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Top 10 Things To Do In Miami

10 Great Things To Do In Miami

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1. South Beach Weekend Getaway

Living in Miami, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of all our beautiful city has to offer. When you need a quick vacation, don’t forget that South Beach is close to home. While others need to travel the world over to visit the clear blue waters and unique art deco landscape, we can simply take a weekend to rejuvenate in our own backyard! Here’s how to make the most of your weekend South Beach get-away. The best time for locals to visit is off-season, May through August. You can get great rates at this time, and the streets and restaurants are quieter. Spring break weeks are the worst time for locals to visit, in March and April.

When you arrive on Friday evening, you can either check in at one of the many large grand hotels on the beach or you can see what the smaller eclectic hotels have to offer. One good bet is the Doubletree Surfcomber Hotel Miami (1717 Collins Avenue) which is within walking distance to almost everything. Their amenities include a data port in each room, two thousand feet of private beach and umbrella/towel service. A very different experience can be found at The Pelican. While still within walking distance to all South Beach attractions, it boasts the coolest choices of rooms anywhere. Each of the thirty rooms are decorated in their own style and named appropriately. If rooms like Flower Power, Big Bamboo, Best Whorehouse or Me Tarzan, You Vain sound appealing, you have to check this hotel out! You also might want to read our reader-selected Top Miami Beach Hotels.

Your best bet for tonight after checking into your hotel is dinner and people-watching on Lincoln Road. Full of stores, boutiques, art galleries, and museums, seven blocks of this ten-block mall have been closed to auto traffic. The unique atmosphere lends to some interesting people showing up, and you never know who you may see!

Most restaurants offer outdoor seating so you can enjoy the ambience and beautiful weather. Whether you feel like Italian (TiramesU Restaurant, Da Leo Trattoria), Cuban (Yuca Restaurant), New World (Pacific Time), or a blues cafe (Van Dyke Cafe), you can find it here on Lincoln Road! Spend the rest of the evening here so you can be refreshed for a full day tomorrow.

2. Miami MetroZoo

Miami MetroZoo is fast becoming one of the best zoos in the nation. Its climate allows it to keep a wide variety of animals from Asia, Australia and Africa like no other zoo in the country. One of the first free-range zoos in the country, the exhibits are entirely cageless. Animals are grouped according to their geographic territory and animals that live together peacefully in the wild are placed in exhibits together. Other animals in the area are separated by moats. Looking out across the African plains, for example, you see the animals apparently co-mingling much as you would on a safari. The trees, foliage and even soil mimic as closely as possible the native habitat of the animals.

Among the newest members of the zoo are the critically endangered baby addux “Abacus” and a critically endangered baby black rhino. You can also see white tigers, gibbons, Cuban crocodiles and a komodo dragon, as well as the regular lions, tigers and bears. The coolest animal stunt is the painting elephant- a real elephant, armed with a paintbrush and easel, creating a masterpiece!

Visiting Miami MetroZoo
Miami MetroZoo is a beautiful place to spend the day, with or without children. Come see what’s new! The zoo is open 9:30 – 5:30 daily (the ticket booth closes at 4:00) and the cost is $13.95 for adults, $9.95 for children ages 3-12. The zoo is located at 152nd Street and 124th Avenue.

3. Miami Seaquarium

Miami Seaquarium offers visitors an entertaining and educational experience found in very few locations in the United States. Our region’s tropical climate allows for year-round outdoor marine shows featuring dolphins, killer whales and other sea creatures. The Seaquarium also features exhibits of sea turtles, seals, sea lions, and our very own Florida Manatee. Be sure to check the Seaquarium website before you leave home, as the show schedule varies from day to day.

The Seaquarium is located on the Rickenbacker Causeway between Downtown Miami and Key Biscayne. This site offers amazing views of Biscayne Bay and the city of Miami.
Admission to Miami Seaquarium is $29.95 for adults and $22.95 for children ages 3-9. If you’re planning to visit more than once this year, you can purchase an annual pass for an additional $10 per person.

4. Everglades

With 1.5 million acres of swamps, saw-grass prairies and sub-tropical jungles, Everglades National Park is one of the most unusual public parks in the United States. Located on the southern tip of Florida, the park is home to 14 rare and endangered species, including the American Crocodile, the Florida Panther and the West Indian Manatee. A large portion of the park is primitive, explored only by adventurists and researchers – but visitors have ample opportunity to walk, camp and canoe through the flat and watery park that is also known as “the river of grass.”

Five thousand years ago, the Everglades encompassed much of Florida, from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico.

Evidence of early Native American settlers in the Everglades dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries. As Europeans landed in St. Augustine, Florida and moved around the region, other Native American tribes, most notably the Seminoles, fled south into the inhospitable swamp. In the late 1800s, a few rugged settlers founded the village of Flamingo, located at the very tip of Florida (and the end of the swampy Everglades).

By 1934, Congress signed an act that allowed for the creation of a park in South Florida. Initially, the park would encompass 460,000 acres of federal, state and private lands – but over the years, land acquisitions would increase its size. Today, the Everglades is the third largest national park.

President Harry S. Truman dedicated the park in 1947 with these words: “Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country.”

In 1979, UNESCO declared Everglades National Park a World Heritage Site, for the area’s indigenous history and its diversity of flora and fauna.

Today, Everglades National Park is a protected area; however, it only encompasses one-seventh of the area known as the Everglades. Much of the northern stretches of the swamp are currently threatened by draining and development, and environmentalists warn that if the non-park areas are not protected, the world will lose an important and unique ecosystem.

5. Miami Beaches

Miami’s beaches offer a great opportunity to get some exercise or just enjoy some time in the sun! In this article, I take a look at a few of my favorite beaches, including a couple of lesser-used spots where you’ll be able to avoid the tourist crowd.

South Beach is the quintessential Miami beach experience. It’s the place to see and be seen and show off the product of months in the gym. South Beach isn’t clothing optional, but topless bathing is permitted. My husband loves to run on the paved jogging path that borders South Beach. The beach is located on Ocean Drive, across the street from many of Miami Beach’s famous nightclubs.

Virginia Key Beach is one of the most interesting beaches in South Florida. It’s located right off the Rickenbacker Causeway (on both the north and south sides) near the Miami Seaquarium. The location makes for easy access and some areas become crowded, but there are plenty of secluded spots (such as the one shown in the photo) if you’re willing to explore a bit. Don’t be surprised if you see me when you visit. I love to take my black lab for a walk/swim on the only area beach that allows leashed dogs.

Haulover Beach, located on Miami Beach between Sunny Isles Beach and Bal Harbour, is known around the world as Miami’s only legal “clothing optional” nude beach. If you’re skittish about shedding your swimsuit, never fear. The beach offers traditional sunbathing as well and the nude beach is clearly marked to avoid accidents! Haulover Beach is a fantastic surfing spot.

Bill Baggs State Park, located on the south end of Key Biscayne, is home to the famous Cape Florida lighthouse. The park provides sunbathing, swimming and history in the same spot! You can spend some time on the beach and enjoy a guided tour of the lighthouse. Fishing is also allowed from the seawall. The park also hosts Boater’s Grill, a full service restaurant.

Homestead Bayfront Park is a great option if you’re looking to avoid the tourist scene. Located in the southern portion of Miami Dade County, Bayfront Park offers swimming and boating options with a full-service marina. It’s located at 9698 SW North Canal Drive.

6. Miami Science Museum

Miami Science Museum offers children and adults alike an entertaining, educational experience. It’s a great place to visit, whether you’re on vacation, a school field trip or a weekend family outing.

Many world-class exhibits, featured on a rotating basis. Current exhibits include Music Musica, The Reclamation Project, Immersion Theatre, Newton’s Notions, and 40 Tons of Coral in New York City.

Miami Planetarium
The Museum also houses the Miami Planetarium, famous as the home of Jack Horkheimer’s Star Gazer television show. The planetarium features daily shows, surround sound, video projection, lasers and a four-story tall screen. In addition to the main planetarium, the museum is home to the Weintraub Observatory’s two powerful telescopes. The observatory operates from 8PM-10PM daily. A special treat occurs the first Friday of each month when the observatory hours are preceded by a special, free planetarium show.

Wildlife Center
The Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center houses injured birds participating in the center’s rehabilitation program. The center also runs annual events including Snake Day and Lizard Day.
Miami Science Museum Location
The Museum is located at 3280 South Miami Avenue, just north of Coconut Gtove. From the north, take I-95 to exit 1A. After exiting, stay in the right lane and follow the signs to the Museum. From the south, take U.S. 1 north and turn right just before I-95.
Miami Science Museum Hours
Miami Science Museum is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas from 10 AM until 6PM.

7. Miami Children’s Museum

Miami Children’s Museum offers children the opportunity to explore their imaginations through educational play. My three children have been to the museum many times and look forward to each return visit!

Exhibits and Activities
The museum features a variety of permanent exhibits and a changing selection of traveling exhibits. The permanent collection includes:

# Bank
# Castle of Dreams
# Health & Wellness Center
# Pet Central
# Safety Zone
# Supermarket
# Television Studio
# Meet Miami
# The Sea and Me
# Ocean Odyssey
# Everglades Park
# You and Me and Teddy Bears Too
# Port of Miami
# Cruise Ship
# All About Art
# World Music Studio

Miami Children’s Museum Location
The Museum is located on Macarthur Causeway between Miami and Miami Beach. Their street address is 980 Macarthur Causeway. Parking at the Museum is operated by the Miami Parking Authority and costs $1 per hour, payable at self-service parking stations.
Hours of Operation
Miami Children’s Museum is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas from 10 AM until 6PM.
Admission to the Miami Children’s Museum is $12 for Florida residents and all children over twelve months of age. Non-resident adults pay a $15 admission fee.

8. Parrot Jungle Island

Parrot Jungle Island offers visitors a fun, educational opportunity to get an up-close look at tropical birds in replicas of their natural habitats. The attraction routinely hosts field trips and offers frequent educational programs.

Exhibits and Activities

Parrot Jungle Island is home to a large number of animals, including:

* Parrots (of course!)
* Penguins
* Flamingos
* Macaws
* Cranes
* Condors
* Ligers (a cross between a lion and a tiger)
* Tigers
* Llamas
* Skunks
* Kangaroos
* Reptiles
* Orangutans
* Monkeys
* Chimpanzees
* Baboons

The collection also features a wide variety of fish and plants. There’s something to satisfy the inner biologist in everyone!

Jungle Island Shows
Parrot Jungle Island offers three shows daily:

* Winged Wonders at 10:30, 1:15, and 4:15 in the Parrot Bowl
* Tale of the Tiger at 12:30, 3:15 and 5:40 in the Jungle Theater (the 5:40 show is on weekends and holidays only)
* Gator X-Treme at 12:00 and 2:35 Thursdays-Sundays with an additional 5:20 show on weekends in the Lower Level of the Serpentarium

Parrot Jungle Island Location
Jungle Island is literally on an island of its own, near downtown Miami. It is located at 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail and can be reached via I-395. Detailed directions are available on the Jungle Island website.
Hours of Operation
Parrot Jungle Island is open every day of the year from 10 AM until 6PM.

9. Monkey Jungle Park and Research Center

“Where the humans are caged and the monkeys run wild” – it’s more than a catch-phrase. Monkey Jungle in southern Miami-Dade County is a truly unique park. While homo sapiens walk through carefully constructed wire pathways, many species of primates scamper above your head, swing through trees and interact with each other in ways difficult to observe in captivity. Keep your eyes open; you never know who’s hanging around!

Monkey Jungle was started in 1935 when Joseph DuMonds and his wife brought the first six monkeys to this 10-acre plot to observe them living in their natural habitat. He chose Florida because its climate and ecology are very similar to their native home, Southeast Asia. When he started letting interested visitors into the park, he knew he could never cage his monkeys. If humans wanted to come, they would have to be the ones in cages! Today, the 30-acre Monkey Jungle is still owned and operated by Joseph DuMonds’ son, Frank. Research and observation of these free-range monkeys has led to some definitive works on primate behavior.

The park is well-organized with three demonstrations, each highlighting one of the major areas of the park- the wild monkey swimming pool, the Orang Utans, and the Amazonian Rainforest. The rainforest was in its prime in the early nineties. With the foliage and climate, it actually captured low-lying clouds and made its own weather systems with enough daily rainfall to be an actual rainforest. Hurricane Andrew destroyed it, and although it is making a comeback, it still has some time to go before it’s as splendid as it was.

One of the more fun activities at Monkey Jungle is feeding the monkeys. You can purchase peanuts and dried fruit at the entrance and leave treats for the monkeys in hanging baskets. They’re never far away, and they keep an eagle eye on those baskets- as soon as food is deposited, they run over, pull the basket up to the caged “roof”, and dig out the treats. But be careful- a hungry monkey almost dropped a basket on my head as I walked by!

Monkey Jungle is open daily from 9:30 – 5:00. For more information, call (305) 235-1611 or visit Monkey Jungle on the web. Have fun, but be careful- it’s a jungle out there!

10. Coral Castle

Coral Castle is an engineering marvel consisting of over 1,100 tons of carved coral rock located in Homestead, Florida. If you’re travelling from Miami down to the Keys, it’s well worth the stop. Coral Castle, also known as Rock Gate, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ed Leedskalnin built Coral Castle with his own two hands over an almost 30-year period in the 1950s. He refused to allow anyone to watch him work, leading to speculation that the castle was constructed through the use of paranormal powers.

Visiting the castle is a marvelous experience. You truly cannot grasp the wonder of Ed’s engineering accomplishment until you view the massive chunks of coral rock with your own eyes. Visitors may take a 30-minute audio tour, offered in English, Spanish, French or German.

Coral Castle Location
Coral Castle is located at 28655 South Dixie Highway in Homestead. It’s at the intersection of SW 157th Avenue and US 1. Detailed driving directions are available on the Coral Castle website.
Hours of Operation
Coral Castle is open 8AM-6PM on Sundays through Thursdays and 8AM-9PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
Admission to the Coral Castle is $9.75 for adults (ages 13-61), $6.50 for seniors 62 and older, $5 for children (ages 7-12) and free for children 6 and under.

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