For locals,summer in Miami
is slow going. The temperature rises, the tourist traffic trickles, and there's a whole lot less action to keep us aroused. As jaded locals, we're more likely to nurse our sorrows in air-conditioned comfort than get out and explore our city when the hordes have thinned out.
Still, with crowds of out-of-towners at a minimum, the summer is the only season this city is really ours. Perhaps now's the time to take to the streets and discover some of the attractions we might otherwise overlook. Here at Cultist, we've rounded up seven touristy outings that are worth sacrificing a summer afternoon to explore.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Why Tourists Love It: Kodak moments up the wazoo. There are few better places in the 305 to take 5,786 photos you'll never look at again than the picturesque grounds of this botanical wonderland.
Why Locals Love It: Annual memberships cost about as much as three visits, and it's the perfect place to be reminded that you live in a tropical paradise. Snag a spot on the perfectly manicured grass and read a book with birds, butterflies, and blooms in the background.
Fairchild is located at 10901 Old Cutler Rd. in Coral Gables. A day pass for adults is $25, $18 for seniors 65 and over, $12 for children 6 to 17, and free for children 5 and under. It's open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 305-667-1651 or visit fairchildgarden.org.
Everglades National Park
Why Tourists Love It: Where else can they live a real-life episode of Swamp People? Talk about a thrill ride for a Midwesterner.
Why Locals Love It: It's fun to play redneck every now and then. Try "slough-slogging," a little-known sport that basically entails trekking through Glades swampland on foot. Cheap and dirty -- just how we like it.
The park is located at 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead. Park entry is $10 per vehicle, with fees varying for different activities. Call 305-242-7700 or visit nps.gov/ever.
"Millionaire's Row" Cruise Aboard the Island Queen
Why Tourists Love It: What out-of-towner doesn't wanna ooh and ahh at the over-the-top (and often empty) mansions of the rich and famous? Half the reason they came to Miami is a chance to glimpse J.Lo sunbathing sans swimsuit.
Why Locals Love It: It's a boat. You can buy booze. Need we say more?
The cruises depart daily almost every hour from Bayside Marketplace at 401 Biscayne Blvd. in downtown Miami. Adults ride for $27, children 4-12 for $19, and under 3 are free. Call 305-379-5119 or visit islandqueencruises.com.
Drag Dinner at the Palace
Why Tourists Love It: It's on Ocean Drive. It's loud, it's proud, and tourists seem to love being a bit embarrassed. What better way to get red-faced than by flirting with a six-foot-two Liza Minnelli?
Why Locals Love It: It's absurdly entertaining. And Miami chicks can pick up some serious style tips from these dudes.
The Palace is at 1200 Ocean Dr. in Miami Beach. They host nightly events with varying ticket prices, but the new Tuesday-night "Dancing With the Stars" dinners are a steal at $19.95 per person. They start at 8 p.m. Call 305-531-7234 or visit palacesouthbeach.com.
Sunday Pool Party at the Shore Club
Why Tourists Love It: There's nothing sexier than the Miami Beach poolside scene. Infinity pools, rum cocktails, and barely-there bikinis are great fodder for weaving tales of vacation debauchery for the folks at home.
Why Locals Love It: Pool parties are one of the sweet perks of living in a tropical climate. Local or not, a poolside cocktail is everyman's dream escape.
The Shore Club is at 1901 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach. Sunday pool parties kick off every week at 11 a.m. You can generally find an online guest list where you can RSVP for free, but sometimes there's a cover charge depending upon events. Call 305-695-3100 or visit shoreclub.com.
Kayaking at Oleta River State Park
Why Tourists Love It: Cheap recreational activities, cabins by the bay, and family-friendly fun make Oleta a prime place for outdoorsy out-of-towners.
Why Locals Love It: Besides supercheap rates for cabin stays, killer mountain-biking trails, and watersports galore, Oleta's acres of wilderness make you feel like you've left the city far behind. The best part: Civilization is still just minutes away.
Oleta River State Park is at 3400 NE 163rd St. in North Miami Beach and is open from 8 a.m. to sundown every day. Admission is $6 per vehicle, with fees lower for pedestrians and motorcycles. Kayaks and canoes are available for rental. Call 305-919-1846 or visit floridastateparks.org.
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Spring-Fed Swimming at Venetian Pool
Why Tourists Love It: A breathtaking spectacle of coral, this born-again quarry is ripe for photo ops and back-home braggadocio. Visitors can get their sunburn on while exploring underwater caves, grottoes, and rushing waterfalls.
Why Locals Love It: When Miamians grow tired of the South Beach scene, this 85-year-old monument to neoclassical charm is an oasis away from chlorine, seaweed, and noise pollution. Plus these bathrooms have toilet paper. Score.
The pool is located at 2701 De Soto Blvd. in Coral Gables. It's open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission for ages 13+ is $5 for Coral Gables residents and $11 for nonresidents. Entrance for children is cheaper. Call 305-460-5306 or visit coralgables.com.