Key Biscayne and its sister, Virginia Key, were once home to coconut plantations, fishermen, sailors, pirates, soldiers, and settlers. A vacation rental in Key Biscayne, Florida, makes an ideal home hub for a family visit to this fascinating tropical oasis. Key Biscayne sits snugly between two wonderful parks with sheltered beaches, twisted mangroves, butterflies soaring free in the tropical forests, and beloved, lumbering loggerhead turtles. This makes it a perfect destination for families with plenty of fun activities. Here are 11 of our favorite things to do in Key Biscayne with the family.

1. Miami Seaquarium

Don your wetsuit and leap into Dolphin Harbor where, as a Dolphin Odyssey guest, you and the kids learn how to kiss, hug, rub, and even dance with the playful dolphins who may even take you for a ride across the pool. The trained killer whale, Lolita, shows off her 40-year-old skills in the amphitheater, and you can meet her companion sharks, manatees, alligators, and turtles in their sheltering tanks.

2. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

This huge state park occupies the southern third of Key Biscayne and features the historic 1825 Cape Florida Lighthouse, the oldest standing structure of its kind in the Greater Miami area. Dubbed number seven on a list of top 10 beaches in America, this park provides plenty of opportunities to sunbathe, swim, and picnic on the one-mile stretch of white sand. This area is a terrific place to paddle a kayak or peddle a bike along the paths. The Biscayne Bay seawall offers some of the best shoreline fishing around.

3. Crandon Park Amusement Center

Located in popular Crandon Park, the amusement center lets kids of all ages enjoy the vintage carousel and sail around on roller skates at the derby-style paved and banked rink. This park is an ideal alternative to a day at the beach. Let the kids scamper through the spraying seahorse fountain before visiting the beautiful arboretum and cool gardens.

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4. Sea Grass Adventures

With the help of a naturalist guide, drag a net through the seagrass and discover all shapes and sizes of sea life, including tiny seahorses, prickly-looking sea urchins, pipefish, and starfish. Before you release them back to their aquatic habitat, you can learn about the different species while viewing them up close. Don’t miss the Fossil Reef tidal pool where you can observe the delicate ecosystem balance in the area while taking in astonishing views of South Beach. For children between 2 and 5, stop into Beach Babies and take them on a short hike through the hammocks, then let them meet and greet some of the live animals.

5. Miami Seaplane Tour

The sky’s the limit when you take off on a seaplane tour of this tropical area. You can soar above the beautiful blue waters surrounding the Upper Keys, wave to the sunbathers on South Beach, and enjoy magnificent views of the Miami Skyline.

6. Zoo Miami

Zoo Miami is one of the most distinguished open-air animal enclosures in the world. With an emphasis on education and conservation, the zoo houses more than 500 species, 40 of which are endangered. The Critter Connection Wacky Barn makes kids laugh with glee as they feed the camels and go for a ride, then watch the adorable Meerkats grab a lunch of crickets and grubs. Be sure to take a twirl on the handcrafted endangered animals on the Wildlife Carousel.

7. Miami Children’s Museum

Take shelter at this innovative museum when the rain falls or the sun gets too hot. Miniature exhibits help kids learn about banking, food shopping, and taking care of a pet, as well as making recordings or creating a newscast. Limbo dance on board a replica cruise ship, and if your back hurts because you went too low, the kids can take you to the interactive health and wellness exhibit. Tots enjoy the splash pad, sliding down the sand castle, and climbing a rock wall.

8. Duck Tours South Beach

Climb aboard the powerful and sophisticated “Hydra Terra” and speed off for an exhilarating land and water trip of a lifetime. Get a birds-eye view of fabulous celebrity mansions on Biscayne Bay, explore the Art Deco District on South Beach, and have a blast blowing your duck whistles at passersby.

9. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild, the largest tropical botanical garden in the continental United States, features 83-acres of lakes, sunken gardens, and an amazing vine pergola. Take the tram tour to see orchids, bellflowers, coral trees, rare palms, and bougainvillea, then stop by the Simons Rainforest for a glimpse of a collection of tropical plants from around the world. The Keys Coastal Habitat provides food and shelter for native and migratory birds. You can peruse some gift shop books while nibbling a sandwich and sipping a smoothie made from the garden’s own crop of tropical fruits.

10. Hike the Bear Cut Nature Trail

Start your hike at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center in Crandon Park, then take the Osprey Beach trail. The path is broad and smooth and wanders along the coastal dunes, then connects to a boardwalk where you experience stunning views of the 6,000-year-old fossilized mangrove forest reef and downtown Miami. The trail system’s intertwined pathways take you over hammocks, alongside the waterfront, and into the shade of tropical trees.

11. Jungle Island

Watson Island is home to this interactive zoological park, which has an affinity for parrots. While visiting Jungle Island, you and the kids can head down to the private beach at Parrot Cove for some sun and surf, while you take some great photos of downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay from the sand. Walk through the replica Everglades habitat, stroll over to visit the tortoises, feed the kangaroos, and get some hands-on time with the lovable and rambunctious lemurs. Take a seat in the covered amphitheater, Parrot Bowl, and watch some of the world’s most beautiful, playful, and dangerous birds soar overhead, including an Andean condor and attention-grabbing, raucous and colorful macaws.

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