Parasailing. Windsurfing. Kite-boarding. Jet-skiing. Those are just some of the water-based sports that visitors can enjoy while in Miami.Parasailing — Photo courtesy of Jongleur100
But what if you have small children who aren’t up for these kinds of challenging activities? What if you aren’t too fond of heightened adventure yourself? Or what if you crave the feel of the wind and the water, but others in your group would rather sit on the sand and tan?
Not to worry. While Miami has a reputation for action, when it comes to the most entertaining resource around – water – the city’s venues and resources offer plenty of refreshing amusements for the G-rated crowd, too.
In fact, at places like Matheson Hammock Park and Beach, you can please both tame and extreme water sport enthusiasts simultaneously. This County Park, which offers walking trails through twisted mangrove forests, features a beach with a man-made atoll pool. It’s prime for babies and toddlers who relish sitting in slightly moving water and playing with sand.
But because the location also has a consistent breeze and the atoll pool has a lengthy shallow descent, it’s perfect for launching a kite-board. And if that still doesn’t thrill you, then you can head over to the marina and sign up for a deep-sea fishing charter, or for some lessons at the sailing and powerboat school.
Equally as versatile, Crandon Park Visitor and Nature Center on Key Biscayne is a gently surfed, “low impact” watering hole, protected by an ever-changing sandbar, that is rife with amenities. The two-mile Crandon Park Beach, flat and wide, is shaded by plenty of palm trees.Crandon Park Beach — Photo courtesy of Paulkondratuk3194 at en.wikipedia
Numerous concession stands, bathroom facilities, lifeguard stations and picnic areas divvy up the sands. Those looking to relax can rent a cabana; those who want (or need!) to expend energy can participate in everything from ocean kayaking to taking a butterfly walk to exploring the Bear Cut Nature Preserve by tram. Near the immaculate, lagoon-style beach, the Family Amusement Center boasts a historic, restored carousel and a splash fountain for little ones.
The 90-year-old Venetian Pool in Coral Gables has less entertainment options, with swimming, sunning and posing for photos – the site is often used for a magazine or movie shoot – the main activities here. But it’s no less thrilling for both sun-seekers and history buffs. Venetian Pool — Photo courtesy of Elisa Rolle
A former coral rock quarry that’s re-filled with 820,000 gallons of spring water daily during the spring and summer seasons, the Venetian Pool is the aquatic equivalent of the Mediterranean Revival houses that populate the Gables. Built in 1923, the pool features loggias, porticos, underwater grottos, a bridge and two lookout towers carved from the same stone that many of the neighboring homes boast. The pool was last renovated in 2010 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For the ultimate splash, however, check out Grapeland Water Park, proclaimed Miami’s biggest public water park. Two activity pools with slides and sprays, one for toddlers (Shipwreck Island) and the other for larger children and adults (Pirate’s Plunge), have been augmented by the designs of renowned local artist Britto Romero. In addition, the Captain’s Lagoon zero-entry access pool and the Buccaneer River Ride, with inflatable tubes propelled by the current, offer respite without exertion from the heat.
Have no plans for the evening? Dry off and stay for Grapeland's "Dive In Movies," showing every last Friday of the month from may through September. Shown under the stars, these family favorite flicks are, along with some soothing aloe on the skin, the ideal way to end a day of sun.