Even in Miami the sun doesn’t shine all the time. So there’s always a need for a little indoor fun–even if it’s just to give the sunburn a day to heal.
Our favorite indoor attraction is the Miami Children’s Museum, which features interactive exhibits including a miniature supermarket, television news studio, cruise ship and a giant sandcastle slide. Our museum membership was a worthy investment. We go at least once a month for the permanent and touring exhibits and always make sure we visit the artist’s studio area to create a little art work or make an amazing castle out of Magna-Tiles. The museum is smaller than ones found in bigger cities but I recommend it for little visitors who have left their toys at home for a chance to play and be around other kids.
For history buffs, the Historical Museum of Florida located downtown, has a keen hands-on area and historical pirate exhibits. On the second Saturday of the month the Historical Museum and the Miami Art Museum hold free hands-on workshops for kids in the shared plaza. Across the way in the same shared plaza is the always free public library where my kids always relax with a big stack of comic books.
Parents of stargazers and budding naturalists should consider a trip to the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium. Traveling and permanent exhibits are largely geared toward children, exploring subject matter from dinosaurs to the properties of physics. Daily shows point out the stars of the season, while the Wildlife Center houses rare birds of prey and reptiles. This is a small museum that could be good to drop in and visit for a change from the beach or if the weather is acting up. Some exhibits do appear to be dated.
Another one of our favorite attractions is Cool de Sac an indoor play space located on the top floor of the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami and accessible by the South Miami Metrorail. My kids could spend a good four hours there playing on the computers, air hockey, LEGOS and art workshop. There’s also a climbing area, a dress up corner, face painting, train tables and crawler area. The helpful staff assist and play with the younger patrons. The café keeps everyone fed. This place is good for kids up to 11 or so. Entertaining a wide range of children is easy at Sunset Place because a GameWorks arcade is located right next door. The mall also houses a cinema.
Where to Eat
The majority of Miami ‘s population hails from the Caribbean and Latin America . Trying the cuisine of those lands is part of the area’s multicultural feel. Our kids like the tropical batidos (tropical milkshake) while their dad and I savor a good cafe con leche (coffee with steamed milk).
My family’s favorite kid-friendly restaurants on Miami Beach are: Puerto Sagua (700 Collins Avenue ) an authentic Cuban cafeteria, Nexxt, has a something-for-everyone Cheesecake Factory-like menu (700 Lincoln Road ) or Jerry’s Famous Deli (1450 Collins Avenue ) the décor and the menu harken back to Miami Beach ’s Jewish heyday. Note: It is NOT kosher.
Coconut Grove kid-friendly restaurants: Scotty’s Landing (3381 Pan American Drive) a shoe-in for Margaritaville, Monty’s Coconut Grove (2550 South Bayshore Drive) beautiful waterside dining, and Johnny Rockets (3036 Grand Avenue) dependable eating in the middle of the action.
On Key Biscayne try Bayside Hut, (3501 Rickenbacker Causeway) for the awesome view of the city and the bay.
Dina Weinstein is a Miami transplant who was born in Boston and most recently lived in Chicago . She’s made Coral Gables home with her husband and two boys. They love exploring their adopted city.