Kid-Friendly South Beach for the Holidays

Miami Beach Christmas | I-95 Exit Guide

Sure, South Beach is known for its sexy, sultry, sometimes racy side, but it’s also a PG paradise for families looking for a beachy keen vacation with sun, sand, surf and plenty of kid-friendly activities, attractions and even New Year’s Eve celebrations where the little ones are 100 percent welcomed. Family-friendly hotels on South Beach include the Tradewinds Apartment Hotel, Waterside Hotel, and Riviera Suites South Beach, a trio where tots are treated like VIPs and where parents can rest easy knowing the wee ones are having a wonderful time.

At the whimsically retro Waterside, a pop of Technicolor shines off the crystalline courtyard pool, where it’s always a splashy affair; with rates that appeal to families not looking to spend their children’s college funds on a fabulous vacation, the Waterside’s bright, modern apartment suites offer full kitchenettes that are perfect for feeding and snack time in between jaunts to the beach, pool, and city.

For larger families looking to sprawl out for extended stays, Tradewinds Apartment Hotel offers large studios, one- and two-bedroom apartment suites, all with full kitchens, throughout several Art Deco buildings connected by lush Miami Beach landscaping and palm trees. A stunning pool and on-site laundry facilities make for a home away from home vacation that’s ideal for big families or just ones who need their space and comforts of home.

And while these two stellar stays are in quiet residential neighborhoods, some folks prefer to be in the heart of the action, which makes the luxe Riviera Suites the perfect place to park the family for the quintessential South Beach vacation. With spacious and modern suites and apartments sporting full kitchens and sleeping up to four people, the Riviera with its rooftop pool, sundeck, and courtyard pool, offers all sorts of South Beach vantage points for the entire brood.

Though each property offers its own distinct personality, the common thread between the trio is its family-friendly vibes and, for the grown-ups who’ve had a long day entertaining the kids, an open bar every night from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. either on-site at the Riviera, or at sister properties, The Catalina and Oceanside Hotel.

With a home base on South Beach, families can easily explore the city’s culture, beaches and attractions by foot, Uber, car or even boat. A day at the beach is always a fabulous option for kids of all ages, where a day of sandcastle building, sunbathing, swimming, boogie boarding or paddle boarding will wear the wee ones out almost as much as a day at the beachfront North Shore Open Space Park in the popular North Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach featuring skate park, playground, sports courts, exercise trails, the North Beach Bandshell, which hosts free family-friendly shows, concerts and movies, and, of course, the beach itself, a quieter version of South Beach’s.

For animal lovers, there’s Jungle Island, Miami Beach’s landmark eco-adventure park where neon-hued flamingos, lions, tigers, and baboons pose for pictures in interactive animal exhibits and where brave folks fly through the sky on ziplines or via the park’s wild, wind-tunnel-powered free flying experience. For younger kids, there’s the Miami Children’s Museum, where hands-on exploration is the only rule to be followed. Across the causeway on the mainland is the magnificent Frost Science Museum, whose Instagram-worthy, three-level aquarium is an awe-inspiring look into So Flo’s aquatic ecosystems. A day in Wynwood looking at the museum quality street art, or on Key Biscayne at the Seaquarium are also very popular family activities. Throw in some movies, a day trip to the city within a city, the Aventura Mall, featuring every store on the planet, a zillion restaurants, and a massive slide, and the vacation itinerary is pretty much complete.

Restaurants popular with families are aplenty on Miami Beach and range from fast food gems including Lincoln Road’s Shake Shack, to Ocean Drive’s sugar high haven, Sugar Factory American Brasserie, where Willy Wonka wonks out on South Beach with huge, colorful candy-coated, candy-flavored food, drinks, and whimsy. And then there’s the newly opened Taco Taco, located at the Catalina Hotel smack in the middle of South Beach, which happens to be hosting one of the area’s only kid-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations, a Mexican Fiesta with live music, DJs, specialty acts, buffet and open bar where kids under 12 aren’t only welcomed, but they’re free to attend – as unheard of in these parts as snow. Between the awesome accommodations, the city, the sun, the sand, the New Year’s fiesta, and the spectacular beachfront fireworks display, families will no doubt be looking to next year for a repeat performance – that is, if they haven’t already decided to extend their stays into the new year!

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