Miami Isn’t Just for Spring Breakers
When people think of Miami, what usually comes to mind first are South Beach, bars, partying, Tattoo Parlors, and anorexic females in thongs. While it is true that you can find all of those things, they are not at all what Miami is really about. No, Miami, Florida is an excellent vacation spot for families.
Orlando may have the overpriced amusement parks, but Miami has the reasonable hotel rates, awesome weather year round, and a myriad of tourist attractions which will thrill both you and your children. There is enough here to keep your entire family entertained for months.
The Miami Seaquarium in the Port gives Sea-world a run for its money. Plan to spend the entire day here. Along with the great children’s play area you will find tons of aquatic life to watch and snap pictures of. The shows are spectacular as well. You will get wet if you sit in the front row of the bleachers at the Whale show, but that can be a big plus on a hot southern Florida day. Oooh and Aaaaw at the Dolphin show, where you will see amazing tricks. If you have a pocket full of money to spare, you can even arrange to swim with the dolphins after one of the shows. They have food and souvenirs available, but if you want to save a bit of cash then do bring a picnic lunch. there are plenty of pleasant grassy areas to rest and rejuvenate.
Right across the bridge from the Seaquarium you will find Parrot Island. This will keep you amused for anywhere from half a day to a full day, depending on your pace. This attraction is not just all about parrots, though. They do have some amazing birds that you can feed and interact with, but there is a whole lot more also. This is one of the few places in the world where you can see a real Liger; a cross between a tiger and a lion. Very cool, that. You can also hold a huge Python at the snake show, or get your photo taken with any number of baby animals at the Wildlife show. Those photos they sell are way too much money though, so do bring your own camera. The island has a great restaurant along with food kiosks, and a huge wonderful gift shop.
If your family enjoys primates, head south a bit to Monkey Jungle: “Where humans are caged and the monkeys run wild.” This is a small place, but not overly expensive. The monkeys are indeed wild, and you walk along a mesh-enclosed path while they are frolicking above your head. You can purchase treats for them at the gift shop as you enter. The monkeys will drop little metal bowls down to you and then reel them back up once you fill them up. They have a huge Orangutan that likes to show off, and several very fun and informative shows during the day. Give this one about half a day to explore, and you should probably plan to eat elsewhere before or after your wandering.
Not too far from Monkey Jungle you will find Coral Castle. A very inexpensive marvel that really must be seen to be believed. Scientists still have not figured out exactly how this place was built, and by one small man no less. Make sure your camera batteries are charged for this one as there are amazing picture opportunities everywhere you look. You can wander at your leisure for as long as you like, or take a guided tour to get the full lowdown on the mysteries of the place. A good plan would be Coral Castle in the morning with a picnic on their vast, lush lawn and then over to Monkey Jungle for the afternoon.
As with any major city, the Miami Metro Zoo is a fairly large one. This is full-day trip, and very affordable as zoos go. The path is very smooth with lots of places to sit and rest if the need arises. Kiosks are readily available for refreshments and lunch. They have a decent assortment of wildlife from all over the world and the Zoo is maintained very well. They have fantastic hands-on learning center for the children. Who knows, it may teach you a thing or two also.
The one downside to the Miami area is the lack of public transportation options. You will have to rent a car for this trip, but it is well worth it. Do visit the beach for some sand and sun, but do not limit yourself to that. The weather in Miami is warm all year, so do pack plenty of sunblock and good comfortable walking shoes… above all else, have fun!