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By: Josie Gulliksen

Teach the kids about arts and culture, Miami-style – with museums on the water, candy-colored Art Deco façades, street murals and more. This magical playground is brimming with must-sees for the family.

Finding family fun in Greater Miami & Miami Beach is child’s play. There’s just so much to do with kids in tow – you really do have your pick. And some of it’s even free.

Noguchi Slide Bayfront
Slide down Noguchi's sculpture in Bayfront Park

Family-Friendly Museums

Head to Downtown Miami, for example, and start at Bayfront Park. Stroll, breathe in the great outdoors and behold the 10-foot Isamu Noguchi sculpture that doubles as a slide. Here, you can slide your cares away.

After the slide, try the swings. On the terrace of the nearby Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the kids (and kids at heart) love swaying on the metal swings while marveling at the massive cruise ships that dot the waterfront landscape. Inside, the museum offers family-focused activities to introduce children to the possibilities of a creative mind. The youngest in the bunch (age 6 and under) enter free of charge.

HistoryMiami Coloring
Children can get creative at HistoryMiami

A day at the museum is the perfect family outing. Sit in an old-time trolley at HistoryMiami Museum. Play banker, go on a grocery run, explore a cruise ship and create art at Miami Children’s Museum. Marvel at marine life and birds, play interactive games and catch a planetarium show at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. The adults in the group can also appreciate the architecture of these Downtown Miami attractions. The children’s museum has a colorful, playful exterior; the science museum is a multilevel marvel, with an aquarium jutting through its center and an open-air level with spectacular city views and a rooftop garden.

MOCA exterior
Sign up for Teen Art Force at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami

For the older kids in the house, did you know that the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami in North Miami has a special Teen Art Force? This free multidisciplinary program provides a creative outlet for teenagers, with drawing, textile design, sculpture and printmaking activities. Time spent among the museum’s world-class art collection and exhibitions is meant to inspire original artwork, whether it’s poetry, collage or a fashion design sketch. This is not a one-day thing, though. Participants, age 13-17, must attend a minimum number of classes.

Pro tip: Plan ahead, as many museums offer free family days.

Coral Gables Museum
Don't miss the Coral Gables Museum

Exploring On Foot

Some Miami hotspots make exploring easy, with nearby food and transportation options – as well as the opportunity to meander on foot, if you so desire.

Miracle Mile and Giralda Plaza in Coral Gables come to mind, with top-notch eateries and boutiques, wide sidewalks, ample seating and tropical landscaping throughout. You might come across public art at any given moment. There’s even a free trolley service. The area also has the Coral Gables Art Cinema and the Coral Gables Museum for film and history buffs.

In the Coconut Grove neighborhood, walk along Main Highway or Grand Avenue and survey the CocoWalk open-air shopping center. This is a premier shopping, dining and walking destination. Both Coral Gables and Coconut Grove have Books & Books locations, where you’ll find a collection of carefully curated reads. Check out works by local authors, as well as the latest bestsellers and an enviable selection of arts-inspired coffee-table books.

Wynwood Walls Selfie
Take a selfie next to the unique murals at Wynwood Walls

Taking Family Snapshots

Your kids are probably into selfies, right? Right.

Greater Miami & Miami Beach has ideal Instagram-worthy backdrops for the whole family. In South Beach, strike a pose along storied Ocean Drive, where the candy-colored Art Deco buildings present an instant and iconic memory. Head to Wynwood to see the famed Wynwood Walls, where eye-popping street murals rotate in and out. Often overlooked as a neat selfie spot is the Freedom Tower, a longstanding symbol of liberty in Downtown Miami and now home to the Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College.

Little Havana Roosters
Find colorful rooster sculptures in Little Havana

Have the kids take photos with the colorful rooster sculptures standing tall along the famed Calle Ocho (Southwest Eighth Street) in the Little Havana neighborhood. While you’re snapping some shots with these Florida-friendly fowl, don’t forget to stop by a “ventanita” (takeout window) for some Cuban coffee.

Frost Museum
Catch a hammerhead sighting at the Frost Museum of Science

If your kids prefer fish to roosters, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science has a massive Oculus, a 31-foot-wide lens that provides a vivid view of its 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream aquarium. Anybody who’s anybody has a photo at the Oculus. Time it correctly and you just might capture a hammerhead shark passing overhead.

Sumatran Tiger
Spend a day at Zoo Miami

Art At The Zoo

Have you visited a zoo lately? The expansive Zoo Miami in South Dade is a treat. Throughout almost 750 acres of land and four miles of walkways, you’ll find specially designed animal habitats alongside wide stretches of water and greenery. You’ll also encounter public art. The zoo selects artists to enhance empty wall spaces with images of wildlife. In addition to looking for Zoo Miami Walls, you can visit residents such as the Sumatran tiger, reticulated giraffe, Galapagos turtle and red-eyed tree frog. You may even see a dragon here… a Komodo dragon, that is. This is definitely not just for little kids, either. Even difficult-to-please teenagers come away impressed.

ArtburstMiami is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news.

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