Category: Travel with or for kids

Survival guide to days out in Miami

Miami speaks to tourists on so many different levels: the endless stretches of beach, the food of Little Havana and the boutique shopping downtown. However, there’s still plenty to offer a family with kids, whatever your budget and time scale. The key is to know where to go, plan in advance and see where you can cut costs.

Top 5 Visits with Kids

To begin the survival guide, let’s have a look at the top five must see sights in Miami when you’re travelling with kids:

• Miami Seaquarium – it’s unsurprising for a city on the sea that Miami has an amazing aquarium, and the live animal shows are definitely the highlight of any visit. Kids will also definitely get a kick out of watching the deadly sharks being fed.

• Bayside Marketplace – this is the best place in the city for souvenirs, including several rock and fossil shops for younger children.

• Jungle Island – a rainforest in the middle of the city filled with exotic birds, animals and insects. There’s also a petting zoo, making this a perfect break from the busy streets.

• Little Havana – it may surprise your kids to see bits of the Caribbean in America, but they won’t forget the Latin vibe and the Spanish inspired food in hurry.

• Freedom Tower – this famous historical landmark in Miami is one that will give a bit of culture to your fun trip. Climb to the top for a spectacular view over the city.

Surviving the Day Out

Now you know where to go, it’s time to think about the practicalities of making your trip a success for everyone involved:

How to cut costs:

• Travelling with the whole family can become very expensive very quickly. Buy a Go Miami card that gives you access to over 30 attractions, including the Hop On/Hop Off tourist bus.
• Take advantage of the free stuff going on in the city, like the Miami Children’s Museum, Carnaval on the Mile in March and Biscayne National Park.
• It’s always worth looking online or ringing up places in advance, to see if there are any discounts available on the attraction you want to visit.
Plan in advance:
• Miami is a city built for tourists, but it still pays to book ahead and reserve seats or tickets.
• See what festivals are taking place during your stay so that you can fit it into your itinerary.

Don’t overheat:

• Miami is hot for most of the year and even the locals tend to slow down around lunch time. Plan long breaks somewhere cool in the middle of the day to recharge your kids and avoid those horrible I’m-too-hot arguments. Finding somewhere with a pool will massively improve their happiness and yours.
Whichever sites you plan to visit, the golden rule for surviving family days out in Miami is to be flexible. Adults are able to push through tiredness, hunger and overheating in the name of tourism, but children are much less understanding. Being adaptable means having a list of things that you’d like to do, but not having a set order for them, as well as list of back up kid-friendly activities to keep everyone happy

Sanibel Island, Florida – laid back family vacation spot

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway spot with no real night life, Sanibel Island may be the place for you.

Beautiful beaches

It’s fun to do some shelling with the kids at Bowman’s Beach. And the water is usually good for swimming (water on the Gulf is often calm but make sure you shuffle your feet in the water because there are stingrays that you might inadvertently step on). A lot of people go out in the morning, until it really starts to heat up (depending on time of year) and then do more indoor-related things until later in the afternoon, when it’s beach time again. Sunset on the beach is great.

Other nature related stuff

Visit Ding Darling for the nature trails. You can also bike or drive through the Ding Darling refuge. Rent a boat and explore around the islands (and see dolphins) if your timing is good.


The fishing in Tarpon Bay is terrific. You can hire a guide for a half-day trip and haved a great time. Even non-fishermen often end up enjoying themselves out on the water.


The Island Cow is great with kids. Mucky Duck and bubble room on Captiva. Doc Fords and the Little Lazy which is by the bridge going over to Captiva. Take the boat to Cabbage Key for lunch from Captiva. It is a beautiful ride on the intercoastal waterway. The Mad Hatter right before Captiva is excellent. Doc Ford’s Mojitos are good. Grandma Dots has a very nice grouper.

Watch out for…

If you’re driving just watch the cyclists – many folks rent bikes there and some haven’t been on one in years.

Where to stay

Marriott across the bridge from Sanibel.

NYC with a 4 year old – what to do with kids in the Big Apple

We don’t specialize in travel with kids on this blog, mainly because I don’t have kids, But we did focus on Italy with kids a while back, and the time has now come for everyone reading to share their expertise with a reader who asks:

Going to NYC at the end of the month with my 4 year old boy. Thinking of hitting up Natural History Museum and Intrepid. Any can’t miss places to go while I am in town that he might love?

Well, I have a few ideas.

1. If he likes dinosaurs, and he probably does, you will be at the Museum of Natural History for a while.

2. Visiting the top of the Empire State Building might be cool for him. I recall it being fairly expensive, though, so it might not be worth it just to learn that he is afraid of heights.

3. Toys R Us in the city is impressive. I would love to see his face when he walks in for the first time. Of course it doesn’t compare to the face when you have to say NO to every purchase request,
but maybe a small stuffed dinosaur at the end of the Natural History trek is a good way to end the day.

4. Liberty Science center could be a lot of fun…

5. Children’s Museum of the arts in Soho is loved by many kids. Not cheap. There is a nice public park on Thompson, and Ben’s Pizza is right there as well.

6. I forget what days it is now but if you get to FAO Schwartz right when they open there is still a little show that is put on to welcome kids in, and they still have the piano from BIG and have shows where two people play songs on it.

7. Central park zoo is always fun, see the polar bear, and whatnot.

8. You can stop at Bryant Park for a carousal ride, and hit up the Library.

9. In/around Times Square, you have the Hershey Store and the Lego Store is pretty cool (it overlooks Rockefeller Plaza). Happily, FAO Schwartz and Toys R Us stores are right around there, too. FAO Schwartz would be a long walk for a kid though.

10. A 4-year-old might like a rooftop double-decker bus ride (tour), too. Pretty cool for a bit of a wow factor.

11. If you don’t stay in Manhattan, try the Bronx Zoo. They have cool animatronic Dinos and the rest of the zoo is fun too.

13. The NY aquarium is great as well. This is in Brooklyn, near Coney Island.

14. Did I mention the Central Park carousel (plus there are some other fun places, things to see, snack carts etc. walking around central park)?

Which reminds me, you might not have to work too hard to impress a four-year-old. I know one dad who took his kids to NYC and one was most impressed by the subway ride and another said the highlight of his trip was… “You can buy a hot dog right on the street!”

Ever send your kids to a summer / winter camp a pretty good distance away?

I’m currently doing a part-time thing, teaching an intensive English class to some Brazilian high school kids. Their parents send them to America for 3 weeks. They spend that time in Orlando, with class from 9-1 followed by optional shopping excursions, paintball, and so on. This weekend they went to Epcot and Hollywood Studios in Disney. Next weekend they go to NYC. Some days they can’t study because they were up until 2:00 AM partying. I don’t know how much they’re learning, but they are certainly having an experience. I also don’t know how much their parents had to pay, but I imagine more than a little.

Have you ever sent your kid to camp in a foreign country? It seems lie the sort of things Americans would do more rarely than other nations but that’s just a guess on my part. Have you ever sent your kid to a sleepaway camp domestically? Come to think of it, I went to a sleepaway camp when I was in high school, a music camp. I didn’t learn much (certainly never became a musician despite majoring in music for 3 out 4 years of college) but it was an experience!