When school looms just over the horizon and it’s time for the kids to burn off some of that nervous energy, head out in Miami for a day of fun they’ll be talking about all year. From air boats to BMX parks, these area venues promise adventures like the family hasn’t had in years.
22700 S.W. 8 St.
Miami, FL 33194
Price: $22 for adults/$11 for kids 7 to 11/free for kids younger than 7
During the summer, locals usually flock to the beach and completely forget Miami has another natural wonder that serves up a different kind of fun. Take your kids to Coopertown Airboats, and they’ll have stories to tell at school that will put those kids who just went to the beach to shame. Walk the grounds and marvel at the caged alligators and then hop on an airboat for a guided tour of the Everglades and see alligators in their natural habitat. After your kids have worked up an appetite, take them to the Coopertown Restaurant & Giftshop where they may sample the local wildlife with freaky foods like froglegs and gator tail. But don’t worry, this place offers regular food too.
1111 Parrot Jungle Trail
Miami, FL 33132
Price: $32.95 adults ages 11-64/$30.95 for seniors/$24.95 for kids ages 3 to 10/free for kids ages 0 to 2
Located on Watson Island on the MacArthur Causeway, Jungle Island is a sure bet to entertain your child. It features monkeys, an albino alligator and, of course, parrots. It offers three 20-minute shows that educate children about birds, tigers and other assorted species in Winged Wonders, Tale of the Tiger and Dr. Wasbi’s Wild Adventure programs, respectively. If you’re a local, purchase the annual passport instead of paying the regular admission. It’s only $10 more for children and $12 for adults and includes year-long admission.
2701 de Soto Blvd.
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 460- 5306
Price: $5 for Coral Gables adult residents/$3.95 for Coral Gables children 6 to 12/$11 for non-Coral Gables adult residents/$6.30 for non-Coral Gables children 6 to 12/children younger than 3 not allowed
The Venetian is Miami’s most beautiful pool, and if your kid is going to swim, this is the poshest place to do it at. The pool is filled with 820,000 gallons of spring water and features bridges, grattos and waterfalls. It’s heaven for you and a playground for them. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about the crowds that normally frequent waterparks and the beach, so its perfect for that last bit of family time before school starts. Lifeguards are always on duty to ensure your child’s safety during playtime.
Miami South BMX
13050 S.W. 216 St.
Miami, FL 33170
Price: $4 for practice/$7 for race
This place is one of the best kept secrets in Miami. It’s a real dirt BMX track complete with hills perfect for jumping. Bring your own bike and start jumping hills like a pro. It offers practice every Tuesday and races every Friday between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Stick to practice as this course is perfect for beginners as young as 3 years old but can be dangerous if you try to move too fast. Helmets are required and are available on site.
Related: Best Waterparks and Pools in Miami
Oleta River State Park
3400 N.E. 163 St.
N. Miami, FL 33160
Price: $6 per 2 to 8 person vehicle/$4 per 1 person vehicle/$2 for pedestrians & bicyclist/$55 for cabin rentals
Oleta River State Park sits smack dab in the middle of the city but seems miles away from it. It offers so many activities your family may never get bored. Choose from swimming at the beach, hiking on a nature trail, canoeing, kayaking, biking and camping in a real cabin with real beds. It’s a nature-loving kid’s dream and a great opportunity to get your child to unplug from video games and TV. If your family gets hungry while its there, picnic or eat at its on-site restaurant, The Blue Marlin Fish House.
Related: Best South Florida Beaches for Kids
Niema Hulin was born in Newark, NJ but raised in Lexington, South Carolina for the bulk of her formative years. In 2002, she moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida. Since then, Niema has worked in film, television and commercials as a Production Assistant and Production Coordinator. Some of her films have included Bad Boys II and I Am Number IV. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.