Off the Beaten Path: 5 Places in South Florida to Visit with Your kids.

If you live in or around the Miami area I am sure you have heard of Wynwood and South Beach, The Frost Museum and Bayside. Not all these places are truly family friendly. So before you waste your time and find out the hard way, I am going to let you in on five truly special family-friendly places.  They are smaller, budget-friendly destinations you won’t find on most travel sites.  Any or all of these would make for a great weekend getaway in Miami. So let me tell you where the locals with young children go when they need a family getaway!

Safari Edventure

Safari Edventure is hands down the best animal encounter in South Florida.  It’s part small animal rescue, part sanctuary and part educational facility. Located in the Redlands, about 45 minutes from South Beach, its grassy paths and shaded overhangs provide much needed cover on a hot Florida day.  Safari Edventure has the best one on one animal encounters, such as playing with wolf pups, petting a sloth, holding a baby gator and feeding milk bottles to baby piggies. And the best part – most of these attractions are included with your admission fee or just a buck or two extra.  What a refreshing change from most overpriced and over activity planned zoos! The spectacular one hour hands-on animal presentation, which totally rocks, features staff showing off about a dozen different animals.  The staff provides basic facts about each critter and then walks through the crowd, allowing you and your little ones to pet or hold the animals, except for the dangerous ones!  Beware the dirt paths, so leave the stroller in the car.

Be sure to stop by Burr’s Berry Farm if you visit between December and early May for one of its outstanding shakes or ice cream sundaes.  https://www.burrsberryfarm.com

Adults – $18.00 kids and seniors $15.00.  Take off $3.00 if you’re a Florida resident. Kids 3 and under are free.

Mommy and Kid Travel - Safari Edventure #1

For more Info

Pinecrest Gardens

A real hidden gem in the heart of the beautiful tree-lined suburban town of Pinecrest, FL,  about 30 minutes south of Brickell, is Pinecrest Gardens.  Enjoy the paved paths meandering through the park scattered with turtle and koi ponds, providing a great locale for walking with little people.  It’s stroller friendly, so go ahead and bring it in.  A nice sized splash park in the back makes it a perfect spot to cool off on hot days with lots of sitting areas for parents to sit back and enjoy the squeals of joy as the kiddos cool off.

Picnic tables, a small snack bar, petting zoo and playground complete the park.  Sundays spotlight an impressive Farmers Market and almost every holiday features a special program.

$5.00 General Admission includes the splash pad.

For more info

Jacobs Aquatic Center

For an island-style one day getaway, rent a car, crank up some Jimmy Buffet and take a road trip to the Florida Keys.  The Keys are a state of mind, not just a destination.  At the center of Key Largo you’ll find the Jacobs Aquatic Center, a goldmine of comfort and convenience for families on a hot Florida day.  The complex consists of a 25-meter competition pool, one meter and three-meter diving boards and a pirate-themed splash park. A bathroom and snack bar are also on property.  Fully trained lifeguards are present making this a great place to catch up on summer reads while the lifeguards do their job.

When hunger hits, walk a few blocks over to Sharky’s Sharkbite Grille, a Key Largo favorite for many tourists and locals.  http://sharkeysgalley.comIt’s located on a busy canal which is always buzzing with dive boats and the like.  The kids will have fun waving at the passengers while you enjoy a Rum Runner.   You’re only an hour south of Miami, but you’re on island time so expect slower service.   On your way back to Miami take Cardsound Road and stop off at Alabama Jacks for a quick drink and some conch fritters.  It’s a roadside bar cooking up greasy favorites, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  There’s no website which honestly makes the place even cooler to me, but this site will offer you the basics.  https://www.floridabeachbar.com/alabama-jacks

Daily weekday rates are $10 for adults, $8.00 for kids 11-17, and $6.00 for kids 3 to 10.  Rates are slightly higher on the weekends.

For more info

Panthers Game

Everyone knows the Miami Heat and D-Wade, but did you know we have a professional hockey team?  Yep, hockey in Florida.  The Florida Panthers play in Sunrise, FL, an easy 45-minute drive from Miami Beach.  It’s the only place in the country you can wear a jersey, shorts and flip flops and not look out of place.   The games are lively, fun and filled with northerners and Canadians.  The food options are great, for stadium grub.  We often frequent the Pasta Station located on the main level.  Tickets can be had for $30 a seat up to $300.  Check the team’s website for deals and specials.  Be sure to bring the kids and go early as the team sets up a top notch Kids Zone.  Don’t forget a plastic rat, and be ready to throw it if the team wins – it’s a tradition!

Mommy and Kid Travel - Florida Panthers Game #1

For more info

Gold Coast Train Museum

Next to the Miami Metro Zoo is a quaint, yet ramshackle museum called the Gold Coast Railroad Museum (locals just call it the train museum).  It’s super popular during Christmas when it hosts the Polar Express and Thomas the Train days.  Otherwise, it’s empty.  And it’s fabulous, especially for the tykes.  They can run, play, touch, cry, scream and just be kids.  You can board and explore historic trains and there’s a charming Thomas the Train room with tons of toy trains.  For $6.00 per person you can ride a Standard Gauge caboose or coach car, or for an extra $12 per person, you can ride in an Engineer Cab Standard Gauge Diesel-Electric Locomotive.  Schedules and equipment vary, so be sure to call ahead if you crave a particular ride experience.

With little in the way of snacks or drinks available, you should eat before you go.  Don’t be surprised if you see a photo shoot going on.  It’s an excellent place for those black and white, industrial style selfies you see all over Instagram.  Be sure to have a charged phone or camera.

General admission $8.00 and children (2-12) $6.00.

Mommy and Kid Travel - Train Museum

For more info

So you see, there is much more to do in South Florida than Wynwood Walls and South Beach.  Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Keys have a host of interesting and exciting choices to offer your family.

Contributing Writer, Stehli Krause. Stehil is a new travel blogger who loves to find and explore family-friendly destinations. Read more of her travel tips and follow her adventures on her website here: Mommy and Kid Travel

Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook 

 

5 fun places to visit in South Flrodia with kids

 

Advertisements

Oktoberfest with Kids! Helen, Ga. 2018

Last weekend my family and I visited a small Blue Ridge Mountain town in the Northwest area of Georgia originally developed to model a Bavarian Alpine village — Helen, GA­. I know what you’re thinking, “What?” Yes, an Alpine village in North Georgia. So, in true fashion every October the town of Helen celebrates Oktoberfest.

This year was Helen’s 48thAnnual Oktoberfest and for those of you unfamiliar with this celebration, here is a brief description of the festivities:

“German-style bands from around the country and around the world play on the stage for your listening and viewing pleasure. See the Alphorns blown, the Cowbells rung and the Accordion squeezed. Grab your partner and take a spin on the dance floor to the timeless tunes of the Polka. The Festhalle is set up with rows of long tables so you can eat and drink while watching the show.”

At first thought, kid-friendly was the last thing that came to mind when envisioning Helen’s Oktoberfest. However, after speaking with a seasoned local we figured we would give it a try.

The Chamber sets up the festivities in their Festhalle with kid-friendly amenities, such as their own dance floor. Around town, all the bars and restaurants are celebrating too, and since the town is already designed to look and feel like you are in Bavaria, the beer tents and extra outdoor seating puts the icing on the cake.

On our first day we walked the charming village and ate an early dinner at the Heidelburg, a German restaurant nestled in a multi-level building overlooking an Oktoberfest beer garden and the charming shopping area of Helen. We were lucky to get a spot on their balcony. This enabled us to take in the sights and sounds of the festivities while enjoying a beer and some German food with the kids in tow.

Our oldest daughter (four) enjoyed watching the festivities and dancing next to our table. We ordered German pancakes and the Heidelburg’s sausage sampler to share. The food was good and seemed authentic. German food tends to be heavy and less flavorful than I’m use to, so if you get bad German food it is REALLY bad. On our last night we ate at the Bavarian Inn and discovered just how bad German food can get! If you are visiting Helen make sure to eat at the Heidelburg at least once and try to get there for early dinner so you can grab a balcony table.

Another spot worth noting is the Alpine Pretzel Haus on the other side of the street but still on the main strip of Helen. The pretzels come out piping hot and the Beer cheese is some of the best I’ve ever had. My advice would be to splurge and spend the extra $1 for one more cheese — you will thank me later.

Our visit showed us Oktoberfest can be fun with young children. Helen offers plenty to do with kids, while still coming away with an authentic Oktoberfest feeling.

Aside from all the Oktoberfest, we were also able to get some hiking in at Dunes Creek and it was absolutely beautiful. We wore our Osprey carrying pack to tote our one-year-old, but our four-year-old daughter lasted the entire hike on her own! The views were stunning and the weather was perfect. We can’t wait to go back and explore more trails as a family in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

IW5A7394

Fall in Georgia is a little later than up north but the leaves started to change in Helen during our visit. If fall leaves are on your must-have list, make sure to wait until the last week of the Fest to visit. We stayed at the Loreley Resort, a charming condo style resort right on the river and within walking distance to downtown Helen.

Dusk

The property was beautiful and the accommodations fit right in with the Bavarian theme, with enough cabin feel to make it a perfect fit for your family’s getaway to Helen.

We loved our stay in Helen and cannot wait to return to experience the Christmass holiday festivities this year!