Miami is a perfect destination for teenagers. Not only is it SUPER cool, it’s buzzing with activity, day and night, and there are so many things to see and do, so whether your teen is sporty, stylish, a beach bum or an animal lover, I’ve got the perfect activity:
1. Hit the beach
The northern stretch of Miami Beach is quieter than South Beach, but the beach area is absolutely beautiful. For swimming and soaking up the sun there’s nothing like it. There’s also a really gorgeous boardwalk where locals walk their dogs, cycle and jog.
South Beach is more buzzy and is fab for people watching. The beautiful people and body builders are out in full force, plus it’s popular for photo shoots and other activities. The water is warm and blue, blue, blue – perfect for swimming.
2. Get sporty
The Sunlife Stadium is home to the Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami Hurricanes. There are often amazing entertainment events at the stadium too (Jay Z and Beyoncé will be performing there as part of their ‘On the Run’ tour very soon). We were lucky enough to watch the two England World Cup warm-up friendlies while we were there: England vs Honduras and England vs Ecuador – an absolutely amazing experience with an electric atmosphere (literally, during the Honduras game, when we all had to leave the stadium half way through due to lightning!). Check the website to see what’s happening while you’re visiting.
We visited the incredible Marlins Park to watch the Miami Marlins vs Tampa Bay Rays. The ballpark cost over half a billion dollars to build and has a pretty amazing retractable roof. Go for the electric atmosphere and watch out for the kiss cam. Go Marlins! Adult tickets cost from $15 (£8.90).
Never having played golf, I wasn’t particularly excited about our golf clinic at Crandon Golf Club, Key Biscayne (the view across the Rickenbacker Causeway is worth the trip on its own), but Alex Fernandez, our instructor (plus he’s a Class A PGA professional and also a caddy on the LPGA and PGA Tour) really made it interesting. With his instruction on the basics of golf, he soon had us gripping the clubs like a pro, and with a bit of help with posture and swing, it was surprisingly rewarding when you finally got it right and really connected with the ball. I was actually sad when our session was over. Fab fun.
3. Take a tour
Whatever you’re interested in, there’s a tour in Miami for you. We took a Bike and Kayak tour with Bike & Roll (10th and Collins). First we were fitted for helmets and were allocated bikes, then we were off. It’s taken at a gentle pace and our guide, Oasis, was immensely knowledgable and made the tour really entertaining. From the Versace Mansion to the beautiful Botanical Gardens, we wound our way around stunning South Beach, stopping at the incredible Holocaust Monument (don’t miss this – the pictures are harrowing but the whole place is immensely moving) and learning loads about the history and architecture of Miami. Oasis had us in fits of laughter and we felt really privileged to share our time with him.
Next stop was Biscayne Bay, where we got into two-man kayaks for a gentle paddle through the gorgeous, blue waters of the canals in the bay. The houses were pretty amazing and it was just so beautiful and relaxing to slip along in the sunshine. One of my favourite experiences of the whole visit. Check out bikeMiami.com for information.
If food is more their thing, your teen might like the South Beach Food Tour. Miami Culinary Tours have loads of different culinary tours and ours took us on a leisurely stroll around Miami in the sunshine, learning all about the fascinating culture, Art Deco architecture and heritage of Miami. Highlights for me were the incredible empanadas (and oddly yummy ‘refajo’ drink, made of beer and cream soda), and the crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, gooey in the middle dulce de leche churros from Argentinian bakery, Manolo (PLEASE click on the link, just to hear the music on the website, it’s awesome) on Collins Avenue. Our guide was great fun and full of great tips and snippets about Miami’s history. A wonderful experience. The culinary tour costs $59 (£35) per adult.
4. Shop ’til you drop
Aventura Mall (19501 Biscayne Boulevard, Aventura) is MASSIVE, with over 300 stores – everything from designer shops like Louis Vuitton and Burberry to Department stores like Bloomingdales. Highlights include Michael Kors, True Religion, Abercrombie & Fitch, Pink and J Crew, and a gorgeous Anthropologie store, to name a few. While you’re there, make sure you leave time to stop at Bella Luna, an Italian restaurant with enormous portions (the risotto portion was more than I would cook for all four of us) and lovely staff. Our starter was a mixture of silky soft Burrata, salty pancetta and olives, and spicy rocket. Delicious. International visitors get a discount card too.
In the very heart of South Beach, a couple of roads back from the sea is Lincoln Road. It’s amazing for just wandering and window shopping, but there is every shop you could dream of plus cafés, restaurants including the incredible Meat Market (more of this later) and Paul French Bakery, plus Kilwins (612 Lincoln Road) for an ice cream as big as your head (also check out the incredible home made chocolates). Visit on Sunday for the lovely farmers market.
5. Swim with da fishes (okay, I know dolphins are mammals)
The Miami Seaquarium is a great place to spend the day with all sorts of marine animals and a variety of different animal shows. We were lucky enough to experience the Dolphin Odyssey, where we first had a presentation about marine conservation, before suiting up and swimming with the dolphins. An unforgettable experience. I even got a kiss, AND a lift across the other side of the pool! The Dolphin Odyssey costs $199 per adult dolphin swim (£118).
Something for even the fussiest traveller there, I think!
Getting there: American Airlines flies to Miami from London (Heathrow) from £741 return pp (inc taxes). There are also daily flightsfrom Manchester via Chicago or New York. Travel in Business Class from £2487 return pp (inc taxes). As part of a soccer-filled summer, during June and July American Airlines is offering a free Miami stop-off for all passengers travelling to Brazil.
For more information and to book go to www.aa.com/miamiandbrazil (08444997300). American Airlines provides customers with access to nearly 6,500 flights to more than 275 destinations worldwide. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld® alliance. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines, and follow US Airways on Twitter @USAirways and at Facebook.com/USAirways.
More info: For more information on visiting Miami, check out the GMCVB website: www.miamiandbeaches.com