If you’re traveling to Miami Florida the first sightseeing stop you’ll probably want to make is to South Beach where you’ll see the beautiful beach and ocean, some sunbathing beauties and possibly a celebrity or two. But there is much more to see and do in the Miami area. For sightseeing options in Miami other than South Beach use the following as a guide.
Little Havana in Miami is a vibrant and exciting region of town that has drawn many Cuban emigrants who in turn established a community that closely resembles those in Cuba. This neighborhood is packed with interesting boutiques, incredible eateries, many attractions and family fun activities, as well as a unique glimpse at the Cuban lifestyle in Miami Florida.
Jungle Island was Franz Scherr’s master plan. He wanted to create place where birds could fly free. Using his own money, time and labor he built a nature trail through coral rock, leaving much of the natural environment as it was. Scherr ordered 25 Macaws to add to the handful of birds he already owned and created his Jungle Island. He charged visitors a quarter to view the birds and the environment. It was an instant hit. Today Jungle Island is home to 1,100 tropical birds, 2,000 varieties of plants and flowers and a really incredible trained bird show.
Monkey Jungle is similar to Jungle Island but the focus isn’t on birds, it’s on monkeys. This wildlife preserve was the brain child of Joseph DuMond, an animal behaviorist who released six monkeys into the wilds of Florida in 1933. The original six monkeys thrived and grew and now there is a large group of them at Monkey Jungle. In fact there are nearly 400 primates that run free on the 30 acre preserve and this is one of the only protected habitats for endangered primates in the United States that the public can explore.
Everglades Safari Park lets you view the everglades from within them on an airboat. The fleet of airboats feature a number of sizes so you can arrange for a private tour or join a group. Each tour comes with an experienced boat captain who is well versed in the local terrain and knows extensive information about the flora and fauna of the region. The guides know the habits of the animals in the everglades and will give you the best opportunity to see these critters in the wild. When you return from your airboat trip in the everglades you can stop and catch the Nature and Wildlife show and you can get a hands on experience with one of the alligators.
If you enjoyed that hands on experience with the alligators at the Everglades Safari Park then The Everglades Alligator Farm should be your next stop. The Alligator Farm is actually a working farm which was established in 1985 when the alligator was threatened by extinction and the state of Florida decided to allow alligator farming in an effort to increase their populations. The farm has about 2,000 alligators today in all stages of development so you can view hatchlings and, if you’re lucky, huge adults in the marshy waters. The farm also has a variety of other local critters including a load of snakes. Spend the day and catch the alligator and snake shows to get a better look at these magnificent prehistoric creatures.
The Wings Over Miami Museum was designed as attribute to veterans and aviators who were instrumental in civilian and military aviation. The collection includes both display planes and information inside the hangar and then additional craft that reside outside the hangar. There is also a Pacific Room with three different exhibits. Because the museum is housed on the Kendall-Tamiami Airport you’ll not only get to examine aviation’s past but see it in its present day operations.
The Island Queen Cruises in Miami offer sightseeing tours that give you a unique perspective on the city’s popular attractions, a view from the ocean. The tour will take you past beautiful Biscayne Bay, by the Miami skyline, through the Port of Miami, around Fisher Island, past Miami Beach and by Millionaire’s Row (the highlight of the tour). The tour is narrated by an experienced tour guide and features a cash bar with drinks and snacks. It’s a leisurely way to spend an hour and a half exploring the city of Miami by sea.
In 1921 George Merrick envisioned a city filled with plazas and fountains, much like in the Mediterranean. The dream was brought to life and eventually became known as Coral Gables and its main attraction was the Venetian Pool. This pool is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is certainly like no other pool in this country. It features vine covered loggias, shady porticos, Spanish fountains, three story observation towers, waterfalls, a lagoon, with coral rock caves and a palm inhabited island. The pool was originally a quarry pit and is still fed by underground artesian wells. The pool is drained nightly and the water is recycled through natural ground filtration and refills by itself overnight.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens was built in 1916 and was home to James Deering. Vizcaya features a main house with ten acres of formal gardens and a historic village (although restorations on the village are not yet complete). After Deering’s death in 1925 it became public grounds and the home was turned into a museum. The home features 34 rooms decorated with 15th through 19th century antiques and artworks. The gardens are designed in both Renaissance Italian and French styles with themed gardens and a central pool. In addition to the restoration of the historic village on the grounds the servant’s quarters are also being restored and will be open to the public in the future, introducing a different side of the life at Vizcaya.
Photo credit: Sienar