Miami Beach has always been a top destination for my family when we are craving an short and simple getaway during the colder months. With so many flight deals and cheap redemptions, traveling to the Miami area is an affordable family getaway – even at the last minute.
I recently returned from a trip to Miami with my kids, inspired by snagging Southwest flights from Newark for less than 2,000 points per ticket, each way.
If I’m not flying to the Miami area with Southwest or a cheap cash ticket (no basic economy or Spirit, please), I usually look for similar deals using JetBlue points (+10% rebate on redeemed points with the JetBlue Plus Card).
British Airways Avios at 7,500 Avios each way (with no close-in fees) for flights on American Airlines from New York is also a sweet redemption for a last-minute escape (i.e. snow today, Miami tomorrow) when cash prices are high.
Strolling Miami Beach
Our days in Miami Beach are usually quite simple, often starting with an early-morning stroll along the boardwalk or walk along the famed Collins Avenue.
Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive are two busy roads that run parallel to the ocean. Both are scenic, lined with restaurants (most are ridiculously over-priced with subpar food), and are great for people watching and admiring the historic art deco architecture.
Lincoln Road is also a fun and busy road check out with kids. Though very touristy with street performers and restaurant hostesses begging you to take a look at their menus, it’s a bustling pedestrian-only street that’s worth a stroll, especially in the evening.
Enjoying the Pools and Beach
Most can agree that young kids are relatively easy to entertain. As long as the weather is good, we spend the majority of our time in Miami soaking up the sun while enjoying the pool or the beach.
Some resorts have perfectly-heated pools – Royal Palm (Starwood), The Confidante (Hyatt), and Surfcomber (Kimpton/IHG), just to name a few.
Others do not (ahem, Hyatt Centric South Beach and Z Ocean Hotel).
For whatever reason, children seem to be unfazed by cold water. Totally a #firstworldproblem, but staying at a resort with a heated pool makes all the difference when your little ones mercilessly drag you in, so maybe that’s something to keep that in mind when deciding on a place to stay.
What I also love most about Miami and its public beaches is that most of the hotels set up a nice play area in the sand (shaded with umbrellas too) for all young kids to keep busy with sand toys.
Parks & Playgrounds
It’s worth sharing that there are several parks and playgrounds along Ocean Drive and the beach that are a great way to break up the day. I usually take my kids to the playground in the evening, when it’s cooler, and to allow them to wind down and burn off any extra energy at the end of the day.
When we spent a night at the Hilton Bentley, we stumbled across a great playground a block away – Marjory Stoneman Douglas Playground at 2nd Street and Ocean Drive.
There’s also another newly-renovated playground in Lummus Park at 11th street and Ocean Drive. If your family is staying at the Hyatt Centric South Beach (great use of a Hyatt Category 4 certificate), the Z Ocean hotel (IHG), or the Surfcomber (a fun Kimpton property), this park is only a short walk away.
Relatively new to Miami is the Miami Beach Trolley that’s a free, reliable, and fun way to for families to get around Miami Beach. Ironically, we stumbled across this by accident when my 3 year old pointed out that he wanted to ride on the blue trolley car. Haven’t ever seen it on previous trips to Miami, I perked up when I saw “free”, and I was instantly intrigued.
The Miami Beach Trolley runs on several “loops” every 10-15 minutes at designated stops between 6am to midnight every day (8am on Sunday). You can view more info and the full schedule here.
Having access to the trolley really made a difference on our last trip because we were staying all the way at 40th street and Collins Avenue at The Confidante. There was a stop a block away that took us to where all the action is on Lincoln Road. Did I mention that kids love riding trolleys?
Delicious Family-Friendly Eats
I love Miami Beach, but I hate how over-priced and mediocre most of the restaurants are. One thing that really bothers me is that many restaurants automatically add a sneaky 20% service charge on the after-tax price of the bill, and then have the audacity to include an additional tip line (with suggested amounts in the 22-28% range) as a way to guilt/trick travelers into leaving more. The funny business needs to come to an end.
Luckily, I stumbled across an amazing restaurant years ago that I can’t recommend enough – Puerto Sagua, located at 7th Street and Collins Avenue. Not only does Puerto Sagua have an extensive menu of amazing and authentic Cuban food, the prices are reasonable, and the portions are generous.
The restaurant welcomes families with children of all ages, and there’s something for everyone. It’s also a relief knowing that they don’t participate in the tacky service-charge scheme. I’m inclined to tip generously here because the food and service is consistently outstanding, and they always welcome families with little ones.
Go City Card
While low-key days are perfectly fine, this time around we thought it may be fun to add some attractions into the mix. I recently discovered Go City Card, which is available in many major cities, providing admission to multiple attractions for one set price.
With the Miami Go City Card, you can pick from 29 family-friendly attractions. The price for 3 attractions of your choice is $89 for adults and $69 for kids 3-12.
Since my kids are under 4, we didn’t need to purchase the $69 kids pass because many of the attractions were cheaper and/or free for them to come along.
We didn’t have a car on this trip, and we lucked out with amazing weather, so we focused on picking attractions that were walkable in the South Beach area.
We started off the day with the Duck Tours, which is a 90-minute land and sea tour. The kids got a kick out of being able to “drive” into is Biscayne Bay.
I on the other hand, enjoyed getting an up-close look at some of the most exclusive homes on along the beautiful Biscayne Bay and Star Island and learning about the specific characteristics of art deco design. The normal price is $32 per adult, and children 3 and under pay just $5.
Once we returned, we opted to have lunch at Señor Frogs for attraction #2. While Señor Frogs is extremely touristy, the kids enjoyed the vibrancy and fun atmosphere. We were able to have a meal and dessert and the kids got to take home a free souvenir glass. I did have to buy kids meals separately.
The “value” of the 3-course meal for adults is marketed at $49 per person, but I’d say it was worth about $25 per person at most since there are a limited selection of entrees available (cheeseburger, burrito etc.). Beware that the restaurant does charge gratuity at the full cost.
For attraction #3, we decided to rent bikes at “Bike ‘N Roll”, which has a listed value of $32. My kids are too young to ride on their own, so we opted for the trailer, which came at an additional cost.
Overall I think the Go City Miami Card is a fun option for traveling families to experience a variety of attractions at their own pace.
There are a number of indoor attractions that I’d be open to checking out next time when we have more time (zoo, day trip to Key West, etc.), or on a rainy day (childrens’ museum, aquarium, etc.).
I have been taking quick trips to Miami with my kids for years and it’s always a blast.
You can definitely have a lot of affordable family fun in Miami Beach with young children without a rental car. I am already counting down the days until we can be in the warm Florida sun again!
What other kid-friendly attractions do you recommend in Miami Beach?