Miami: More than South Beach
Miami is more than sun-kissed beaches and tony nightclubs. If you care to escape the surf and avoid the velvet ropes, there are plenty of enticing options.
Ninety years ago, a real estate developer, an artist and an architect teamed to convert a Florida coral quarry into an Italian oasis. The Venetian Pool is an 820,000-gallon swimming facility filled daily with fresh spring water from an underground aquifer. Lush landscaping, lookout towers, trickling waterfalls, inviting grottos and a charming footbridge create a Mediterranean ambiance in the city of Coral Gables, just a few miles south of Miami.
Another enduring Miami attraction is Jungle Island, first opened in 1936 as Parrot Jungle a bit south of the city. Now in the heart of Miami, the exotic animal park shows off countless colorful creatures, including pink flamingos, a white lion, red ruffed lemurs and hyacinth macaws. Among the island’s more unusual residents: a cassowary (the world’s deadliest bird) and a 900-pound liger, a rare cross between a lion and a tiger. (Oh, my!) Daily shows and exhibits invite you to feed a llama, spot squirrel monkeys in a Peruvian-style setting, and marvel at Pinky, the high-wire, bike-riding cockatoo! For a more immersive visit, sign up for an animal interaction. The Lemur Experience provides playtime with the Madagascan charmers, while a private VIP Safari Tour nets you up-close access to orangutans, reptiles, kangaroos and other park denizens.
Wedged between downtown high-rises and the azure Biscayne Bay is Bayfront Park, a 2-acre urban green space. Saunter along a meandering baywalk. Gaze at tall palms, a tropical rock garden and a petite beach. Seek out three sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, including a memorial to the space shuttle astronauts lost in the 1986 Challenger explosion. Concerts and music festivals draw crowds to the park’s Klipsch Amphitheater. The Tina Hills Pavilion hosts free yoga classes several days a week. Feeling even more active? Enroll in a Try n’ Fly lesson at The Flying Trapeze School located right inside the park!