Miami Family Funtimes
January 30, 2016 3:41 PM   Subscribe

My family is going on a Disney Cruise in April out of Miami! Yay! Before that, we want to spend a couple of days vacationing on land. But we have many questions.

The most important question is what the heck is there to do in Miami with a family? Especially stuff that's indoors? (We'll be doing plenty of beachy sun on the cruise itself, and we're all extraordinarily pale, so spending even more time on the beach is really not for us.) The kids are 9 and 13, and generally into nerd-culture stuff. Here in NYC they love MoMA, the Natural History Museum, musicals.

And do we have to rent a car? Are taxis cheap and plentiful, or really not?

Or should we spend that couple of days in Fort Lauderdale instead? Is there more to do there? How would we get to and from the cruise terminal if we did that?
posted by Andrhia to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
D'oh! I did a huge post with a bunch of links and it disappeared.

Yes, rent a car. It will be a bit of a hassle downtown and on Miami Beach because of parking, but in the long run, with a the car. Return it to MIA, there's a shuttle to the port, or a cab will be cheap.

My recommendation for lodging is the Hyatt House Airport/Blue Lagoon. You can get two bedroom apartments, free parking, free breakfast, happy hour and dinner some nights. Or stay in and eat cereal. It's very quiet, no airplane noise at all.

There's Miami Children's Museum. There's also Zoo Miami and Miami Seaquarium.

If you're into stately homes and gardens, Vizcaya.

Head out to Miami Beach, just to see it. You can park near Lincoln Road Mall, a pedestrian mall to see shops, cafes, entertainers and lots of cool people.

Places to eat:

Don Cameron. A Cuban seafood restaurant. Fresh, delicious, a few different locations. Great for families.

El Palacio de Los Jugos. An outdoor café, started out as a juice stand, then over the years added a sandwich counter, and a hot food line. It's a day time excursion, it's in the barrio and it might freak you out a bit. Not a lot of English, but people who want to be helpful. Cash only. Huge portions. Eat on the patio, under the fans, or take back to the hotel.

Perricone's on Brickell is a fancier place, again, you want to go for lunch. Delicious. Take the kids on the Metro Mover after. Absolutely a daytime activity, and on a weekday.

If you just want to eat, Flanigans is always a decent option. Sports Bar/Seafood joint. A bazillion locations.

IMHO places to avoid because they are touristy without redeeming value:

Coconut Grove
Beach Place (Ft. Lauderdale)

Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:16 PM on January 30, 2016

I'm seconding everything that Ruthless Bunny is saying. She has some great suggestions. I will pointedly say that you should rent a car. This is a very car centric community. There's a few taxis sometimes in the downtown area, but it's not a constant thing. And of course, getting the taxis to get you back is problematic.

Since your kids love musicals, I'm going to assume that they're up for theatre in general and recommend Micro Theater Miami. It's what I'd consider theatre tapas. There's seven 10 - 15 plays in storage containers and you can see as many or as few as you like. The plays are in English and Spanish and change every few weeks. I've written and directed a play that was there last June and some of the best audiences we got were pre-teen girls. (They were INTO it. It was great.) Because of the nature of the thing, I don't know what shows will be available in April, but it's a nifty experience for people who like theatre. It's $5 per play and cash only.

Wynwood Art walk can pretty cool. There's a ton of really great street art/murals in the area, along with nifty little restaurants. It is our hipster haven.

If Vizcaya is something that appeals, I'd also recommend the Deering Estate. It's not as opulent of a home as Vizcaya, but it's on the bay and has some really lovely nature trails. There's also often manatees to be seen in the wild and the last time I was down there, I saw dolphins.

This is a long shot option, as it is nerd culture, but it isn't cheap. The Arsht Center is bringing in the House Theatre of Chicago's Hammer Trinity, which is a day long epic fantasy theatre experience. I'm personally really excited about this, as I'm a huge of fan of their work, which is very much the intersection of nerd culture and highly visual theatre.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 6:41 PM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

All of the above are great suggestions; I would only add that you probably want to use Uber instead of renting a car. Wait times are typically very short, particularly around any of the destinations mentioned above. It may work out more expensive than renting your own, but you eliminate dealing with South Florida drivers and parking, which is getting rid of huge headaches (particularly if you don't drive a lot in NYC).
posted by limagringo at 3:52 AM on January 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm a pretty big fan of the Wolfsonian Museum of art and design. Also, the Wynwood district near downtown has a lot going on these days, including a couple of large warehouses that have been converted into homes for private collectors' installation art.
posted by voiceofreason at 6:29 AM on February 1, 2016

Uber it instead of driving. Ubers are plentiful and inexpensive. You can also check out the Fairchild Tropical Gardens and Matheson Hammock Park is a nice small atoll for swimming and relaxing, if the bigger beaches aren't your style.

Ft Lauderdale basically has a few small things, but not enough for four days.

Coconut Grove is a lovely place to live. As a tourist attraction, there's not a ton of stuff, but there is The Barnacle Historical site and you can rent bikes and toodle around the neighborhoods, which are pretty nice (although I live in one and I'm biased). The Kampong is there, too, which is the personal estate of David Fairchild (of Fairchild Garden fame).
posted by mrfuga0 at 9:27 AM on February 1, 2016

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