When I say Miami, do you think “adult vacation?” It’s time to change your mind! There are so many fantastic
Below you’ll find the top things for kids…plus our favorite places that work for adults but are also kid-friendly (because that’s the way we prefer to travel)….and then several restaurants that will make mom and dad just as happy as the kiddos!
What is your favorite family adventure in Miami?? Did we miss it? Let us know! And don’t miss our post about FREE things to do in South Florida’s capital.
Miami’s Top Adventures for Kids
Zoo Miami is the largest and oldest zoo park in Florida! In addition to a special Everglades animal exhibit (with a river ride!), you’ll find species from Africa, Australia and Asia. Get a lay of the land by starting with the monorail ride around the park, and be sure to finish at the Critter Connection petting zoo.
When you start to feel the heat, head for the water park…just be sure to watch the clock for scheduled animal feedings and events throughout the zoo. We love the giraffe feedings!
Speaking of feeding…when it’s time to feed your own kiddos, there is food at one of 4 restaurants inside Zoo Miami, including a newly opened indoor seating cafe in the Everglades area of the park.
Miami Children’s Museum
56,000 square feet of awesome-ness for kiddos can be found at the Miami Children’s Museum. It has received myriad accolades from Best Museum in Miami to Best Children’s Museum.
There are far too many exhibits for us to mention here, but favorites include the “Health and Wellness Center” where toddlers can measure their long jump and explore an obstacle course. On weekends, kids can climb the Mt MiChiMi rock wall! And finally, the Sketch Aquarium – first launched in the US right here in Miami, kids will love “drawing” in the digitized underwater world.
Frost Museum of Science
If STEM is on your agenda, then make time for the Frost Museum of Science. This truly is a world-class science museum, with six floors of interactive exhibits, plus a 250-seat planetarium and 3-level aquarium!
Exhibits in the North and West Wings include an immersive laser show, an Everglades exhibit, and a biology exhibit. And did we mention the roof? You’ll find a lunar terrace for stargazing and a solar terrace with a city-farming exhibit. And we haven’t even scratched the surface!
Once a rock quarry, this area of Coral Gables was refurbished into a spring-fed pool in 1924. It is open to the public for a fee, and on a hot day, it is worth the price of admission! In fact, the Venetian Pool is the only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places. Cool, right?
As I said, it is spring-fed…so the water is cold. We visited in late Spring and it was packed, and my boys could only stay in a few moments at a time because of the temps. No worries – they played in the man-made beach area and noshed on treats from the cafe.
There is a small area that is relatively shallow (the foreground in the photo above) that is ideal for younger kiddos…but older kids will love swimming out to the waterfall. Lifeguards are on duty!
The Miami Seaquarium is a 38-acre oceanarium near downtown Miami, and is the oldest oceanarium in the US. You can watch a show, swim with dolphins, see a number of exhibits, and more.
Part zoo, part theme park…the kids will have a blast at Jungle Island, especially with the wide variety of “play” available. Soar in the rock climbing and zip-lining area, feed the animals in the petting zoo or play with the kangaroos. Watch the animal shows, and even get up close and personal with lemurs and sloths!
Everglades Safari Park
An airboat ride through the Everglades is a MUST, and Everglades Safari Park is where you need to make it happen. You can see an alligator show, and even hold a baby alligator and get a photo. You can even TRY alligator bites! (Hint: Tastes like chicken!)
The airboat ride is about 45 minutes; you have a chance to see wild alligators but remember that they will likely be hiding in the warmer months. This is the best airboat alligator experience you’ll find in the Miami area.
We took the boys to a number of playground parks when we visited, and this was our favorite. Parking was easy (get the parking app) and we loved that it was right on the water. Mom and dad watched the million dollar yachts coming in and out, while the boys played on the playground.
There is a cool slide between the parking and the playground. It looks like a piece of art, but it’s a spiral slide for kids! We also appreciated the shade trees, and loved hanging with local families.
This park is MUCH larger than just the playground area – there are concerts here, yoga in the park, weddings and more! Oh – and in the Intercontinental Hotel next to the playground, there is a restroom next to a Starbucks. You’re welcome.
Crandon Park sits on the northern end of Key Biscayne, and it is an exceptionally family-friendly beach destination! It’s about 2 miles long, and is consistently named one of the best beaches in the nation. You’ll find concessions, restrooms, and plenty of picnic spaces.
Crandon Park is known for it’s beach, but there is also a golf course (a former PGA Senior Tour stop), and a nature center.
Best Spots to Make Everyone Happy
Little Havana Food & Cultural Tour
This was my favorite part of our entire 18-day Florida road trip. I love love love this tour, and I highly recommend it. If you are in Miami for just a half-day or for a full week, TAKE THIS TOUR.
Does it work for kids? YES! Allow me to be honest for a moment…my kids hate walking, and they are not adventurous eaters…and they enjoyed this tour as well. Another perk? There is a kid-priced ticket…pretty rare! And if they are not eating, they are free. We bought one kid-priced ticket and they shared the bites…this worked well because they are not big eaters and the bites were enormous.
You can see their website for all the tastings…the kids’ favorite was at the fruit stand shown above, Los Pinarenos Fruteria. We tried a Cuban drink called guarapo. It is made from “juicing” sugar cane…just add ice! They loved seeing the juicing machine, and savoring this amazing drink.
There are also Cuban sandwiches, ice cream…and when we stopped for an authentic mojito, they had non-alcoholic mocktails waiting for the boys!
Robert is Here
This fruit stand specializes in rare and exotic fruits (though you’ll find your traditional favorites here too!) We tried Guanabana for the first time and LOVED it — it tastes like pineapple cotton candy (and it is said to be a cancer fighter!)
The boys picked out mangos, baby bananas, miracle fruit (so much fun!) and a coconut of course! They drilled a hole so we could drink the juice, and then they cracked it open for us.
The big draw to Robert is Here are the smoothies and milkshakes….you’ll stand in line, but it is worth it. All it is is fruit and ice (smoothie) or fruit and mile (milkshake.) They also have guarapo!
Bill Baggs Cape State Park
The lighthouse was closed for tours when we visited, but we enjoyed exploring the lightkeeper’s house and taking photos of the outside of the lighthouse. Weekends offer hours for climbing, so plan your visit better than we did. ha.
We like Bill Baggs Cape is because, even though it was Spring Break in Miami during our visit (ie large crowds) there were very few people here.
It is easy to enjoy the 1.5 mile stretch of beach. Dr Beach (who named Bahia Honda State Park a top beach) also named this beach one of the best in the US. There is a reef off shore, so the waves are tame, making it ideal for kiddos. You can also rent a bike (they have quad bikes!), an ocean kayak or a hydro bike.
South Pointe Park
At the southern-most point in Miami Beach is South Pointe Park, which is where you need to be for sunset! The views are spectacular, and the vibe is much more laid back than you’ll find off Ocean Blvd.
Go well before the sun sets, though, because there is much to do. There are cute seating areas, a playground and splash ground for the kids, a pier for viewing the ocean and skyline, and of course….the beach!
The locals gather here to walk, jog, and hang out. We also enjoyed “sightseeing” near Smith and Wollensky, the upscale steakhouse at the park. It was a little too fancy for a stop with our kids, but the boys enjoyed playing Frisbee nearby so we could see the cars pulling up…so many Corvettes, Lamborghinis, Porsches….even a Rolls Royce.
We also did a photo shoot with Flytographer while we were here, which was a great way to remember our vacation. We’ve done this at a few fun destinations before, but especially loved the backdrop here! Use my link here to get $25 off your shoot, if you want to try it!
If you want to escape the city, head to Pinecrest Gardens, which is essentially a tropical rainforest in the middle of Miami. It’s a popular place for locals to bring the kids because it is quiet and clean, with a friendly staff and affordable prices….and plenty of shade.
Kids will adore the petting zoo, splashground, and playground. You can feed the Koi, or take on a game of dominoes or oversized Chess. It’s also fun for a Friday night, where you can take a Flashlight Tour (BYOFlashlight) and end the evening with a movie among the trees.
Miami’s Wynwood Art District will blow your artistic mind, with murals from artists around the world. It was started in 2009, when the late Tony Goldman saw an opportunity to reform the appearance of the Warehouse District’s large concrete walls (with no windows.)
Since its inception, the Wynwood Walls program has seen over 50 artists representing 16 countries and have covered over 80,000 square feet of walls!
There are a number of tour opportunities here…walking tours, biking tours, early access tours….but with kids, we preferred to go at our own pace and I’m glad we did. The boys loved it, and had a ton of questions…I recommend downloading the app before you go, so you can learn about each artist.
Finally, three more pieces of advice: Go early so you can take your selfies and photos with a smaller crowd and without baking in the sun; prepare to stay longer than you plan, because it is breathtaking and there is so much to see; and cool off with an icee from a street vendor for the kids and a delicious (best in Miami??) nitrogen cold brew from Panther Coffee…right near the Walls.
PS – If you want a guided tour with the kids, we recommend this one. It’s affordable and only an hour.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
James Deering was an industrialist and antique collector from Paris that built a grand home just outside Miami, which is now the Vizcaya Museum.
Are young kids going to LOVE this place? Probably not…but it is great for older kids to get a glimpse of European architecture..and everyone is going to love the gardens on the water, and labyrinth. And on many Sundays they offer super family programs.
Skip the guided tour, and go at your own pace…and if the kids will allow, dress them in their cutest for photos…this is a popular photo spot for wedding and quinceanera…the backdrops are gorgeous.
Coral Castle Museum
The Coral Castle might appear uninteresting to those who don’t know the story…so be sure to share this tale of true love before visiting.
Latvian Edward Leedskalnin loved a woman 10 years his junior and was all set to marry her, when she cancelled the wedding the day prior. In a pledge to his love for her he set to building her a monument that is now Coral Castle.
This 5 ft, 100 lb man created the monument by himself, using hand carve tools only – 1,100 tons of coral rock! He started in 1923…and finished the sculptures by 1940, at which time he started building a wall around them. According to records, the coral walls weigh 125 pounds per cubic foot. Each section of wall is 8 feet tall, 4 feet wide, 3 feet thick, and weighs more than 5.8 tons!
Oleta River State Park
Dubbed Florida’s Largest Urban Park, Oleta River is about 30 min north of Miami. There are 15 miles of trails for biking, a beach, cabins and more. But the real draw here is the ability to kayak through the mangroves of the Oleta River…or tackle the Haulover Inlet that leads to Biscayne Bay.
If you’re a child of the Miami Vice era, then you can’t visit the city without taking a speed boat ride! The kids will love it, too.
Jet Boat Miami offers 30 min tours for “adrenaline junkies” — you will be going “pedal to the metal,” doing twists, turns, and getting SOAKED! Kids need to be 3yrs or older, and if you (or the kids) get sea sick or scared easily…opt for their yacht experience instead.
Splurge on the Bahamas
Bimini, the nearest island to the US, is about a 2-hour catamaran ride away. You spend about 6 hours on the island, with plenty of time to relax on the beach, take in some water sports or try the local restaurants. You can rent a golf cart to get you around the island easily. In the late afternoon the ferry will take you back to Florida.
Bimini is known for white sand and fresh, mineral-rich pools. Ernest Hemmingway even wrote To Have and Have Not on the island during his fishing breaks.
You have the option of adding a day pass at the Hilton Resort on the island, which we recommend if you have kids. It just makes life easier. In fact, you can even stay overnight here and catch the ferry back the next day.
Eats Adults and Kids Will Adore
My Atlanta friends will find that The Wharf is a lot like The Roof of Ponce City Market…only on the water! By night, it’s for the adults, but during the day it is family-friendly. There are lawn games like cornhole and ping pong, live music, rotating food trucks, a bevy of yachts pulling in, and so much fun. If you want a more formal lunch, try the seafood at Garcia’s. And yes, Fido is welcome.
What started as an award-winning food truck now has a permanent home in Coral Gables. And what kid doesn’t love a grilled cheese?? There are dozens of options to choose from at Ms. Cheezious that will also make mom and dad happy – like the Frito Pie melt, or the Italian. Save room though, you MUST get the S’Mores Sandwich for dessert!
Lolo’s Surf Cantina
Lolo’s is right across from Miami Beach, so make it a treat when you are visiting there…just get an outside table. After the kids down their tacos, try the Corn Cake with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream for dessert — divine. Then send them over to the playground at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Park, where you can watch them play while you order a margarita. Tuesday’s come with 1/2 price tacos!
Ricky’s South Beach
We didn’t visit Ricky’s ourselves, but this tip came from the Miami Herald…bring the kids for dinner, 5pm – 10pm because it’s happy hour and drinks for the parents are 1/2 price…and they each come with two arcade tokens, which means the kids will be busy on the vintage arcade games. Pizza is on the menu, which means everyone is happy.
Biscayne Bay Brewing Company
Searching for a local craft beer? Head to Biscayne Bay Brewing Company where you can get a flight and a bite – and both are delicious. It’s not easy to find, but don’t give up.
Stake out the room to the right as you enter; there are games for the kids like Kenya and dominos..and also awesome? Noon – 3pm on Saturday, the kids eat free…pizza, grilled cheese or chicken fingers. Yay!
Yes, it’s a candy store…but you can also eat at Sugar Factory! There are all the staples kids enjoy, and the Chinese Chicken Salad works for the adults. The milkshakes are over the top here — there is even a Bacon Cheeseburger Milkshake! Whoa!
Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor
There are a plethora of food options here, but Food Network and GMA didn’t come for the 2 dozen varieties of wraps and hotdogs…the star is the ice cream! People have been coming to Jaxson’s since 1957 for excellent ice cream.
Ice cream soda’s, parfaits, floats, and goblets…there is even a monstrosity called the Kitchen Sink! Try the Chocolate Suicide or a Turtle Sundae. For the boys? A Strawberry Split: Strawberries over three scoops of ice cream, topped with a cherry, plus an extra side car of whole strawberries.
They’re open really late, which makes for a fun late-night adventure when you’re on vacation.
Where to Stay
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Disclosure: Thank you to Miami-Dade for hosting our family. Opinions here are all our own. Some links may contain affiliates at no cost to you…but it helps us buy another cup of coffee to keep the blog going. 365 Atlanta Traveler is a Visit Florida Digital Marketing Program Partner.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.