When you think of Miami Beach, it might conjure thoughts of tiny bikinis on bronzed bodies at South Beach or the saucy and colorful nightlife along Ocean Drive. But, Miami Beach is so much more. As a parent, taking the kids on a Miami Beach vacation will unlock an entirely new side of the famous destination. From parks to interact with nature, to beaches that thrill all ages – there are activities for every personality type. Combined with plenty of roomy vacation homes to choose from, Miami Beach is a vacation mecca for families.
Oleta River State Park
Head up to North Miami Beach for this kid-friendly beach. Biscayne Bay offers up a safe swimming option, as the waters here are pretty calm. As well, there are picnic tables, trails, outdoor showers, and food and drink vendors on site.
Take the ferry here from Miami Beach and grab a bite to eat. Though the island resorts are quite fancy, it’s not inexpensive to go for a daytime visit. Your little ones may enjoy the ferry ride over more than the destination itself.
Miami Beach Botanical Garden
This 2.6-acre natural attraction is perfect for parents and their kids alike. Tour these mini wetlands, complete with mangrove trees, orchids, and unique wildlife. Occasionally, the garden hosts family and kid-friendly events, so find out if there’s anything going on while you’re staying in Miami Beach.
Pack a picnic and spend a day at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne. The beach is smooth and level, and the gentle, wave-free water is ideal for little ones. At low tide young kids can tread through shallow water to the sand bar, while older kids like to venture out beyond for deeper thrills. For a family stroll, wander down the promenade to Crandon Family Amusement Center. Older kids can rollerblade along the way, and younger ones can ride the carousel, frolic in the fountain, or track the harmless iguanas that scurry about.
Eco Adventures: Sea Turtle Awareness Program
Nesting sea turtles are part of the Endangered Sea Turtle Protection and Relocation Program, and nesting areas of Miami’s beaches are protected. Eco Adventures (in Key Biscayne) offers a guided beach walk to teach kids and parents all about Loggerhead sea turtles and how they nest. They also offer tickets to see hatchlings released during the months of July through early September. Make reservations early because they sell out quickly. Young kids can associate these little guys with Squirt, the Loggerhead baby in Finding Nemo.
Jungle Island is what to do in Miami Beach with kids who love animals. Wander through rainforests with tranquil streams and cascading waterfalls, or meet a 40-pound lizard named Godzilla. Kid favorites include a bike-riding cockatoo and a cassowary that can swallow an apple whole. At Manu Encounter, kids can roam free with parrots, macaws, and squirrel monkeys.
Hollywood Beach Boardwalk
Rent bikes and take a family ride along Hollywood’s boardwalk. Along the way, pick up a few yummy tacos for lunch at Taco Beach Shack. Snag a table on the boardwalk, and do some people watching while you eat. Set older kids loose with friends; the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk is a perfect place for teens and preteens to rollerblade and skateboard.
Miami Children’s Museum and Cruise Ships
If you’re wondering what to do in Miami Beach with kids on a rainy day, spend it at the Miami Children’s Museum. With the focus on the cultural, technological, artistic, and natural, it’s all about having fun. Floss giant teeth in the dental room, or record your own song in the sound studio, and, in the spirit of Miami, let the younger kids honk a Carnival cruise-ship horn. Outside the museum, take a walk down to the waterfront to get the best view in Miami of real cruise ships traveling to and from the city’s busiest port.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Take a trip through old Florida as you climb the winding stairs at the Cape Florida Lighthouse, and tour the historic light keeper’s house. While there, the kids can soak up Florida history as they learn the story behind the lighthouse. The little ones can also try their hand at saltwater fishing off the seawall. But for the youngest kids, serene waters provide safe ocean play at the beaches. After an exhilarating day on the sand, take the family for a scrumptious wood fired pizza at Puntino Pizzaria.
Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park
Explore the lush, green landscape and huge banyan trees at Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park. Take a family walk along the nature trail, and stand on the lake bridge where kids can marvel as turtles swim below. Horse rides are also available, and the little ones can ride and feed ponies. If all that isn’t enough, there are two exciting playgrounds to burn off the boundless energy of youth. Book a family-friendly Miami vacation home and you’ll have plenty to do indoors, too.
At the longest running oceanarium in the country, comical sea lions will compete for your family’s attention at the Golden Dome Sea Lion show. After the show, get up close to the see lions at the feeder pool. Don’t miss Lolita the killer whale at the Killer Whale and Dolphin show. Lolita’s a splasher, so prepare the kids to get a little wet. Be sure to see the Nile crocodiles too. At Crocodile Flats, you may also run into tropical birds, sharks, and manatees. Vacation rentals in Brickell provide easy access.
This is the ideal place for kids to take in the scenery as grand boats travel by on their way to Millionaire’s Row. To get on the water, take a family boat tour past the glamorous celebrity homes on Star Island. For something more down to earth, explore artifacts of natural stone and fossils at Art by God. For something different, watch your kids eyes brighten as they browse the glow-in-the-dark merchandise at Glow Star.
Gathering Sea Shells and Sea Glass
The Atlantic offers up a lot of shell pieces, but if you hit the beach early in the morning you can find a few gems among the slag. Look for a variety of whole shells, sharks’ teeth, mollusks, and sand dollars. Search for rare finds of sea glass, glass that’s been weathered into smooth stones. They are found in a variety of colors, blue, turquoise, red, brown, or clear. After a morning walk in Miami Beach, the kids can start their own collection.