As they observe the vibrant exhibits of aquatic life inside the Miami Seaquarium, many guests don't realize that they are walking through a movie set and a hospital. In the onsite lagoon, bottlenose dolphins swim through waters once traversed by Flipper, who filmed several television episodes and films at the venue. The Seaquarium is also recognized as a manatee critical care facility. Its staff has accomplished several historic treatments, including monitoring the conception and arrival of the first manatee born under human care and conducting the first manatee neurological surgery.
These facets of the Seaquarium—along with its many conservation efforts, educational programs, and shows—underscore a united commitment to wildlife consciousness. The animal attractions enable visitors to witness the allure and fragility of oceanic fauna up close, whether they are petting the back of a stingray or washing a dress shirt on the rough back of an 8-foot nile crocodile. Special encounters decrease the distance even further, sending patrons on underwater Sea Treks through the reef display or helping them to lead marine-mammal training routines.
It's hard to pinpoint the biggest personality inside the Seaquarium tanks, but Lolita the killer whale—who performs daily alongside pacific white-sided dolphins—claims the title of heaviest, period. On the other end of the scale, macaws and cockatiels perch around the Tropical Wings section of the park, and endangered sea turtles lounge at Discovery Bay. Elsewhere, a watery playground and three-story ropes course keep legs from growing too wobbly after a trip to Shark Channel or a smooch from a sea lion.
Giant toy soldiers clothed in thousands of colored lights wave at passersby as glowing reindeer take off into the dusk. Towering Christmas trees topped with stars glimmer and glisten with blue and green fiber optics. At Santa's Enchanted Forest, one of the world’s largest Christmas-themed amusement parks, holiday spirit and festive music fill the air long before the end of December. Visitors laugh and shriek on a multitude of carnival rides, including whirling swings, bumper cars, tower drops, and roller coasters, whipping through the air until their cheeks are as rosy as old Saint Nick’s. Traditional carnival games are also on hand, such as dart tosses and soccer-ball kicks, to complement more unconventional carnival amusements such as giant plastic balls to roll around in and a rock-climbing wall to scale. Wee visitors, meanwhile, can make the acquaintance of small livestock in a petting zoo or draw a portrait of their favorite goat in royal costume on a wall-size coloring-book mural. Carnival food, such as barbecue, pizza, and cinnamon donuts, fuels guests as they conquer rides or take in the Cats of the World Tiger Show, the Cirque Equinox, or the Sea Lion Splash Spectacular.
Since its inception in 1916, the YMCA of Greater Miami has opened its doors to whoever needed it. It welcomed African American youths during the Great Depression, hosted military personnel in the 1940s, and gave Cuban refugees a home in the 1960s. Today, it continues the tradition of depolarizing Miami's fractured populous, remaining a haven for people of all faiths, races, ages, and income. Staffers uphold the YMCA’s core values of honesty, acceptance, and fairness as they ensure each location is a safe place for members to play, exercise, and strengthen family bonds weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly. YMCA of Greater Miami also raises much-needed funding for kids and families who can’t afford the full cost of any of YMCA’s progressive programs.
At the current locations, kids can leap into activities ranging from swim lessons and youth sports to afterschool programs and day camps. Adults, meanwhile, can take Zumba, boot-camp, and aquatic fitness classes or work out within wellness centers replete with strength-training and cardio equipment. Adult basketball and indoor speed-soccer leagues further help guests flex their competitive spirits in an encouraging environment.
Rina Jakubowicz has played the roles of yogi, author, and motivational speaker, leading to media appearances on Spanish television and the Discovery Channel Latin America, as well as in the Miami Herald. At Rina Yoga, she leads an expert team of extensively trained yoga instructors, who tap their expertise in a variety of yoga modalities to guide students toward holistic well-being in a noncompetitive environment. Each location's seven-day schedule accommodates pupils of all skill levels with sessions including beginner-friendly hatha classes, power yoga, traditional Vinyasa, and dharma yoga, which fuses poses old and new to focus on relaxation and meditation. The studio also conducts frequent events and meditation retreats that use chanting and sympathetic whispers to soothe wild spirit horses. Rina’s Book, Choose Peace, is also a large part of the studio’s curriculum and appears during seminar discussions that cover healthy lifestyle choices and a 15-step guide toward peaceful transformation.
Back in 1955, Bayside Marketplace was abuzz with fishermen selling the day’s catch to people eager to bring home a fresh dinner to their families. Today, the waterside marketplace still bustles with shoppers, but now both tourists and locals bob in and out of retail shops and restaurants, and stop mid-step to catch street performers in action. It’s in this lively epicenter—which reminds many of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf—that Boat Rental Miami calls home. Here, rental offices try to bring a bit of the past into the future through fishing trips and leisurely bouts at sea.
New and veteran boaters alike can visit the market’s Pier 5 and board a wide range of vessels to experience the Atlantic Ocean or Biscayne Bay. Boat Rental Miami outfits boaters with sports boards with extended swim platforms, kraken deterrent, and wakeboard storage for fishing vessels with extra-quiet four-stroke motors. Frequent boaters can sign up for one of the club’s membership programs and receive regular discounts on rentals, while novices can try their hand at steering during Saturday boating classes.
Buddy closes his eyes as he sits on the deck of Buddy's Dream, letting the ocean breeze run through his gold hair as his tongue flaps in the wind. Ernie, owner of South Beach Boat Rentals, appointed his golden retriever as the company's mascot, naming all of his boats after the pooch instead of using impersonal numbers or the names of favorite Congressmen. After retiring from directing films in New York, Ernie decided to move to Miami, where he fell in love with boating, which helped him forget day-to-day concerns as he skimmed over the water.
Ernie's fleet of rental boats includes powerboats and luxury yachts, such as a 25-foot Azure Luxury 250 horsepower bow rider or an 18-foot Sea Ray sports boat, which renters can pilot themselves with a valid driver's license and boating experience. Ernie also leads private tours, including the historical Stilts Ville tour or the popular two-hour Miami Waters tour, which zooms past the homes of celebrities such as Gloria Estefan and Shaquille O'Neal while giving stunning views of the Miami skyline.