By: Shayne Benowitz
There’s something about Miami that just translates to fun in the sun. Perhaps it’s the abundance of sunshine and blue skies with a year round subtropical climate and temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Perhaps it’s because we’re surrounded by the watery wonderland of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and the Everglades. During a vacation to Miami, there’s certainly no shortage of ways to make a splash, and you absolutely should enjoy everything that the sun and sea has to offer. You might be surprised to know that there’s an inland oasis perfect for a family outing. Welcome to Grapeland Water Park, located just a few miles inland from Biscayne Bay and on a beautiful public green space that includes the Melreese Golf Course, baseball fields and tennis courts conveniently located just minutes from Miami International Airport.
Grapeland Water Park opened its gates in 2009 and is operated by the City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department. It’s a wonderful, safe and affordable place to enjoy some fun in the sun during your stay in Miami. With 13 acres of water slides, lazy rivers, and pools, there’s plenty of splish-splashing to be done during a day here. Rest assured that you’re in good hands, as the park is staffed with 24 lifeguards and shallow water attendants on duty at all times. They’re American Red Cross certified in both CPR and first aid.
Art in the Park
With a pirate’s shipwreck theme, the park is characterized by colorful pop art by Miami’s own Romero Britto. His Little Pirate Girl sculpture, known as Tina, greets patrons at the entrance ensuring a day of fun. Inside, you’ll find colorful monuments, statues, fountains, plaques and flags designed by the artist. They give the park an extra splash of Miami’s spirit and make for both a cultural and outdoorsy attraction.
A day at Grapeland consists of exploring four distinctive settings. The Captain’s Lagoon is a great way to ease into the action. This enormous recreational pool has a gradual, beach-like entry, so you can splash in the shallow end as though you’re relaxing on the shoreline. Its maximum depth is six feet, so you can enjoy swimming around with the whole family. It’s a perfect location for people of all swimming abilities to enjoy the water. There are no slides in this section, so just float, relax and take it all in.
Buccaneer River Ride
Anyone who’s a fan of water parks knows that the Lazy River is a staple. Rest assured, Grapeland’s got one with the Buccaneer River Ride. Plop yourself onto a large inflatable inner tube and let the current carry you away on a nice lazy ride. Keep a lookout for waterfalls and other surprises along the way. A fun challenge for older kids is to swim against the current for a little while, and then enjoy the ride. Just be safe and lookout for others.
Pirate’s Plunge is where all the fun is. Here, anyone over 48” tall can climb to the top of the stairs and take one of the fast slides down into the pool. This is another zero entry pool, like the Captain’s Lagoon, so families are encouraged to splash around together and safely have some fun. At Pirate’s Plunge, there’s a giant bucket at the top that slowly fills with water. You’ll hear an alarm sound when it’s time for the bucket to spill, and you can either head underneath to get splashed or steer clear and stay dry.
Finally, Shipwreck Island is a water slide area suited for toddlers under 48”. It’s got the same bucket that splashes water onto its swimmers, as well as other fun fountains. Here, life jackets are available for the little tike still learning to swim. The slides are slower and they’re designed for the little ones to sit on mom or dad’s lap as they slide down and make a splash together.
Learn To Swim Lessons, Snack Bar & Park Hours
Grapeland Water Park offers month long programs with eight swimming lessons for children who are ready for swimming lessons. If you plan to spend a lot of time in Miami, you know that’s an indispensible skill. After all that swimming and splashing, it’s likely you’ve worked up an appetite. Fortunately, you don’t have to look far because the park has its own snack bar with all kinds of goodies perfect for lunch.
It’s important to note that the park’s hours are tailored to the Miami-Dade public school calendar. It opens at the end of March during Spring Break with limited hours of operation. Starting Memorial Day Weekend in May, it’s open seven days a week through mid-August. Entry is $15 for non-Miami-Dade County residents, $12 for residents, $7 for children age 2-13, and free for infants. Bring the whole family and enjoy your day in the sun!
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