Baby's Day Out in Miami, FL
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is the brainchild of David Fairchild, a famous explorer who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, traveled to every continent in the world (except Antarctica) in search of useful plants that he could bring back to America. After all, what child doesn’t like to dig in the dirt and pick flowers? It’s that same spirit that caretakers of this 83-acre expanse featuring hundreds of plant varieties aim to cultivate, allowing little ones to run, lay in the grass and even – gasp! – touch the flowers. Babies and toddlers are in awe during the spring and summer months when the most vibrantly colored flowers are blooming. Take the tram for an easy, breezy, narrated tour of the property.
Bright colors, zany sounds and tons of hands-on exhibits make for a sensory overload for your baby or tot visiting the Miami Children’s Museum. Dubbed "MiChiMu" by the locals, the museum features nearly 20 permanent, interactive exhibits designed to entertain and educate. A supermarket, a bank, a cruise ship, a music studio, even a two-story sand castle provide endless opportunities for exploration. A favorite of the toddler set is MiChiMu’s The Sea and Me exhibit, designed specifically for kids under age five. Don’t skip the You and Me and Teddy Bears Too section. And sign up your child aged 18 months to five years for the Early Childhood Institute to foster a love of learning early on.
The wonders of the sea provide endless hours of entertainment for you and your littlest ones. The colors, the movement and the occasional splash will keep their attention for hours, whether you’re watching Lolita the Killer Whale perform in a daily show or just perusing the exhibits featuring sharks, crocodiles, manatees, sting rays, seals, even tropical birds. Mommy and Me classes for kids as young as two years old allow you and your tot to get up close and personal with multiple marine friends. Then, head to Salty’s Pirate Playground, a wet/dry play park featuring a giant pirate ship, water blasters, slides and an occasional visit from Salty himself.
Crandon Park Beach on the pristine Key Biscayne is a two-mile, lagoon-style beach consistently ranked among the nation’s top ten. "Lagoon style" means that it’s a low surf impact beach with long, sloping shallow areas great for wading safely with little ones in your arms or closely in tow. Rental cabanas, picnic areas with tables and grills, and concession stands make it perfect for family beach outings. And you’ll want to make a day of the nearby Family & Amusement Center featuring a playground, squirting seahorse fountain, roller rink and a beautifully restored antique carousel. Also nearby is a 200-acre garden that served as the site of the original Miami Zoo and features winding tropical rainforest and hardwood grove trails teeming with wildlife.
The hot South Florida sun makes just about any water attraction attractive. But Miami's Grapeland Water Park is a favorite among parents of little ones. Its Shipwreck Island is built just for toddlers with shallow waters for safe splashing, life vests for rent and swim diapers for sale. A loud, crazy horn blasts just before overhead water buckets overturn, raining down on unsuspecting waders. For a more relaxed time with your infant or toddler, the Captain’s Lagoon offer quiet dips into the water. And the Buccaneer River Ride takes you for a lazy spin around the park on inflatable tubes. Come back for kid-friendly movie nights, and bring Fido along for the occasional Dog-A-Pool-Ooza event.