It's easy to forget amid all of the concrete and neon, but Miami is an ancient place. Eons before the first modern residents began to move into the Coconut Grove cemetery, indigenous people were shielding themselves from the elements using the region's natural rock ridge and sunless tanning salons. Today, Ghost Tours Miami visits the restless spirits that have gathered here over the centuries, including the specters in the windows of the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Pirates, pilots, gangsters, and those too close to gangsters have all met their ultimate fate in this tropical cove, and the photographs and stories of spooked tour guests testify to their continued presence.
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.
A two-day pass aboard the Hop On Hop Off Tour provides riders with accessible transit and the cranial expansion of local knowledge. Throughout the route, a narration crafted by expert locals will keep you up to speed on where you are, where you are going, and where to direct your photographic and human irises. Non-English-speaking guests or bilingually curious natives can tune in to multilingual headsets along the ride. In addition to directing rubberneckers, the local good-times gurus at Gray Line lead wide-eyed wonderers into cultural hotbeds and fashionable storefronts. Riders who want to simply sink into the sun-soaked sand can browse the beach buffet out their window, hopping off when the bus reaches a towel-worthy strip.
The Event Depot's team will do anything to take a party to the next level—they'll even build a snow-covered mountain in the host's backyard. Their snow services transform pockets of Miami into winter wonderlands, converting yards into snowy peaks for sledding or building full-fledged ice-skating arenas.
They also furnish parties with less frosty accessories. Kids frolic in bounce houses and inflatables, and waterslides and dunk tanks keep parties wet and wild. Hosts can even rent the company's indoor and outdoor party venues, saving them the hassle of post-party clean-up and dropping leftover balloon animals off at the pound.
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.
Back in 1945, Coopertown Airboat Tours was founded on frog legs. When John Cooper would take his airboat out frogging in the Everglades, observers often asked for rides in the unique machine. The demand became so great that he built a passenger airboat—and today, the company has a fleet of seven. Coopertown itself has a population of only 8, and is a largely wild slice of land on the edge of the Everglades, making the popular airboat tours a main source of traffic. That's been fueled partly by attention from sources such as the Miami Herald, which has recommended it as a top winter attraction.
The airboats that depart from Coopertown head deep into the wetlands, where sawgrass covers the water and gators are plentiful. Guides point out a wide variety of wildlife, ranging from herons and turtles to endangered species such as the snail kite. For a more intimate encounter with nature, they also run private tours, voyaging into areas that are only accessible by smaller airboats. Tours typically culminate by the Coopertown restaurant and gift shop. There, guests can snack on the frog legs that started it all, or sample other swampland delights including gator-tail nuggets and catfish.