Play Miami

By Jenny Isenman

By: Jenny Isenman, Art & Culture Blogger Based in Miami, Fl

Best Places to Detox and De-Stress in Miami

Miami is known for its chic spas and haute hotels, which means there's no shortage of places to get rested, relaxed, rejuvenated and revived. Here are some of the most amazing places Miami (and the world) has to offer. Be warned you may never want to leave.

The Elle Spa at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach: Conde Nast Traveler ranked this spa as one of the best new spas in the world for 2012. It makes perfect sense. That’s because the iconic Eden Roc Miami Beach Hotel that houses the spa just had a $200 million make-over, bringing its look to glorious new heights and the Elle spa (which is a partnership with the famous magazine) was no exception. Luckily, a mind and body makeover there won't cost you quite as much, just a couple hours of losing yourself in the stunning Mediterranean inspired spa should do the trick.

For total relaxation try their famous Hot Roc massage, and don't forget to stop by the scrub bar in the aquatherapy lounge and have them mix you up a personalized scent.

Insider's tip: When you're done head to the spa terrace bar for a healthy smoothie or better yet, a refreshing mimosa.

Exhale Miami at the Epic Hotel: For a holistic experience that will make you feel younger, hipper, and hotter, Exhale Mind and Body Spa is THE place. You know those Barre classes you so want to try? Well, they started that trend. They're forward thinking and ability to stay ahead of the curve is why they offer so many fitness classes and treatments that show results. They are one of the first spas to offer cutting edge Accu-rejuvenation, which is acupuncture that helps with fine lines, collegen production, and skin tone. If you're needle warey, try their famous Illuminate facial, which will leave you literally aglow. And really, aren't we all just trying to look dewy?

The Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key: The Mandarin Oriental is the perfect combination of East meets West. It's 3 story spa is the only Forbes Travel 5 star spa in Miami and it's off the beaten path location on the serene Brickell Key makes it the ULTIMATE escape. The services include an array of fresh and innovative treatments as well as traditional Chinese therapies and classes. When you're done with the spa experience, enjoy some sushi at the pool café and a relaxing day bed.

Canyon Ranch Miami Beach: This may be the best all around experience. I actually celebrated my last birthday there (no, I won't tell you what age I turned, let's just say I'm legal). I chose this amazing spa because I wanted to feel young. Between the booty shaking beach hip-hop, and the most extensive array of classes I've ever seen, the incredible anti-aging facials and Aquavana thermal suite (which includes a soothing crystal steam rooms, a detoxifying ceramic laconium room, and an energizing igloo) and the workshop I did on meditation - I not only felt young, I felt hip, healthy, and completely revived. (Fine, I'm a couple years past legal … whateves.)

The Fontainebleau on Miami Beach: It would be hard NOT to relax in this stunning Miami landmark hotel. Plus, the $50 million Lapis spa won't allow you to go home if you don't feel like Jell-O. (They literally won't let you go.) Frankly, there's so much to choose from at this hotel, it's like a day of R and R on steroids. From the amazing array of spa services, to the mineral pool and aqua experiences, to the 11 restaurants, to the beach front local, to the numerous pool and cabana options -- you would be hard pressed to do anything but enjoy your time here. Be warned, you can actually have too much fun here.

The Spa at W Miami on Brickell:This minimalist Philippe Starck designed spa can be described in three words, a maz ing. The water lounge with floating library looks like it came straight from the pages of your favorite decor magazine and the floor to ceiling view of Key Biscayne ain't so shabby either. With a variety of classes, and signature anti-aging "Iconic" facial, you're bound to leave feeling like you spent the day in a magazine and look like you belong on one.

Coolest Things to Do in Miami with the Kiddos

Miami has been a hip family destination for like, ever. Well, at least since the advent of air conditioning. It's beautiful, warm, tropical, and exotic, which makes it the perfect escape. Look, as a mom I'm well aware that we can never call a vacation with the kiddos an "escape." Especially since we most often need a personal vacay to recover from our family ones.  That said, there are some pretty amazing experiences to be had in the 305 that you and your children will never forget, which isn't a bad trade off.

Jungle Island: Seriously, if you're in Miami with (or without) the kids, this park should be at the top of your list. The combination of park attractions, like the 168ft Hippo Slide and seasonal beach, amazing shows and encounters, and the variety of animals you can get pretty up close and personal with, makes this place unlike any other. Most impressive is their astounding variety of wildlife including:  lemurs, oversized reptiles, like the world's largest crocodile, rare jungle animals, like white lions, tigers, and a 900lb liger (yes, it's what you think), kangaroos, birds of EVERY feather, like adorable penguins (yes, penguins), and twin iPad using orangutans named Peanut and Pumpkin…to name a few.

For an additional fee, there are unique jungle encounters, guided tours, safaris, and animal interactions available. I tried the lemur experience, if you want to do something unique for the family -- it definitely fits the bill.

Miami Seaquarium: This is another full day of fun. More tropical that most aquariums, the Seaquarium has multiple dolphin shows, including one with Flipper (yes, Flipper - the show was filmed here), a hilarious sea lion show, and killer whale shows that will leave you laughing, amazed, and possibly soaked (watch where you sit). The park has a lovely area of manatees that have been rescued, exhibits of reptiles, serpents, massive sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, tropical reef fish, and exotic parrots.

They also offer under water walking reef encounters, a seal swim, and a swim with the dolphin odyssey -- all are pretty unforgettable.

Venetian Pool: Created in 1924 from an abandoned coral rock quarry, this pool was designed to look like a lagoon in Venice. It's one of the main attractions for those visiting Coral Gables, yet many visitors don't know about this gem. Using displaced water from an underground aquifer, it's the largest freshwater pool in the United States. Oh, and its 820,000 gallons are filled and drained daily. The beautiful grottos, caves, Venetian bridge, and waterfall make it not only visually stunning, but fun to swim and wade around in. It's also a beautiful backdrop for pictures (make sure to post them on Facebook to make your friends extra jealous).

Crandon Park and Beach: Let me confess, I spent wayyy too much time in this tropical oasis during my college days. There's some "learning" I'll never get back, but frankly, there's a lot to study at Crandon Park. Not that I studied much of it back then. Now, with kiddos in tow, it makes sense to take the nature tours, explore the mangroves, walk the trails, check out the sea grass beds, and stop by the visitors’ center.

Even more fun (though less educational), there's an amusement center with a water play area, carousel, and roller rink. And if your family likes adventure, there are eco-adventure tours, plus windsurf, kayak, and snorkel rentals…oh, and did I mention there are also golf and tennis facilities? It's kind of amazing.

When you're there, think about renting a lockable cabana for the day (each has its own shower, how cool is that?).

Those fabulous locals should keep you and the kids busy for a little while, but if I didn't give you enough to work with, here are a couple more places that are fun for the whole fam:

Zoo Miami: One of the best zoos in the world with over 1,200 animals!

Insider tip: Rent the family bikes, they're worth it.

The Science Museum and Space Planetarium: Exhibits are constantly changing so there's always something exiting and new.

The Miami Children's Museum: This has an entire city's worth of stores and establishments miniaturized for kids to feel adult. It's pretty cool.

Insider Tip: Matheson Hammock Park Beach is perfect for little ones. It has a man-made lagoon perfect for wading and watching pre-swimmers. It also has a snack bar, a restaurant, and nature trails. Plus, it's pretty quiet and calm so you won't lose sight of anyone or feel overwhelmed by the waves, the noise, or the other beach-goers.

Let's Get Physical - Unique Ways to Get Fit in Miami

OK, let's face it, sometimes your workout routine starts to feel, well, routine. You've done that same thing over and over and over again (literally). You never get to your destination in your spin classes, that over-packed Orange Theory or Crossfit class never seems to change, even your tree pose is looking a bit wilted. Luckily, Miami is filled with cutting-edge workouts and innovative ways to get buff without getting bored. These are my favorite finds in the 305. Just know, these workouts may ruin treadmills forever.

The Bar Method in South Miami: This popular fitness joint mixes yoga with ballet to give your body a totally streamlined look. Using weights and natural resistance while in ballet positions, you'll slim down and tone up. Not only will you feel tighter and tauter, you'll feel this odd urge to rip out the old tutu start bringing back the bun (don't do it).

AntiGravity Yoga at Crunch in South Beach: Well, who hasn't thought gravity is a total downer at some point? Now, you can break the shackles of being forced to keep both feet on the ground and move your crane (pose) into the air. This is a serious treat for any yoga enthusiast with a sense of adventure. Forget the mat and take to the skies on a fabric hammock. These poses will take the pressure off your aching joints and take your yoga routine to new heights. Now, go there and soar people, soar!

IronFlower Fitness: Yes, this one is just for the ladies, but don't worry fellas, you'll reap the benefits of your partner's workouts. With classes like "Hot Seat" (yes, that's a fancy name for chair dancing), "Stripperella" and "Vertical Dance Vixen" (yes, it's on a pole), you'll either get fit, please your man or find yourself qualified for a moonlighting gig (or maybe all three).

The Flying Trapeze School at Bayfront Park: Remember that time you wanted to run away and join the circus and your parents were all, "That's a bad idea"? (Look, maybe you were only 5, but I bet there was a point when it seemed like a good plan.) Well, now you can live out those dreams at beautiful while overlooking the gorgeous Biscayne Bay.  You can fly through the air with the greatest of ease, swing from your knees, be passed to a catcher and do a somersaulting dismount.  It's a rare and amazing experience for anyone who likes to try new things.  Now, go run off and join the class, your parents and kids will be proud. P.S. The kids and parents can do it too -- you're in a double harness and there's always a net!

Paddleboarding at The Standard in Miami Beach: SUP - Stand Up Paddleboarding is the biggest workout craze in any local spot where you can find even a foot of water (yes, it may be coming to a bathtub near you). That said, Miami offers the most amazing backdrop to do it in. Oh, and don't think it's as easy as standing up. Proper strokes work your arms and keeping balance engages your core through the entire session. The only thing better than this workout…is the view.

Adventure Sports Miami - PaddleBoard Yoga: If you want to amp up your OM, creator Paula Ambrosio, of Adventure Sports Miami, will stick you on a board and push you into the bay. And it's tough...You try doing a tree pose in choppy water.  Namaste, baby, namaste.

Back to Top

View more Miami activities and special offers.

Stay in Touch: Sign up for the Miami Insider enews to receive news, events and special offers.

Share the Love: We'd love to see your photos! Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and don’t forget to use the hashtag: #FoundInMiami.

Jenny Isenman

Top 10 Things To Do In Miami

Miami is one of the hottest locales on Earth from its sizzling beaches to its feverish tropical backdrop to its caliente Latin flavor. There are amazing attractions that are not to be missed if you want a full Miami experience. Here are the top 10 things to do when you visit the 305 so you can soak in the sun and absorb the culture.

  1. Try stand up paddleboarding on beautiful Biscayne Bay.
  2. Rent a Decobike and peddle through South Beach's amazing Art Deco District along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue.
  3. Take a picture holding something exotic (from alligators to Macaws) at Jungle Island.
  4. Take a class at The Flying Trapeze and get the best view of Biscayne Bay (though you may be upside down).
  5. Spend an entire day at Canyon Ranch trying one cutting edge workout after another. End it with a rock wall session (if your legs aren't jello, then I'd suggest you end it with a Muscle Melt Massage).
  6. Swim with the dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium and catch a dolphin show, including the Top Deck Dolphin show.
  7. Go to Exhale Miami for their famous Illuminate facial. I dare you not to leave aglow!
  8. Do something fun on the beach. Whether it's a raucous game of Kadima, an impromptu salsa session, a little skin boarding, or simply frolicking in the waves.
  9. Stop by Casa Larios for a perfect Cuban coffee and take in the scene which starts at 7AM and ends 16 hours later.
  10. Catch a sunrise over the ocean and a sunset over the bay. The oranges, pinks and purples will astound you.

Insider Tip

Rent a cabana for the day at Crandon Park and Beach. Each has its own shower, how cool is that?