Welcome to the Greater Miami Kids EventGuide. Ranking as a world-class multicultural crossroads for adult business and leisure pursuits, Greater Miami’s sun-kissed environs also pack plenty of punch for kids. Myriad attractions, activities and dining venues are geared to youngsters of all ages, providing sufficient year-around indoor / outdoor activity to keep accompanying adults entertained as well.
Relocated in 2003, the $47-million Jungle Island replaces Parrot Jungle and Gardens, South Florida’s circa 1936 tourism fixture. The new 18.6-acre entertainment destination near MacArthur Causeway wows youngsters with some 3,000 exotic animals, jungle trails, a petting farm and more. Kids can get face-to-beak with more than 200 parrots and macaws. Shows at the 1,200-seat Parrot Bowl star trained birds. A rare albino alligator and a 21-foot crocodile bunk in at the island’s Serpentarium, and Everglades Habitat recreates the “river of grass.” Lakeside Café is adjacent with indoor / outdoor seating overlooking Flamingo Lake. For kids, Jungle Island has a week-long Spring Ed-Venture and 10-week Summer Ed-Venture, (305) 400-7221. Admission discounts are on tap through participating Publix stores. Wild birthday parties are also hosted. (305)-2-JUNGLE.
At the Miami Children’s Museum, all ages are encouraged to play, learn, imagine and create together amid an atmosphere of galleries, hundreds of bilingual interactive exhibits, and a 200-seat auditorium. Camps for spring break and summer are scheduled, and group tours for pre-kindergarten up to grade 5 include School of Fish, All in a Day’s Work, and Arts by Numbers. (305) 373-KIDS
The Miami Science Museum & Planetarium in Coconut Grove captivates kids with more than 140 hands-on exhibits probing mysteries of the universe. Robotic dinosaurs and collections of rare natural history specimens provide informative fun. The Wildlife Center has some 175 live reptiles, Space Transit Planetarium features laser shows, Cyber City explores the future of computers. The multimedia mini-lecture Moon (And Stars) Over Miami is offered daily. (305) 646-4200
The Lowe Art Museum, officially designated by the state as a major cultural institution, features Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities. The Lowe has Kids' Days and other family programs, and studio art classes are conducted year-around for ages 5 to 12. (305) 284–3603
With more than 40 pieces of railroad equipment including diesel and steam locomotives, Miami’s Gold Coast Railroad Museum, next door to Zoo Miami, can intrigue youngsters charmed by visions of a choo-choo. Here they can see the Ferdinand Magellan (the private car built for President Franklin Roosevelt), the Florida East Coast Railway locomotive 153 (the engine that pulled the rescue train out of Marathon after the 1935 hurricane), and more. Every week, pre-school kids enjoy Fun with Food Fridays where a different food is thoroughly explored and followed with a train ride. (786) 217-8780
Wings Over Miami Military and Classic Aircraft Museum, on the site of the old Weeks Air Museum, displays and flies military classic aircraft to share history of flight with examples of operating historic aircraft. Programs for school children take place at the museum, existing as a tribute to veterans and aviators pioneering civilian and military aviation. (305) 233-5197
Kids can experience the real Florida, learn about its flora and fauna, history and culture in an outdoor camping experience at Camp Live Oak, fully accredited for children by the American Camping Association. Camp Live Oak is offered at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale, and Oleta State Recreation Area in North Miami during winter, spring and summer months each weekday from 9AM until 3:30PM, and is open to children aged 5 through 13 with optional before and after child care for parents with full schedules.
Camp Live Oak's Summer session begins as school ends in June, ending when school begins in August, and consists of four programs which can be attended separately or as a package. The first four-week session includes an optional Photo Safari where children aged 8 and up can learn the techniques and joys of nature photography from experienced teachers. The second four-week session offers an optional Starlight Sleep-Over in air conditioned cabins. Completing the summer session are the optional one-week programs of Ocean Quest Camp for kindergartners through 8th grade where ocean reefs and sea life will be examined, and Adventure Camp with a choice of many optional age-appropriate activities. The Winter and Spring programs also offer a range of programs, including instruction in archery, canoeing, swimming, art and science classes, yoga, drumming, camp fire safety and 'leave no trace' environmental awareness programs, mountain biking and much more at both Fort Lauderdale and Miami locations. (954) 491-2917
Camp C by Me, a do-it-yourself clothing design shop, provides a unique alternative to summer day camp for those kids with an interest or talent in designing and personalizing their own clothes. During the month of August, kids can enjoy a variety of age-appropriate activities and games at C by Me Clothing while they learn the basics of clothing design and take their finished design home. Sessions are held every Tuesday through Friday, and the fee includes all materials. (305) 932-8118
At Biscayne National Park, the Dante Fascell Visitor Center’s exhibits help youngsters better understand the watery world around Key Biscayne. The park’s 45-foot diving and snorkeling catamaran and a 53-foot glass bottom boat sail through wilderness mangrove out to tropical coral reefs. On the first Sunday of each month, January through May, the park hosts Family Fun Fest, with hands-on activities for kids and kids-at-heart. Youngsters enjoy snorkeling in the bay or on the coral reef near Convoy Point. (305) 230-1144
Built in 1891 by Coconut Grove pioneer Ralph Munroe, the home on the grounds of Barnacle State Historic Site shows kids how pioneer families lived in the wilds of South Florida, with free admission for under age 6. (305) 448-9445
Similarly, on the pioneering front, the 440-acre The Deering Estate at Cutler has buildings from 1896 to 1922, archaeological sites dating human presence to 10,000 years ago (with animals going back 100,000 years), and a Native American burial mound. Endangered pine habitat, coastal tropical hardwood hammocks, mangrove, salt marshes are on property. Chicken Key, the park’s restored bird rookery, has canoe tours. (305) 235-1668
Salty’s Pirate Playground, at Miami Seaquarium’s new wet / dry playground for children, is a two-level pirate ship, 31 feet by 27 feet, smack in the center of a shark-filled moat. The pirate ship features water blasters, cargo nets, punch bags, and a spiral slide, geared for ages 2 through 12. Blueprints include two more play areas near the pirate ship – one for ages 5 through 12, and another for ages 2 through 5. (305) 361-5705
As the only zoo within a subtropical climate in the continental U.S., Zoo Miami started out in 1948 as Crandon Park Zoo with three monkeys, two black bears and a goat rescued from a stranded road show. The grown-up 740-acre zoo lets kids trek through “Asia” to see river otters, Komodo dragons and tigers, through “Africa” to spot giraffes, zebras and lions, and through “Australia” for koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. Cuban crocodiles, squirrel monkeys and “Dr. Wilde’s World,” housing traveling zoological exhibits, add to the ever-evolving adventure. (305) 251-0400
Fed by artesian wells, Coral Gables’ Venetian Pool -- America’s only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places -- is possibly the only one where kids swim amid a Spanish fountain, vine-covered loggias, shady porticos, three-story observation towers and waterfalls spilling into a free-form lagoon with coral rock caves and a palm-fringed island. Youngsters must be at least 38 inches tall and 3-years-old to enter this former rock pit transformed into Shangri-la. (305) 460-5356
For ambitious youngsters eager to ogle how the rich once lived high on the hog, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens does the trick. Industrialist James Deering's 34-room winter place showcases America’s finest collection of 15th-19th century decorative arts, from Renaissance to Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassic. Deering’s bedroom, with a gold laurel ceiling wreath, is furnished in Napoleonic French Empire mahogany embellished with gold. His bath features a linen ceiling canopy and marble walls accented in Sheffield silver. (305) 250-9133
In Homestead, Everglades Alligator Farm wows youngsters with more than 3,000 toothsome gators in a rustic atmosphere near Everglades National Park. Farm action includes airboat rides and walking tours to spy gators, crocodiles, caimans, and snakes from Florida and elsewhere. Kids can get their pictures taken holding a baby alligator. Scheduled fun includes Alligator Feeding and a Weird Animal Show. (305) 247-2628
From Bayside Marketplace, Island Queen Cruises provides daily narrated sightseeing cruises. Thrill-seeking youngsters love the Bayside Blaster, the fastest boat ride in South Florida, capable of seating up to 80 passengers to race through Biscayne Bay at an exhilarating speeds up to 25 m.p.h. (305) 379-5119
On the Tamiami Trail, Miccosukee Indian Village showcases the past, present and future of the Miccosukee tribe. A museum, restaurant and gift shop are on premises, and other entertainment includes alligator wrestling and airboat rides. (305) 223-8380
Greater Miami’s shoreline gives kids ample opportunity for beachy-keen fun.
On Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, (305) 361-5811, has a beach, along with hiking / biking trails and a historic lighthouse.
Crandon Park Beach, (305) 361-7385, has a lagoon-style beach protected by 13 lifeguard towers.
On Miami Beach, Haulover Beach Park and Marina, (305) 944-3040, has shady picnic areas.
Hobie Beach / Windsurfer Beach, (305) 361-2833, at the south end of Key Biscayne on the north side of Rickenbacker Causeway, allows watersports and dogs.
Homestead Bayfront Park & Marina, (305) 230-3033, has a palm-shaded beach with free parking.
Famed Miami Beach, (305) 673-7400, divides into North Beach (46th to 78th Street), Central Beach (21st to 46th Street) and the sizzling South Beach (5th to 21st Street).
Oleta State Recreation Area, (305) 919-1846, has a shaded beach and is popular with Snake River boaters and kayakers.
Sunny Isles Beach, (305) 947-5826, has white sand with a fishing pier at the south end.
Secluded Virginia Key Beach –South, (305) 361-2749, has nature trails, with dogs allowed on leashes.
Virginia Key Beach – North, (305) 361-2749, has windsurfing.
In Coral Gables, the 83-acre Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (next to Matheson Hammock Park, with a great palm-shaded beach) has L.E.A.F. (Let’s Explore at Fairchild), a Saturday nature club for ages 8 to 11 with heavy-duty exposure to rare tropical palms, cycads, and vines. Also for kids, the Fairchild Explorer Program features four interactive guided tours including Where We Live -- Investigating Ecosystems. Garden admission includes a narrated tram tour. At the Garden Café, kids can snack under the sapodilla tree. (305) 667-1651
At Monkey Jungle, kids can mingle with hundreds of exotic monkeys in a lush, tropical Amazonian-style rain forest. Grounds also contain one of the South Florida’s richest fossil deposits. Exhibits include rare Amazon parrots, the Cameroon Jungle and the Lemurs of Madagascar. (305) 235-1611
Off Miami’s Tamiami Trail, Everglades Safari Park provides youngsters with a “river of grass” showcase, becoming one of the Florida Everglades’ largest, most complete attractions. Ways to observe the Everglades include Airboat Rides, Alligator Shows, and a Jungle Trail. Airboat rides are guided by skilled narrators familiar with Everglades history, vegetation, and wildlife. The Alligator Show provides informative, interactive opportunity to become familiar with features of American alligators as well as other animals. A Jungle Trail leads to an Alligator Farm with more than 400 American alligators, a crocodile exhibit, and a replica of a Chickee Village. (305) 226-6923
In Homestead at the 32-acre Fruit and Spice Park, kids can sniff and taste their way along, while passing by more than 500 varieties of fruit, nut and spice trees, including 80-plus banana types and more than 40 varieties of grapes and other exotic edibles like tangy guava, sweet sapote, musky coffee beans and jaboticaba berries. The bookstore has candies and sauces made from some of the more unusual products. (305) 247-5727
Since 1945, Coopertown Airboat Tours and Coopertown Restaurant have sizzled with a stick-to-the-ribs menu and guided tours through Hardwood Hammock showcasing native Everglades environs. At the restaurant, kids can order frog legs or gator tail where grown-up patrons have ranged from country singer Ferlin Husky to screen stars Burt Reynolds, Kurt Russell and Mariel Hemingway. (305) 226-6048
On adult-oriented South Beach a block from the ocean on Collins Avenue, the family-friendly Big Pink (motto: “Real Food for Real People, Really”) stands out as a fun place with burgers, macaroni and cheese, and other kid favorites in an atmosphere where virtually everything including the menus is in the pink. (305) 532-4700
Recalling the movie Forrest Gump, Bayside Marketplace’s Bubba Gump Shrimp Company lets kids chow down on tasty, moderately priced seafood while watching boating action on the bay. Souvenirs from the movie are in the gift shop. (305) 379-8866
Miami’s GameWorks is a high-tech entertainment, restaurant and bar experience where kids can eat, drink, and play. (305) 667-4263
Kids visiting the World Chess Hall of Fame & Sidney Samole Museum might be surprised to learn that Superman was depicted as a chess piece the first time he appeared on the cover of a comic book. This is where kids can bone up on chess history and develop their own game. (786) 242-4255
To the north, Broward County’s Sawgrass Mills outlet mall has an extraordinary new experience for children -- Wannado City, a $40-million recreation enterprise ranking as the first interactive empowerment environment of its kind in the nation. Wannado City lets ages 4 to 11 role-play in up to 250 careers, from TV anchor to lawyer, doctor and beyond. Kids manage money by spending “earnings,” choosing among buying groceries, saving for a rainy day, or hot-footing it to a dance club. Debuting in 2005, Wannado City promotes values of hard work and responsibility within fun, entertaining environs. (954) 838-7100 or (888) WANNADO
To the south, Key Largo is situated next to Everglades National Park in one direction and North America’s only living coral barrier reef in the other. Eco-tours here treat children to a stunning array of wildlife. Options for children include day-trips to the park and its Flamingo outpost. (305) 242-7700
This page is intended to be an overview only. For a complete list of current Miami-area events, please have a look at the Miami EventGuide.
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