I adore Miami, but my visits there have been of a decidedly non-family travel bent. The first time was *ahem* 12 years ago, in my former life as a music TV producer. We interviewed the Bee Gees in their South Beach studio, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have met these musical heroes of mine, and now both Robin and Maurice are gone – only Barry is left. What struck me about that trip was how bustling Miami is, and also how unlike it is from the other parts of Florida I’ve visited.
And just a few months ago I traipsed down to Miami for a quick stop at one of the great Miami boutique hotels that South Beach is famous for. Again, not exactly a family getaway – although where I stayed is totally welcoming of children. I just happened to be doing that trip (sadly) solo.
And like most trips I take where my kids are not with me, I spend a great deal of my time missing them, and mentally taking notes on what they’d like to see and do *when* I take them there. Miami is no exception – I love it!
Where to stay – Miami With Kids…
Miami Beach would be my pick for a home base in Miami. While South Beach proper runs only a few block at the southernmost tip, Miami Beach extends for many many blocks. Too many for me to walk entirely in both directions – but there’s convenient bus service that runs straight up and down Collins Avenue. It also could not be easier to get to Miami Beach from Miami International Airport. I considered a cab (around $40 with tip) but ended up taking the Miami Beach Airport Express Flyer (Route 150) that runs every 30 minutes from MIA to Miami Beach/South Beach. The transfers to and from the airport were by far the easiest and least expensive airport commutes I’ve done – one-way fare is $2.35 (exact change, please!) Even if you choose to stay further North, it’s so easy to access South Beach and use those hotel savings for the Mall of the Americas 😉
Miami is very diverse, and so are your options for lodging. In researching accommodations, I discovered a new hotel booking site called TravelPony.com – sponsors of this post. In Miami, you’re spoiled for choice between enormous resorts and independent condo rentals, and every conceivable option in between, with many decent rooms for under $200.00/night. When I logged in to TravelPony, I found awesome discounts ranging from 42% to 51% less than other online booking sites.
The rates and accommodations were great, with lots of choices for families with little ones. The Loews South Beach, was 44% off, and the Courtyard by Marriott Miami Beach was 42% off – a great value and right on the beach. The luxurious James Royal Palm, located steps from Ocean Drive, was a whopping 51% less than the closest offer.
With the rates and properties I saw on their site, I’ll be adding TravelPony to the roster of websites I explore before booking a trip.
Where to eat – Miami With Kids…
The Cuban culture is hopping in Miami, and the warm Latin flavour infuses most local food. Now this is the USA, so of course there are your usual suspects of fast food, as well as dependable chain restaurants.
There’s a Whole Foods in South Beach, as well as three Publix locations.
A stand-out for me was David’s Cafe in South Beach – I enjoyed a fantastic, traditional Cuban sandwich and cafe con leche while watching Telenovelas with the staff. It was awesome.
What to do – Miami With Kids…
The Beach! Different areas of the beach are better than others for little ones, but Miami Beach, be it North or South, is pretty awesome. The stretch in front of the Soho Beach House is pretty incredible, especially if you’re lucky enough to be staying there. A stroll along the Miami Beach Boardwalk, that stretches for four miles from end to end, allows little ones to trot around relatively safely while you stroll along.
However, if you can tear yourselves away from the sand and the sea, there are a couple of places that caught my eye, pretty conveniently located in between Miami and South Beach.
Miami Children’s Museum –
One of the largest children’s museums in the United States, the Miami Children’s Museum, affectionately known as MiChiMu, is over 50,000 square feet of interactive and bilingual exhibits aimed at kids up to 8 years of age (and their families, of course!) MiChiMu is open daily, and admission is $16 (children under twelve months are free).
Jungle Island –
The original Parrot Island was one of the first tourist attractions in the Miami area, and now the 22 artificial fertilizer-and-pesticide-free acres is home to a variety of animals and birds – most notably Hercules, a 900-pound liger, that is a cross between a lion and a tiger. Children 2 and under are free, Adult admission is $34.95 +tax, seniors are $32.95 + tax, and kids 3-10 are $26.95 + tax and stroller rentals are available. Jungle Island is open daily throughout the year.
Where Miami also differs from the rest of Florida in that it can be quite pricey. TravelPony is a new hotel booking site that can save you LOTS on a number of great hotels – the kicker is you share your great travel finds with your social networks. And sharing on social media is kind of like today’s word of mouth.
Many thanks to TravelPony for supporting this post…