It’s easy to imagine that Miamians spend their entire lives rollerblading, jogging, cycling and working out at the beach. South Beach is a shrine to the hard sculptured body, so it’s natural for visitors to get active while they are here. Apart from swimming and jogging on South Beach, Miami offers plenty of outdoor activities for people of all ages – from kayaking to alligator spotting.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Open daily, these magnificent botanic gardens in Coral Gables offer a tranquil escape from the madness of South Miami. Smaller children will love the regular tram tours, while bigger kids should enjoy exploring the rainforest, rare plant house and tropical fruit pavilion. A highlight is the Wings of the Tropics exhibition featuring hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world.
From petting farms to talking bird shows and mischievous baboons, this theme park should keep your kids amused for hours. Jungle Island, one of Miami’s longest running attractions, offers a number of habitats to explore, plus special performances and exhibits. Visitors can stroll along 135 miles of winding trails and use the giant water playground at Parrot Cove, Miami’s only a private beach.
Set on 38 acres Miami Seaquarium is another must-do excursion for anyone travelling with kids. The park is best known for its daily wildlife shows featuring dolphins, sea lions and Orcas, but also offers a number of educational animal encounters, like becoming a keeper for the day. The park has several permanent exhibits featuring manatees, sharks, sea lions and a 750,000-gallon aquarium.
Everglades National Park
The one-hour drive to the Everglades, one of the world’s most extensive wetlands, is a well-beaten path. Almost every visitor to Miami signs up for a guided tour involving an airboat ride, a short nature trail and a rather sad alligator show. Passionate animal lovers will be appalled by this mass tourism experience, but the tours are pretty good value – provided your expectations are fairly low. Ask your hotel to recommend a good operator.
South Beach Kayak
Located on Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach, this family-run business rents both kayaks and stand-up paddleboard. This is a great way to explore the usually tranquil waters of Sunset Harbour – and keep fit at the same time. Prices are affordable and there are introductory classes for first-time paddlers. Single and double kayaks are available by the hour or for a half-day hire. Open seven days a week.
Key Biscayne is a popular escape for Miamians who want to do some hiking, cycling, canoeing, skateboarding and, in the summer months, swimming, snorkeling and windsurfing. This 808-acre park contains a huge range of sporting facilities, including golf courses and tennis courts, but most people come here to use the flawless 3.2 kilometre beach on the Atlantic side of the park.