Miami Things to Do Tips by Homanded Top 5 Page for this destination
Miami Things to Do: 292 reviews and 522 photos
Blue Morphous Butterfly amongst the Orchids
Huge collection of butterflies, hummingbirds and flowering tropical plants in a glass hot house.
Butterflies from all over the world including Asia, South and Central America, Africa.
Weekends get very crowded as attraction just opened fall of 2012.
For best, more relaxed time to enjoy try to visit during a weekday. You will not be rushed and can take your time photographing the butterflies.
If you go during the weekend, expect to be ushered through by the people manning the doors as there are large groups of people waiting to see this unique and beautiful attraction.
Address: 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156
Directions: From US1 go to 57th Avenue and follow the signs to Fairchild Tropical Gardens
White Pelican High Key photo
This is the largest and oldest of all the zoos in Florida and considered one of the top zoos in the United States. It is also the only tropical zoo in the USofA.
There are over 2000 animals living in landscaped enclosures for a natural feel and habitat.
The exhibits are divided into climate zones:
Amazon and Beyond
Aviary (Wings of Asia and one of my personal favorites).
New plans for a Florida Everglades exhibit to open soon.
Personal Favorites: Flamingo Pond, Tiger exhibit, Wings of Asia, Gorilla & Chimp exhibit & Amazon & Beyond.
They also have a fantastic children's petting zoo, a feed the giraffe station and various other daily activities.
Address: 124 SW 152nd Street - Miami FL. 33177
Beautiful Fairchild Tropical Gardens and ponds
Fantastic place to spend a day strolling through beautifully maintained and well manicured gardens.
Get a feel of tropical and sub tropical plants from around the world.
Very rare and unique species thrive here amongst our native palms, hammocks of live oaks and water ways.
A sister garden to Kew Gardens in Britain and a must for the European traveler.
Coming in Fall of 2012 - an orchid and butterfly house complete with hummingbirds!
Saturday and Sundays often host numerous festivals from farmers market to orchid shows and palm/fern/bromeliad and other flowering plant sales...many collectors items!
Address: 10901 Old Cutler Road Coral Gables, FL 33156
Directions: Coral Gables area just south of Coconut Grove along Old Cutler Road
Key West really does deserve at least one full days visit but, if your time is limited and, are interested in at least catching a quick glimpse of the Keyes, here is a handy website:
Breakfast stop along the way (not included in the price) as they leave very early in the morning. Key West is approximately a 4 hour drive from Miami over long continous road which only runs one lane through most of the trip.
This is why hurricane evacuations are such a nightmare when inclement weather threatens!
Cost is approximately $70.00 for an adult ticket and includes all the major highlights of KeyWest and surrounding areas.
A hurried but quite complete tour.
For tourists wishing to catch an insiders glimpse of Miami and it's outlying areas and, with limited time on their hands, this company offers a variety of tours, including Coral Gables, Ft. Lauderdale, Viscaya, Coconute Grove and the Everglades.
Albeit, hurried and fast paced, it is good at giving you the highlights and offers good guides with good knowledge of the area.
They also offer a popular combination tour which offers the highlights of Miami as well as the Everglades.
At USD $70.00 (approximately), is a good bargain, considering the every rising costs of entry into the Everglades National Park!
Just west and beyond of Shark Valley, Loop road runs a 17 mile loop through an interior portion of the Everglades, primarily through a hammock in part of the Big Cypress National Preserve.
Mostly gravel and some tar, it is seldom traveled and for this reason, I enjoy driving the slow, couple of hours or so, stopping on the side and getting close and personal with the gators and various other creatures of the Glades.
Early morning is the best time to see the flocks of Wood Storks, Egrets, Ibis, Herons and even Roseatte Spoonbills which overnight in the trees.
As you drive the road, you will see them lift off and fly ahead of your car.
During the wet season, alligators gather on either side of the road hunting in the ever shrinking waters where fish become trapped.
Hawks, being inquisitive, will fly up and perch in a low branch to inspect your goings on.
Although tempting, do not approach wildlife!
Gators especially can surprise you and, once bitten, they will not let go. Their instinct to pull you into the water for drowning and eventually devouring you is an always present danger.
Address: About 3 miles beyond the Shark Valley entrance
Directions: Follow West, beyond the Shark Valley entrance to the park.
Loop Road will be on your left.
First part of the road are homes which belong to the Mikosoukee Indians - rural / residential
More popular than Shark Valley (in my opinion not as good for wildlife), the Anhinga Trail/Flamingo key section of the park offers the visitor a good opportunity to view some of the park's inhabitants from the safety of a raised walk way.
For the best impact, try to be at the park early morning, around 8:30am when the herons and Egrets are fishing near the shore line.
There is a nice interpretive nature center when you first enter the park with a nice deck for viewing gators and other local birdlife.
It is a good place to stop and get a sense of the park and the importance of the "River of Grass" and mangroves and how they protect our state from storms and water surge, especially during the Atlantic hurricane season.
Although I live closer to this section of the park than the less traveled to: Shark Valley, I prefer the latter for wildlife and photographic opportunities.
It seems that, in this section of the park, you're constantly driving long distances between points of interest with little to see other than sawgrass and open prairie.
The majority of the parks wildlife congregate around water ways and gator holes which, this section of the park lacks aside from the following:
Anhinga Trail (short walk - can be completed in less than 1/2 hour).
Perotis Pond (good look at a bird rookery during breeding season but too far away for good photography)
9-Mile pond (nice for watching Osprey fishing but, generally, very uneventful and no coverage from sun.
Flamingo - a marina set against the bay. Hit or miss due to crowds and, at the other end of the park so expect a good 40 minute drive from the actual entrance.
There is also the fact that it is located in southern most Miami Dade county, west of Florida City where the Turnpike ends and US1 join.
For people staying in Miami or, Miami Beach, Shark Valley may be more convinient.
Address: 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034-6733
Directions: Turnpike until it ends at US1
Traffic light (Royal Pam Drive) S.W. 344th (right)
To Krome (Robert is Here fruit stand) Left
Stop sign (Right) - follw signs to park
Lost in the Sawgrass.."The Glades are Aliiiiiiive"
By far, the best section of the Everglades in my opinion for tourists to get a feel for the "River of Grass" experience.
Here, you can walk a short distance from the visitor center and be up close and personal with huge alligators, often sunning on the banks. Be careful when walking around these creatures, especially in the late spring/early summer months.
It is their breeding season and some females prove to be territorial.
The clarity of the water and how shallow it is in the streams which border the W. end of the park afford you the opportunity to see the underwater cycle in action.
You will see many fish - both native and non native, being chased by Allgator Gars, as well as the many varieties of heron and egrets fishing within feet of you, totally ignoring your precense.
During breeding season (March through May), wildlife photographers will have plenty of opportunity to photograph active nests in the mangroves and rookeries across the narrow gulch.
Long lenses are not necessary as the birds are highly visible and the nests that near!
Once you've tired of photographing there, you may take the tram or rent a bicycle and ride the 7.5 miles to the observation tower.
Once there, you can climb to the top and have an amazing view of the entire park, giving you an appreciation for how big this river of sawgrass truly is.
Additionally, at the observation tower, directly beneath, are a series of gator holes where alligators gather by the dozens, especially in the dry winter/spring season.
Tram runs about every 2 hours, total length of interpretive trip: 2 hours from start to finish given by a park ranger.
Once you've finished in the park, there are various "Alligator farms" and Airboat tours directly outside the park run by individual concessionaires.
They're all basically the same, each one touting to be the "oldest" and the "best".
Very touristy but, worth it if you're a first time visitor.
Outside the main gate to the park is the Mikosoukee Restaurant, offering local favorites and BBQ. Pricey, as you might expect for a convinient 'right-ouside-the-main-tourist-attraction" restaurant but, if you have a hankering for fried alligator tail, it might be something to consider.
Address: Shark Valley Loop Rd, Miami, FL 33196
Directions: From the Florida Turnpike:
Exit on S.W. 8th Street (Tamiami Trail) and head West.
Go past Krome Avenue (S.W. 177th) Continue on Tamiami to the park. Entrance will be on your left (South Side).
Phone: (305) 221-8455
Wether it is for therapeutic reasons or, just for the experience, you need not go all the way to Dolphin Cove in Orlando to swim with dolphins.
Plenty of locations throughout South Florida and here are a few:
Dolphin Research= MM 59 Bayside (305) 289-1121
Dolphins Plus =Key Largo (305 ) 451- 1993
Theater of the Sea= MM 84.5 Bayside (305) 664-2431
Don't forget to dial 1 first if necessary!
Here are a few helpful links:
Directions: Most of these are based out of the upper keys (Key Largo) but, there are some in Key West as well.
Whichever you chose, it is sure to be an experience to be remembered for life!
Here is a handy tour company which allows you innexpensive transport between Miami and main points throughout Florida, including, Ft. Lauderdale, Key West and the all important Orlando!
Although I cannot comprehend anyone actually considering a one day to/from and including a visit to one of the theme parks hectic filled day...there IS the occassional tourist who undertakes such a strenous task. To him/her; here is the tour company for you:
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