Florida is home to a plethora of plants and animals that are hard to find elsewhere in the U.S. No matter where you are in the state, you’re just a short drive from some gorgeous wildlife. There are a variety of fun, affordable animal attractions in the Miami area, from a classic zoo experience to up close and personal opportunities with all kinds of critters.
1. Zoo Miami
Over 2,000 animals live on 300 acres of specialized habitats at Zoo Miami. Visitors can feed the giraffes from an elevated deck, see rare creatures like the Komodo dragon and watch families of monkeys swing and play. The Children’s Zoo includes a Petting Yard with friendly barnyard animals, as well as enclosures for kid favorites like meerkats. Zoo Miami also has bountiful flower gardens, play areas and concessions for a full-day experience.
2. Miami Seaquarium
For another traditional zoo outing, the Miami Seaquarium is the best way to get a close-up look at some of the region’s most stunning aquatic creatures. There are back-to-back shows every day featuring killer whales, sea lions and dolphins (the first four rows are definitely in the “splash zone”). The Seaquarium also offers visitors the unique opportunity to actually swim with dolphins at Dolphin Harbor and pet the sea lions at Sea Lion Swim.
3. Monkey Jungle
In a refreshing twist, it’s the humans who are in enclosures at Monkey Jungle. The perky primates at this destination have large habitats with enclosures for less hairy visitors, and they come by often to get snacks like raisins and seeds from the dispensers on the human side of the cage. This is the only way to have such up-close interactions with Capuchins and squirrel monkeys. Monkey Jungle also houses great apes like lowland gorillas and orangutans.
4. Jungle Island
What started as a roadside attraction featuring parrots is now a massive animal facility on Watson Island. Jungle Island still has plenty of parrots, but now they’re accompanied by penguins, alligators and even a “liger” (half-lion, half-tiger). The park also has a petting zoo with goats, llamas, pigs and cows. Jungle Island includes concessions, special shows and even a private beach called La Playa where visitors can sun and swim. There are special shows all day, so definitely make some time for the fun and funny adventures of Peanut and Pumpkin, the orangutan twins.
5. Everglades National Park
The Florida Everglades is the largest subtropical national park in the United States. It stretches from the south end of Orlando to the coast of Florida Bay, covering 734 square miles. Visitors can find hotels at Gogobot to stay just a stone’s throw from the Everglades. Exploring this stunning nature preserve is a vacation in itself, but there are also options for less intrepid travelers. The Everglades Alligator Farm offers boat tours to see Florida’s most famous animal resident, as well as a variety of snakes at Snake Island. The boat ride is extra, but it’s well worth it.
Miami is a great town for animal lovers. The great weather guarantees you can explore the outdoors and see beautiful wildlife whenever you visit.