After a particularly cold British winter last season, my family and I were desperate for some New Year sun. Miami had always been on my destination hit list — the it place where the young and beautiful party, right? But, would it work with a four-year-old in tow?
A simple download told me everything I needed to know. Miami has it all: world famous beaches, Caribbean undertones and family-friendly adventures. It seemed we’d found sun and fun in one place.
With the trip booked, my son, Josef, Mr. D and I started to make a list of the things we wanted to do. Josef’s been travelling with us since he was seven months old, but now that he’s a “big boy” (hey, four years old is big!), I like him to help with the planning — after all, it’s his holiday, too. So when he spotted a photo of a couple holding a small alligator and announced very matter-of-factly, “I want to do that,” it became top of our list. His determination to do something so brave was really inspiring.
As we headed for the gloriously turquoise Miami Beach on our first day, it seemed my expectations were not off-base. Miami’s party people were out in full force, sipping cocktails and boogying to bassy beats. But away from the crowds, giggling kids joined forces to dig trenches and build sandcastles, while parents switched off their Blackberries and chilled in cabañas. For us, the simplicity of searching for treasure and cuddling up together to watch the sun set was the perfect start to our holiday.
Miami has a huge range of attractions for families. We opted for Jungle Island and the Everglades. We all loved the talking parrots and shockingly pink flamingos at Jungle Island. Our excursion to Everglades National Park gave us the opportunity to spot alligators during a thrilling airboat ride. Afterwards, our guide gave a talk about alligators and their habitat. We were amazed at how attentively our son listened. It taught him to respect the animals, without fear, and he eagerly agreed to hold the baby alligator (which was actually bigger than him!).
We love eating out, and I was surprised at how family-friendly Miami restaurants are. And I’m not just talking about diners and burger joints. Our favourites included Hakkasan and Cecconi’s, where staff happily adapted meals to suit Josef’s tastes. Our long and lazy dinners were the perfect time to talk about the fun we’d had that day and to plan our next adventure.
But for us, Miami wasn’t just about animal encounters and sandcastles. We loved strolling around Little Havana, the Deco District and taking in the ice-cream coloured buildings that lined the streets of Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road (which also satisfied my shopping fix). True, Miami is a place to party, but it’s also got a great chilled out vibe that’s perfect for families. We can’t wait to go back!
Maria Demetriou is a freelance editor and writer living in London. She works for a wide range of lifestyle publications and websites, but her favourite things to write about are family and travel. Maria has a passion for travel and, together with her husband, has been lucky enough to vacation in some of the world’s most inspiring destinations. Now that she’s a mum, she’s taking her son along for the ride, and loves seeing the world through his eyes...
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