Miami may have the reputation of being a nightlife capital with sizzling nightclubs and bars teaming with party people, but it also is a mecca for kids.
The beaches are an obvious kid-friendly top spot. Add to that the multitude of other child-friendly activities—museums, a fanciful castle, a Renaissance villa, a spring-fed pool, animal parks—that make Miami an amazing spot to enjoy a family vacation.
There is so much to do, that you might even consider buying a Go Miami Card which can save you up to half off of many of the gate prices.
Zoo Miami is fast becoming one of the best zoos in the nation. Its climate allows it to keep a wide variety of animals from Asia, Australia, and Africa like no other zoo in the country. One of the first free-range zoos in the country, the exhibits are entirely cageless. Animals are grouped according to their geographic territory and animals that live together peacefully in the wild are placed in exhibits together.
The Miami Children's Museum is a must-see destination. The museum's motto is "Play, Learn, Imagine, Create." The motto shines through in the wide variety of interactive exhibits that allow children to explore everything from a supermarket to a television studio. Children pick up valuable lessons along the way.
Jungle Island, formerly known as Parrot Jungle, was relocated near Miami Beach and offers visitors a fun, educational opportunity to get an up-close look at tropical birds in replicas of their natural habitats. The attraction routinely hosts field trips and offers frequent educational programs.
There's more than Parrots at Jungle Island. Learn about reptiles, monkeys, tigers, and more. For the thrill-seeker, there is a wind tunnel where you can practice your flying skills, an escape room, and an exciting zip line adventure.
The Miami Seaquarium is located in the heart of the tourist area between downtown Miami and Miami Beach. The Seaquarium features an outdoor aquarium show with dolphins and Lolita, the killer whale, as well as exhibits of sea turtles, seals, sea lions, and manatees.
There are touch tanks, dolphin encounters, and a natural mangrove forest you can walk through. And when you need a rest, there are several dining and snack areas in the park.
Miami’s beaches offer a great opportunity to get some exercise or just enjoy some time in the sun. Children can make sand castles and splash in the low tide pools at Cape Florida or run away from the crashing waves in South Beach.
With 1.5 million acres of swamps, saw-grass prairies, and sub-tropical jungles, Everglades National Park is one of the most unusual public parks in the United States. Located on the southern tip of Florida, the park is home to 14 rare and endangered species, including the American crocodile, the Florida panther, and the West Indian manatee. A large portion of the park is primitive, explored only by adventurists and researchers—but visitors have ample opportunity to walk, camp, fish, and canoe.
The $300 million Frost Museum of Science facility is located in Museum Park in downtown Miami. You're bound to find a learning adventure for the whole family. The museum features a three-level aquarium with a 31-foot-wide clear oculus to view of sharks and South Florida reef fish. A 250-seat planetarium takes visitors into outer space and beneath the ocean with 3-D projection.
"Where the humans are caged and the monkeys run wild" is Monkey Jungle's motto. This park in southern Miami-Dade County allows humans to walk through carefully constructed wire pathways while many species of primates scamper above your head, swing through trees, and interact with each other in ways difficult to observe in captivity. Keep your eyes open; you never know what's hanging above you.
Tour an enchanting sculpture garden in Homestead, just south of Miami, carved out of limestone. From 1923 to 1951, one man single-handedly made a 1,100-ton coral rock castle. Today you can do a self-guided tour with audio stands along the way or take a docent-guided tour of the property.
For children who are captivated by the opulence of a world that could create Beauty and the Beast, the fairy-tale architecture of Vizcaya, a waterfront Italian Renaissance-style villa, will capture the imagination. You can tour the house and children will want to try to get lost in hedge maze labyrinth.
The Discover Vizcaya audio tour is an educational way to learn about Vizcaya’s history and native plants in the gardens. The museum also offers a series of monthly Family Programs that are free to the public with museum admission.
Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is perhaps one of the most beautiful swimming pools in the world. The freshwater pool formed in a coral rock quarry is fed by an underground spring. It is complete with waterfalls and cave-like grottos. Go when it's hot since the water has a tendency to be cold.
Built in the 1920s, it had been a place to see and be seen. Movie stars like Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame regularly stopped by to enjoy the swimming, gondolas, and orchestras.
History Miami offers an array of exhibits, featuring the 10,000 years of history that has transpired in Miami. The museum offers family fun days with crafts, music, and storytelling the second Saturday of every month.
You can also join one of 30 coach, boat cruise, and eco-walking tours to explore the waterways, neighborhoods, architecture, and history of Miami. Learn about and explore Little Havana or check out the interesting history of Stiltsville, where a series of colorful wooden houses were built on the flats of Biscayne Bay inside Biscayne National Park.
Take in a Show
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is known for bringing Broadway shows to Miami. While some of those shows are great for kids, there will also be special children's performances like puppet shows and kid-friendly musicals. In the summer, the Arsht center brings older kids together for Camp Broadway, a theater camp for children ages 10 to 17.
Climb a Lighthouse
At the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on the southern tip of Key Biscayne, you'll find beautiful sandy beaches with picnic facilities, kayaking, and opportunities to explore nature.
But kids will love climbing up the stairs to the top of the 65-foot tall Cape Florida Lighthouse, the oldest standing structure in the greater Miami area.
See the Colorful Murals
At Wynwood Walls, kids will get inspired by the colorful murals. It's a free outdoor museum with over 80,000 square feet of wall art by well-known muralists and plenty of parklike setting for stretching your legs.
After enjoying the murals, stop by the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar where you can sit outside and share some Latin-inspired small plates with the kids.
Play at Pinecrest Gardens
Pinecrest Gardens was once the location of Parrot Jungle but it's now a park with tropical landscaping, a playground, a petting zoo, and a water playground. The gardens hosts events like concerts, farmer’s markets and outdoor movie nights. Families will get the most out of the gardens by springing for a Splash 'N Play Pass and bringing swimsuits for the little ones.
Ride the Trolley
Especially if you are visiting for the first time, the Miami Trolley will be a fun way to get to know the area without wearing out the smallest children in your group. The free trolleys run until 11 p.m. and take you to many Miami attractions. It's a hop-on, hop-off type of adventure the kids will love. The Trolly Tracker on their website can tell you what the wait will be for the trolley at any particular stop.
Take a Duck Tour
Quack! Quack! Tour Miami on land and in the water without leaving the tour vehicle. Duck Tours South Beach runs amphibious vehicles for a fun 90-minute tour. On the tour, you'll see (and dip into) Biscayne Bay, find out about Miami history and ride by some celebrity homes.
Soak in the Culture of Little Havana
Miami is a multi-cultural city and the best place to enjoy the Latin scene is in Little Havana. Older kids will love the colorful art and everyone will enjoy Cuban food. El Jardin is a great place to have a family-friendly lunch. It's an outdoor food court between 15th and 16th Avenues.
On Calle Ocho (8th street) between 17th and 12th Avenues stroll by the art galleries, enjoy some casual dining and, take in a fun festival like the Calle Ocho Festival.
Pro tip: artsy kiddos will love the vibrant mural painted outside of the Cafeteria Guardabarrenco and you can treat the whole family with exotic ice cream flavors at Azucar Ice Cream Company.
Learn Native History
At Miccosukee Indian Village, kids will learn about the Miccosukee tribe by seeing the museum's artifacts and exhibits, seeing authentic crafts, and trying Native foods. There are also airboat rides that take you through the Everglades to an Indian camp and a safe "alligator encounter."
The tribe hosts the annual Miccosukee Indian Arts and Crafts Festival, annually in late December. Enjoy the arts as well as Native American dancers including hoop dancers.