When I was growing up, my grandmother lived on Miami Beach so I went there quite often to visit. I loved the sun, the sand and the boardwalk that was near her apartment. Now, as an adult, I find I really enjoy taking my own children to Florida. It’s a convenient place to go from most places on the east coast when you need some warmer weather, and there are so many fun things to do in Miami with kids. We took a trip to this southern part of Florida when my kids were younger and here are our favorite activities:

PLAYING ON THE BEACH
Miami Beach provides an endless sandbox of fun for young kids—just give them a bucket and shovel and let them go!  Many hotels offer you the ability to borrow pool and beach toys so you don’t have to worry about carting those with you on your trip. Call your hotel in advance to find out if this service is available. And, get your kids used to the waves at an early age by bringing them in the water with you. It will be an experience you will never forget.

FLAMINGO GARDENS
Because some families don’t want to play on the beach every day, a road trip may be in order. We learned about Flamingo Gardens in a local guide and were certainly not disappointed. It’s about 30 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale and 45 minutes from Miami, and is worth the drive! We found plenty to do with our young kids, and I think the park has expanded considerably since we last visited.

We particularly enjoyed the Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary portion of the park. There are several aviaries and, of course, the Flamingo Pond, where you can purchase special bird food. Children will love feeding the flamingos and many other species of unique birds.  You’ll find the more aggressive ones will even follow you around! There are also several other animals living in their habitats; look for fierce alligators, playful otters, large tortoises and many more of your favorite animals.

For more information on this fun and educational park, visit www.flamingogardens.org.

ZOO MIAMI
As we live near Washington, D.C. and can visit the National Zoo for free, we don’t often like to pay to go to a zoo.  However, Zoo Miami was a great choice for something to do with our kids in Miami. There are three main areas: the Australian, Asian and African animal exhibits, each with animals representative of their regions. We always like to find animals that we’ve never seen before in other zoos so, at Zoo Miami, the Bactrian (two-hump) camel was our favorite sighting.

To avoid tired, cranky kids, buy an all-day monorail pass which stops at four convenient locations throughout the zoo, with excellent access for exploring the animals in that area. And, try to time your stops so that you can attend a Meet the Zookeeper talk to see your kids’ favorite animals in action and get all of their questions answered!

Before you leave, make sure to save some time to visit the Wacky Barn petting zoo. Kids can brush groom the sheep and goats and even buy food to feed the animals.

For more information on the Miami Zoo, go to www.zoomiami.org.

SOUTH BEACH
Cool and trendy, South Beach is entertaining for kids, too. We went there after dinner, found a place to get some ice cream and wiled away an hour or two watching beach volleyball and investigating professionally-made sand sculptures. The kids had a blast, and it was great to just get out there and explore Miami with them.

WHERE TO STAY
Hilton offers a wide variety of hotels in the Miami area, from the classy beachfront Hilton Bentley Miami/South Beach to the convenient Hilton Miami Airport. We stayed at the centrally-located Hilton Miami Downtown and spent an afternoon at Margaret Pace Park, which is within walking distance and has a great playground for the kids. Where ever you decide to rest, you’ll be sure to find plenty of family fun in Miami!

This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.

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