7 Hidden Gems in Miami Families Will Love: A Bucket List

The Wishtree in Upper Buena Vista in Florida.The Wishtree in Upper Buena Vista.

Visited Miami before and think you’ve seen it all? Or maybe you just want to take the family someplace unexpected?

This roundup of 7 hidden gems in Miami families will love is a bucket list that has you covered with some of Miami’s best activities. They’re destinations where both kids and parents will have a blast, worthy of any Miami bucket list.

Where To Stay: South Beach

Sure, you can stay on the mainland in Miami, but there’s only one South Beach, and booking a hotel here lets you spend the best parts of the day (evenings and mornings) close to the fun.

We found our home away from home at the Hilton Garden Inn Miami South Beach. It’s close to top attractions like Ocean Drive and the beach. We walked from our hotel to the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Miami Mountain, the Holocaust Memorial, SoundScape Park, and half a dozen other places. They offer valet parking, so ditch your car and get around by bike, foot, bus or free trolley.

The relaxing lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn Miami South Beach, Florida.

The relaxing lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn Miami South Beach, Florida.

The room itself was clean and comfortable, complete with Keurig, mini fridge and cloud-like bed. I skipped my usual workout, though the fitness center looked nice, but I didn’t miss breakfast. With made-to-order omelets and pancakes, cereal, sausage, coffee and more, you’ll have plenty to get you going. There’s also a bar if you’re looking for something stronger later in the day.

The takeaway: Rooms and amenities are solid, service is great, and the location can’t be beat at this Hilton brand hotel. Bring the family!

1. Upper Buena Vista

Raspberry cold brew from Finca's Coffee pairs perfectly with black forest cake and tres leches from Sweet Epico.

Raspberry cold brew from Finca’s Coffee pairs perfectly with black forest cake and tres leches from Sweet Epico.

I have to start this Miami hidden gems list with Upper Buena Vista. It’s unlike anyplace we’ve ever been before, part nature sanctuary, part boho shopping plaza. At the center stands the 120-year-old Bodhi Wishtree, a colorful banyan tied with ribbons.

To delight kids, stop by Sweet Epico. This craft confectionery bakery sells pastries, boba tea and local delicacies like tres leches — the best I’ve had in Florida. Puddings, custards and more fill tiny glasses (verrines) while miniature cakes, from black forest to tiramisu, look like works of art. For some serious eye candy, check out their Instagram.

Our desserts were delicious, but even better with a drink from Finca’s Coffee. The care behind each cup shows at this boutique cafe. Beans are sourced from growers in Honduras using organic and green agricultural processes and turned into treats like cortado, lattes and gelato-foaming affogato. For me, the cold brew was an epiphany — so smooth it didn’t need sugar. And it comes in raspberry and cardamom! There’s even a kid’s menu with ice cream, hot chocolate, and milk.

Take your spoils to one of the tables in front of the Wishtree and chill. You’re in the heart of the city, but it’s all good vibes here.

For adults: Check to see if there’s anything scheduled at Palapa, a giant tiki that plays host to cirque, music, and other cultural performances.

2. Superblue Miami

A waterfall of flowers at Superblue Miami.

A waterfall of flowers at Superblue Miami.

Opened in 2021, Superblue is new on the Miami art scene and transcends the typical museum experience.

In its debut exhibition, explore a series of immersive, large-scale installations brought to life by a diverse team: architects, artists, engineers, programmers and more. Light is everywhere — reflecting from a maze of mirrors, blooming in digital flowers on the walls, shifting in colored lamps, suspended from the ceiling or surrounding you, as in “Ganzfeld.”

The most unusual exhibit? How about an evanescent world made of… bubbles? With an extra ticket, you can walk through that world (poncho provided) in “Massless Clouds Between Sculpture and Life.” Be sure to supervise little ones in this interactive installation.

Age appropriate: In general, Superblue Miami is best for older kids and teens, but the art isn’t too heady for younger ones to enjoy. Strollers are allowed, and kids under 3 get in free.

3. Time Out Market Miami

Tasty sandwich at Necessary Purveyors, photo courtesy of Time Out Market Miami.

Tasty sandwich at Necessary Purveyors, photo courtesy of Time Out Market Miami.

It’s appropriate that the only Time Out Market in the Southeast is in Miami, a mecca for multicultural cuisine. A visit here isn’t just about dinner. It’s a “taste of the city” with journalistic integrity. You can travel the world of food (Peruvian, Trinidadian, Japanese, Basque, and more), but your meal is something you’ll only have here.

Tour the whole market before deciding what to eat. The bigger the family, the better — more sharing! — and everyone gets what they want.

We were dazzled by the size of the fried chicken at Chick’n Jones. We wondered how the fusion of Vietnamese and Cajun flavors at Pho Mo might delight our taste buds. Choosing is hard. Here are some recommendations.

  • Classic and kid-friendly: handcrafted burgers by a James Beard Award-winning chef at Little Liberty
  • Healthy: Necessary Purveyors (amazing sandwiches) or Plants & Bowls (refreshing, Instagrammable fruit concoctions)
  • Indulgent: Detroit-style pizza at Square City Pie — pure bliss
  • Dessert: the Little Havana gem, Azucar Ice Cream Company, serving up creative flavors like their guava-rich Abuela Maria

The vibe is energetic, family-friendly and fun with tables indoors and out. There are also plenty of libations for adults. Plus, you’re just a block from Lincoln Road Mall and not far from the beach, so it’s easy to walk here (or bike) from other attractions.

4. Biking South Pointe Park

Waterfront trail at South Pointe Park in Miami.

Waterfront trail at South Pointe Park.

Speaking of biking, you can get around much of South Beach this way. It’s arguably the best way to travel, letting you easily stop for the sights and enjoy the weather.

If you didn’t bring your own set of wheels, Bike and Roll Miami has you covered. They offer rental bikes for kids and adults, even tandem bikes, attachable child’s seats and burley wagons (ideal for toting small children).

They’re right in the Art Deco Historic District, so you can cycle down Ocean Drive to admire the candy-colored buildings as we did — the bikes are great, and the road is bike-friendly The folks at Bike and Roll also spoke highly of South Pointe Park (they do tours there, too), so we gave it a shot, and this is the “hidden gem” I think most Miami tourists don’t know about.

At the tip of the island, this park boasts winding trails with panoramic views of the South Beach shoreline, cruise ships, Fisher Island and more.

For kids: The park also has a splash zone and jungle gym!

5. Cruising Millionaires’ Row

A mansion seen while cruising Millionaire's Row.

A mansion seen while cruising Millionaire’s Row.

In Miami, you don’t have to be a millionaire to get a glimpse of how the other half lives. Just take a cruise down Millionaires’ Row — or is it Millionaire’s Row? Of course, you’ll need a boat because this row is along Biscayne Bay.

We traveled with Miami on the Water, the highest rated sightseeing boat tour company I found in my research. The tour lived up to the reviews with incredible views of the bay and its many islands like Jungle Island (once a popular eco-park) and Star Island (true to the name, an island with celebrities). We also saw PortMiami and the Miami skyline and so many lavish mansions.

But what we enjoyed the most was the narration that shed light on some of Miami’s colorful history.

You’ve got all your creature comforts out on the water, too: air-conditioning, bathrooms, and a cash bar. For 90-minutes on this double-decker, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Tip: You’ll leave from Bayside Marketplace, the most visited attraction in Miami. Come early or stay late to browse the shops, catch live music, and more.

6. Pinecrest Gardens

Winding trail through the flowers at Pinecrest Gardens in Miami.

Winding trail through the flowers at Pinecrest Gardens.

It’s hardly a secret that Miami blooms with gardens. There’s the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the manicured grounds of Vizcaya, The Kampong where we ate a fresh, fallen mango.

But have you been to Pinecrest Gardens? It’s near the more famous Fairchild gardens but still off the beaten path for most travelers. Admission is just $5, making this one of the best deals in town.

You can spend an afternoon wandering the trails that lead to magical sights like a hidden waterfall, a lake with waterfowl, a forest of cypress knees, bright mosaics, and giant trolls.

Families will especially enjoy the water playground and all-inclusive sensory garden. As you explore, look for art along the way, blended into the greenery, a bit like a scavenger hunt.

Events: There’s almost always something going on here, from the seasonal Night of Lights to magicians to children’s theater. Check the calendar!

7. The Gallery Inside Wynwood Walls

Colorful art inside the GGA Gallery, photo courtesy of Wynwood Walls in Miami.

Colorful art inside the GGA Gallery, photo courtesy of Wynwood Walls.

No, Wynwood Walls isn’t a hidden gem, but hear me out. Did you know there was an indoor gallery within Wynwood Walls?

If you’ve never been, you might think it’s all outdoor street art. And the 50-plus murals are pretty amazing — vibrant and wild and stunningly unique. Even kids who don’t usually like art museums will be spellbound by the rainbow landscape. You can’t do a Miami road trip and not see Wynwood Walls.

But back to what’s inside. It’s called the GGA Gallery, officially dedicated to more than 100 street artists around the world. The art is constantly changing, so there’s nearly always something new.

We saw several fascinating collages, paintings and sculptures. One, called Tunney Munney, was a colorful cryptocurrency exhibit created by a neo-pop artist who “mints” his own proprietary currency. Confused? Curious? That’s a little bit what it’s like visiting the gallery — stretch your imagination and go!

Bonus: Kids under 12 get into Wynwood Walls (and the GGA Gallery) for free.

About the Author

Cheryl Rodewig is storyteller, marketer, and award-winning feature writer specializing in travel. Her Venn diagram includes minimalism, waterfalls, French, and the em dash. Find her at cherylrodewig.com or on Twitter at @cherylrodewig.

 


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