In the first part of our guide, we offered tips for families sailing from Southern Florida cruise ports. The cruise ports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale are separated by only 30 miles and how easy it is to get around. Many families will visit both cities during their stay. It's important for families to schedule their time in port wisely. Of course, family vacations are meant to be fun so it's also important to make every minute of vacation count.
For pre and post cruise stays there are hotels to accommodate every size family, budget level and wish list. Many families opt for an easy airport hotel that offers free shuttles from the airport. While this is certainly convenient it may not be as fun. South Florida is known for it's beautiful, nearby beaches so many other families opt for a day or two in a beach resort. If your family wants to visit both Fort Lauderdale and Miami during your time in Southern Florida, then the Hollywood area offers the best of both worlds with many family friendly hotel options.
While we're on the subject of hotels, Miami is expensive...period! Many hotels and even airbnb's here add high resort or service fees in the small print of their terms and conditions. Sometimes these fees are more than the actual cost of the hotel room itself! In addition, for those driving themselves to port, parking fees can be rather steep too. When you book your cruise with one of our Vacationkids travel agents you now only get the best cruise rates and deals, when we give you a price for a Miami hotel stay, you'll get the total price with no surprises. We work with many area hotels that offer free weekly parking too.
Again we recommend arriving in Miami at least one day prior to your cruise but with so many fun things to do and see you might want to allow more time. When scheduling flights home, do not book any flights before noon when returning home. Remember you'll need to arrive at the airport at LEAST 1 hour prior to departure for domestic flights (allow 2 hours for busy school break times). Most important, remember this is vacation so plan for fun. Here are a just a sample of some of our favorite fun things for families to do when they are cruising from Miami...
Best Family Friendly Activities in Miami
Big Pink is South Beach's spin on a retro diner located in the heart of South Beach. With over 200 items for offer on their menu kids who are picky eaters will definitely find something to please their little palates. it's definitely kid friendly and a great choice when everyone in the family feels like eating something different.
The Miami Boardwalk
The Miami Beach Boardwalk begins at Indian Beach Park at 46th Street and Collins Ave. It continues south to 23rd Street where it becomes a paved surface. The paved portion of the boardwalk continues through the Ocean Drive Promenade to 5th Street and ends South Pointe Park which provides nice views of the port of Miami. The boardwalk is a great spot for running, biking, blading, people watching and of courses, there's the beach! From the boardwalk, it's easy to access Lincoln Road mall. This pedestrian mall is lined with shops, eateries and great ice cream shops. Don't worry if you get tired strolling the boardwalk you can catch a free trolley at just about any boardwalk entry point.
The Venetian Pool
Of Course not everyone is a beach lover. For families who prefer pools, there is a hidden gem near the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. the Venetian pool is a historic, spring fed, former limestone quarry that is a public swimming pool open to all. It's the perfect spot for a family day out. Kids must be 3 years old or 38″ tall to enter and parents must provide proof of age. The pool is closed on national holidays. Plan to visit early on hot, sunny days when parking can be a challenge and the pool will close when it reaches a certain capacity. Lifeguards, showers, lockers and a nice cafe are available but we recommend it as a fun picnic spot.
The Coral Castle
Also in nearby Coral Gables is an enchanting mystery and a feat of human engineering. The Coral Castle is indeed a castle that sits smack dab in the middle of a charming residential area. Ed Leedskalnin was a 100 pound, 5 foot tall man. From 1923 to 1951, Ed single-handedly and secretly carved over 1,100 tons of coral rock to create his Coral Castle. He told folks that he knew the secrets of the pyramids. Apparently Ed knew something because to this day, visitors are amazed with his 9-ton gate that moves with just a touch of the finger, a Polaris telescope and functioning rocking chairs – all made entirely of stone. PS...prices have gone up a bit since the 1940's. Adults can expect to pay $18, children 6-12 pay $8 and kids under 6 are free. I'll be Ed would be amazed!
Miami Children's Museum
Just a stone's throw from PortMiami is one of the largest (and in our humble opinion), best children's museums in the United States. This place is full of fun, interactive learning for kids with every time of interest imaginable. Hand's down our favorite exhibit is the interactive cruise ship sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines. Besides legos for building your own ship and a navigational display, there is a a 32 ft. I-Wall that allows users to get an in depth look at various areas of the ship. It's the perfect way to teach littles that are getting ready to set sail exactly how cruise ships work.
If this wasn't great enough, the museum offers a Sensory Friendly Saturdays, a monthly program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). During this time there are fewer crowds and the Museum’s lighting and sounds are lowered to provide a more sensory-friendly experience.
If you're family are animal lovers looking for those up close and personal moments then this is the place for you in Homestead. This is where you can hug a Kangaroo, Hold an Alligator, Pet a Sloth or Play with Wolves. This place is a hand's on nature and wildlife preserve designed for animals that are rescued, re-homed or need rehabilitation. Safari Edventure’s goal is to battle Nature Deficit Disorder for families.
Again, when you work with one of our Vacationkids Travel Advisors, we can help you plan and schedule much more than just booking a cruise. We can create a vacation experience that is fun filled from start to finish and offers something for every member of the family. Talk with our team today and let's see what kind of fun we can create together.