Please note that we were working with Visit Florida on parts of this trip. Full disclosure at the bottom of the post.
We have been back from our Florida trip well over month and a half now and it has taken me this long to actually sit down and write the first of our road trip posts. I have been prioritising the videos (which are now all done, I will leave a link to the Miami one below), and now I have finished with those I can get started on the blog posts.
On previous trips I have made the posts much more about what we did and more like a holiday diary, but I have decided that it would be better to do these posts as more of an informative guide (with some pretty photos thrown in). So hopefully by reading this if you are planning to go to Miami with your children it will give you some inspiration.
To give a quick overview of our trip, we flew into Miami and spent 16 nights travelling around the state of Florida, visiting Miami, the Florida Keys, Fort Lauderdale, Anna Maria Island, Crystal River, Panama City Beach and Pensacola Beach, before travelling to Louisiana and spending a couple of days in New Orleans. We covered 1825 miles in total. I will be doing blog posts on each destination we stayed in, as well as some practical trips for planning and going on a road trip with young children (mine are 8,6 and 3).
But first Miami.
Jon and I had previously visited Miami on our honeymoon almost ten years ago now and obviously when we went then it was a very different child free experience to now. I had been curious beforehand as to whether Miami would be a good city to visit with children, but we found it to be good for families- it obviously depends on where you want to visit of course, but on the whole we found it great to visit with children.
THINGS TO DO IN MIAMI WITH KIDS
We are big fans of street art (you can’t call yourself an instagrammer if you don’t like posing against a wall!) and in Miami there is a huge area dedicated to street art called Wynwood Walls. Just minutes from Downtown Miami, near Midtown and the Miami Design District, there are streets and streets full of street art, and it has massively regenerated the whole area. There is an official Wynwood Walls which is pedestrian only (and free to get in!), but you can walk for blocks looking at all the unofficial art too.
It’s also a cool place to shop and eat and has become a cool place to hang out. Maisons du Monde have a furniture shop there (the dream!) as do Glossier amongst others. It’s a seriously cool place and in my opinion no trip to Miami is complete without a little visit.
MR KREAM WYNWOOD
While you are in Wynwood you need to make a stop to Mr Kream Wynwood. I found this place on instagram just by looking at the #miami hashtag, and I knew my kids would love it. Described as a ‘hip hop ice cream shop’, as soon as you walk in you are created with hip hop memorabilia all over the walls and all the ice cream flavours are named after either songs or artists.
The ice cream is delicious and they have giant versions of some of your favourite games you can play while you eat- we had a go of giant Uno and giant Connect Four. At nighttime I believe they hold events and parties with local DJ’s but for the day time it was perfect for a nice treat after working up an appetite looking at the colourful murals around the Wynwood Walls.
Of course one of the most famous parts of Miami is South Beach. Everything you will have seen about South Beach on films, tv and magazines is pretty much correct. It is a crazy, glamorous and pretty much an all day party. It is just a fun place to be, you can sit on one of the tables in one of the many restaurants outside on Ocean Drive and watch the world go by- people watching is the best thing to do here. Definitely head down on to the beach itself if you have children- it’s lovely sand and you can see if you can spot one of the iconic Miami lifeguard stations.
I have been at night before and it is crazy but in the day time it is a fun, quirky place to visit with children. If you are interested in Art Deco buildings and architecture then you will love it here too, there were photo opportunities on every corner.
If you are looking to grab a bite (or slice!) to eat in South Beach I definitely recommend Pizza Bar. They do massive pizza slices to go or eat in (they only have a few tables) or you can order a whole pizza.
PHILLIP AND PATRICIA FROST MUSEUM OF SCIENCE
The first day we were in Miami it rained constantly. As in constantly. So quickly we needed to come up with a rainy day plan and after a quick google I found the Frost Museum of Science. Based in Downtown Miami, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is a leading science museum dedicated to sharing the power of science, sparking wonder and investigation, and fuelling innovation for the future. It is divided into four buildings: the Frost Planetarium, Aquarium, and North and West Wings. There are loads of interactive exhibits for the kids and the most beautiful aquarium (perfect for a insta pic!). It was the perfect rainy day activity and we all really enjoyed it.
TAKE A BOAT RIDE
We had gone on a boat ride years ago on our honeymoon and it was such a fantastic experience, that I straight away knew that I wanted to take the kids on a boat sightseeing tour. Miami’s amazing city skyline is definitely best viewed from the water, where you get the most incredible look at it as you pass through Miami.
We used Island Queen Cruises and they were great. They pass through Biscayne Bay where you can see the entire downtown Miami skyline, the Port of Miami – with the cruise ship and cargo districts, Fisher Island, and then Millionaire’s Row – the homes of the rich and famous. It was really interesting having the guide point out where some famous celebrities and business people live.
Our children were a bit too little to really listen to what the guide was saying, but they just enjoyed being on the boat and seeing all the nice houses. But it was really informative for myself and Jon and I would thoroughly recommend it. You can pick the boat at Bayside which is another area that is great to explore with kids.
Like I mentioned briefly above, Bayside is a great area in downtown Miami to spend a couple of hours. Bayside Marketplace is a two-story open air shopping center located in the Downtown Miami area and is recognised as the number one most visited attraction in Miami. You get the boat cruises from here, but there are also lots of shops and restaurants, including well known chains such as Hooters and Bubba Gumps. It’s a little bit touristy but well worth a visit, especially with kids as it is a pedestrian only place to have a wander around.
We only had a couple of days there so I think we only really scratched the surface of all Miami has to offer for families. Now I want to talk about some practical things as well…
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the Best Western on the Bay Inn and Marina, which is located in North Bay Village, which is situated on an island between Miami and Miami Beach. We opted to stay here as we decided we didn’t want to be right in South Beach with three young children.
The hotel was basic but clean, with no frills rooms, but is a great base for exploring. We had a car so it was easy to get to South Beach and all the touristy bits within about 10 minutes (depending on Miami traffic). The hotel is a bit tired in places, but it was fine for a two night stay when we weren’t in the room much at all. There is a small pool there which we didn’t use but it looked nice, and it is overlooking the water.
We would definitely consider staying there again if we were to find ourselves in Miami in the future, but it’s nothing special. Just a reasonably priced (depending obviously on when you book) base for a family stay in Miami.
We hired a car for the duration of our trip from Hertz. We were actually working with Hertz on this trip, and were loaned the car in exchange for some content but we have used them on a few different trips now and we always find them to have fantastic service and are reliable. (Find out more info on Hertz here)
They have recently introduced a brand new fun activity to do on road trips called Ride ‘n’ Seek. If you visit the Hertz Ride ‘n’ Seek page you’ll find all the spots you need to take a look out for on your trip (currently in Florida, NYC and California). It is basically a treasure hunt and lots of fun for kids. Then. if you tag #ridenseekflorida (or whichever destination you are in) on your posts you could be in with a chance of winning a Polaroid camera. If you complete all ten sights you can fill out a form online, and you could win up to 1000 Gold Plus Reward Points. Car hire starts from £22 a day (extra for car seats which we always get).
We always hire a large mini van type car as being a family of five we always have a fair bit of luggage, and we are always sad to say goodbye at the end of the trip. This time we nicknamed ours Dave!
Here is the video I made of our time in Miami…
Part Two of our road trip coming soon…. our time in the Florida Keys!
NB We were working in partnership with Visit Florida on parts of this trip and some of our accommodation and activities were given to us in exchange for content. Check out their website for lots more advice and inspiration for planning your road trip.2