Known for its gorgeous beaches and festive atmosphere, there is a chic, cultural side to Miami that earns high marks for a rewarding trip by dovetailing tan lines with culture. Exploring Miami’s quieter, more elegant side makes this warm-weather destination a family favorite for dozens of reasons.

Big events like the Sony Open tennis tournament and the World Golf Championship PGA tournament need no introduction, but you should know that Miami regularly hosts these two events in the spring, bringing the top players in both sports to these beautiful venues. The Sony draws top-seeded players for a fun tournament that attracts dozens of grand slam winners to its famous purple courts for world-class matches with world-class prizes. The World Golf Championship draws the top PGA players with an $8 million purse in 72 holes of stroke-play competition. In addition, Miami Marlins MLB games run throughout the month of April, making a great old-fashioned afternoon at the ballpark a great memory on your trip.

In a true throwback to simpler times, the Miami Dade County Fair and Expo delivers a fantastic midway experience. Boasting 100 rides, all the cotton candy, corn dogs and lemonade shakeups you can eat, and exhibits that harken back to the previous century, it is the state’s largest county fair. Oh yes, there will be horse shows, a circus and a pig race, but there will also be rock stars, wrestling and magic. Experience 4-H livestock and agricultural exhibits, along with world-class concerts and competitions in academics, athletics and the arts focused on youth.

Miami’s MetroZoo, blessed by a tropical climate, features many exotic animals from Asia, Africa and other exotic destinations, in exhibits without cages. Habitats allow species to mingle as they would in the wild with moats and natural features separating those that would struggle to coexist peacefully. The free-range facility is privileged to have a baby black rhino, Cuban alligators, a Samburu giraffe feeding station and even an elephant with an affinity for painting. Families can rent a bicycle carriage with two or four seats to get around the 740-acre zoo. The GoMiami card includes MetroZoo in its 35-attraction discount program, available online with a savings calculator to help configure the specifics of your purchase.

The New World Symphony at the New World Center not only presents a traditional season of concerts, but also offers mini concerts lasting just half an hour for a mere $2.50. A perfect introduction to classical music for younger children and a wonderful respite in an otherwise activity-packed day for adults, the symphony schedules kid-specific concerts and “Inside the Music” presentations that combine symphony with dancers from the Miami City Ballet. The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science offers a First Friday presentation, combining a show in the planetarium with a rooftop observatory peek at the stars. Prepare to view planets and lasers in harmony with a little Pink Floyd backup. Other special exhibits take pains to introduce girls to engineering, kids to genetics and everyone to interesting facts and interactive exhibits explaining the scientific principles we use in everyday life.

Since you’ll be in close proximity to the Everglades, it would be a shame to miss such a unique national park. Notch up the excitement level with excursions designed around alligators, airboats and marsh birds. Canoes, kayaks or land-based tram tours are also available options, as are backwater fishing, bicycling, eco and aerial tours.

If you’ve always wanted to surf but never had the chance, Miami Beach is a great place to give it a shot. There are several companies that teach beginners of all ages. If a group lesson seems intimidating, opt for a private one or even a family lesson if you’ve got a willing tribe. Same goes for sailing, which is fun either learning to take the wheel or simply sitting back and letting the captain worry about the details. Whether you head out on an active adventure or just chill on Miami’s gorgeous beaches, stop by one of the takeout restaurants for a picnic lunch or snacks to keep everyone smiling. For an extra dose of iconic Miami, try brunch at the Fontainebleau Hotel’s Vida restaurant. Serving a menu unsurpassed in variety and quality, the Sunday brunch here is as revered as the hotel itself. It is a bit of a splurge, but kids eat for half the adult price and it is the perfect slow start to a lovely beach day, Miami style. For a simple relaxing afternoon by the water, make the most of the on-shore breeze by packing a kite to fly. Then sit back and relax, congratulating yourself on picking this superb destination for your spring escape.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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