A Family Guide To The Perfect Budget Vacation In Miami
Biscayne Boulevard - a hive of activity
Miami Skyline (night and day)
The City Of Miami In PicturesClick thumbnail to view full-size
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
The Everglades National ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
The MetrozooClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Children's Museum
The Miami Seaquarium
Dolphin Show At The Seaquarium
Lolita The Killer Whale At The Seaquarium
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum In MiamiClick thumbnail to view full-size
Monkey Jungle Attraction - Miami
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
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
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
Miami Florida (South Beach)
TRIVIA! - About Miamiview quiz statistics
More About The Attractions
- ZOO MIAMI -- FLORIDA: Mission Everglades
- Gold Coast Railroad Museum - Home
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum was founded in 1956. The museum was built on the former Naval Air Station Richmond (NASR). With over three miles of tracks, the old base was an ideal place to build a railroad museum. The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is o
- City of Miami Beach - Official Website
- Biscayne National Park - Biscayne National Park
- Miami Seaquarium
- Welcome to the Miami Children's Museum
The Miami Children’s Museum is dedicated to enriching the lives of all children by fostering a love of learning and enabling children to realize their highest potential.
- Welcome to Monkey Jungle