At times, Miami may not seem like the friendliest city for children. Given our reputation for Brazilian bikinis, drunken debauchery and EDM, it’s no wonder some parents (and bewildered aunts and uncles) are clueless about how to occupy their kiddos.
Luckily, Miami is a complex metropolis. There are actually lots of amazing places for mini-mes to let loose, from Zoo Miami to Grapeland Water Park. Here are ten of our favorites.
This world-famous, 740-acre zoological outpost is home to lions, rhinos, elephants, zebras and all kinds of other species—most of which Miami children have probably never seen IRL. Plus, Zoo Miami is all about conservation efforts, so little ones will learn about the importance of preserving the endangered animals of the world. From animal exhibits to feeding stations to shows to camel rides, there’s an endless supply of activities guaranteed to tire children out.
Zoo Miami is located at 12400 SW 152 St., Miami. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekends. Admission is $17.95 for adults (13 and over), $13.95 for children (3 to 12) and free for children two and under. Visit zoomiami.org.
Hallelujah, a place where kids are allowed, nay, encourage to touch everything. Made specifically for curious little minds, this playful place is packed with exhibits, from the castle of dreams, where kids can see sand from around the world; to pet central, where they can learn all about how to care for Fido and Spot; to Meet Miami, where they can explore the city’s diverse cultures. They even have pirate island, where Jack Sparrow dreams can come to life.
The Miami Children’s Museum is located at 980 MacArthur Causeway, Miami. It’s open daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $18, $14 for Florida residents and free for children under one year. Visit miamichildrensmuseum.org.
What’s the point of living in a tropical paradise if all kids get to see are high-rises and neon-hued Bugattis? This unique theme park features over 300 gorgeous birds, plus rare twin orangutans, unusual flora and 1.35 miles of trails to explore. Your budding botanist will love it.
Jungle Island is located at 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $34.95 for adults and $26.95 for children. Visit jungleisland.com.
Trampolines aren’t just for backyards anymore. At Sky Zone, kids can somersault, hop and vault all their excess energy out on a sea of bouncy surfaces. And it’s not just jumping up and down, there are lots of activity options involved: Open Jump, SkySlam, Foam Zone and Ultimate Dodgeball. What kid (or, ahem, adult) wouldn’t love an afternoon of that?
Sky Zone is located at 5450 NW 82nd Ave., Doral. It’s open from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 to 11:30 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $10 for a 30-minute jump, $14 for a 60-minute jump, $18 for a 90-minute jump and $21, for a 120-minute jump, with prices varying for different activities and special events. Visit skyzone.com/miami.
Everglades National Park
The Everglades is nation's the largest subtropical wilderness and an inarguable jewel in the world's ecological crown. Without the Everglades, we wouldn't exist, so that's a pretty big incentive to protect it — and show the younger generation how amazing it is. Kids will love the gators, giant grasshoppers, ospreys and countless other kinds of creatures that call the Everglades home. With hiking trails, campgrounds, visitor center displays, bike paths and plenty of other on-site options, it's impossible to be anything but intrigued by this natural wonderland — whether you're 9 or 90.
Everglades National Park is located at 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead. It’s open 24 hours a day, but the Homestead park entrance is unmanned after 6 p.m. Admission is $10 per vehicle, $5 for pedestrians and cyclists. Visit nps.gov/ever.
We don't see enough of the stars, particularly when living in a big city. But at the Miami Museum of Science, the planetarium is the place to see the heaven's shining jewels, from Orion to Cassiopeia to Mars. Not long for this world in its current location, the museum is slated to open its new digs in 2016. In the meantime, the current planetarium is home to a classic, 49-year-old star projector that'll go into retirement once the museum moves. It's worth stopping by before then if just to give the kids a taste of what life was like before the digital age.
Miami Museum of Science is located at 3280 S. Miami Ave., Miami. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $14.95 for adults, $10.95 for seniors 62+, $10.95 for students with ID and children 3-12 and free for children under 2. Prices are lower for Dade county residents and members. Visit miamisci.org.
Every kid loves a primate (which makes sense, since they are our ancestors). This wildlife park has a whopping 400 ... roaming free on 30 acres of land. Kids can get acquainated with gibbons, guenons, spider monkeys and the famous gorilla, King. They can watch monkeys swim, see orangutans swing and even get a glimpse at parrots and other feathered friends.
Monkey Jungle is located at 14805 SW 216th St., Cutler Bay. It’s open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $29.95 for adults, $23.95 for children 3-9, $27.95 for seniors 65+ and free for children under 3. Visit monkeyjungle.com.
From the shallow waters of Shipwreck Island to the lazy Buccaneer River Ride, the park is chock full of pools, slides and splash zones. In a sweltering city like ours, a water park is the best way to spend a spring or summer day, hands down.
Grapeland Water Park is located at 1550 NW 37th Ave., Miami. It’s open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Hours are extended for spring break and summer. Admission is $15 for non Miami-Dade residents 14+, $12 for Miami-Dade residents 14+, $7 for kids 2-13 and free for one year and under. Visit miamigov.com/grapeland.
When kids are forced to read about history out of a dry, decades-old textbook, it's no wonder they hate anything that happened before 2002. But make history come alive and kids will clamor to (gasp) LEARN. At History Miami, there are all kinds of ways to engage kids in the old days, including family fun days and even overnight camp-ins. They even offer walking tours and bike tours (if you really want to tire the little ones out).
HistoryMiami is located at 101 W. Flagler St., Miami. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students with ID, $5 for children 6 to 12 and free for children 6 and under. Visit hisstorymiami.org.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center
Tucked away from the madness that often ensues at Crandon Park, the nature center is an oasis. There are a whole host of activities and adventures for kids to get into, from seagrass adventures to hammock hikes to the Junior Naturalist Earth Keepers Club, where mini adults can immerse themselves in nature (and even dissect dead things).
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center is located in Crandon Park at 6767 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission and parking at Crandon Park is $7 on weekends. There are separate fees for some of the nature center's activities. Visit biscaynenaturecenter.org.
The rink formerly known as Hot Wheels has a long and storied history for native Miamians. Not much has changed at the spot since its 90s-era glory (other than the prices at the snack bar). The ultimate throwback for adults, kids will get a kick out of something so low-tech. And who doesn't love strobe lights?!
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Super Wheels is located at 12265 SW112th St., Miami. It’s open daily, but hours vary. Admission varies from $7 to $12 (plus skate rental) based on day and time. Visit superwheelsmiami.com.
Ice skating in Miami: yes, this is a thing. Kendall Ice Arena is (at the moment) the only spot in the city where you can wear hats and gloves and not look like a total moron. During certain hours, the rink is open to kids and adults alike, and it's a serious break from the typical Miami lineup of activities. Kids will love the Zamboni, the skates and the novelty of cold temperatures.
The Kendall Ice Arena is located at 10355 Hammocks Blvd., Miami. It’s open daily, but hours vary. Admission varies from $8 to $11 (plus skate rental) based on day and time. Visit kendallicearena.com.