Miami is a great option for a family vacation. It’s sunny, warm and there’s a huge variety of activities that will capture your child’s imagination, no matter their age.
It’s an exciting city filled with an eclectic range of activities from alligator spotting in the Everglades and kid-friendly museums to national parks, Art Deco architecture and some big name attractions.
And, of course, there are plenty of family-friendly beaches too. Since moving to Florida, I’ve tried and tested the best things to do in Miami with kids with my own two children. Here are our top 10 favourite activities.
Updated for 2021. Post and photos by Philippa Langrish Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
Every district in Miami is brimming with kids’ activities. Since moving to Miami we’ve tried cooking classes, painting workshops, kids’ yoga classes, dance and theatre performances, and more. We certainly never get bored!
Miami with kids
1. Fairchild Tropical Gardens
Aside from the beach, one of my favourite things to do in Miami for kids is to visit the Botanical Gardens located in Coral Gables and Pinecrest.
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens at Coral Gables is a vast expanse of lakes, tropical trees, orchid gardens and a butterfly house. The gardens are staffed largely by friendly volunteers who can drive your family around in their zippy golf buggies.
The butterfly house was the main event for my daughter who brought her watercolours and portable easel to capture these ethereal creatures. For my little boy the lawns are teaming with lizards from huge iguanas (the size of toddlers) to nippy little geckos. There was even a crocodile at the far end of the lagoon when we visited. Coral Gables is great for all ages but it’s an especially fun thing to do in Miami with toddlers.
Pinecrest Gardens is smaller but boasts a fabulous little splashpad for children to splash and play in) and tiny petting farm.
Both gardens transform themselves into spectacular Night Gardens during the festive period with animated lights displays.
2. The Frost Science Museum
Miami has a bold history of philanthropists leaving a legacy of education and cultural offerings. Two such prolific characters are Phillip and Patricia Frost whose names are given to both the Frost Science Museum and the University’s music campus. The Science museum is wonderful and a really fun thing to do in Miami with the family.
The museum targets curious young minds and embraces the concept of learning through touch, smell, sound and experimentation. It’s easily one of the best Miami attractions for kids.
My daughter Maya enjoyed the engineering workshop where University students took the lead demonstrating fun activities for the kids to try, whilst Gillan loved the sound and light scape “River of Grass” which took him on a virtual journey through the everglades.
All the rooms are interactive and geared towards different age ranges. The space is airy and created for kids to scamper from room to room. When you begin to tire head to the Planetarium to lounge back and watch a family friendly space or animal documentary.
Insider tip – bring your own food, the cafe’s offerings are not so tasty
3. Explore the Everglades
A Miami family vacation should definitely include a visit to the everglades.
Explore one of the most important eco-systems on the planet by taking a tour through the Okeechobee River either by airboat or by foot on one of the boardwalk trails which guides you over the marshes where you can spot all kids of wildlife down below.
Children will love to spot alligators from the trails over the marshlands whilst 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.
4. Learn to cook at the Vizcaya Museums & Gardens
The Vizcaya Museums and Gardens hosts a brilliant family programme filled with kids’ activities. One of our favourite things to do with kids in Miami is to visit this Renaissance inspired city treasure.
We signed up as members immediately since the reasonable membership fee covers one family event. Since then we have attended the family cooking programme and night time tour.
“Vizcaya Eats” occurs monthly on Sunday mornings. Families are invited to learn about the herbs in the garden and taught how to cook a simple meal together. My children (and husband) have learnt how to make a zesty herb and chick pea salad and fresh garlicky tomato pasta sauce. The kids are supervised whilst picking, chopping, measuring and stirring ingredients. Delicious refreshments are served throughout, such as rosemary and watermelon infused water, and children are encouraged to ask questions about healthy eating.
5. Swim at the Venetian Pools
If you prefer a pool to South Beach during your family vacation then a really fun things to do in Miami with kids is a visit to the Venetian Pools.
Built in 1923 the pools were inspired by Venetian architecture and constructed from coral. The kids can play under the huge waterfall, or in the caves below.
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.
6. Watch a show at the 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.
7. Spot wildlife in the parks
Another one of our favourite activities for kids in Miami is to spot wildlife. You don’t need to go to the zoo in Miami to see wild animals; go to any park and you will see peacocks, racoons, ibis, pelicans, manatees, huge iguanas, lizards in all shapes and sizes, and even a croc if you are lucky!
Take a drive down to Key Biscayne and Biscayne Bay for a BBQ. We love Crandon Park Beach, where peacocks will strut past looking for left overs. 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 during the winter months of December – February take a picnic to Virginia Key opposite the Outdoor Centre to 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).
If you want to get up close and personal with some animals then Jungle Island offers encounters with animals including sloths, lemurs and capybaras.
8. Go for a bike ride
If you have older children take their bikes down to Virginia Key or Oleta River State Park (where you can rent bikes) and hit the bike trails. The trails wind next to mangroves and wetlands making them perfect for technical challenges.
9. Hire a jet ski
A really fun thing to do in Miami with kids is to hire a jet ski. My thrill-seeking husband and daughter like nothing better than to rent a jet ski at the rental shop in Coconut Grove Marina and go flying across the ocean. I am happy to stay by the harbour with the little guy and check out the boats.
From here we often head to the restaurant Glass and Vine in nearby Peacock Park that overlooks a play-park where he can swing and I can sip my coffee.
Make sure you book in advance as this is a popular Miami pastime. Look on Groupon for deals.
10. See Miami’s street art
Of all the places to go in Miami you can’t leave without a visit to Wynwood, the city’s hippest neighbourhood where colourful murals decorate every shop front. Wynwood is bordered by the Miami Design District, Edgewater and Downtown Miami.
There is a dedicated area of commissioned murals entitled Wynwood Walls, which also houses a gallery. The children 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 comes alive during Basel Art week, with pop up markets and live art.