It's summer, and that means the kids are out of school, the relatives are visiting and it's time for family vacations, or at least a few staycations. Summer break offers a great opportunity to play tourist in your hometown.
Summer in Miami is hot, and there are actually fewer things to do outdoors than there are in winter. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the summer sun, especially when there is water nearby. Plus, there are lots of indoor summer activities for kids in Miami. Here are our top recommendations for fun things to do in Miami this summer:
Visit a water park
The area's most famous water park is Grapeland Water Park, which is in the city of Miami. It has four different slippery play areas, including one for younger children, a water slide and cool pools for relaxing. There are also water parks in Miami Shores, Hialeah, Surfside, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Aventura and Miami Springs. Admission to these smaller water parks ranges from free for residents to $15 for non-resident adults. Most are inexpensive enough that families can afford to visit frequently.
Go to the beach
Locals get so used to living near the ocean they sometimes forget to actually put on their bathing suits and spend a day at the beach. Going to the beach is one of the best Miami summer activities for families, because the kids can run around and play in the sand, and everyone can jump in the water any time they need to cool off. Most of Florida's beaches are public, meaning that residents have a choice of public parks on the water. The sun is hot, so don't forget to bring an umbrella and to frequently reapply sunscreen. Early evening is a wonderful time to go to the beach, when it's slightly less hot, especially if you want to walk.
Learn to swim
Miami is surrounded by water and many people have swimming pools at their homes. Too many children still can't swim. If your kids haven't yet learned, this is the summer to change that. Swimming lessons are offered at Miami-Dade park pools or City of Miami pools for all ages year-round.
Take advantage of summer attraction passes
The Summer Savings Pass is good for unlimited visits to Zoo Miami, the Miami Seaquarium, the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale and Lion Country Safari near West Palm Beach. It costs $58 plus tax for adults and $48 plus tax for kids ages 3 to 12. The South Florida Adventure Pass is good for Flamingo Gardens, Sawgrass Recreation Park, XTreme Action Park, Bonnet House Museum and Young at Art Museum, all in Broward County. It's $45 plus tax for adults and $35 plus tax for children 3 to 12.
See free and cheap summer movies
Several movie theater chains show free or cheap movies through the summer, usually on weekday mornings. Regal Cinema's Summer Movie Express offers nine weeks of kid-friendly G and PG rated movies for $1 each at three Miami-Dade Regal Cinemas: Regal Kendall Village Stadium 16 IMAX & RPX, Regal Southland Mall Stadium 16 and UA Falls 12. Cobb Theatres are showing free kids' movies at the Dolphin 19, Cobb Grand 18 and Miami Lakes 17. Flagship Cinemas also are showing free kids' movies. If you're game for staying outdoors, you can also find a number of free kids' movies around town in the evenings, put on by smaller cities and shopping districts.
Visit museums on free days
Many Miami-Dade museums have at least one free day each month, and some of those free days include special activities for families. Among the museums with free family days each month are the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, the Perez Art Museum Miami, the Coral Gables Museum and HistoryMiami. Plus, HistoryMiami has a Summer Passport Program that will let participants visit all summer, with up to four family members.
Enter a reading challenge
Looking for things to do in Miami during summer that are educational, too? The Miami-Dade Public Libraries are running a Summer Reading Challenge that is open to both children and adults. To enter, get a reading log from any library, then submit an entry ticket after reading or listening to a book for 30 minutes. Kids in grades 1 through 6 can also earn free books from the Barnes & Noble kids' summer reading program.
Take a day trip to Fort Lauderdale
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau runs a summer promotion that offers 2-for-1 entry to museums and attractions during the summer. You can get coupons for the Jungle Queen boat ride down the New River, an airboat ride in the Florida Everglades, visits to Flamingo Gardens and Butterfly World, or use the coupons to rent a paddleboard, kayak or canoe at a natural area. There are also deals for shopping and dining.