Miami – a city with two very distinct sides. There’s the party till dawn superclubs and boutique chic of South Beach and Ocean Drive. But also a side of the Magic City that’s ideal for kids. Discover pristine natural environments, come face-to-face with wildlife and hang out in completely unique attractions – all perfectly suited to family fun. Here’s how to make the most of Miami for families.

1) You can’t beat the beach

Think Miami - think beaches. The city is surrounded by water, especially the Miami Beach part of the city. It’s a separate island, about a block wide with the beautiful blue ocean all around it. Looking for a quieter beach experience? Head out to Biscayne Key where the national park is home to pristine beaches. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins and manatees swimming along the shore. And the best part is – the beaches are free.

2) Meet nature in the Everglades

Outside the city you’ll find the vast Everglades, a huge 1.5 million acre (6 billion square meter) wetland where you might spot leatherback turtles, panthers and wild alligators on an airboat ride. For more of a sure thing, check out the Everglades Alligator Farm where employees risk life and limb feeding these prehistoric beasts. There’s even a chance for the little ones to hold and feed snakes.

3) Spark imaginations at the Miami Children’s Museum

A place where kids pretend to be grown ups and adults unleash their inner child. Steer a virtual cruise ship, create currencies in the Bank of America or do the weekly shop in a scaled-down supermarket. This is interactive learning with valuable lessons – but a whole lot of fun for the family too.

4) A walk on the wild side at Jungle Island

Ever seen a parrot that can ride a bicycle? Welcome to Jungle Island - where the birdlife is a little out of the ordinary. These beautifully behaved creatures – including macaws, parrots and cockatoos – will even eat right out of the palm of your hand. In the summer there’s a waterpark where you can cool off too.

5) Explore the depths at the Seaquarium

Watch Pacific dolphins leap high out of the water and play with their trainers. Meet sharks and alligators close up, or see the lumbering manatees and charismatic turtles splash around. The Seaquarium is one of the best things to do in Miami with kids.

6) Cool off in the Venetian Pool

Feeling the heat? Then cool off at the Venetian Pool. And we really mean cool off – because the water in this former quarry turned tropical pool is a little chilly. One of Miami’s most iconic attractions, this was once the place where movie stars hung out. These days, it’s more for the general public than for celebs but that takes nothing away from its glamour. Sit under a waterfall and escape the heat of the Miami sun.

7) Go loco in Coconut Grove

Discover one of the most unique neighborhoods in Miami. Explore mansions built in the Italian Renaissance revival style, including the opulent Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Constructed for industrialist James Deering in the 1920s, wander through the rococo rooms or have fun getting lost in the orange jasmine maze garden. Even the kids will appreciate the grandeur of this one time family home.

8) Stars are born at the Miami Children’s Theater

With performances produced, directed and acted by children, this place is sure to inspire theatrical kids. Introduce your little stars to a life of show business or just take in a performance at this highly original concept theater.