During our vacation in Miami, we enjoyed Miami Beach and the South Beach area. Plenty of walking, pools and beaches and only driving the car if we had to. Art Deco architecture kept me pleased and kids appreciated Ocean Drive´s Lummus Park and beaches.
One thing I wanted to see in Miami was the Wynwood area in Design District. I had driven through it a few years ago and I am now aware that the area is known for its art, design and fashion.
I knew it would be too much for the kids to spend one whole day there, so I decided to combine it with something that they would like.
While planning our day, I remembered Jungle Island, a zoo that we had passed already twice when driving around the city and my oldest one had noticed the big parrot sign and asked me if we could go and visit.
Yes, I decided that we go and visit.
I googled about Jungle Island and saw that it had ok reviews, at the same time I noticed a Groupon discount; I would save approximately 10USD/ child ticket if buying tickets through them. (Additional taxes 7USD/child ticket I still had to cover when at the zoo, never ignore taxes when in US).
Jungle Island is located by Mac Arthur Causeway (exactly on Parrot Jungle Trail), just 10minutes drive from South Beach.
This was the first time I have taken our children to a zoo.
As a child, I was very keen to visit zoos (as any child I guess), but as I got older and more aware of the conditions many animals have in zoos (and circuses) I have stayed away.
On the other hand, I´m aware that zoos, can educate and raise awareness among people and while the world is losing species to extinctions, at least most of the zoos have loving staff taking care of the animals.
Around 11 o’clock we arrived to Jungle Island, I noticed that parking was not very full, that made me smile, I’m not good with crowds.
At the entrance, I experienced something that I very often get in the US: A good customer care. Americans have the touch, most likely better than anyone. Some might call it fake, I don´t care, fake or not, when people at public service areas smile, it does make a big difference. Jungle Island staff smiled and we felt very welcome to the zoo.
To begin with children were able to greet parrots and take pictures when holding them. This was something that my 6-year-old liked a lot. (I forgot to check and purchase that photo later on, so typical of me).
We were able to pet kangaroos, see flamingos and many kinds of colourful and exotic birds, petting zoo with “farm animals”, orangutans and baboons. We walked path through “Everglades” where we saw some turtles (oh, how I wish we would have had time to go back to the real Everglades). Big cats were all either sleeping or busy cleaning themselves.
Play area had something for both of the kids and was from time to time very busy with school’s field trip groups.
One of the most sympathetic creatures in the zoo was a massive iguana, which I noticed soaking in the sun by a row of stairs. I had already spotted a smaller one which escaped almost immediately when I got closer. Girls were way too excited about other animals to see that “little” guy.
He (or she) was looking at them from a distance.
I was still way behind the kids and asked them to stop. “But why?” both asked. I asked them calmly to walk towards me and I would show them something. For ONCE they both did that. “OH MY GOD! Is that a dog?” they asked once they finally spotted the big fellow just 20cm from their faces. Very patient type, I must admit.
During our visit, we saw a show about Lemurs, these ring-tailed primates from Madagascar. Reminded me of a cat more than a monkey (even it is not a monkey either) when I saw few of them.
The other show was including parrots, macaws and condors. While we were waiting for it to start, a cockatoo escaped and that obviously delayed the show as the staff had to go and try to search for it. I sincerely hope the cockatoo was found again, hopefully it just took a little adventure and flew back again.
We did not stay more than 15minutes waiting for it to start as we had agreed to meet our friends in the Miami Design District and I did not want us to be late. Girls agreed with me that it was time to go, they were eager to see their friends too.
Jungle Island was a very amusing place to spend the morning. I feel much better about zoos again and girls enjoyed fully hearted their first zoo experience.
Wynwood Art District (nearby Miami Design District) is only 10 minutes’ drive away from Jungle Island. It is a large open-air street area with galleries, museums, installations, restaurants and cafés roughly bordered to North 36th Street, North 20th Street, Interstate 95 and NorthEast 1stAvenue.
It is a wide area, which you want to explore by walking. Parking seemed to be easy to find despite the streets being conjugated from time to time.
Wynwood Walls on NorthWest 2nd Avenue, is still looking like the warehouse area, that is used to be, but now with all the colours of the rainbow!
I cannot find a perfect way to describe Wynwood Walls, but when combining art, paintings, sculptures, graffiti and artists in open-air, you keep on admiring everything and everyone. It is hippie and yuppie at the same time.
Unlike museums, you can walk any direction you want, kids do not need to be quiet (not to misbehave either!) and yet you do not get disturbed by anyone, you set your own pace.
We spent a few hours at Wynwood valuing the fact that we were together with good friends who we do not meet often enough, saw something that everyone would either laugh about or admire, got ourselves some good cups of coffee and ice creams.
Wynwood and Wynwood Walls is definitely an area not to miss when in Miami, with or without kids.
If I would have paid attention to the DETOUR signs along the way to South Beach I would have arrived sooner back to our hotel, but since I blindly trusted my GPS, I ended up spending 45 minutes on Venetian Islands since the Venetian Cuseway bridge was closed. Beautiful area and not the worst place to take some extra rounds. Note to myself: Do check the Detour signs.