Feeling a little Wild this summer? South Florida offers many great spots where kids can get in touch with nature. This summer many of these places offer kids an opportunity for a fun Wet-N-Wild experience.
Salty’s Pirate Playground, at Miami Seaquarium’s new wet / dry playground for children, is a two-level pirate ship, 31 feet by 27 feet, smack in the center of a shark-filled moat. The pirate ship features water blasters, cargo nets, punch bags, and a spiral slide, geared for ages 2 through 12. Blueprints include two more play areas near the pirate ship – one for ages 5 through 12, and another for ages 2 through 5. (305) 361-5705
Zoo Miami, As the only zoo within a subtropical climate in the continental U.S., Zoo Miami started out in 1948 as Crandon Park Zoo with three monkeys, two black bears and a goat rescued from a stranded road show. The grown-up 740-acre zoo lets kids trek through “Asia” to see river otters, Komodo dragons and tigers, through “Africa” to spot giraffes, zebras and lions, and through “Australia” for koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. Cuban crocodiles, squirrel monkeys and “Dr. Wilde’s World,” housing traveling zoological exhibits, add to the ever-evolving adventure. (305) 251-0400
Venetian Pool– Fed by artesian wells, Coral Gables’ Venetian Pool — America’s only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places — is possibly the only one where kids swim amid a Spanish fountain, vine-covered loggias, shady porticos, three-story observation towers and waterfalls spilling into a free-form lagoon with coral rock caves and a palm-fringed island. Youngsters must be at least 38 inches tall and 3-years-old to enter this former rock pit transformed into Shangri-la. (305) 460-5356
Vizcaya Museum– For ambitious youngsters eager to ogle how the rich once lived high on the hog, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens does the trick. Industrialist James Deering’s 34-room winter place showcases America’s finest collection of 15th-19th century decorative arts, from Renaissance to Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassic. Deering’s bedroom, with a gold laurel ceiling wreath, is furnished in Napoleonic French Empire mahogany embellished with gold. His bath features a linen ceiling canopy and marble walls accented in Sheffield silver. (305) 250-9133
Everglades Alligator Farm– In Homestead, Everglades Alligator Farm wows youngsters with more than 3,000 toothsome gators in a rustic atmosphere near Everglades National Park. Farm action includes airboat rides and walking tours to spy gators, crocodiles, caimans, and snakes from Florida and elsewhere. Kids can get their pictures taken holding a baby alligator. Scheduled fun includes Alligator Feeding and a Weird Animal Show. (305) 247-2628
Island Queen Cruises– From Bayside Marketplace, Island Queen Cruises provides daily narrated sightseeing cruises. Thrill-seeking youngsters love the Bayside Blaster, the fastest boat ride in South Florida, capable of seating up to 80 passengers to race through Biscayne Bay at an exhilarating speeds up to 25 m.p.h. (305) 379-5119
Miccosukee Indian Village- On the Tamiami Trail, Miccosukee Indian Village showcases the past, present and future of the Miccosukee tribe. A museum, restaurant and gift shop are on premises, and other entertainment includes alligator wrestling and airboat rides. (305) 223-8380