Take your family outings up a notch -- maybe several stories up? Have a ball riding the coasters at Scorpico in South Miami.
Sure you could eat at home, but you'll want to take advantage of this park's restaurant for high-class food.
Bring the whole family to this park, where kiddos are welcomed with open arms.
Parking is plentiful, so visitors can feel free to bring their vehicles.
This third-generation, family-owned protected wildlife habitat offers the rare chance to see nearly 400 primates run free. Monkey Jungle is the only protected habitat for endangered primates in the United States that is open to the general public, allowing visitors to explore the 30-acre reserve. Upon entering, guests are immediately welcomed by Java monkeys, who at scheduled times will showcase their water skills as they dive into a pool to get fruit pieces. Stroll through a recreation of the Amazon rainforest, the only semi-natural tropical rainforest in North America. The founder of Monkey Jungle spent five years collecting hundreds of different species of plants, trees and palms to mimic the habitat of howler, black-capped capuchin and squirrel monkeys that normally call the South American jungle home. Keep walking to eventually discover the bird domes, blossoming with displaced and captive parrots, as well as orangutans and gorillas that explore the grounds.
White sand beaches, cerulean waters, and towering palms make Jungle Island feel like a tropical paradise—complete with a leopard lurking in the undergrowth. Luckily, this jungle cat is safely within the confines of the Jungle Island, which has inhabited the isle for more than a decade. And yet the story of this popular Miami attraction, which houses everything from exotic birds and primates to rare plants and trees, began more than 75 years ago.
In 1936, Franz Scherr established an aviary where the exotic birds could soar uncaged, giving his South Miami park the apt name of Parrot Jungle. In the following decades, the aviary hosted some noteworthy occupants, such as Pinky—a high-wire bicycle-riding cockatoo—and several pink flamingos that appeared in the opening credits of Miami Vice. When the zoo's current owners purchased the company in 1988, they introduced new mammals and reptiles—but when Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992, they were forced to relocate. They settled on Watson Island, and in 2003, finished construction of the animal habitats and 18 acres of tropical gardens, renaming the park Jungle Island.
Hundreds of animals and plants from around the world call Jungle Island home. Naturalistic habitats contain mammals such as orangutans and a liger; reptiles such as American alligators and pythons; and birds such as African penguins and emus. The gardens house rare plants including cycads and African sausage trees. More than 1.35 miles of covered walking trails wind among the exhibits.
Many of these animals feature in daily demonstrations. In Winged Wonders, handlers showcase the antics of colorful parrots, the flight of vultures, and the resident 6-foot cassowary's ability to eat an apple whole. Explore the behavior of rare big cats, including four species of tigers. Alternatively, in-depth tours and encounters may bring guests face-to-face with popular primates, or deep into the Serpentarium to feed an alligator in its enclosure and ponder whether snakes could possibly wear neckties.
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.
Splat Paintball Park’s players strap on goggles and cradle Tippmann 98 paintball guns before sprinting through the X-ball grass field or the urban-scenario field encompassed by 20-foot-high netting and high-tech lighting. As players dash around, Paintball Training Institute–certified referees ensure the Geneva Conventions are followed.
Teams first design plans of attack in the covered staging area equipped with ceiling fans and cleaning stations, and then hone their aim at the shooting gallery. An onsite pro shop stocks shelves with all the extra equipment they could need.
In between matches, players relax in the indoor lounge with a snack bar, a big-screen TV, and paintball videos. Those celebrating birthdays storm the fields with friends before retiring to the private air-conditioned party room.
Established in 1934, the Everglades National Park, protecting the southern twenty percent of the original Everglades, is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states. A great way to explore the swampy, mystifying beauty of the Everglades is at Everglades Safari Park. That’s where you’ll find fanboat rides, an alligator wildlife show and tours with extremely knowledgeable guides, who walk guests through the native and exotic wildlife that inhabits the area. The ten acre park is lined with scenic trails that offer perfect opportunities to glimpse birds, reptiles and all the flora and fauna of the Everglades. There is also the possibility of getting your photo taken with Snappy, the famous alligator.