This weekend get-away post I am very, very excited about as it was written by my very dear friend Petra who I went to college with a long, long time ago in the Kent countryside of snowy England. After college we both moved to London and had some great times – to say the least. About 10 years ago Petra, a hotel expert, left Europe and never came back. She now lives in sunny Coconut Grove, Miami, with her lovely husband Christopher and their little daughter Ella.
Together with her friend, Oriane, a French girl who grew up in Miami and is a fashion writer by trade, they put together this great guide to Miami. I hope you enjoy it. Certainly reading it from snowy Paris, Miami sounds VERY tempting!
Miami weekend guide:
If you don’t mind the summer heat and humidity, or the freezing indoor AC temperatures, then Miami is definitely a place to visit with your children. There is a lot to do, both inside and outside, and enough variety to keep the little ones entertained each day. We are happy to share with you a few insights on the child friendly side of Miami.
COOL DE SAC (South Miami) – It’s not every day that one gets to see a kids play café in Miami. Cool de Sac happens to be a great indoor play café, located in the South Miami area, in the Sunset Mall. It is a kid-oriented place where little ones aged from 18 months to the big kids aged 4 or 5 can dress up, paint, play with lego, climb, and run around freely while Mum and Dad can enjoy a nice meal, even order a glass of wine or beer, and not feel guilty about their kids disrupting other diners. Turns out, everyone there has a kid, is relieved they can go crazy, and understands when the general noise level gets high. The menu is light and simple, including great healthy options for kids and adults. Service is good and staff is very friendly and helpful.
CAFÉ BAMBINI (North Miami) –This is a nice, small café with one play area for children. It is more suited for little ones, i.e. no older than 3, as the toys available are quite simple. Service is counter style and the menu is small, but again, a place where you can relax with a good espresso while your little one plays in a safe, and gated environment. This café is located in North Miami, just south of Aventura Mall.
LINCOLN ROAD (South Beach) –Known for its great boutiques, diverse restaurants and people watching, Lincoln Road, lends itself as the perfect environment for strolling your children around especially since its almost fully pedestrian only. It is the restaurant heart of South Beach and with the great weather in Miami; there is always plenty of outdoor seating and people watching available. Here you will find many different types of restaurants, from Italian, to Sushi, to Pizza, to American Casual, etc… The only challenge with most of the restaurants on Lincoln Road is their lack of changing tables and nice, clean bathrooms to change the little ones in. Be prepared for a quick trip to the car instead of changing babies in the restaurant bathroom. Look out for a great play area for kids near Meridian Avenue flanked with fake grass and ready for somersaults and running around.
SOUTH POINT PARK (South Beach)– The recently refurbished South Pointe Park has become the City of Miami Beach’s crowned jewel. From the pristine views of nearby Fisher Island to the breathtaking sights along cruise ship row, the park has become the heart of South Beach. Whether you’re looking to bring the kiddies for a picnic or a splash in the small water park and the nearby jungle gym you can easily enjoy a wonderful experience there. Metered parking is readily available which makes it that much easier to access.
FLAMINGO PARK (South Beach) – This well-kept park has become an institution over the years. It has everything from tennis courts, swimming pools, baseball fields, basketball courts, a soccer field and a running track. Most importantly, the kid’s area is filled with tons of great activities and a surrounding fence so the kids don’t wander off. The park gets busy from 5 until 8 p.m., which tend to be its peak hours. Bring snacks, bug spray and hang out.
BEACHES AT SOUTH BEACH – Usually famous for a bevy of beautiful people parading around, these beaches happen to be very kid friendly. If you’re staying at one of the beachfront hotels, keep your eyes peeled for a play spot with toys for the kids. If they enjoy the water, pick anywhere! South Beach’s beachfront is famous for its shallow and often clear waters. Enjoy, but bring sunscreen!
GENIUS JONES (Design District)— Shopping for your little one doesn’t get any more design-friendly than this. Genius Jones is perfect for parents who feel that having kids doesn’t mean compromising on style. Here you can find everything from name brands to little known designers who have big ideas on easy design. The owners Daniel Kron and Geane Brito make it their task to find items and brands that appeal to the eye (and the kids) but remain functional in their use. They’ve managed to help keep my home kid-friendly and easy on the eyes at the same time. The best part? They keep it charitable by donating a portion of their profits to various local children’s charities.
CHILDREN’S EXCHANGE (Sunset) — Whether you’re looking to score a deal on a Bonpoint dress or want to check out a second-hand stroller during your Miami vacation the Children’s Exchange is sells everything from overalls to overstock from nearby designers and local stores. The goods are well edited and their choices are fabulous. It’s a must do and a perfect way to beat the heat.
METTA (Coconut Grove) — Goals are always nice to have. That’s why Metta, (it means goal in Spanish) which caters to both children and adults, specializes in selling clothing, accessories and gifts geared to give back. Most of the brands the store carries promote positive awareness by either being charitable, eco-friendly or participate in fair trade labor. If you’re looking to teach your kids about minimizing their carbon footprint this should definitely be a stop on the list. I love popping in before a children’s birthday and getting something from Melissa & Doug.
EMPORIUM (Coral Gables)– Picture walking into a quaint boutique suitable for a spot in London’s Notting Hill filled with tons of goodies for kids and their parents. Sip some homemade tea as your browse the shops eclectic mix of wares from independent and local designers peppered with children’s toys, baubles and books. The owner, Sara, is always helpful and does a fabulous job in selecting chic and affordable items. Pick up a silhouette ornament for your kids before the holidays. It’s makes for a perfect life-long keepsake.
MIAMI SEAQUARIUM — (Key Biscayne) For those who enjoy all things aquatic this might just be the place for you. It’s been around since 1955 and it’s the home of the original Flipper that you might remember from the tube. It’s also the home of Lolita the Killer Whale. For the mums and dads and bigger kids I highly recommend the Dolphin Harbor where you swim with the dolphins. Visitors can check out the reef aquarium with its 750,000-gallon saltwater tank, which is teeming with fish of every size, shape and color. Inside, a diver swims around, hand-feeding the residents, including groupers, loggerhead turtles and moray eels. It’s not too terribly large so you might want to dedicate just the morning or the afternoon to it.
JUNGLE ISLAND (Watson Island) — If you’re looking for a quick fix for the kids, Jungle Island is a fun interactive oasis tucked away on Watson Island in between Miami and Miami Beach. Complete with petting zoo, monkeys, alligators, parrots and more. The tour of the island should take about 3 hours. I recommend some sunscreen, loads of water, snacks and of course bug spray!
ZOO MIAMI (Kendall) — Ever wanted to feed a giraffe? Zoo Miami allows you to get up close and personal with the long-necked furry friends. It’s my favorite part of my jaunts there. It’s just one of the great attractions that Zoo Miami has to offer. There’s a splash pad during the Summer months and fans which spritz cool water around. Check out animals like Gibbon Apes, an Emerald Tree Boa, Sea Otters and Tortoises. If you’re in town for Metro Boo during Halloween dress up and come have fun. Use the Safari Cycles to get around. They’re a fun way to squeeze in every last bit of the sites while shielding yourself from Miami’s unpredictable rain showers.
FAIRCHILD TROPICAL GARDENS (South Miami)– Bringing the kiddies on a stroll though the luscious Fairchild Tropical Garden off of Miami’s scenic Old Cutler Road offers an opportunity to teach the kids to appreciate nature. It’s a one of my favorite places to let my daughter run around and smell the flowers. There’s an annual Mango Festival. Look out for floating ladybugs, native flora, fruit tress as well as gorgeous and rare flowers.