Choose Your Hotel Wisely
Most of the resorts along Collins Avenue cater to fashion-forward scene-seekers, but there are loads of other family-friendly alternatives nearby. See the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, Acqualina Resort & Spa and the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort. The latter backs onto the beach and also sits across the street from the Bal Harbour Shops, so kids can search for conch shells while their parents scout Brioni, guilt-free.
Entertain Through Education
“I love Miami for families because parents feel like they are getting everything they want while also making their kids happy,” says Lia Batkin, cofounder of travel-planning company In the Know Experiences. At the top of her list is the 90-minute VIP Safari Tour at Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trl.; 205-400-7000), where grown-ups and children both can engage with animals like red-ruffed lemurs (one of the rarest animals on earth) and Aldabra tortoises, native to the Seychelles. Other hands-on tours include Zoo Miami's Wildlife Tour (1 Zoo Blvd.; 305-251-0400) and Miami Seaquarium’s Trainer for a Day (4400 Rickenbacker Cswy.; 305-361-5705). The Miami Children’s Museum is also a must (980 MacArthur Cswy.; 305-373-5437). And, new this spring, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science opens in downtown Miami's Museum Park.
Make Dining Exciting
Benihana is outclassed by the wizards at Samurai (8717 SW. 136th St.; 305-238-2131), where meat sizzles on teppanyaki tables and knives fly through the air on their way to beheading fresh-caught shrimp. It’s rowdy in here, and you can’t ignore the squeals of delight. For something slightly more retro, Myles Chefetz’s Big Pink diner (157 Collins Ave.; 305-532-4700; mylesrestaurantgroup.com) has been catering to families, ladies who lunch and morning-after revelers since 1996. Look for the VW Beetles parked out front and the elevated TV-dinner-inspired menu inside. State Fair corn dogs, anyone?
Beat the Heat
When the beach gets too hot or that rainy day falls on your holiday, head indoors to the Sky Zone (5450 NW. 82nd Ave.; 305-640-5424), where little ones (and their parents) can shake the sillies out on 10,000 square feet of trampolines and foam pits. Feel the need for speed? K1 Speed (8600 NW. South River Dr.; 786-838-0612) lets you go 45 miles per hour on indoor go-cart tracks. It’s ten minutes from the airport, making it an easy final pit stop before your flight home.