Best Place to Take the Kids 2021 | Zoo Miami | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo courtesy of Zoo Miami

Zoos are magical no matter your age. Zoo Miami is especially magical, as the 740-acre ecological park is said to be the largest and oldest one in Florida. It's home to elephants, zebras, rhinos, giraffes, jaguars, gorillas, flamingos, and tons of other species the kiddos likely have never seen before. And there's no shortage of activities to entertain the family for a whole day, from a playground to a water play area to animal feedings, bike rentals, tram tours, a wildlife carousel, and a gift shop where the kids will beg you to buy them a cute stuffed animal. Zoo Miami has implemented capacity restrictions and weekends are selling out, according to the zoo's website so consider buying tickets online ahead of time. Masks are required for guests visiting all the zoo's indoor facilities regardless of vaccination status and are recommended outdoors as well as inside. Visit the zoo's "Know Before You Visit" webpage for more information. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; final tickets are sold at 4 p.m.

The drag brunch at R House, held Saturdays and Sundays ($50 per person plus tax and tip) is hosted by the lively and talented Athena Dion. Some performers come and go sporadically, but many return weekend after weekend, forming relationships with their audience. As mimosa no. 1 sneakily becomes mimosa no. 7, Juicy Love Dion, Morphine Love, and other local drag stars perform to tracks by Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, Jennifer Lopez, and more, each with their own unique style, flair, and preferred playlist. If you go on your birthday, Athena Dion will invite you to run up front for a twerking contest with a cash prize. Book a reservation early via R House's phone or website to guarantee a table for you and your guests.

Finding a good place to drop in your kayak can be a hassle in the urban jungle that is Miami. Those Richie Rich types have gobbled up the prime real estate near our beautiful canals and waterways; even worse, they don't cotton to scruffy pirates tromping through their backyards. But just like water finding its way into Miami Beach during king tides, kayakers and paddleboarders have found a way. Near the corner of 71st Street and Bay Drive East is a strange, semi-deserted plot of vacant land that's the perfect spot to paddle around Normandy Isle. Or head a little to the north and moon Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump when they move into their new digs on Indian Creek. A few words of caution: The spot is a favorite of not-always-attentive folks — and their flying hooks — fishing nearby. On the plus side, the parking is relatively easy on the street.

Photo courtesy fo Synergy Yoga Center

Synergy Center offers some 50 yoga classes a week, including aerial, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha, Tantra and Yin yoga. But Synergy is also a place of holistic healing. Experienced professionals specialize in deep-tissue massage, reiki, acupuncture, reflexology, and chakra balancing. Open since 1997, Synergy focuses on healing the whole person, bringing them peace, and connecting them with a higher power. Yogis of all levels are welcome. The yoga center strives to give everyone a topnotch wellness experience, as well as the chance to feel content and free of worries. Studio director Victoria Brunacci says yoga has the power to help people rediscover who they truly are. At Synergy, that's more than true, thanks to the community of people who call the studio a home away from home. Perhaps the best part of this Miami Beach gem is the people — all the mindful souls who support you in reaching your goals and improving your well-being.

Every great city has its great parks and open spaces. Miami is home to a plethora of top-tier parks that offer vibrant greenery and a respite from the urban bustle. But when it comes to your jog, why not enhance the experience by availing yourself of the unique, ten-mile linear park that stretches all the way from Brickell to Dadeland? Welcome to the Underline, an outdoor park-in-progress that's revitalizing the space underneath the Metrorail. Begin your jog at the Miami River and slowly take in the first fully finished half-mile of the Underline as you head south. The path neatly marks a lane for pedestrians and another for cyclists. (It's important, folks, to share the road and the sidewalks!) Having sufficiently elevated your heart rate, follow the signs to the M-Path, which leads you all the way to the Dadeland South Metrorail station. As you chug along, consider that the train ride back to where you started will give your legs a well-deserved rest.

Old Cutler Trail is a popular spin for cyclists in search of a leisurely ride with a nice view and shade from the sun — and with good reason. Banyans and oaks form a tree tunnel of shade, giving cyclists an easy ride past the beautiful homes and mansions through neighborhoods of south Miami-Dade. The paved roadside trail begins in Coral Gables just south of the roundabout where SW 72nd Street and LeJeune Road, Cocoplum Road, and Old Cutler Road meet. Adding to its charm, Old Cutler Trail is often riddled with bumps and cracks formed by large tree roots. For extra fun, the path offers access to destinations such as Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Matheson Hammock Park, and the Deering Estate.

Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County

Launching near Larry and Penny Thompson Park, the nine-mile Black Creek Trail meanders southeast, offering a paved path away from busy roads. A tried-and-true Miami trail, Black Creek offers the observant trekker a variety of wildlife, helping cyclists and joggers to connect with nature and escape from the city bustle. Frequented by birds and punctuated by sunbathing iguanas, it cuts through Cutler Bay toward Homestead, parallel to a canal where you might spot an alligator or three wading about. Toward the end of the trail, keep an eye out for vultures circling above and the telltale stench of the South Dade Landfill. At the trail's eastern terminus at Black Point Park and Marina in Homestead, you might see manatees and crocodiles swimming along Biscayne Bay. Those in search of longer treks should note that the trail intersects with other notable Miami paths, including Old Cutler Trail and Biscayne Trail.

Though tennis was born as the "sport of kings," paupers are entitled to a place to work on their forehand. In a region littered with pay-to-play courts that require reservations, it's nice to know there are four free tennis courts at Polo Park where you can squeeze in some sets even if all you've got is a racquet and some balls. The well-maintained mid-Beach tennis facility operates on an egalitarian first come, first serve (see what we did there?) policy. If no one is waiting, play as long as you like. If a queue forms, singles players get an hour on the court while doubles players get an hour and a half. There are no lights here, so play is restricted to daylight hours. But with free courts and free parking, you'll be able to save up for lessons!

Drive past it on the way to North Beach and you may miss this off-the-beaten path park with three full basketball courts featuring perfect backboards to show off your Chef Curry skills. The park also has a lap pool for your starting five to cool off after a few pick-up games. If you can't find a spot in the lot for your car, there's plenty of street parking along the perimeter of the grounds. You can work on your crossover from dawn till dusk. Normandy Isle Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy of the GMCVB

As Miamians, we're spoiled when it comes to pools. But even the most diehard pool snob must raise their sunglasses and towel in salute to that jewel of Coral Gables, the Venetian Pool. Carved out nearly a century ago from of a local coral rock quarry and fed with spring water from an underground aquifer, the 820,000-gallon pool is a Miami treasure beyond compare. And thanks to those 820,000 gallons — not to mention a cave and a waterfall — the pool stays cooler than what most 305 natives are used to. The Venetian is open seven days a week in the summer months but closed on Mondays from Labor Day through May. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under. (Coral Gables residents get a handsome discount: only $6.25 for adults and $5.25 for kids.)

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®