Miami with ChildrenTaking Toddlers to South Beach: It's Not Just Lebron's Town Anymore
With a new wave of NBA All-Stars flocking to its sizzling shores, Miami Beach is hotter than ever. But don’t fret — Miami is known for more than the Burberry mankini and the world’s first poolside tanning butler. Despite its flashy party scene, this city by the sea sports a less is more mentality by day, and not only when it comes to clothing. Miami is also a favorite playground for little east coasters in search of year-round sun. While Miami’s most committed partygoers are holed up in cabanas catching up on their zzz’s, its tiniest visitors stake their claim on the city’s sandy shores.
Though families often endure connecting flights for a quick jaunt to the Caribbean, Miami offers stunning beaches and a direct flight, making it one of the few warm east coast destinations suitable for a quick fling. If you’re a parent who likes to swim with the kids by day, and toss back Mojitos after bedtime, Miami is the place for you.
Forget your days of rocking a cabana at the Delano. For families, apartment stays in Miami are best. A great source for oceanfront apartment rentals in Miami Beach is www.luxuryrentalsmiamibeach.com. Rent a two-bedroom condo at the Setai for much better prices than published hotel rates, and reap all the benefits of staying at this fabulous, Asian-inspired hotel property. For all of your baby gear essentials such as cribs, highchairs and strollers, call The Baby Travel Company. This local delivery service will have your chosen gear waiting at your apartment upon arrival, saving you the hassle of checking in your pack n’ play at the airport.
When you’re not building sandcastles on the shores, biking down the long palm tree boardwalks or logging in active hours at the pool, Miami offers worthy family attractions. A must-see for the little ones is Jungle Island. Close to all the action, the highlight at this cute, exotic animal paradise is the Winged Wonders bird show, which will have your little ones oohing, aahing and ducking as vultures and other amazing birds fly directly overhead and graze their little noggins. Explore the wonderful playground amid the rambunctious primates before heading back to seagulls and peaceful ocean sounds. For longer stays, get in touch with your adventurous side and consider an airboat tour of the Everglades. Sans Dexter, of course. Children will enjoy spotting alligators, 350 different species of birds, and swinging by the exotic wildlife center for a brush with the Florida panther.
In Miami, nightlife for the under-10 set gets under way at 5pm. A perfect destination for the early evening is the SoFi neighborhood (South of Fifth Street). Head to breezy South Pointe Park, a wonderful new green space on the very southern tip of Miami Beach great for long walks along the pier and rolling races down its vertical lawns. Although the park has sprinklers and a small playground, the kids will get a huge kick out of the cruise ship sightings. Grab some gelato for them from Dolce Vita before waving to the enormous ocean liners as they depart from their port. Parents can secure their treats by visiting the outdoor bar at Smith & Wollensky, where you can sip a cocktail or three and take in amazing views of Fisher Island and the setting sun.
For dinner, make your way to Joe’s Stone Crab. This legendary establishment’s veteran waiters will make highchairs and crayons appear at the snap of a finger. If you’re unwilling to commit to a sit-down family dinner with your over-tired bunch, swing by Joe’s Take Away, where you can pickup stone crabs and king crabs, grilled cheese, wine and the most amazing key lime pie on the planet. Dining al-fresco on your oceanfront terrace with the waves crashing in the distance is not a bad way to dine, after all.
In the wee hours of the morning, don’t let the kids’ bright-eyed energy intimidate you. Head to 1st Street in SoFi, where you can match their boundless energy with a large cappuccino from Starbucks while catching the early morning rays and surfers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Park, directly on the ocean. When you’re done, walk a few blocks to Big Pink and enjoy family-style portions of breakfast favorites outdoors.
Indoor activities are a necessary break from extreme weather days, and for this the Miami Children’s Museum is the place to be seen. This 56,000 square foot facility will save your family from heat stroke and torrential downpours while triggering your child’s senses and creative mind. With 14 different galleries including the popular World Music Studio, don’t be surprised if you rub elbows with a few of those preschool classmates from home. It’s been known to happen.
On your second night, put the Oh! in Opa at Taverna Opa in SoFi. This local Greek favorite is festive and fun, dishing out amazing meze and fresh, kid-friendly Mediterranean fare such as chicken, fish and lemon potatoes.
Later, after you’ve read Goodnight Moon and left instructions with grandma, throw on your chicest beach evening attire and dive into Miami’s al-fresco nightlife. Here, you’ll want to experience everything non-kid-friendly, of course. Whether it’s dinner and Mojitos at Casa Tua, drinks at The Rooftop Bar at the Gansevoort South Beach or old favorite Rose Bar, or dancing at mega-exclusive clubs LIV and Wall Lounge, give yourself a much needed break and make Miami your playground while the kiddos drift off to sleep.