Seaplane Tours uses a fleet of Cessna 206s to whisk flightless sightseers into the sky enabling them to view Miami's perpetual realness from a rarely seen vantage point. Settle in with up to three of your closest friends for a 15-minute Miami-area sky tour and marvel at the breathtaking scenery of downtown Miami, South Beach, Star Island, and Fisher Island. Each passenger will soar equipped with a personal viewing window and headset to speak with the pilot or pretend to be working at the world's first airborne drive-thru.
When faced with a troop of more than 100 java monkeys, how do you pick out the leader? Look for "the large male who carries his long tail held up high," advises Monkey Jungle's website. When it comes to gorillas, though, there's no doubt who's king?because that's his name.
Learning to recognize the rest of the primates at the preserve would prove much more challenging. There are 30 separate species and nearly 400 individuals, most of which swing and run freely in their habitats. One such habitat mimics the Amazon Rainforest, flourishing with South American plants and resounding with the calls of howler monkeys. Regularly scheduled feedings bring them, squirrel monkeys, and black-capped capuchins together for snacks.
Monkey Jungle encourages visitors to get close to the primates, but its foremost mission is to replicate a wild environment. The animals come and go as they please, which is why scientists often visit the preserve to study their natural behaviors and ask them standard census questions. The staff is also dedicated to conservation?they promote awareness of endangered species and have partnered with Wings of Love to house displaced parrots in their aviary.
At sunrise and sunset, the space over Florida’s white beaches and turquoise waters transforms into a brilliant skyscape of color. Luckily for their customers, Go Fly Tours has access to the ideal vantage point for viewing this prismatic wonder—the sky itself. Its airplane tours can soar through the enchanting scenes of dawns and dusks, or showcase local landmarks, such as bustling Port Everglades, Hollywood Beach, and Star Island, a favored getaway for celebrities. The staff can also add a romantic touch to the aerial views with a champagne toast, which has proved more appealing than a pilot who makes kissing sounds the whole flight.
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.
The Patricia and Philip Frost Museum has spent most of its life outgrowing its digs. It debuted in 1949 as a children's museum, which took off quickly and soon expanded into the Museum of Science and Natural History in 1952. In 1960, it again needed more space and moved to its current site, and now an even larger space is being built, set to open in 2016.
But throughout all its physical changes, its mission remains the same, "We inspire people of all ages and cultures to enjoy science and technology, in order to better understand ourselves and our world."
Size: as of now, the site stands at 48,000 square feet; plans for the new space will expand that to 250,000 square feet over five levels
Eye Catcher: tour the Wildlife Center, where the staffers care for injured wildlife?specifically majestic birds of prey?and release them back into the wild
Permanent Mainstay: the Planetarium, where PBS's Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer was filmed, boasts a 65-foot-diameter domed projection screen
Don't Miss: in the late afternoon, the planetarium hosts Legends of the Night Sky Laser Show, which teaches kids how to find constellations using lasers and Greek myths
Hands-On Experiments: in Nano, kids manipulate large-scale mechanisms as they familiarize themselves with the principles behind nanoscience
Special Programs: the museum?s Sea Lab features beautiful underwater creatures and coral reefs. Guests can get up close and personal as they reach out to touch a starfish or a sea urchin or have a cleaner shrimp nibble at their nails
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum began in 1956, when train enthusiast William J. Godfrey chanced upon the miles of abandoned railroad track snaking through the pineland of University of Miami’s southern campus. He imported a newly retired steam engine to the premises, and a tribute to railroading history began.
Now in a new location in Miami proper, the museum continues to honor trains’ role in American history, with nine exhibits on locomotives, passenger cars, and the Richmond’s Naval Air Station’s fleet. Visitors can hop aboard a full-size diesel locomotive passenger coach, or take a ride a miniature children’s railroad that’s ideal for transporting shipments of Lincoln logs. Alternatively, they can run motorized or free-wheeling trains through a model railroad, which zips through mountain tunnels and circles around to-scale landscapes.