Miami is always a great idea when it comes to family vacations. The largest city in South Florida is also the coolest, a colourful mix of Cuban culture, Art Deco architecture, lively street art and a delicious food scene gives Miami its own unique swagger.
Plus, the city enjoys plenty of sunshine and almost an equal number of beautiful beaches.
So, whether you’re after alligator spotting in the Everglades or museum hopping in the Design District; cruising along South Beach or exploring at the Miami Seaquarium; swimming in the idyllic Venetian Pool or splashing in the shallows of a family-friendly beach, Miami delivers in spades.
This is a really fun city for families but if you’re wondering where to start then here’s our guide of the best things to do in Miami with kids.
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What to do with kids in Miami
Miami’s Little Havana neighbourhood should definitely be on your list of places to visit with kids. This is the heart of the city’s immigrant Latino community and is rich in culture, traditions and food.
The neighbourhood runs west of downtown Miami and first started to grow in the 1960s when exiled Cubans began moving into the area, opening businesses and turning the bungalows and mission revival-style apartments that characterise the area into their homes.
Today, the main strip for visitors is Calle Ocho, which sits between SW 21st and SW 10th Avenues. The Versailles Cuban restaurant is legendary and where you should stop for a proper breakfast or something to go form the ventanita (little window). The Cuban coffee is sweet and strong and the pastelitos and empanadas are delicious.
One of the best ways to explore the ‘hood and get a feel for the people who brought the area to life is on a Little Havana Walking Tour taking in Domino Park, Cuban bakeries, rum and cigar shops, art galleries and fruit markets.
Fairchild Tropical Gardens
If you want time outdoors but away from the sand and sea then head to the Fairchild Tropical Gardens, award-winning gardens located in Coral Gables. Covering some 83-acres, these botanic gardens are thought to be among the best in the world, a vast tropical paradise home to a medley of plants and wildlife. It’s particularly famous for its collection of cycads, vines, blooming trees, tropical fruits and aroids.
Wildlife – including huge iguanas and curious lizards – roam the grounds and crocodiles can be spotted sunning themselves by the lagoon.
The Butterfly Garden is a delight for visitors young and old and the Children’s Garden is particularly fun if visiting Miami with toddlers.
The gardens host regular events for kids and encourages young visitors to explore the garden’s hidden corners and learn more about their collection of plants from around the world.
Pinecrest Gardens might not enjoy the same prestige as Fairchild Tropical Gardens but the lush gardens are still fun to explore with kids, particularly when they discover the splash pad.
The Splash ‘N Play is aimed at children aged 2 – 12 years old and is a lot of fun. Do remember to bring proper swimwear with you.
Once you manage to drag the kids away from the splash park then there are plenty of other things to do in the park including feeding the fish, spotting wildlife on Swan Lake and a calendar of festival and events. One of the most popular is the Nights of Lights, a whimsical light trail that winds its way through the grounds during the Christmas period. It’s similar to Kew at Christmas in London.
The Frost Science Museum
The beautifully designed Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is hands down one of the best things to do in Miami with kids. Not only does this museum look good (it’s been called America’s most aesthetically pleasing science museum) it’s chock-full of interactive exhibits that the whole family will enjoy.
Part aquarium, part science museum, it’s the kind of museum you can spend days (weeks, even) exploring but if you only have one day then it pays to be organised.
The shows at the 360-degree planetarium sell out during busy times so make sure to book your show in advance and then plan your day around that – book online for the best options.
Start your visit at the Royal Caribbean Vista on the top floor for views over Biscayne Bay (home to the busiest port in American where cruise ships sail in and out daily) and the Miami skyline. Also on the fourth floor is the chance to look down on the surface of the Gulf Stream, a 500,000-gallon tank home to hammerhead sharks, manta rays, mahi-mahi and thousands of fish.
Also on the top floor is a large tank of Atlantic and Southern stingrays. This is the Florida Bay Touch Experience and is a joy for kids who can take their turn petting these cool-looking creatures.
Get a different perspective when you head to the Oculus, a 31ft circular window at the bottom of the Gulf Stream.
Other can’t miss areas include The Dive (home to dozens of small aquariums housing fish from around the state of Florida), Feathers to the Stars (a look at how birds evolved to fly) and the River of Grass. The latter is an interactive children’s exhibit next to the Everglades Habitat that offers a fascinating look at the life cycle of the Florida’s Everglades.
Pérez Art Museum Miami
Next door to the Frost Science Museum is the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). This contemporary art museum is one of the city’s most important cultural institutions and focuses on modern and contemporary art from Atlantic Rim cultures, including Latin America, Africa and Europe.
It’s housed in a stunning building inspired by Stiltsville, a group of houses in Biscayne Bay built over the water that in their earliest days served as an outpost for smugglers during prohibition.
If the idea of visiting an art museum with kids has you rolling your eyes then don’t worry, Pérez Art Museum Miami knows how to keep kids busy. They offer a variety of programmes and activities to entertain children of all ages.
Every second Saturday of the month, the museum hosts free activities for families lead by multi-lingual artists with hands-on activities as well as guided tours, guest arts, films, performances and more.
There’s an Art Station for some hands on creative fun, story time and in-gallery guides and activities. It’s the perfect rainy day activity.
The Everglades National Park
Every Miami family vacation should include a visit to the Florida Everglades. These tropical wetlands are made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to an incredible variety of wildlife including many rare and endangered species such as the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther.
Explore one of the most important eco-systems on the planet by taking a tour through the Okeechobee River either on an Airboat ride or by foot along one of the boardwalk trails. The many trails wind their way over the marshes from where you can spy all kinds of wildlife below.
Children will love to spot alligators from the trails over the marshlands while learning about our fragile eco-system and the importance of environmental conservation.
For the best chance of seeing “gators” close up check out the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm, just a short drive from the Ernest Coe Visitor Centre.
Everglades Alligator Farm
For a guaranteed alligator encounter head to the Everglades Alligator Farm where you can feed over 250 alligators, meet baby alligators and crocodiles and even hold a three-foot alligator yourself – the perfect holiday snap! Then, watch as the staff bravely interact with the bigger gators, demonstrating the capturing techniques once used by Native American Indians.
The farm also offers airboat rides into the Everglades.
Miccosukee Indian Village
Learn more about the Miccosukee Indians who migrated to Florida before it became part of the United States. The village and museum showcases the Tribe’s history, culture. Exhibits showcase how they adapted to life in the Everglades and demonstrations highlight some of their unique traditions.
The collection of historical documents, old photographs and original artefacts provide a fascinating insight into the Tribe’s traditional way of life.
The Miccosukee Indian Village also have alligator demonstrations that showcase the centuries-old traditions and rituals that have been handed down through generations. This includes some rather terrifying examples where demonstrators put their head between the jaws of an alligator!
The Vizcaya Museums & Gardens
Overlooking Biscayne Bay is an elegant Italian villa that dates back to 1916. Originally built for businessman James Deering who wanted to recreate the kind of villas – and gardens – you find in Italy here in South Florida, the property is today a museum and popular for its wide range of events and activities.
It’s well worth taking a tour through the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens – the rooms are elaborately decorated with antiques dating from the 15th through to the early 19th centuries – and there’s a fun hedge maze to discover.
Of the many programs and events that take place, Vizcaya Eats is especially popular. Taking place monthly on Sunday mornings, families are invited to learn about the herbs in the garden and taught how to cook a simple meal together.
Other events include Bedtime Stories Under the Stars, evening events where kids are invited to explore the estate’s wild side, programs exploring the forgotten history of Black Coconut Grove, regular farmer’s markets and much more.
This is definitely one of our favourite Miami museums for kids.
The Venetian Pool
Not only is this one of the most picturesque pools in Miami, it also boasts the most fascinating history.
The Venetian pool opened in 1924 as the Venetian Casino. The Venetian Pool was constructed from coral rock that was once used to build many of the city’s early buildings. The old quarry was lined with concrete and fed by spring water from an underground aquifer to create a swimming pool.
Little has changed today and the pool is still refilled daily with over 820,000 gallons of water (the water is recycled back into its aquifer, a change that took place in 1989 to address concerns of sustainability and water conservation). The small waterfalls, caves, palms, and bridges remain as they were when the pool was first built.
During its heyday the pool was a magnet for A listers and celebrities. Johnny Weissmuller (who played Tarzan) and Esther Williams (an American competitive swimmer and actress) were both regulars. Occasionally the pool was emptied and orchestras would perform inside the space.
There is a children’s pool, a café and plenty of places to sit and relax. A little man-made beach fringes the lawn if the children want to build sand castles. Be aware that the main pool is quite deep so bring floats if visiting with young children.
Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts
Going to a show at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art is always a fun thing to see in Miami. It’s perfect for kids aged six and over, who can watch their first Broadway musical, puppet show or family friendly production here.
The theatre has a packed schedule and great week-long summer camp for children. It showcases tailor made children’s productions, free family festivals and free Gospel Sundays.
The centre’s Family Fest is a season of free performances featuring the world’s leading family-friendly artists. It’s a great way to introduce kids of all ages to the joy of seeing performances live.
Thanks to South Florida’s unique climate, Zoo Miami is the only sub-tropical zoo in the continental USA, caring for more than 2,500 animals from Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Americas. This makes it unlike any other zoo in the country.
Zoo Miami is a great place to take the kids and you can easily spend a day here visiting the many animals that call the zoo home from koalas and crocodiles to jaguars and tigers. Make sure to hire a Safari Cycle, these four wheeled bikes can accommodate up to six adults and two kids and are by far the easiest way to get around the 750 acres of grounds
Of the many events and activities offered at Miami Zoo highlights include feeding the giraffes, the Kaziranga Camp Rhino Encounter, and Florida Everglades exhibit.
The Conservation Action Centre is also worth visiting. This new indoor interactive exhibit invites kids to crawl through a python to learn about invasive species, race to ‘scoop the poop’ in a composting game and whack out environmental threats in “Habitat Whack a Mole”.
The zoo is also home to a handful of splash parks such as Ocean Voyage, with a whale tail waterfall, spouting fountains and a wobbly bridge.
Spot wildlife in the parks
Even if you don’t make it to the zoo, however, you’ll spot plenty of wildlife in Miami. Go to almost any park and you’ll be welcome by peacocks, racoons, ibis, pelicans, huge iguanas, lizards in all shapes and sizes, and even a croc if you are lucky! In some places you can even spot manatees in the wild.
Some of the best places to go include Crandon Park Beach, at the northern end of Key Biscayne, where peacocks strut their stuff. Drive to the southernmost point of the key to Bill Baggs Park and you may see little racoons raiding abandoned picnic tables.
If you are in Miami between December and February then head to Virginia Key opposite the Outdoor Centre and spot fishing pelicans, cormorants and manatees lounging in Jimbo’s Creek.
Other great parks for family fun in Miami include South Pointe Park (for ocean views and acres of open space), Haulover Park (for flying kites), Pinetree Park (for tree climbing and vine swinging) and Alice C Wainwright Park (for picnics).
Located on Watson Island, between Miami City and Miami Beach, this family-friendly zoological park is home to hundreds of reptiles, fish, exotic mammals, and plenty of birds.
Jungle Island originally started life in 1936 as the Parrot Jungle Gardens where owner Franz Scherr put on show with birds from his pet shop.
Today Jungle Island is home to a huge variety of animals from flamingos and lemurs to sloth, kangaroos and capybaras. There are plenty of opportunities to get up close to these magnificent creatures with one of the park’s many animal encounter experiences including a petting zoo.
Other activities within the gardens include the Treewalk Village, a fun playground and a true replica of the Florida Everglades habitat.
Also on Jungle Island is Flying Squirrel, an indoor trampoline park.
For close encounters of the aquatic kind then head to Miami Seaquarium where you can see sea turtles, meet penguins and say hello to the resident California sea lions and harbour seals.
While I personally am not a supporter of the dolphin encounters (the aquarium offers visitors the chance to ride and swim with dolphins) I do applaud the aquarium’s conservation efforts. The aquarium has rescued and rehabilitated close to 200 sea turtles as well as rescuing injured manatees out in the wild.
Tidal Cove Water Park
If visiting Miami during the summer months then you’ll want to find ways to beat the summertime heat. Miami beaches are a great option but if you’re looking for an alternative way to cool down then head to one of Miami’s many water parks.
The city is home to a variety of water parks where you can easily spend the day among the slides, rapids, splash zones, aquatic playgrounds, and lazy rivers but the best is Tidal Cove.
Tidal Cove is part of the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa and is free to guests but also open to the public. As well as slides, a lazy river and a splash zone for little kids, there’s a FlowRider surf simulator.
Across the causeway from Miami Beach lies Wynwood Walls and some of America’s best street art. This previously industrial area is now where you’ll spot an ever-changing tapestry of colourful murals created by local, national and international street artists.
Kids will love the animé on the walls, large-scale depictions of mythical creatures and bold sculptures. Give the kids a camera for the afternoon to keep them busy documenting their favourite art.
Wynwood Walls is an especially fun thing to do in Miami with teens who will love the many Instagram and TikTok opportunities!
If you want to learn more about the art and artists behind them then book a one-hour street art tour.
You’ll also find some great ice cream here, try Morelia Ice Cream Paletas, Dasher & Crank, and Salt & Straw.
Wynwood Walls now forms part of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District where cool boutiques, cool restaurants and bars, local breweries, and galleries. You’ll also find some great ice cream here, try Morelia Ice Cream Paletas, Dasher & Crank, and Salt & Straw.
Wynwood comes alive during Basel Art Week, with pop up markets and live art.
Also in the neighbourhood is FunDimension, a lively indoor playground home to a laser tag arena, bumper cars, virtual reality, dance revolution machine, and arcade games. There’s also a climbing wall and a video games room.
Miami Children’s Museum
You can’t leave Miami without visiting the Miami Children’s Museum. This enormous museum is packed full of non-stop fun, interactive, educational and inspirational activities and exhibits.
The Crayola-coloured building occupies nearly 60,000 square feet on Watson Island (where Jungle Island also stand). The 14 galleries are spread over two floors and include everything from a bi-level cruise ship that kids can try steering, a Health and Wellness Centre, areas dedicated to learning about the ocean and a whole zone dedicated to the Port of Miami.
Miami’s coolest immersive art experience can be found at Superblue Miami.
Much like teamLab Planets in Tokyo, this enormous experiential gallery is changing the way that people experience art. Located in Miami’s industrial Allapattah neighbourhood, the focus here is very much on art-as-experience rather than showcase.
Touch the walls, make vines climb skyward, watch hanging flower blooms open and close, walk through a sea of thick clouds and much more. Remember that the installations do change so check the Superblue website to check what’s on when you visit and do book tickets in advance!
Hit the beach
We can’t talk about things to do in Miami with kids without mentioning the beach. This city is home to some truly gorgeous beaches, large swathes of white sandy fringed by sparkling turquoise waters.
With more than 20 miles of Atlantic coastline, there’s a beach for everyone in this city from secluded coves to see-and-be-seen strips of sand. There are also some brilliant family-friendly beaches with shallow waters, picnic facilities and stellar sunsets.
Oleta River State Park
If you really want to get outside and explore some of Miami’s Great Outdoors then head to Oleta River State Park.
Located just 30 minutes from downtown Miami, in Miami-Dade county, the park is home to 15 miles of off-road biking and hiking trails. If you’re more at home on the water then explore the incredible natural habitat of this state park by paddleboard or kayak. There’s also a three-mile paved loop for runners and roller-bladers.
A trip to Oleta State Park is a wonderful way to explore some of Florida’s most beautiful wilderness without having to travel too far. The only downside? It can get very busy at weekends and during holidays. If the park closes early due to capacity issues it will not reopen until the following day.
If you want to stay the night then rustic cabins (with AC, fortunately) are available to hire.
Get the kids shredding or working on their ollies at SkateBird, a skate park and pump track that is the first of its kind in Florida. As well as a 32,000-square-foot outdoor skate park there’s a covered pump track (all the better for dealing with Florida’s unpredictable rainfall).
While all skaters are welcome, the focus here is very much on getting new shredders confident on their boards. Lessons are offered for kids aged 5 and above and the centre also runs camps most afternoons, Sunday mornings and during school days off.
Artechouse Miami is an innovative art organisation that combines art, science and technology. They aim to challenge the traditional museum model and instead offer a fully immersive art spaces.
Artechouse first started in Washington DC (they also have a museum in New York City) before opening in Miami Beach. Exhibitions change but they are all based on the idea that visitors become part of the art as they walk through the spaces accompanied by light, colour and sound.
It’s recommended for children aged 6+.
Where to stay in Miami with kids
The below map shows the best hotels and vacation rentals to stay in Miami on your family vacation as well as the various museums and attractions listed in this post.
All photos via of Depositphotos.com
1 thought on “The 23+ things you can’t miss when you visit Miami with kids”
We missed a few of these on our last trip to Florida, great excuse to go back!
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