Miami is renowned for its fabulous beaches and glittering nightlife, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty to do for families looking for adventure. The beaches are absolutely worth a visit, but there are also so many distinct neighborhoods within Miami that offer their own flavor. You could explore for a week and never get bored.
If the culture, warm weather and the promise of mojitos (for the adults) are enticing you to visit this vibrant city but you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the choices, here are the top nine things to do with your kids other than the beach.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
If you’re worried that your kids will be bored because the word museum is in the title, fear not! Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was a source of endless fascination for my young children. We started in the house, which is the former estate of millionaire James Deering. You can explore the suites and bedrooms on the second floor, and relax in the courtyard on the first floor.
The real magic of Vizcaya is in the gardens. Little ones can run around the paths among perfectly manicured shrubs and trees while the adults enjoy the scenery. Behind the museum is a view of Biscayne Bay with a decorative Venetian barge sitting in the bay. It’s the perfect photo op. You can even stop at the cafe on the way out for some sustenance after so much exploring.
Miami Children’s Museum
This was the highlight of the trip for my kids. A lot of the time kids can feel like they are tagging along to see adult-centered tourist attractions, so it’s nice to have a stop specifically for them.
Kids can discover so much about the world around them at Miami Children’s Museum. From shopping at a child-sized Publix supermarket where they can learn about nutrition, recipes and how to pay for groceries, to walking through an interactive art and music exhibit to pique their interest in the finer things in life, your kids won’t escape without learning a thing or two.
One of our favorite spots was the Sketch Aquarium where kids can color a picture of a sea creature, scan it, then see it floating around in the giant virtual aquarium. It is such a memorable way to get little ones excited about undersea life.
You could easily spend an entire day exploring Key Biscayne. It’s just a short drive over the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami. This former plantation is secluded enough that it feels like a respite from the city, but there is still plenty to do.
Bill Baggs State Park is a great spot to do some hiking or biking, have a picnic, or enjoy the beach. Visit the historic lighthouse for outstanding views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline.
On the north end of Key Biscayne is Crandon Park which is known for its gorgeous and family-friendly beaches. Since a sandbar protects Crandon Park Beach from the waves, kids can enjoy splashing through the turquoise surf. Crandon also offers the Bear Cut Preserve where visitors can explore the native plants and animals with the help of a guide.
Finish your day by enjoying a drink and appetizers at SALT Waterfront Restaurantoverlooking Biscayne Bay. The view from the patio is postcard-worthy, and the restaurant is child-friendly for families looking to unwind after a fun day on Key Biscayne.
What better way to experience some of Miami’s rich cultural heritage than by visiting Little Havana? This mainly-Cuban neighborhood is known for the colorful Calle Ocho, or 8th Street, which is the heart and soul of Little Havana.
My kids absolutely loved posing next to the giant colorful rooster statues, and I even caught them dancing to the Latin beats blaring from the shops as we walked. Make sure to take a stroll through Maximo Gomez Park where you’ll find locals playing dominoes, socializing and smoking cigars.
While you’ll love ducking in and out of the shops and restaurants and soaking in the culture, your kids will be looking for a sweet treat. Azucar Ice Cream Company on Calle Ocho is an excellent spot for some of the best ice cream in Miami. They can burn off their excess energy afterward on the playground at Jose Martí Park on the east side of the neighborhood.
Sometimes the best way to travel is to explore the different neighborhoods a city has to offer. One of our favorites in Miami is Coral Gables. This enchanting section of the city is home to stately mansions and European-style plazas. It’s ideal for a leisurely stroll to admire the beauty of the architecture and blossoming Royal Poinciana trees.
You can also find the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, which is filled with natural spring water. This is a perfect destination for families due to the shallow pool specifically designated for young children. Go cool off in the Venetian Pool when the weather is scorching.
Coral Castle Museum
A short drive from the downtown area is a sculpture garden with a fascinating history. A Latvian immigrant named Edward Leedskalnin built this structure single-handedly, using coral rock to form walls, tables, chairs and other carvings. His attention to detail is striking, and the tour guides are extremely informative, weaving stories about Ed into their explanations of the coral structures.
Coral Castle Museum would be an excellent destination for families with elementary-aged children. It’s a lot of standing and listening in the hot sun for the toddler and preschool set, so plan accordingly.
Coconut Grove is a family-friendly neighborhood with a bohemian vibe. Small shops and sidewalk cafés line the streets alongside lush tropical plants. After doing some shopping in the boutiques, treat the kids to some authentic Italian gelato at Bianco Gelato in Commodore Plaza. They only use natural and organic ingredients in their delightful treats, and they have a playroom in the back, so it’s a win for parents and kids.
Coconut Grove is also known for its incredible farmer’s market, so if you happen to be in the area on a Saturday, head on over to Grand Avenue for some of the best food around.
You’ll want to set aside an entire day for the Miami Seaquarium because there are so many shows and experiences to check out. Visitors can feed seals, touch stingrays and kiss a dolphin in the animal encounters. Then take in a Seaquarium show with acrobatic dolphins and a killer whale performing incredible acrobatics.
Aside from the entertainment, there are plenty of exhibits to enjoy at your leisure. There’s even a pirate ship playground for the kids. Just be sure to bring a change of clothes or a towel since the kids won’t be able to resist playing with the water guns.
Shark Valley at Everglades National Park
You can’t visit South Florida without checking out the famous Everglades National Park. If you’re brave enough to get up close and personal with some alligators and other wildlife, head over to Shark Valley at Everglades National Park. You can rent bikes by the hour and ride the 15-mile loop, or ride as far as you want and turn back around when little legs get tired.
For those with very young children, there is always the option to ride the tram around Shark Valley. A tour guide will keep you informed with facts about the ecology of the Everglades. Halfway through the tour, you can climb the observation tower for a panoramic view of the park. National Parks are always a great way to see the natural beauty of your destination.
Follow and Share with Jetsettersblog.