Miami: Things to Do as a Family

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Tropical Park in Miami, Florida.

Tropical Park in Miami, Florida.

Top Family Places in Miami, Florida —–Under the sun or cool in the shade!

By Stephanie DiCarlo

miami zoo

Miami Zoo

When I set about to find family-fun places in Miami, I knew it was going to be an intriguing city to write about looking at it from a family-friendly perspective. When one first thinks of Miami, images of beach parties and college kids might come to mind, or, as my mother told me after she visited, retirement centers.

However, Miami is not simply a haven for young adults and the retired–it has a lot of great places to bring young children and families of any ages–whether you’re a local or a tourist.

A classic family spot that never fails? The zoo! The Miami Zoo is the perfect place to spend the day as a family, and has an amazing assortment of activities and animals to see. You can see reptiles, lions, bears, koalas, tigers, birds, gorillas, chips, elephants, and so much more! This is a serious zoo, and will please any animal lover at any age.

Interactive activities are also available at this zoo- you can feed the giraffes yourself and even ride a camel! There are also playgrounds, including a water park, as well as a ‘children’s zoo,’ where kids can get up close with various small and friendly animals, like barn animals and meerkats. This zoo is big, has lots to do, is clean, and fun!

Enjoy a refreshing bike ride through Tropical Park.

Enjoy a refreshing bike ride through Tropical Park.

Tropical Park is a place that families rave about for its miles of beautiful scenery, perfect for a bikeride. Bikes are available for rent at a small fee, and paths lined with palm trees keep you shady as you bike, or walk, through this park. One visitor suggested stopping along the pretty lakes as you bike your way through the park. A weekly farmer’s market is also held in the park every Saturday year round, and Tropical Park gets about one million visitors a year. The nice thing about farmer’s markets in Florida is that they have local produce year ’round too!

Open every day from 10 am to 6 pm, Miami Children’s Museum is another great place to bring creative and inquisitive children. Especially popular on rainy days or when the heat is too much, this museum is fun and interactive, a great indoor place for children to expend their energy while parents literally “chill” out of the sun while their kids play.

Particularly great for the little ones, this museum is great for children five and under. Exhibits consist of an interactive play “super market,” a two story sandcastle where children can “see sands from around the world,” a safety zone where children can dress up as fire fighters and ride police cars, as well as an “ocean odyssey” where they can learn about the deep sea, and an exhibit where they can learn about the city of Miami itself. Moms rave about the friendly and helpful staff, as well as the cheap prices!

If your family is a bit too old for the Miami Childrens’ Museum, but still wants to visit a museum, the Museum of Science might just be the place to go. This museum is appropriate for older kids, and it includes interactive exhibits on the sea, outer space, climate change, and weather. It also has a planetarium as well as a laser show, and a wildlife center. Parents say it’s the lazer show that kids love most- and they love it too! One mom said it was the perfect place to spend a few hours to get away from the beach crowds, and where the kids can learn something in the process.

Trump International Resorts' vast waterpark--a kids haven in Miami.

Trump International Resorts’ vast waterpark–a kids haven in Miami.

Trump International Beach Resort is the perfect place if you’re staying in Miami Beach with children. This resort has it’s very own children’s program dubbed “Planet Kids,” where children can play and socialize with other children while their parents take some “adult time,” as one mother dubbed it, to relax by the pool. While kids get to play, they also participate in “Enviro-Adventures,” which Planet Kids designed as a fun and informative curriculum for children to come away not only having had fun, but having learned something as well.

Planet Kids runs from 10 to 4 every day, and is complementary for hotel guests. It’s a fantastic place for kids to make friends, learn something while on vacation, and to give their parents a break! In addition, the pool areas are kid friendly, and parents love the waterfalls and shallow pools available for active chldren. This resort is the perfect place to stay for families!

Meet dolphins at the Seaquarium.

Meet dolphins at the Seaquarium.

If your family wants more of the sea beyound Miami’s beaches, the Miami Seaquarium is just for you. This aquarium offers the full interactive sea animal experience- you can swim with dolphins, seals, dive in their tropical reef tank, their 300,000 gallon tank designed to imitate a reef habitat. You can feed manatees, stingrays, and turtles and enjoy their killer whale or dolphin shows. You may also see your favorite fish, catch a glimpse of a crocodile, and even see some sharks. This aquarium is perfect for families of all ages, and even has a “Pirate Playground” for the little ones. If your family wants to engage with aquatics, this is the place to go!

Try a waffle burger at this modern diner.

Try a waffle burger at this modern diner.

If you’re looking for a fun place to eat, Big Pink is a great place to go with your family. Its retro atmosphere, affordable prices, and great food is sure to please everyone. Known for it’s ‘modern day diner’ atmosphere, with pink buggies parked outside and it’s unique waffle burgers (yes, burgers between two belgian waffles), this place is sure to please the kids. And if it doesn’t, the menu has over 200 items to choose from.

Bar far, however, it’s fried chicken on waffles gets the biggest thumbs up from diners. Go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Jungle Island is a great place to take the kids if your family is in the mood to go a step farther than the zoo- and into 22-acre rainforest with real tropical animals. Specializing in different kind of birds, mammals, reptiles, and primates, you can take a safari throught the park to see the animals as they might be in their natural habitat.

There is also a petting zoo, a chance to meet some lemurs and birds up close and personal, and shows featuring trained animals. Bring your camera and see the exotic animals Jungle Island has to offer.

meStephanie DiCarlo is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and has a Bachelor’s degree in English and History, as well as a specialization in creative writing. She also writes for the young adult literature magazine Ultimate YA and she likes to travel and eat good food. You can follow her on Twitter at @ccioSteph

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