Traveling with Toddlers: Miami Beach

Miami, Miami, Miami. What a trip, what a place, what a good time. Honestly, I think coming back to Canada’s below freezing weather is going to do me in, but at least I get to come back with a tan (sunburn)! 

Now, this vacation was, in fact, not much of a vacation at all. Why do I say this? Well, it’s simple really – vacation used to mean lounging on the beach, under an umbrella, reading a book for about 8 hours of the work day while my husband ran around playing volleyball (because god forbid, he sits still for 5 minutes and boredom ensues). Vacation now involves jam packing every single day with fun-filled activities so that my toddler is entertained (because god forbid, he sits still for 5 minutes and boredom ensues). Needless to say, I’m not at work… but it’s all still work. However, major upside to a family vacation? I get to see and do SO MUCH more than I typically would. So thank you to my toddler with the terrible 2’s attitude, I had a lot of fun thanks to you. 

Now, before I get into my list of must-do’s when going to Miami with your family, I must post this warning – you need a car. Unless you plan on living on the beach and only going to the beach all day every day, nothing in Miami is walking distance – everything is at least a 15-20-minute drive away if not more. We stayed in Miami Beach area and all the fun stuff was at least a half hour away. We brought our own car seat with us, since you get to check it for free with the airline, and we rented a car that we picked up right at the airport.  

That’s that, here’s our list of exhaustion-filled-fun! 

Zoo 

Holy shit. Zoo Miami is one of the most beautiful zoos I have ever been to. Not only did they have a wide array of animals from all over the world, but my personal favourite features of the zoo was the bike rental. You can rent a tandem type bike that’s shaped like a golf cart. Your kids sit in the basket-type seat in the front and the adults sit in the back and pedal. It definitely beats walking around the zoo, and you get to sculpt your ass while looking at the animals. I mean, win-win! (No, pedaling was not hard or exhausting, if it was either, I would have given up about 5 seconds into it… I don’t work out remember?!)  

My kid loved the animals and he absolutely LOVED the bike.  

They have a fairly large kid’s zone as well where you get to feed camels, and walk right into a farm section where you can pet and groom goats. This was a major highlight for our 2yo, he loved brushing the goats down, and I was only horrified for about a second when my child decided that it was a good idea to brush his own hair with the goat’s brush (toddlers are so gross). 

Zoo Miami also has an entire schedule of when animal feedings are available for visitors – we fed the giraffes. I don’t know about my husband and my son, but this was the highlight of my life. I have NEVER seen a giraffe this up close, and they were so friendly! I’m highly considering knocking out the ceiling in my living room so we can move a giraffe in, I mean I’d no longer have a master bedroom, but love is all about selfless sacrificing, right?  

We even stopped at one of the random vending machines throughout the park to grab some ice cream (delicious but wish I hadn’t done this right before the ride home, what a big mistake – can you say toddler on a sugar high strapped in a car seat ten times fast?).  

Miami Children’s Museum 

Once again, I may have enjoyed myself more at the Miami Children’s Museum than even my toddler did – and he had a boat load of fun. The children’s museum is basically a giant building with different theme rooms, all based in imagination and play. They have a grocery store, a cruise ship, a hospital, a pirate ship, music and art room, etc.  

Your imagination is literally the limit here. They also have guided play, and an entire schedule of activities that happen in the various sections of the museum throughout the day. We joined in the dance party on the cruise ship and worked out on the stationary bicycles. I basically ran around like an over excited five-year-old while my toddler walked around with his eyes wide and jaw dropped open in complete wonder and amazement.  

Enchanted Forest 

One of the most amazing things about Miami is that it has hidden treasures throughout. My niece goes to a school in the middle of North Beach that is entirely hidden by trees and a high fence. Honestly, wouldn’t have even noticed it was there if I hadn’t been along for the ride to pick her up from school.  

One such magical pocket is the Enchanted Forest. It’s literally a forest with a trail, playground, picnic area, and best of all petting zoo and horse paddock, right in the middle of a residential area. From the outside it just looks like a border of random trees, but when you enter the park it’s something magical.  

My favourite part were the horse rides, pony rides, and petting zoo. The horses are for adults, and you bet your ass I went on a horse ride, flip flops and all.

Ponies are for the kids, they have a weight limit, I asked. I couldn’t get my kid away from the ponies, I may be in trouble – anyone want to start a gofundme page to help my son get his own pony? Also loved the petting zoo where you enter the animal pen and play with adult and baby farm animals.  

I also really loved that they employ students, giving them the opportunity to earn an honest living and learn responsibility by caring for animals. All the kids were super friendly and very helpful! 

Playgrounds 

The playground situation in Miami is hardcore. They have playgrounds everywhere, and the ones that we frequented were all amazing. Every single playground is completely covered by a sun shelter, I have no idea if this is regular for the US, but here in Canada we do NOT have a gigantic sun shelter that provides shade for children while they play on slides and monkey bars. One word – Genius.  

Another amazing feature was the flooring. It’s all this squishy, slightly bouncy, rubberized stuff – that’s honestly the best descriptor I can give you. It’s a softer flooring with a little give which makes it bouncy. It’s easier to run on, and definitely hurts less to fall on (I’m a klutz, I ended up unintentionally testing this). Better than woodchips and WAY better than asphalt. Take notes Canada.

Beach 

Kind of speaks for itself – pay some money, rent an umbrella and beach loungers if you feel the need, and just enjoy the water! 

Only disclaimer about this one is jelly fish – we didn’t run into any in the water, but there were quite a few washed up on the shore, so watch your step near the water. They may look dead but those blobs still sting like a mother! 

All of our days were fun-filled, we had an amazing time, and for the most part had some awesome weather. Unfortunately, we missed out on a few activities I hope to check out on our next trip: 

  • Jungle Island (right across the street from Miami Children’s Museum) 
  • Flamingo Park (water park, sports, and picnic areas) 
  • Puppet Project (they seemed to be closed every time we attempted to go here) 
  • Santas Enchanted Forest (I CANT BELIEVE WE MISSED OUT ON THIS – but my toddler is probably too young to have enjoyed it anyways)

Miami – I’ll be back for you soon!

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I'm not just a parent with an Anxiety Disorder, I'm a really damn good Mom. Or so I keep telling myself daily. Join me as I try to figure out what works on this wild ride of coping and parenting.

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