Where: South Beach
Why you and the kids will love it: Steel-drum bands on Ocean Drive, tourists buzzing down Washington Avenue in three-wheeled Scooter Spyders, locals who let you hold their iguana or macaw for a buck: When viewed through a kid’s eyes, South Beach must seem like an alfresco theme park. Thankfully, this destination, which is synonymous with nightlife, has worked hard in recent years to sharpen its daytime rep.
Beach cruisin’: Pedal around town with help from DecoBike (decobike.com), a new rental service that lets families pick up or drop off bikes at stations all over town. The New World Center, the Frank Gehry-designed home of Miami’s New World Symphony (nws.edu), transmits free live performances from inside the venue onto a 7,000-square-foot white wall of an adjoining park, through 167 speakers. They screen movies, too—watch in peace while the kids romp on the grass! Jungle Island (jungleisland.com) is home to a pack of ligers, which are just what you think they are (surprisingly, the guy in Napoleon Dynamite did not coin this term), and a resident flock of flamingoes, which may inspire preschoolers to stand still on one leg as long as they can. A cost-cutting bonus: October is Miami Attractions Month, with two-for-one admission at zoos, museums, and aquariums.
Evening antics: Every November, Sleepless Night Miami (sleepnessnight.org) features an eclectic troupe of more than 150 artists, from trapeze pros to conga players to dance teams. It’s free, and while the little ones won’t last all night, most make it long enough to ensure they conk out on command back at the hotel.
Snooze: At Loews Miami Beach (loewshotels.com/miamibeach), kids who won’t even try a tuna wrap at home race each other to the free SushiSKool every Saturday, where they make, order, and devour raw fish. Nearby, in Sunny Isles Beach, the Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach (acqualinaresort.com) offers a free marine biology program that teaches its youngest guests about dolphins, manatees, stingrays, turtles, and other native sea denizens.