Miami may still be the city where "where the heat is on, all night, on the beach 'til the break of dawn" (what up Will Smith) but over the past decade, the once-seasonal city has evolved into a year-round, thriving metropolis known not just for its beaches and nightlife but for its burgeoning arts, culinary and cultural scenes, which are often found off the (man-made) island of Miami Beach.
Need an example? So many visitors to Miami now make a point of visiting Wynwood, just north of Downtown, where Instagram-trendy shots can be taken in front of the vibrant graffiti walls at Wynwood Walls. (There are also cafés and restaurants to hit up like Panther Coffee, Zak the Baker, and Alter.)
But if you're bringing the kids to Miami, there is one place you absolutely must take them—Frost Science Museum. The long-awaited museum just-opened today (we sneak-peeked it while under construction) and it's a stunner. Best of all, it was practically made for kids to run around like crazy...all in the name of science.
WHAT TO SEE: What isn't there to see? For starters, there are three different aquariums on-site, the largest of which is the Vista/Gulf Stream Aquarium on the museum's rooftop level which measures 100-feet wide and is filled with 500,000 gallons of water. Some of its inhabitants include mahi-mahi, devil rays, and hammerhead sharks. A touch pool is nearby where guests can get handsy with a stingray (don't worry, their stingers have been removed.) Two more aquariums—The Dive and The Deep—show off the innerworkings of the Gulf Stream, along with more fishies galore. You'll want to go all the way to the bottom of The Deep as that's where a 31-ft oculus lens offers you a wide peek into the Vista aquarium up top.
Next, is a 250-seat planetarium with a 670-ft dome that uses a 16-million-color 8K visual system, 3D-capable projectors and surround sound. Every first Friday of the month, the planetarium hosts a good old-fashioned laser show featuring today's hot music. Any chance Despacito is on the playlist?
Lastly, the museum has several rotating exhibitions, including one right now called Rivers of Grass, which shows off the complicated and extremely fragile Everglades ecosystem. Oh and the Miami Herald reports that the virtual reality shark helmet had lines of 10 people deep. You may want to do this first when you enter!
LOCATION: Frost Science is located in downtown's Museum Park, across from the Pérez Art Museum of Miami. If you don't have a car, Uber is a great way to get around Miami. Even better, the city offers a free transportation service which drops you off directly at the museum. The MetroMover has stops all around downtown, including one at Museum Park.
ADMISSION: The museum encourages visitors to buy tickets online. The "Total Experience" ticket starts at $28 for those 12 and older. Kids from 3-11 are $20 while babies up to age 2 are free. Read more on what to know before you go to Frost Science here.
WHERE TO STAY: Three family-friendly choices on South Beach include the 1 Hotel South Beach, The Loews South Beach and The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, which all have kids clubs. But warning: most hotels on South Beach, even the kid-friendly ones, cater to the city's party scene. It's not all that different from Vegas in some ways. So staying in downtown at the Mandarin Oriental Miami or the JW Marriott Marquis may give you a little more peace and quiet.
BONUS TIP: Follow this Miami mom and journalist, Sara Liss, on Instagram for more ideas on what to do with kids in Miami.
OTHER STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE: