Family fishing on pier
By: Jill Martin
Miami’s best attractions for families.
No matter what time of year you plan to visit Miami, there are so many adventures to share as a family. The list of must-sees is so long, where do you even begin to plan? The answer is right here. Whether you have 3, 4 or 5 days to spend in Miami, follow these suggested itineraries and make the most of your time together.
Day 1: The Everglades and Biscayne National Park
Start your journey off the beaten path and head to South Dade. On Sundays, breakfast is served at El Toro Taco in Homestead. Try the authentic huevos rancheros.
Next, head to Biscayne National Park. On the second Sunday of each month (January through May), you can enjoy their free Family Fun Fest. As 95 percent of this park is underwater, the best way to experience it is on the water. Rent a kayak, go snorkeling, or catch the 1:45 p.m. boat tour.
Everglades National Park (yes, you could actually see two national parks in one day)! The Anhinga Trail is where you’ll find lots of wildlife, including alligators. Follow the signs to Flamingo, at the very end of the Park, for boat tours and views of Florida Bay. Although you can’t ride an airboat inside the National Park, you can take an airboat ride right down the street at Everglades Alligator Farm.
On the way home, treat yourself to Shiver’s Bar-B-Q. Dine family-style at picnic tables in this family owned restaurant that’s been serving great food for 50+ years. Don’t worry if you’re a little dirty from the day, shorts and sneakers are always welcome.
Day 2: Coral Gables
Begin with breakfast at Einstein Bros Bagels on Miracle Mile. After noshing on bagels, head to Venetian Pool, the only pool on the National Register of Historic Places. This former rock quarry with 820,000 gallons of freshwater from an underground aquifer provides the perfect backdrop for your Florida family photos. Stone bridges, waterfalls - it is stunning.
For indoor fun, the Actor’s Playhouse on Miracle Mile features kid-friendly plays on Saturdays.
If you’re looking to stay dry, head to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens. It’s the preeminent botanic garden in the world. Take the guided tram tour, see the Wings of the Tropics butterfly conservatory and have lunch at one of two onsite cafés.
Day 3: Downtown Miami
Start your day with breakfast at S&S Diner. They’ve been in the same location since 1938 (1757 NE 2nd Avenue).
Afterward, head to Jungle Island. You could spend the entire day seeing the animal shows and swimming at their private beach, Parrot Cove. Have a late lunch onsite at Island Burger amid the flamingos or drive to Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market and dine on the Miami River.
The Miami Children’s Museum is right across the street from Jungle Island and offers big time fun for little ones.
If you’re looking for more indoor fun, you’ve found it at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. This completely new center opens in the summer of 2016 and will feature a 500,000 gallon saltwater Gulf Stream Aquarium and a Living Core Aquarium. Plus, you can see a variety of interactive exhibits and view the constellations in the state-of-the-art Frost Planetarium.
Day 4: Key Biscayne
Have breakfast at Donut Gallery Café (in the back corner of the Harbor Plaza Shopping Center). Next, it’s off to the Miami Seaquarium. Swim with seals or dolphins. Try the Sea Trek Reef Encounter or become a trainer for a day and learn the ins and outs of one of the coolest jobs in the city. There is much to see and do at this 38-acre marine wonderland.
Then spend the afternoon at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and tour the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County – the lighthouse.
At nearby Crandon Park, you can rent a cabana, swim, snorkel, bike, take a nature tour and more. The beach is perhaps the best in Miami and the skyline views add to the Miami feel.
Treat yourself to dinner at Sir Pizza before you leave the island. Or for a high-end meal, the Rusty Pelican offers seafood, steaks and amazing views of downtown.
Day 5: Pinecrest and South Miami
Dine with the locals for breakfast at Wagon’s West in the Suniland Shopping Center. (Chili cheese omelets and flying saucer pancakes, anyone?) With a happy belly, head to nearby Pinecrest Gardens. Stroll wide, sun-dappled pathways through botanical gardens that lead to a petting zoo as well as the splash and play area.
For a real walk on the wild side, drive 10 minutes south to Zoo Miami. Walk or rent a Safari Cycle to explore this top-rated zoo that boasts 340 acres and 3,000 animals. Bring your swimsuit and towel to cool off at their water playgrounds.
End your day at The Falls, an outdoor (covered) shopping experience alongside a million-gallon waterscape. Have dinner at one of their many restaurants.
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