is on lively display on Little Havana’s Calle Ocho, its most famous street. Imagine statues of giant roosters, cigar shops, cafes spilling out into the street, and Latin-inspired boutiques--all with Cuban music playing in the background—and you’ll have it about right. Make sure to check out the folks playing dominoes at Maximo Gomez Park, a tradition for over 40 years.
For an unrivaled outdoor art exhibit, take a stroll in the Wynwood Arts District, where the walls are vibrant with larger-than-life masterpieces crafted by muralists from around the world. The district is brimming with more than 70 galleries and museums as well as dozens of eateries. Kids love Coyo Taco, a glorified food stand that promises your diet can wait. Once you taste its iconic churros, you’ll understand what they mean.
Fun or Exercise?
Let your little ones bounce away their energy at Launch Trampoline Park in Doral; besides trampolines, it features a launch pad, tumble tracks, battle beam, slack line, extreme dodgeball and basketball and an arcade.
Ice skating in Miami? Who knew? Your gang can cool off at Kendall Ice Arena while skating to tunes from a live DJ.
Try indoor rock climbing at The Edge Rock Gym.
Encompassing 15,000 square feet, FunDimension in Wynwood offers an indoor playground, laser tag arena, bumper cars, bungee jumping, virtual reality and arcade games. Its restaurant offers dishes from around the globe as well as wine and craft beer for mom and dad.
Miami boasts a huge variety of museums catering to all ages and interests. Read on to discover two favorites.
Enormous and highly acclaimed, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science engages visitors with exhibitions that include finding your way through a giant, elaborate mirror maze to discover the numerical patterns that exist in nature. It offers a cutting-edge planetarium complete with surround sound and a vast dome screen to whisk you away to outer space. And its three-level aquarium is a work of art, exploring different levels of South Florida's crucial aquatic ecosystems, from its surface to far below the water.
Miami Children’s Museum is designed to ignite kids’ natural curiosity, and it’s wildly successful in its mission. It’s brimming with exhibitions like the Castle of Dreams, a two-story, luminous sand castle that houses a winding slide, and the Sketch Aquarium, an interactive virtual aquarium where your kids’ drawings become an animated, digitized part of the undersea world. Admission is free on the third Friday of the month from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
PLACES TO STAY IN MIAMI WITH KIDS
Nestled on the ocean in the heart of Millionaire's Row, Fontainebleau Miami Beach scores high points with families. Its 22-acres include 11 pools and an interactive children’s waterscape.
Located in the Art Deco District, Loews Miami Beach offers amenities for kids like a kids club, spa services, and a lounge with video and arcade games. Cribs are complimentary, and so are their baby bath amenity kits. And you can’t beat this –kids under 18 stay free.
PLACES TO EAT IN MIAMI WITH KIDS
Check out these eateries that promise to please your pickiest family members.
Ms. Cheezious delivers award-winning grilled cheese sandwiches that are far more sinful than mom used to make. Their temptations include a Southern Fried Chicken & Waffle Melt, a Crabby Cheese Melt, and even a S’mores Melt, a concoction of roasted marshmallows, chocolate hazelnut spread and graham cracker crumble on sourdough. You can indulge in the melted deliciousness at their location in the historic MIMO district of Miami. (7418 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, (305) 989-4019)
A surefire hit for a family meal is pizza, and Ironside Kitchen Pizza knows how to do it right, preparing their creations with fresh ingredients and cooking them in a wood fired oven. It’s situated by a vibrant courtyard where your kids can play while you keep an eye on them from the patio. (7580 NE 4th Ct, Miami, (305) 531-5055)
The Glass & Vine is nestled among graceful trees close to the bay in Coconut Grove's Peacock Park. It’s next to a playground, so the little ones can frolic while mom and dad nosh on fare like short rib pappardelle and carbonara fries with black truffle crema and bacon. Its kids menu offers dishes like chicken tenders, pasta and cheeseburgers. (2820 McFarlane Rd, Coconut Grove, (305) 200-5268)
Boredom is not an option at the 20,000-square-foot Kings Dining & Entertainment center. It encompasses 14 bowling lanes, foosball, and a private karaoke suite, and features an award-winning menu and cocktails. (3450 Northwest 83rd Avenue suite 152, Doral, (844) 494-9400)
Imaginative pizzas like truffle-honey pizza highlight Crust’s menu, but it also offers traditional favorites and simpler fare like meatballs that will keep your fussy-eaters happy. Included in OpenTable’s 100 Best Restaurants in America for two years, the eatery is sited in a scenic area by the Miami River. (668 NW 5th St. Miami, (305) 371-7065)
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