This question comes up time and time again on my local Mom’s listserv: ”Where can I take the kids for a family friendly vacation that’s only 2 hours or so away from NYC?” Go south, my mommy friends. Hop a quick plane ride (about 2.5 hours going and just over 2 hours on the return) to paradise…bienvenidos a MIAMI! Yes, Miami is often thought of as an adult Shangri-la: crazy nightlife, hot clubs and topless beaches…BUT, it is also a very family friendly place. Especially, if you stay out of the South Beach party playground. I personally love the Brickell/Key Biscayne/Coconut Grove/Coral Gables areas (neighborhoods all within 5-15 minutes of each other) which also happen to be a stone’s throw away from the airport–convenient when having to car-it with fussy baby New Yorkers who hate being tethered to automobiles. Airfare from NYC is generally affordable (think $150.00 for coach class if bought in advance and outside a holiday or high season period). Below–shots from our most recent viaje–my favorites for a great Miami family holiday:
Just over the Rickenbacker Causway (and 10 minutes from our hotel in Brickell–see below), is the glorious Key Biscayne and Bill Baggs State Park. $8 admission fee and you’re smack dab in paradise. Beautiful beaches and calm clear waters, a very family friendly beach. Bike rentals are also available in the park in addition to the most awesome cuban inspired meal you might ever eat while wearing a bathing suit…check out: Boater’s Grill.
While I love the beach and could spend every day there, the husband is more a dry land fella. No problema, family friendly activities abound…and if you go off season (early summer), something holier than thou to crammed New Yorkers: NO LINES, anywhere. We had two great outings: 1) the Miami Zoo. A top notch and fabulously expansive facility. The highlight of the day was feeding the giraffes in the Samburu Exhibit. We waltzed right up to the giant beauties without even a 10 second wait. 2) the wondrous Miami Children’s Museum. Another mammoth center of fun with a gazillion things for the wee ones to do. Again–miracle of miracles–we went on the 4th of July and we were, like, one of only 10 other families inside. Mind blowing…I’ve seen more people at a Starbucks on Columbus and 67th on a random January morning. I like me some elbow room.
Where to rest your sun soaked head each night? I’m a fan of the Viceroy Hotel. Located in Brickell (about 15 minutes from the airport and another 10 to Miami Beach), which is more mellow than the often raucous South Beach and it still has a very cool urban-meets-beach vibe and an impressively evolving dining scene. The best part of the Viceroy hotel would be it’s gargantuan infinity pool, enormous hot pool and sweeping views of Biscayne Bay. A close second: the roomy rooms with little European kitchenettes (think small sink, mini-bar fridge–perfect to sock away apple juice sippies or string cheese and yogurt–microwave and fancy coffee maker) that come in handy when snack time comes a shriekin’ for the youngins’. We stayed in an enormous double for about $190 a night (rates vary, check website) which fit 5 of us nicely.
Eats. So many wonderfully delicious things to shove into freshly bronzed faces. Below are a few of my all time favorites. You cannot get a bad meal at any of these fab joints:
1) Rosinella, Brickell. Simple and delicious trattoria style Italian.
Ceviche 105, Downtown Miami. The place for ceviche.
Chocolate Fashion, Coral Gables. Gem of a breakfast/lunch joint. Awesome and addictive bakery.
Peacock Garden Cafe, Coconut Grove. Whimsical garden setting and stellar brunch options.
So there you have it: sun, swim, play, eat, sleep…what makes for a better family holiday? Te quiero, Miami. Nos vemos pronto. xoxoxxo