This sprawling area, known as Greater Miami, is in southeast Florida, and is a travel destination like no other. From its beautiful, legendary beaches to its unique multicultural neighborhoods, lively arts and active nightlife scenes – it offers endless fun experiences for everyone!
Miami’s reputation for being a 24-hour party spot may be true, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of family-friendly activities for visitors of all ages. This Magic City is chock full of green spaces and public parks. They have more than 800 parks and it’s the only city in the United States that is bordered by two separate National Parks – Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park.
Some interesting facts about this sub-tropical paradise are: It was actually a mangrove swamp before it’s development started in the 1920s; It’s the only major city in the USA to be founded by a woman (Julia Tuttle); The beautiful stretch of beach here is known as “America’s Riviera”; South Beach’s art deco district is largest collection of Art Deco Architecture in the world; It has been ranked #1 Cleanest City in America by Forbes Magazine; And Miami has the largest and busiest cruise ship port on earth!
Here are a few of the fun things we did on my most recent trip:
Tour of Miami by Water – We felt like a character in the TV show, “Miami Vice,” as we rode on the Thriller Speedboat and saw Miami from the boat’s unique perspective — the open ocean. This trip begins at Bayside Market and is the only tour boat in Florida that can give you an off-shore experience seeing multiple beaches. We especially enjoyed viewing all the homes of the rich and famous on Star Island. It was an adrenaline-filled tour and is one of the most popular attractions in Miami.
The Wynwood Art District – This very unique district is home to over 10 art galleries, museums and collections, and is known for its creative and colorful street art. It was once a collection of warehouses but in recent years has been transformed into one of the world’s hippest hangouts. Full of eclectic restaurants, bars and shops, Wynwood also offers the best of international contemporary art, in galleries and on the street, where colorful murals make it a cultural hub.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Beach – Want to relax? This is one of Miami’s most relaxing beaches and is a scenic, sunny bit of paradise. Located at the east end of Key Biscayne, this beach is the perfect place for a family picnic, a day of biking by the shore, or a calm afternoon by the sea. There are bikes and quad bikes for rent at their concession stand and plenty of trails to ride on. Fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and snorkeling are all options here. The historic lighthouse was built in 1825 and is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County.
The Everglades Alligator Farm – This is a wildlife park and the most all-encompassing alligator experience in Miami, and it will surely be the experience you go back home and tell all your friends about. This is South Florida’s oldest Alligator Farm and has alligator, snake and wildlife shows performed hourly. Our favorite part was the airboat ride. We whipped around through the tall saw grass of the enormous Everglades while speeding around in an airboat. It was very exciting! This experience allows you to observe alligators in their natural habitat while maintaining a presumably safe distance.
Robert Is Here – This place has a strange name but is well known as Florida’s most famous fruit stand. Here you can taste the unusual because they have hundreds of different types of fruit…year-round. It’s a long time family-owned and operated fruit stand and they specialize in rare & exotic fruits and vegetables. When visiting, be sure and walk out back, they have the most interesting little farm. It’s full of a variety of animals and countless active large tortoises. Although it started off as a literal Fruit Stand located on the side of the road, it has grown into a complete tourist destination as it’s near the entrance to the Everglades National Park. It’s a fun stop and is truly a step back in time!
Fruit & Spice Park – This is the only public garden of its kind in the United States. It’s a 37-acre subtropical paradise nestled in the heart of the historic Redland community. Surrounded by thousands of acres of tropical agriculture, the Park is a jewel in South Florida’s agricultural community attracting over 50,000 visitors a year to its gardens and festivals. More than 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts from around the world are grown and maintained here. If you go, be sure and sign up for one of their daily tours.
The Biltmore Coral Gables – This is an iconic Miami resort and is also a National Historical Landmark. The sprawling Biltmore was built in 1926 and has a fascinating history. Picture a dreamlike setting complete with exquisite, hand painted frescos on barrel vaulted ceilings, brilliant travertine floors, fine marble columns, intricate leaded glass fixtures, carved mahogany furnishings and lavish gardens. It resembles a Spanish castle and a Venetian palazzo. This was George Merrick’s vision for Coral Gables as he focused on Italian, Moorish and Spanish architectural influences. This impressive structure sits on 150 acres of lush tropical landscape. Visitors have included countless celebrities and dignitaries throughout the years, but my favorite is Franklin D. Roosevelt who had a temporary White House office set up at the hotel when he vacationed there. One of their claims to fame is the enormous outdoor 2300 square yard swimming pool known as the ‘Venetian Pool’ and it is just spectacular! There were once aquatic performances there and the former Tarzan TV star even gave diving and swimming lessons to hotel guests. Besides this epic pool, amenities include a full-service spa, an 18-hole golf course and 10 lighted tennis courts.
Little Havana – This is a well known and lively neighborhood in Miami. It is home to Cuban exiles, as well as immigrants from Central and South America. You can’t go to Little Havana and not eat at one of their many authentic restaurants, there are lots of great options…and don’t forget to try the classic Cuban coffee. We loved dining at Versailles – known as the World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant. Or, learn about the art of the Cuban cigar. In Little Havana you’ll find many family owned cigar shops with age-old aficionados rolling traditional Cuban cigars just like their fathers and grandfathers once did in Cuba.
Isn’t it easy to understand now why “Miami is so magnificent?” No wonder it’s one of the most popular vacation destinations in the USA – and the entire world!!!
‘Follow and Like’ Terri on Instagram, FaceBook and YouTube at – Travel with Terri from Texas.