Miami doesn't have the most family-friendly reputation, but parents know there's plenty of fun to be had here in Vice City. Beyond the wild club nights and fancy cultural events, South Florida is home to a world of activities designed to keep kids and their caregivers entertained. Here's what's coming up this month.
The NightGarden. Following sell-out nights throughout the holidays, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's popular exhibit the NightGarden extended its stay through this Friday, January 11. If you haven't taken the kids to meet the fairies and talking tree yet, your time is running out. It suffices to say your friends' Instagram pics aren't doing this spectacle justice. 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday through January 11 at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables; 305-667-1651; fairchildgarden.org. Tickets cost $20 to $28 via thenightgarden.com.
Bark-Off 2019. If you've ever wanted to take your dog to the movies with the rest of the family, here's a chance. Bark-Off 2019 at the New World Center will show top flicks from the 2018 Canine Film Festival as well as previews of coming attractions at this year's fest (happening in July in Coconut Grove). At 7 p.m., there will be a fashion parade with adorably clad dogs; at 8 p.m., movie showings will begin outside on the 7,000-square-foot wall. 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, January 12, at New World Center, 500 17th St., Miami Beach; nws.edu/new-world-center. Admission is free; register via eventbrite.com for a complimentary goody bag for your dog.
Big Toy Extravaganza. Chances are your kids have gone through a "big trucks" phase. Maybe they're in the middle of one right now. If that's the case, head to Coral Gables this Saturday, where the owners of supersize cars, trucks, and other machinery will open their doors to kids and show them around inside. There'll also be food trucks, rides, and face painting, but you know where the real action will be. The event bills itself as a petting zoo for vehicles, for chrissakes. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, January 12, at Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables; coralgables.com. Admission is free.
Matilda. The 1996 film starring a young Mara Wilson returns to the big screen at Coral Gables Art Cinema over two decades later, but its vibe is as current as ever. This is, after all, a story about a girl with a powerful mind who refuses to cave to societal pressure to be "normal" (AKA weak and obedient). Wilson has moved on to voice acting in series such as Bojack Horseman and Big Hero 6: The Series, but you and the kids can relive her child-acting glory days in this Danny DeVito-directed classic. 11 a.m. Saturday, January 12, and Sunday, January 13, at Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; gablescinema.com. Tickets cost $5.
Marvel Universe Live! The sequel to Avengers: Infinity War isn't due for release until April, but you and the kiddos don't have to spend those months in mourning for your favorite characters after Thanos' fateful snap. Instead, spend a couple of hours with the heroes live on the American Airlines Arena stage. Marvel Universe Live! brings the gang together — more than 25 characters — on a mission to beat bad guys while performing stunts, acting out fights, and generally engaging in kid-friendly badassery. Thursday, January 17, through Monday, January 21, at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-777-1000; aaarena.com. Tickets cost $20 to $135 via ticketmaster.com.
Mini Healthy Monday. January is Healthy Kids Month at the Miami Children's Museum, and organizers will celebrate wellness in all its forms at its annual Mini Monday. All day, kids at MiChiMu can bend and stretch in a yoga class, sample healthful smoothies in a pretend kitchen, and participate in health-focused music, story time, and other activities. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, January 14, at Miami Children's Museum, 980 MacArthur Cswy., Miami; 305-373-KIDS; miamichildrensmuseum.org. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for Florida residents, and free for members and kids under 1.
Kids Night at the Museum. It's like that Ben Stiller movie but with more art, more kids, and a hell of a lot safer. Young at Art's monthly Kids Night at the Museum lets children explore its various artful play areas in their jammies till 11 p.m., complete with games, a movie, art activities, and other sleepover-
Free Family Fest. Zydeco music was practically designed with kids in mind, from its upbeat, colorful melodies to the fact that its name is so much fun to say. So kids will definitely boogie down at the Arsht's free family fest this month when Creole for Kidz! and the History of Zydeco bring their musical stylings to the stage. Grammy-winning musician Terrance Simien will also perform. 1:30 p.m. Saturday, January 19, at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; arshtcenter.org. Admission is free.
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Chocolate Festival. What's childhood without a sugar rush every once in a while? That's definitely on the menu at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden when it hosts its annual Chocolate Festival. There'll be games, crafts, live music, and even a "Chocowalk" where kids can learn the origins of their favorite sweet treat. Not that they'll pay attention to any of that when there's so much chocolate around them. Friday, January 25, through Sunday, January 27, at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables; 305-667-1651; fairchildgarden.org. Tickets cost $25.
Young Entrepreneurs Day. Many parents dream of the day their children will grow old enough to take care of them. Few expect their kids to accomplish that feat in their teens. But bring your budding entrepreneur to the Wynwood Yard to show off her business chops, and who knows what could happen? Young Entrepreneurs Day kick-starts kids' enterprising ideas through demonstrations, workshops, information booths, readings, and other fun.