Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Florida Part Two (Beyond Disney World): Miami Beach

Miami Beach is intoxicating, exciting and sultry....but it can also be a great place to take kids. We spent four days there with our kids in January 2010 and were surprised how kid-friendly it was. Even some of the hipper looking restaurants had high chairs for kids.


Loews Miami Beach Hotel

We stayed at Loews, which advertises itself as "Loews Loves Kids". They certainly do. Not only did the staff provide toys in our room for our children, there was also an amazing selection of sand toys at the beach for the kids to play with. At certain times of the year they also offer supervised recreational programs for children (it was not available when we visited, so I cannot comment on it).

Other positives about this hotel include: the location (the hotel is right on South Beach with easy access to many attractions), great suite layouts and an amazing pool. Also some of the rooms come with a private ocean view balcony. Some of the cons include: the pricey "extras". For example, if you wish to have a bed on the beach, it will cost you $10, and $15 for a beach umbrella. Room service food is also expensive and uninspired. Another con for us is that our room did not have a bathtub (it did have a gorgeous shower). This would have been fine it it was just my husband and I or if we had older children, but our youngest son had just turned 2 and showers scared him. I assume that not every suite is bathless, so this may be something you would like to confirm if you choose to book with Loews.

Price: High

Sagamore Hotel

The Sagamore Hotel offers a variety of suite options as well as two storey bungalows. A great bonus is that they post images of their room layouts online.  Reviews on Trip Advisor seem to indicate that the pool is excellent for small children

Price: Moderate

Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at South Beach

Offers one and two bedroom suites that includes a fully equipped kitchen. There is no pool on site, but the beach is only across the street. 

Price: Low (well for Miami Beach)


Miami Children's Museum

The Miami Children's Museum offers children the opportunity to learn through imaginative play. Your child, in one day, can be a vet, a dentist, a grocery store owner, a fisher, a firefighters...oh the list goes on! The place is incredible! My oldest son still talks about the Miami Children's Museum and asks when we can go back.

Price: $15/person for non-Florida residents ($12 for Florida residents). Children ages 1 and younger are free.

Miami Science Museum

The Miami Science museum is a bit dated, but it was a great way to spend a rainy day. Bonus for us -- we are members at Science North, a Science Museum in Sudbury, which is part of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), so our membership allowed us to get into the Miami Science Museum for free (something to look into if you are hold a ASTC membership). It looks like they will be building a new museum soon.

Price: Adults are $14.95. Children 3 to 12 years of age are $10.95. Children under 3 are free.

Lincoln Road Mall

Lincoln Road Mall is a pedestrian outdoor mall that offers unique shopping and dining options. It's a lively place and our family had fun walking up and down this strip after dinner.

Hanging out on Miami Beach

Of course you could just spend your time on the beach playing in the sand.


Other attractions that we did not have time to visit, but you might want to check out:

Everglades National Park

According to its website,  Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, significant to all people of the world. 

It is approximately an hour drive from Miami.

Admission: $10 fee for private vehicle. $5 fee for pedestrians and cyclists.

Coral Gables Venetian Pool

A coral rock lagoon for you and your family to spend a day swimming. Children under the age of 3 and under 38 inches are NOT permitted.

Oleta River State Park

Located within Miami, this state park has many biking and walking trails. It also includes a mangrove forests and a beach for swimming.

Admission: $6 entrance fee per vehicle. $2 entrance fee for pedestrians and cyclists.

Miami Metro Zoo

Has more than 2 000 animals representing more than 500 species. 

Admission: Adults are $15.95. Children 3 to 12 are $11.95. Children 2 and under are free.

Art Deco Walking Tour

Miami Beach is know for its Art Deco architecture and there are many tours where you can learn and explore more about this style of design (I am still disappointed that we did not have time to do a tour). You may want to check out the one offered by the Miami Design Preservation League -- a 90 minute tour through hotels, restaurants and other commercial buildings.

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