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A Family Guide To The Perfect Budget Vacation In Miami

Updated on December 20, 2019

Biscayne Boulevard - a hive of activity

Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown Miami
Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown Miami | Source
The Biscayne Wall in Downtown Miami
The Biscayne Wall in Downtown Miami | Source
The Biscayne Wall in Downtown Miami
The Biscayne Wall in Downtown Miami | Source
The Biscayne Wall in Downtown Miami
The Biscayne Wall in Downtown Miami | Source
The Biscayne Wall in Downtown Miami, notice the inviting deciduous green vegetation
The Biscayne Wall in Downtown Miami, notice the inviting deciduous green vegetation | Source

Miami Skyline (night and day)

Miami skyline at night
Miami skyline at night | Source
View of Miami downtown from the Miami Port
View of Miami downtown from the Miami Port | Source
Miami Skyline
Miami Skyline | Source
The Mouth of the Miami River
The Mouth of the Miami River | Source

The City Of Miami In Pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The McArthur CausewayThe venetian causewayTri-railMetro-railA collage of Miami sights
The McArthur Causeway
The McArthur Causeway | Source
The venetian causeway
The venetian causeway | Source
Tri-rail
Tri-rail | Source
Metro-rail
Metro-rail | Source
A collage of Miami sights
A collage of Miami sights | Source

Miami, the land, people, business, vacation rentals


You finally managed to save up for that family vacation. No doubt, you have considered popular destinations like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, etc. If you live in Florida, Busch Gardens is probably part of the package. Allow me to indulge you with something that is as far from your mind for a holiday destination with young children, as Manhattan or Harlem in New York City. Permit me to take you through the wild sounds of the Everglades, the musky smells of Cuban cigars in American Havana, and the pulsating sound of the ocean as it beats the city limits in Miami.

Yes, Miami is ranked America's 42 largest city. This metropolis, the only one conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle; has evolved over hundreds of years to become one of the world's premier business centers. Historically, Miami's earliest settlers were the Tequestas natives about 12 000 years ago. In the 16th century, Pedro Mendez the explorer claimed it for Spain. The Spanish constructed a port there. For years, the Spanish and British had control of Miami. It was Spain that ceded it to America in 1821. It is not surprising therefore that Miami is the second city in the USA with the largest Spanish speaking population. Miami also has the largest number of Cuban migrants in the country. If there is a word to describe this enchanting city with a population of over five million, it is diversity. All known races have converged over the years to build Miami and make it what it is today. Its history is written all over the landscape, in its buildings, cultural festivities, activities, eating places and restaurants.

Miami sits on the South-eastern Coast of the United States, only a few feet above sea level along the Atlantic Ocean. The city's main habitation is the plain, sandwiched between the Florida Everglades in the west and the Biscayne Bay in the East. The Biscayne Bay stretches from the Florida Bay to the north towards Lake Okeechobee. Coursing through the heart of Miami city is Biscayne Blvd, one of the premier streets in the city. From the higher levels at 200 Biscayne Blvd, a tall building that stands stalwartly among other equally attractive and modern infrastructure, you can see the dark green waters of the Atlantic Ocean. You get a feeling that the surfing tide scrapes at the feet of the city all day. This is because, Miami city in its larger downtown area lies mostly on the coastal shores of the Biscayne Bay. The Biscayne Bay constitutes hundreds of natural and artificially made islands, that also make-up Miami's primary tourist attractions, Miami Beach and South Beach. If you have played monopoly, those two are quite a prize, in reality; they are a great go to destination harbored in the very center of the city.

Vacation Rentals and Travel While In Miami

One of the beautiful things about Miami is that you do not have to go far to reach those tourist destinations and attractions. For a family with young children, Miami packs quite a punch in the number of things to be seen and experienced within a small radius. Miami is equipped with a wide range of places to live in while there. You may want to start early looking for accommodation, especially if you plan on traveling during the summer months when everyone is out of school and therefore free to travel without haste. Check out vacationrentals.com, tripadvisor.com, travelzoo.com and many other travel websites for great deals on places to rent. When it comes to what kind of place you live in during your vacation, your pocket is what will speak. Miami has economy packages for families on a budget that are quite attractive. Condos and homes costing an average of $700 a week and offering more spacious living with more facilities than hotels, prove to be the most appropriate.

If you are traveling in your own vehicle, which most families do, you will do well to include daily parking fees for your vehicle as you tour Miami. During the day, Miami city is crammed with vehicles and parking space becomes quite difficult to find. Often, travelers might opt to park in a paid parking lot and use private transport or find their way around the city on foot for some distances and easy to reach places. Some tours are best done on foot, i.e. when visiting the Art Deco District. The city of Miami, though, has taken care of transportation with the provision of a tram and buses that ferry people to attractions or often visited destinations.


Miami North and South Beach

Miami North Beach
Miami North Beach | Source
Miami South Beach
Miami South Beach | Source
South Beach during the Summer
South Beach during the Summer | Source

The Everglades National Park

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A roadmap of the Everglades National Park, FloridaAlligator in the EvergladesLimestone juts out of the ground amidst the sawgrass prairie in the EvergladesSawgrass Prairie in the Everglades, FloridaCypress Climbing Ferns in the Everglades. These climbers help fires destroy otherwise indestructible trees because of their height.Hardwood Hammock in the EvergladesMangrove trees near a tidal estuary in the Everglades National ParkGreat Egret in a Cypress grovePine trees in the Florida EvergladesAnhinga Trail in the Everglades National ParkAmerican Crocodile found in the Everglades National ParkMale Anhinga species to be found in the EvergladesThe endangered Panther of whom only about 1000 remain in Florida. Everglades National ParkGreat Blue Heron in the Florida EvergladesBlue Heron Watches sunset over Shark Valley in the Everglades Marshes
A roadmap of the Everglades National Park, Florida
A roadmap of the Everglades National Park, Florida | Source
Alligator in the Everglades
Alligator in the Everglades | Source
Limestone juts out of the ground amidst the sawgrass prairie in the Everglades
Limestone juts out of the ground amidst the sawgrass prairie in the Everglades | Source
Sawgrass Prairie in the Everglades, Florida
Sawgrass Prairie in the Everglades, Florida | Source
Cypress Climbing Ferns in the Everglades. These climbers help fires destroy otherwise indestructible trees because of their height.
Cypress Climbing Ferns in the Everglades. These climbers help fires destroy otherwise indestructible trees because of their height. | Source
Hardwood Hammock in the Everglades
Hardwood Hammock in the Everglades | Source
Mangrove trees near a tidal estuary in the Everglades National Park
Mangrove trees near a tidal estuary in the Everglades National Park | Source
Great Egret in a Cypress grove
Great Egret in a Cypress grove | Source
Pine trees in the Florida Everglades
Pine trees in the Florida Everglades | Source
Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park
Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park | Source
American Crocodile found in the Everglades National Park
American Crocodile found in the Everglades National Park | Source
Male Anhinga species to be found in the Everglades
Male Anhinga species to be found in the Everglades | Source
The endangered Panther of whom only about 1000 remain in Florida. Everglades National Park
The endangered Panther of whom only about 1000 remain in Florida. Everglades National Park | Source
Great Blue Heron in the Florida Everglades
Great Blue Heron in the Florida Everglades | Source
Blue Heron Watches sunset over Shark Valley in the Everglades Marshes
Blue Heron Watches sunset over Shark Valley in the Everglades Marshes | Source

The Metrozoo

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The New Entrance to the Miami ZooOld Entrance to the Miami ZooWhite Bengal Tiger at the Miami ZooAmerican Flamingos at the Miami ZooSamburu Giraffe feeding station at the Miami Zoo. Giraffe get to eat directly from hands of visitors to the Park.Cloud Forest  demarcaton of the Miami Zoo.
The New Entrance to the Miami Zoo
The New Entrance to the Miami Zoo | Source
Old Entrance to the Miami Zoo
Old Entrance to the Miami Zoo | Source
White Bengal Tiger at the Miami Zoo
White Bengal Tiger at the Miami Zoo | Source
American Flamingos at the Miami Zoo
American Flamingos at the Miami Zoo | Source
Samburu Giraffe feeding station at the Miami Zoo. Giraffe get to eat directly from hands of visitors to the Park.
Samburu Giraffe feeding station at the Miami Zoo. Giraffe get to eat directly from hands of visitors to the Park. | Source
Cloud Forest  demarcaton of the Miami Zoo.
Cloud Forest demarcaton of the Miami Zoo. | Source

The Children's Museum

A night view of the Children's Museum from the MacArthur Causeway in Miami
A night view of the Children's Museum from the MacArthur Causeway in Miami | Source
MCM - The Miami Children's Museum said to be no doubt the most innovative and interesting children's museums in America.
MCM - The Miami Children's Museum said to be no doubt the most innovative and interesting children's museums in America. | Source

The Miami Seaquarium

Lolita the Whale entertains visitors at the Miami Seaquarium in Miami, Florida.
Lolita the Whale entertains visitors at the Miami Seaquarium in Miami, Florida. | Source
Lolila the Killer Whale in action at the Seaquarium in Miami, Florida.
Lolila the Killer Whale in action at the Seaquarium in Miami, Florida. | Source
Flipper the Dolphin, back in 1969.
Flipper the Dolphin, back in 1969. | Source

Dolphin Show At The Seaquarium

Lolita The Killer Whale At The Seaquarium

The Gold Coast Railroad Museum In Miami

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cold Coast Railroad Museum WatchTrain engine on display at the Gold Coast Railroad engineLocomotive Engine on display at the Gold Coast Railroad MuseumHuge Toy Station for Kids to enjoy
Cold Coast Railroad Museum Watch
Cold Coast Railroad Museum Watch | Source
Train engine on display at the Gold Coast Railroad engine
Train engine on display at the Gold Coast Railroad engine | Source
Locomotive Engine on display at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Locomotive Engine on display at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum | Source
Huge Toy Station for Kids to enjoy
Huge Toy Station for Kids to enjoy | Source

Monkey Jungle Attraction - Miami

The Welcome Sign at Monkey Jungle in Miami. The Monkey Jungle's manmade  Amazonian Rainforest transformed into a different eco system resembling the real Amazon Forest. It receives rain all year round. Hurricane damage that needs to be repaired.
The Welcome Sign at Monkey Jungle in Miami. The Monkey Jungle's manmade Amazonian Rainforest transformed into a different eco system resembling the real Amazon Forest. It receives rain all year round. Hurricane damage that needs to be repaired. | Source

Miami Attractions; children, families, vacations, summer

The Beaches; Miami Beach, South Beach

For those arriving in Miami for first time or simply to revisit, all roads lead to Miami or South Beach. Let loose along this wide, wild, unbelievable beach with so much fun and awe to offer. The soft sand, splashing water and inviting sunshine are an instant attraction to most visitors, especially children. There is endless fun to be had along the beach whether it is day or evening. The proximity of the beach to the downtown area makes it possible for visitors to wander away from the ocean, and visit exquisite restaurants, souvenir stores etc. Lie down on the sand and take a nap as you listen to the surfing water, or have fun watching all kinds of visitors to the beach. Walk along the beach with kids and pick all kinds of shells from shallow water, or the folds of damp sand.

A swim in the salty cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean is always welcome especially when heat is sweltering. On particularly warm days, a visit to the beach is ideal, it is everything different from the restrictive and even boring confines of swimming pools. Watch surfers ride the waves, swimmers dare the wide ocean bed and newcomers try to dodge tiny little waves. There is fun for everybody from mom to dad, baby to teenager, plenty of sand to build sandcastles, space to throw balls, play rope, hike, chase, sport or just sit and have a full blown picnic!

The Biscayne National Park

Since we are still talking about water, permit me to tell you about another wonder related to it. This one is an underwater world filled with surprises. The Biscayne National Park is located off the Miami Coast. To start the adventure would have to start by visiting the Dante Faschell visitor center in Homestead. It may be a little way to travel, but, seeing 181, 500 acres of buoyant coral reefs, atop glass bottom boat tours or in diverse other ways like scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking etc., is worth all the money time. There are boats and kayaks to be rented, all the information is found in the visitor center. Children of swimming age have access to this underwater world via different means, and it is thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Address: 9700 SW 328th St., Homestead
  • Phone: 305-203-7275

The Everglades National Park

Remember the Everglades, the thick brush of jungle and wild nature on the eastern side of Miami, competing with the habitable plain for space? Well, that thick brush provides some of the best attractions for young people. A tram is scheduled daily at different times to provide a tour into the thicket where Florida's diverse wild animals dwell. In the Everglades National Park, are the infamous mosquitoes, they will bite and suck human blood during the summer when they are most active. If repellants can work during that time of the year and if you must visit the Everglades, then please go ahead and do so. The gifts of nature that the children, especially teenagers will see are worth it all. It is only in the Everglades where one can find tropical and temperate conditions clashing and giving habitation to animals that are never found in the same area together, i.e. the Crocodile and Alligator. Touted as one of the biological wonders of the world, the Everglades National Park is also fittingly called the River of grass. It is wide areas of wetland or plains and brush submerged in water.

In the Everglades are unique snails, frogs, birds of all kinds including the flamingo and stork. Dry land animals like deer, opossums, raccoons, foxes and even rabbits have adapted to this habitat. They swim or wad through the grassy wetlands, burrowing in tree branches, trunks and elsewhere in the ground. Myriad varieties of butterflies float the land in droves, gracing the thickets of mangroves and saw grass prairies with their beauty. The wild world of the Everglades is kept wild and protected by the federal government.

Other than catching the tram that leaves for tours into the Everglades at scheduled times during the day from the Shark Valley Visitor Center, there are other trails and places where such tours begin. Besides this point, there is the Anhinga trail at Royal Palm, the Eco Pond, Snake Bight past Flamingo, and Chokoloskee Bay near the Gulf Coast. There is a boardwalk known as the Bobcat, it is an enjoyable trail, especially for children.

  • Address: U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) 25 miles west of the Florida Turnpike from exit 25 (S.W. 8th St.)
  • Phone: 305-221-8776

The Miami Zoo

Children and parents alike will love the experience of seeing animals from Africa, Asia and as far as Australia right here at home in Florida. The Metrozoo is has more than 1200 species of animals and birds. There are Jaguars, White Tigers, Black Rhinos, Lions, Koalas, Giraffes and even the Abacus. This Florida land has been transformed to look, feel and be like the habitat most of these animals come from. If you have never been to Africa, Asia, the Americas or Australia to see some of the animals on display here, the Metrozoo is designed to give you an experience as close to the real thing as you can come. This habitation of Orangutans and Asian Aviary that boasts a giraffe feeding station where these long necked creatures can feed from the hands of visitors has zookeepers who are available to answer questions about the animals.

Like most attractions in Miami, you will need to make bookings in advance to take a tour of the zoo. There are shuttles from over 125 hotels to the zoo every day. Most animals can be viewed all day, any day of the week; however, the Lion, Orangutan, Pygmy Hippo, African Elephant, Jaguar, Asian Bear and Gorilla can only be seen on weekends and during the holidays.

The 740 acre property has two or four seat bicycle carriages, for renting by those who do not wish to walk.

  • Address: 12400 S.W. 152 St., Miami
  • Phone: 305-251-0400

The Children’s Museum

For curious eyes, hands that love to touch and feel, the children’s museum situated on the Causeway, not far from the South Beach; is an educational, entertaining and interactive unforgettable experience. This is the one place your children will be talking about for a long time to come. Designed with children in mind, the spacious and stylistic museum has miniaturized the larger business world of adults to fit it into that of children.

The first floor of the museum is a children’s wonderland; it has a bank, hospital, veterinary clinic, supermarket and fire station. In this colorful and welcoming environment, children are free to touch whatever they wish. There is a television studio and a place where children of all ages can make art, music, work on a dock, Board a cruise ship and even venture to climb Mt Michimu, a rock wall designed with them in mind.

  • Address: 980 Macarthur Cswy., Miami
  • Phone: 305-373-5437

The Seaquarium

After spending time with land animals, a visit to Miami’s Seaquarium will give the pleasure of seeing under water life as it comes alive to entertain and feed the eyes. The Miami Seaquarium features sea turtles, sea lions, seals and the Florida Manatee, besides dolphins, killer whales and other outdoor marine. They have on offer for visitors to the Seaquarium a trained dolphin show, Lolita the Killer Whale show and at least one feeding and trainer presentation sometime during the day. If reservations are made in advance, a program called WADE gives visitors an opportunity to swim in the water with the dolphin. Visitors also get to see the Coral reefs that teem with under water life that constitutes a host of fish and diversities of river creatures.

  • Address: 4400 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne
  • Phone: 305-361-5705

The Gold Coast Railway Museum

Trains are a rarity in the lives of most children here in America. This old museum, dusty as it may be, is a precious habitation for locomotives that were once in use and old train cars. This is a haven for train lovers as it has an extensive model train exhibit. Young people will especially enjoy a chance to play with a huge toy train set for good measure. It is also a good lesson in the history of transportation.

  • Address: 12450 S. W. 152 St., Miami (on the grounds of Metrozoo)
  • Phone: 305-253-0063

Monkey Island

A visit to Miami would not be complete without a visit to Monkey Island. This place left exclusively for all the primate is where they say “monkeys are let loose, and humans are caged.” Primates on Monkey Island swing above the foliage in tall trees, saunter through acres of land while humans walk on wired paths. Baskets are left to hang around where visitors can place treats and food for the monkeys who are never far away. Children will love seeing monkeys in an environment like the ones they were originally gotten from in south eastern Asia. Monkey Island has three distinct areas for which tours are properly scheduled, the Wild Monkey Swimming Pool, the Orang Utans and the Amazonian Rainforest. Watch out, monkeys enjoy teasing humans; you never know who would be mischievously trolling in a branch right above your head.

14805 Southwest 216th St. Miami, FL 33170
(305) 235-1611





Miami Florida (South Beach)

TRIVIA! - About Miami

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    • donnaisabella profile imageAUTHOR

      Isabella Mukanda 

      8 years ago from Fort Myers

      Thanks for reading Melovy. The Art Deco buildings are truly lovely. The first time we went to the beach in Miami, I was a bit lost in the wonder of the activities, people, buildings and just the whole area, I do not think I enjoyed it as much one who goes there with a mind to explore and just enjoy. We had gone out of curiosity and did not have a lot of time on our hands. Thanks for reading.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      8 years ago from UK

      We visited Miami many years ago and in particular I loved Miami beach because of all the beautiful art deco buildings. You’ve included so much useful information about places I didn’t know about too. The Everglade National Park sounds amazing.

    • donnaisabella profile imageAUTHOR

      Isabella Mukanda 

      8 years ago from Fort Myers

      Thanks Simone. There sure is a lot to do in Miami. I hope you visit the Everglades, to us Floridians, visiting the Everglades is as good as taking a ride to another city. Thanks for the comment and the time.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Woof, there's so much to do in Miami! I really would love to visit Everglades National Park someday. Though... the urban sights aren't to shabby either :D

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