Wall art on a building in Miami
With the promise of sun combined with quick flight times from the Northeast, Miami was high on our list of travel destinations. As the winter winds were settling into our bones, we headed to this ocean side city. We could hardly wait! We left our house frozen in time; Christmas tree standing, decorations on the windows and gift wrapping still on the floor. But wait, stop the mojitos! What about the kids? You can bring them too! Miami is a great destination for families.
For years now, Miami has been a big scene. Glamorous Late-night dancing. Trendsetting Clubs. Epicurean Delights. Art Museums. Fabulous People. If you brought a babysitter along and feeling curious about the club scene, we might have something to say about it here. For the rest of you, keep reading.
Touchdown. Taking a step out into the balmy air at Miami International Airport, we all take a synchronized breath exhaling the perils of traveling. We are bag-laden, tired but so happy! After getting our rental car, our oldest son sticks his head out of the window and shouts, "Momma, when are we moving here?" This is going to be a good vacation!
The city that never sleeps? Yes, Miami gives New York a run for its money on that title. You might dance until the early morning at which point you head out to breakfast at a myriad of places that stay open all night. Or you may be the sort that was merely up all night because of nightly parental duties... either way you won't be alone at night in Miami. Sleepless baby? You could easily pop down to Ocean Drive pushing your stroller around to take in the sights, the music, and the ocean air. Optionally, you could do that in your bikini or in your pajamas. As we found out, just like New York City, anything goes! It felt like a home away from home, except much better weather. Late night cravings? Or very early mornings? Don't worry, there is a place for you too!
Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami
Day 1: We arrived at our hotel, an all-suites style hotel just outside of Miami. We were joining extended family and we wanted connected suites in order to have a boastfully large apartment together. The hotel was close enough to Miami's attractions but kid-friendly as well. (Read: Pool, hot tub and breakfast included) We had rented a car so we would drive as needed. Travel note: I would not do that the next time we go. We didn't consider the traffic in Miami. Some days it would take us over 30 minutes to get to our destination. But live and learn! However, parking in Miami is quite easy. Download an app called Best Parking to show you prices with availability of parking spots in the city. We loved having this tool! You can also check with Miami Parking Authority website to find nearby municipal lots.
Headed to South Beach
First stop! South Beach fabled to be the mecca of all beaches. The ocean lures our children like a siren. We couldn’t wait to get our feet in the sugar white sand. Before entering the famed South Beach, we passed through iconic Lummus Park where the beach walk path is enjoyable. You will find bicycle paths, benches for people-watching, public bathrooms and an outdoor calisthenics zone in case you like people-watching you while you work out. Warning: Selfie-lovers heaven!
Lummus Park Path
South Beach was everything we had heard it was and more! An international crowd sunning themselves in varying levels of clothing coverage. Surrounding our beach blanket were a mix of people. College students taking a break from classes at the University of Miami. There were many families from Scandinavian countries taking a break from eternal darkness and cold. And a few nude children running in and out of the water. There is a bohemian feeling among all the glamour of the city. A place you can just be carefree. It is not a quiet beach, of course. There are phone calls happening, ball games, music floating out from various groups and the general chatter of people having fun! A true American Riviera!
Underwater adventurer wearing bud & june
Little boy wearing bud & june swim pants
Hunger hit and we needed a place for lunch. Tearing ourselves away from the ocean. We walked a couple blocks down Ocean Drive to the casual News Cafe, open 24 hours for those of you with late night wanderings. We sat outside in the courtyard under a canopy of trees that are home of small green “parrots” which actually are a type of parakeet. A delightful game of spying the camouflaged birds was the perfect distraction for the children while waiting for our food. News Cafe is not world class food, but the beach location buoyed it. A perfect spot for a quick lunch. News Cafe has its charms, but the way to experience the scene is to arrive just after sunrise. You will enjoy a European-style experience of cafe society. Grab a newspaper to read while Miami wakes up before you. The location is divine. After relaxing in the hotel pool, we opted for Cuban food from a local Cuban eatery. An impressive list to start with if you are looking for Cuban food here.
News Cafe, South Beach, Miami
Courtyard of the News Cafe
Day 2: All about art today! Get ready for cultural immersion kids! The first stop on my list for the day was the urban mecca of Miami known as Wynwood where The Wynwood Walls form the cornerstone of an otherwise raw neighborhood.
Entrance to the Wynwood Walls
Large scale lion painting on the side of a warehouse building.
The large-format street art and graffiti location repurposes abandoned warehouses as giant canvases. You are certain to discover a work of art that speaks to you. They loom expansive over the crowds, allowing a range of creative photography angles. You will feel immersed in the paintings.
We stared with delight as other visitors became artists themselves recreating scenes in the artwork, or posing as they melted into part of the scenery of the art. A very unique experience than an typical art gallery. It is a wonderful experiential exhibit which the kids loved it! And most of it is outdoors where they can run and play while we enjoyed the art scene.
Smart tip: Equip kids with their own cameras. It all takes on a new meaning!
Sit and relax while you observe the large scale artwork.
The wonderful Wild Life large scale artwork.
Wynwood is a place you want to linger so plan to spend a good part of the day. For an afternoon pick me up, march over to Panther Coffee for a Nitro or the Fazenda da padra espresso served with a side of seltzer. You will want to unwind and ponder your existence. For ice cream for the kids, (who are you kidding, for you too!) you will want to find Lulu's Nitrogen Ice Cream. They make ice cream from local, grass-fed cow milk, add your choice of flavors (Maple-Bacon or Honey Lavender anyone?) or fruits, and then it is frozen to order at -321 degrees with liquid Nitrogen!
If you stick around for dinner, we highly recommend The Wynwood Yard. Their slogan is "Eat. Empower. Elevate." Now who wouldn't want to eat at this place and feel empowered and elevated after eating! It is an outdoor venue that has the charm of the best alfresco dining paired with a varying array of events. One night might feature a local farmers market, another a yoga session and even catch some local musicians performing. Dogs? Yes, they are welcome. Children, before 10 pm they are welcome too. Its a mecca, so just go!
While we are still hanging around Wynwood, I need to mention the Joey's Italian Cafe is a fantastic dinner option too. Especially if you need pizza or a pasta fix! The name does not do this restaurant justice. One of the first places to open in the revitalized Wynwood district. You will want to go to see what all the fuss is about. If you don't believe me you can read more reviews here, or here or here!
But for our day, we had more culture to absorb! So we drove downtown to the Pérez Art Musuem Miami or if you want to act like a local, it is known as PAMM. Located directly on Biscayne Bay, it is quite a memorable site. I do recommend driving there because the parking lot is one of the coolest I have ever seen. If parking garages can be rated this is one of the best I have ever parked my car! Even if you cannot get into the museum, the grounds are delightful to stroll. The hanging gardens are not to be missed! Watch the incredible installation below or here.
There are inviting, auditorium-style stairs to sit while you people watch. It is the perfect place to grab a glass of wine or local organic gelato from the nearby gourmet cart.
Many of the art installations are interactive
PAMM kids offers story time, art making in the galleries and family-friendly tours. We all enjoyed the outdoor exhibits that were interactive such as a giant maze of ropes to run through!
By the end of day 2, we were all tired and ready to head back to our hotel. For dinner, grab a seat at Verde located within the museum. They feature a children's menu and offer a waterfront view which always helps occupy children.
Day 3: We could not leave Miami without a visit to Little Havana. Check out our last day in Miami here.
WHO, WHAT, WHERE
Joey's Italian Cafe- One of the pioneers in the Wynwood district. 2506 NW 2nd Avenue, Wynwood, FL 33127 web: phone: 305.438.1466
Wynwood Diner-Upscale take on American diners. Go for breakfast or lunch with children. 2601 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33127 web: www.wynwooddiner.com phone: 305.747.7888
The Wynwood Yard-Outdoor dining, creative space mecca. The lots at 56, 64, 70, 82 NW 29th Street, Miami, FL 33127 web: www.thewynwoodyard.com phone: 305.351.0366
Panther Coffee-Several locations but we favor the Wynwood location, 2390 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127 web: panthercoffee.com phone: 305.677.3952
Lulu's Nitrogen Ice Cream-2001 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137 web: lulus-icecream.com phone: 786.717.7323
Pérez Art Musuem Miami- web: www.pamm.org
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