It can be overwhelming visiting a new city, especially one as diverse and sprawling as Miami. It seems there’s never enough time to squeeze it all in and keep every traveler happy. Luckily, we’ve handpicked a few memorable landmarks that’ll keep the whole family entertained. Any local will vouch – places like Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami Seaquarium, and Everglades National Park have come to define Miami, both past and present. These tough cookies have weathered Cat-5 hurricanes, fleeting trends, and economic recession to become the stuff of legend. Step back in time or step into the wild by visiting any of these evergreen Miami spots.
VINTAGE HOTELS AND HOMES
Trace the footsteps of Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and Al Capone inside The Biltmore hotel – a monument of tropical luxury and timeless style, nestled in lush Coral Gables. Golfers the world-over hail Biltmore’s 18-hole, 6,800-yard championship course as the premiere destination for the sport. After working up a hunger on the green, check out the hotel’s four exquisite eateries, two bars, and majestic tearoom. The Palme D’Or offers the finest in traditonal French, five-course fare. Just down the way, lively Latin rhythms serenade the senses at the casual poolside grill. Speaking of pool, the Biltmore’s massive lagoon is one you have to see to believe.
The phrase “winter home” takes on a whole new meaning after one visit to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Nearly 100 years ago, one very wealthy businessman called this decadent, bay front mansion his off-season home. Located about two miles from Downtown Miami, this gargantuan, 40-plus-room estate is now home to rare treasures and 19th century antiques and is well-kept and still very much in it’s original condition. The Italian inspiration is unmistakable– from the Renaissance imagery overhead to the intricate tiling underfoot. It’s literally dripping with gold. Entry into the museum is well worth the $15 fee for adults and $6 price for children, ages six to twelve. Go any day of the week but Tuesdays; they’re also closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS
A wild day at Zoo Miami makes any late night at South Beach look pretty tame. The plains of Africa, jungles of the Amazon, rainforests of Asia, and the vastness of the Outback are all just thirty minutes south of Downtown Miami. Interact with over 2,000 lively animals in a series of remarkably intimate, open-air exhibits. But the thrills don’t end there – you can also feed giraffes, rent kayaks, ride a camel, and get a birds-eye view of your surroundings from the air-conditioned monorail. Adults pay $16 for park entry, kids under 13 pay $12, and children under two are free.
Nothing beats the South Florida heat like a front seat in the “splash zone” at Miami Seaquarium. Located on pristine Key Biscayne, Miami Seaquarium is the oldest oceanarium in the United States. Take a walk down memory lane as a talented troupe of dolphins splash around on the original TV set of “Flipper.” You can even put on a wetsuit and swim alongside them in the Dolphin Experience. Want to go even deeper? Snap on a state-of-the-art dive helmet and traverse a 300,000-gallon tropical reef. But look out for those charming sea lions; they’re known for planting sloppy, wet kisses on the unsuspecting cheek. Tickets for these kid-friendly adventures are priced a la carte, and range from $30 to $200.
FAST CARS AND HIGH SPEED BOATS
If the smell of burning rubber revs your engine, then make a pit stop at the historic Homestead-Miami Speedway. Since its inaugural NASCAR race in ‘95, this track has been churning out household champions like Jeff Daniels, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle with the screams of 65,000 fans cheering them on. Millions of dollars in renovations optimized the speedway for hosting three premiere NASCAR races each year– the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, and the Camping World Truck Series.
Hop into a high-powered airboat for an educational thrill ride through the Florida Everglades. A 60-minute drive from Downtown drops you in the heart of America’s third largest national park, Everglades National Park Professional guides navigate a maze of sawgrass marshes, dodging gators, egrets, and other wetland wildlife along the way. Rated “Florida’s Best” by the Miami Herald, Coopertown Airboat Rides /attraction/coopertown-airboat-rides-and-restaurant/100859 offers flexible tour options, starting at $22 for adults. Or for less than $20, take in the sights on land at the Everglades Alligator Farm and witness unbelievable live feedings. But no trip to the everglades would be complete without sampling Native American cuisine and learning the art of tribal craft making at the Miccosukee Indian Village. Top it all off with an unforgettable photo op at sunset.
If you find yourself visiting our sunny shores in October, be sure to check out more legendary Miami spots at discounted rates during Miami Attractions Month.
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