Fun Things to Do With Kids in Miami
At first blush, you might not think there’s a ton of fun to be had with kids in Miami. However, if you can tear yourself away from watching (or imitating) the Kim Kardashian wannabes on South Beach or from scouting out where scenes from your favorite Miami-based shows are filmed (like “Dexter” and “Burn Notice”), you’ll find the little ones have lots to enjoy in Miami.
Here are five ideas for your next journey with kids to Miami–we base these ideas on a recent overnight trip, so we know there’s plenty more to explore. We include some links at the end of the article to help you gather a few more ideas.
1. Check out the zoo. Zoo Miami is large, open, and affordable–about $16 for adults and $12 for kids. You can save money buying your tickets online on the zoo website, with a $3 off admission coupon found in its promotional brochure, or with a Summer Savings Pass.
Ranked one of the top zoos in the U.S., it’s home to more than 2,000 animals from around the world. You can check out the always popular lions, tigers, giraffes, and elephants–and you can discover lesser known animals such as the banteng, Somali wild ass (?!), Arabian oryx, pygmy hippo, and red river hog, to name a few.
You’ll also be happy to know that a number of attractions at the zoo are indoors–that was great news for us on the hotter-than-Hades day that we visited. The kids in our group particularly enjoyed the Crittercam exhibit, which showed how cameras were attached to animals to get a true view of what animals see all day. They also enjoyed the Amazon and Beyond area, which included plenty of snakes, rainforest animals, and sea life.
If you’re not up for walking around the massive zoo, you can use the monorail, take a tram tour, or even rent a safari cycle–essentially, a bicycle built for four or five people.
2. Take ’em to another country…without leaving the city. Say what you want about Miami’s traffic or hustle and bustle, but one great thing about the city is its ethnic diversity–and the restaurants associated with it. Throw a penny and you’re bound to hit a Cuban, Peruvian, Colombian, Venezuelan, or [insert other nationality here] restaurant. Expose the kids (and perhaps yourself) to new cuisine, and you’ll save on airfare but get them some cultural experiences.
We here at Florida Culture know a thing or two about Peruvian food, and we particularly enjoy Pardos in Coral Gables, named after the Peruvian-based chain restaurant of the same name. Whether you enjoy Pardos or another Peruvian place in Miami, we recommend pollo a la brasa–chicken roasted with special spices–along with French fries and a special sauce. We also recommend choclo con queso (a large kind of corn with fresh cheese) and chicha morada–a sweet drink made from purple corn. If you really want sugary stuff, try Inca Kola, a yellow cola native to Peru that smells and tastes like bubble gum. The kids in our group enjoyed all of these items as well as salchipapa–a Peruvian twist on the kid-favorite dish of hot dogs and French fries. There are plenty of seafood items to enjoy at Peruvian restaurants as well.
3. Take a short drive to Alligator Alley. As you likely know, Miami is only a stone’s throw away from the Everglades. There are plenty of opportunities to hop in a car and visit the Everglades, but if you don’t have time to make a day of that, drive along I-75 for about a a half hour to reach the famous Alligator Alley….a part of I-75 named because the highway goes through natural areas near the Everglades where, if you keep your eyes open, you can see alligators making their way through the adjacent waterways.
There are a number of rest and recreational stops off of Alligator Alley to take a break or launch a boat. If you stop at the recreational areas, and stay quiet but keep your eyes open, you’re likely to spot Florida’s most famous residents….at a safe distance. When we spotted three gators that all came toward us as if they were posing for pictures, our trip could have stopped right then, and the kids would have been content. Once again, keep your distance and don’t actually feed the gators–just take your pictures or videos so you can brag to friends.
4. Take a dip at the beach. You’re in Miami, so it’s only natural that you’re going to go to the beach. Whether its ever-popular South Beach, North Miami Beach, or another area, your kids will enjoy the warm water and various shells and sea life. You’ll likely also enjoy some good people watching. We always like South Pointe Park in South Beach as we usually can find nearby affordable parking. However, during our recent visit, we stayed in North Miami Beach and easily found a parking space on Saturday morning right across from a Cuban cafe where we bought a guayabera pastry to sample.
5. Keep it simple. Our last piece of advice is a reminder that kids find wonder in the world in small ways, so don’t overplan your trip. The kids during our visit jumped in the hotel pool till dark…ate crabcakes for dinner….observed closely as a special piece of construction equipment took away a trash can on the beach….and watched the views as we drove around the city and saw beautiful cityscapes, cruise ships, the Port of Miami, and huge mansions. They also got to check out the damage to our hotel deck after it had recently plunged into the water with 100 people on it (this was at the Best Western Plus; patrons were cheering on a Miami Heat game at the time–no one died in the accident but there were some serious injuries).
6.Take ’em to the walls–The Wynwood Walls, that is. Wynwood is an arts district with literally dozens of street murals that have breathed life into this once languishing warehouse area. Both adults and kids alike will have fun picking their favorite murals (it’s tough to just choose one). Some of the murals are somber or political; others are whimsical and kid-appropriate, like the one shown here. If your kids need a little more fun after walking through Wynwood, take them to the neighborhood’s Play In, a multisensory indoor playground. For more on Wynwood Walls, read our January 2014 blog on the topic.
If you can tear your kid away from whatever electronic device appears to be tethered to them, they’ll realize there’s plenty to see and do in Miami.