All In The Family: Great Places To Take The Kids

Touring one of the many ecological centers


Touring one of the many ecological centers

By Susie Lamigueiro

Having to plan a day out with the kids doesn’t have to be a headache. Here are some great kid-friendly spots for your family excursion.

We know how frustrating planning a day out with the kids can be, especially on vacation. Luckily, Miami’s subtropical wilderness climate has gifted the city with some of the best zoological conservation parks, ecological sanctuaries, beaches, seaquarium, and nature scene that top the list of the entire United States. So kick back, relax and sip your herbal tea while we take all the stress out of planning family day with these top perfect kid-friendly spots.

  • Share

Get Wild

Miami Seaquarium is one of Miami’s longest standing venues – all the way back to 1955. Besides all the great shows, your kids’ favorite activities will be the encounters! The Dolphin Odyssey and the Dolphin Encounter are both amazing opportunities for you and your family to swim with dolphins.

There is also the Sea Trek Reef Encounter, an underwater walking journey through the Seaquarium’s 300,000 gallon tropical reef. You actually walk inside of a tank and experience fish, stingrays and other sea creatures swim right past you. The cool part is you wear a state of the art diving helmet that lets you breathe freely as you look at the underwater world all around you. Children have to be ten years and older and accompanied by an adult for this adventure.

Leave time for the Killer Whale and Dolphin show, the Flipper show and the Sea Lion show to give your little ones something to talk about for weeks to come. Other exhibits include sharks, manatees, penguins, and crocodiles. The park is conveniently opened 365 days a year so you won’t have any excuses not to spend the day out and about with the kids.

Zoo Miami, consistently ranked among the country’s top 10 zoos, sits on 340 acres and offers 100 special exhibitions connected by 3 miles of shaded pathways. While kids will marvel at the sight of 500 species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, including more than 40 that are endangered, parents appreciate the cageless design of the park, which recreates Asian, African, Australian and American habitats.

Of course you’ll want to take in some of the special activities to enhance your visit. For a really up close and personal experience (and a small fee) you can feed giraffes, camels, parrots, rhinos and tortoises – enjoying wildlife at a safe, yet remarkably close range. At the different exhibits, you can meet and talk with the zookeepers to learn more about the animals.

For an aerial view of Zoo Miami’s beautiful landscape and a means of transportation, board the air-conditioned monorail. With four convenient stops, this is a great and comfortable way to get from one area of the zoo to another. Take an entertaining and relaxing Safari Tram Tour or ride the wooden Wildlife Carousel. The Wildlife Shows and Animal Encounters are always a favorite and should not be missed. There is even a River Ride aboard a slow moving boat with surprises at every bend. It is best to check Zoo Miami’s website for current rates of the tours, rides and shows.

    Get schooled, the fun way

    Designed for children, the Miami Children’s Museum is jam-packed with experiences for the child in everyone. MCM encourages children to learn information at their own pace, create questions and discover answers. The museum practices a guided approach to active learning that promotes free-choice learning and appeals to all learners by being standards-based, inquiry-based and play-based.

    Visually designed to resemble the elements of the planet, earth, wind, fire and water, the MCM is among the largest children’s museums in the United States and fulfills a critical role in Miami’s community by infusing arts, culture, community and communication into interactive learning experiences. Your kids will walk out, heads filled with new fun facts. MCM exhibits include Castle of Dreams, Music Makers Studio, All About Art, Bank, The Sea and Me, Ocean Odyssey, Pet Central, Sketch Aquarium, and many more that will spark any child’s imagination.

    Discovery and exploration is what the Frost Science Museum is all about. From the River of Grass exhibition designed for young children, to hands-on family workshops, camps or science-themed birthday parties, Frost Science Museum offers an array of exciting learning experiences for children and families. The kids can come up close to the 30-foot dinosaur or explore the final frontier space exploration at the Feathers to the Stars exhibit.

    They can walk into a human brain display at the Brain: Inside the Story exhibit. One of the museum’s latest exhibits, and only on view until April 2018, it includes different scientific technology that allows for interaction and learning in a fun and stimulating way highlighting a dramatic six-foot tall artificial humanoid that demonstrates how the brain is affected by its sense of touch. This exhibit also showcases a three pound preserved brain and a “brain lounge” where you and your children can witness reactions of the brain when it’s motivated by action or noises.

      Get Your Day in the Park

      Sun and fun - it’s what the doctor ordered whenever you're in Miami. The city is overflowing with beachy parks for you and your family to enjoy. The largest urban park in Florida, Oleta River State Park is located on Biscayne Bay and encompasses over 1,000 acres in the middle of North Miami. The park is best known for miles of off-road bicycling trails, ranging from novice trails to challenging trails for experienced bicyclists.

      You and your family can also canoe and kayak down the river, exploring its amazing natural beauty. There’s a nice size swimming area during the day, and convenient picnic tables and grilling areas to follow a refreshing swim. One large picnic pavilion and eight medium pavilions can be rented for a fee. The large picnic pavilion, White Ibis, has electricity in case you’re interested in having a birthday party or event.

      Other than kayaks and canoes, you can rent bicycles from BG Oleta River Outdoor Center. For overnight visits, the park has rustic, air-conditioned cabins and a youth campground for organized groups. Cabins can be reserved through ReserveAmerica or on a walk-in basis.

      The Everglades National Park is the United State’s largest subtropical wilderness. There’s an entire natural world to discover here. Children, as well as parents, will be lost in awe as they discover the beauty, excitement and wonder the everglades has to offer. The winter dry season is the best time for wildlife viewing in the park. Weather conditions are largely lovely during the winter and standing water levels are low, causing wildlife to congregate at central water locations. Shark Valley is good for viewing crocodiles, alligators, all sorts of birds, and other freshwater wildlife. Have your cameras ready!

      Enjoy an airboat ride or rent a bike and cycle along the trails. Take a guided two-hour narrated tram tour along a fifteen-mile loop trail into the River of Grass. Tours depart from the Shark Valley Visitor Center located along U.S. Hwy 41/Tamiami Trail, 25 miles west of Miami. Reservations are strongly recommended from November through April when Everglades National Park is at its busiest. Miami’s looking forward to a great fall-winter season, take advantage of the city’s envied weather and take a road trip down to its beautiful everglades.

      Want a little history mixed in to your beach day? Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Beach is the home of a historic lighthouse built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846, and is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. Visitors come to the park from all over the world to sunbathe, swim and picnic on more than one mile of sandy Atlantic beachfront, currently ranked #7 on the list of "Top 10 Beaches in America" by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka 'Dr. Beach.'

      The entire family can enjoy biking, trail walking, paddle boarding, kayaking and fishing. Dad and the kids can throw in their lines from the seawall along Biscayne Bay for some of the best shoreline fishing in the region. Guided tours of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottage are given twice daily, Thursdays through Mondays. Although it’s a little bit of a hike up the 109 spiraling stairs, the view at the top is so well worth it.

      The water along the shoreline is shallow and calm, making it a great place for kids and you can easily rent beach chairs and umbrellas for some leisurely tanning time. Two restaurants, Lighthouse Café and Boater's Grill, offer authentic Cuban cuisine, or if you rather have a picnic, you can sit on one of the many picnic tables under a shady canopy or reserve a pavilion and fire up your own grill.

        Get Cultured

        The Miccosukee Indian Village is full of history, culture and excitement. You and your kids can expect to see Alligator wrestling, take an airboat ride along the River of Grass and discover a typical hammock-style Indian camp that has been owned by the same Miccosukee family for more than 100 years. The village also has a museum displaying traditional Native American artifacts and artwork. How about your very own Alligator Encounter?

        For an additional price, a Miccosukee tribal member will teach you how to properly touch and mount a large size Florida Alligator and get your picture taken with one of nature’s predators, perfect for your Facebook feed. Also, from December 26 – January 1, bring the whole family to enjoy the Miccosukee Indian Arts and Crafts Festival. Now in its fifth decade, the traditional event brings together the South Florida community with the First Nations and Aboriginal members of North America.

        The week-long event threads together the native American community and its cultural authentic foods such as Miccosukee famous fry bread, pumpkin bread, Everglades frog legs, gator tips, catfish, as well as standard American cuisine. Featured artists will include the Great Plains Dance Company, Joe Tohonnie Jr. and the White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers, Sky Iroquois Smoke Dancers and the Lightning Boy Hoop Dancers along with traditions from other tribes.

          More About Miami Attractions


          {{item.title | limitTo: 55}}{{item.title.length > 55 ? '...' : ''}}

          {{item.description | limitTo: 160}}{{item.description.length > 160 ? '...' : ''}}

          {{ctrl.swiper.activeIndex + 1}} / {{ctrl.swiper.slides.length}}

          Things To Do Nearby

          Choose a category