Every Sunday, I write an article on cruise travel and its related destinations in The Province, one of the most-read newspapers in Vancouver and British Columbia. The tricky part is that I never quite know what word allotment I’m going to get. With that in mind, I wanted to run the full, 600-word piece on my recent adventures in Miami here as well today, because I think it’s deserving of another go-round.

Welcome To Miami! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Welcome To Miami! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The city of Miami, Florida  is the undisputed cruise ship capital of the world, with a flotilla of vessels big and small that sail out of the Government Cut nearly every day of the week, bound for the sunny shores of the Caribbean. But last month I had the opportunity to actually linger a while in the “Magic City” – and I discovered there’s more to do than meets the eye.

Click here to read our full Live Trip Report from Miami, Florida!

One of the biggest surprises was the Miami Children’s Museum. It’s somewhat utilitarian-sounding name masks two stories of fun for young and old, from a replica bank where kids can play “teller” and learn about money to a mock Carnival cruise ship that teaches kids the importance of travel.

In the Miami Children's Museum, kids enter a fantastical world of grown-up make-believe and learning, rolled into one. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

In the Miami Children’s Museum, kids enter a fantastical world of grown-up make-believe and learning, rolled into one. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The other surprise: the VIP tour at Jungle Island, where I discovered that having little monkeys crawl all over you is actually quite cute and enjoyable. I also learned about the Cassowary, one of the most dangerous birds on the planet, that is part of their “Winged Wonders” show. Don’t worry – they only seat journalists in the front row!

Feeding the Kangaroos. Unlike the native Australian kind, these are very kind and well-mannered. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Feeding the Kangaroos at Jungle Island. Unlike the native Australian kind, these are very kind and well-mannered. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Then, there was the intriguing oddity that was the Coral Castle – literally a castle built entirely out of coral. Constructed by Edward Leedskalnin between 1920 and 1940, the castle was created to commemorate Leedskalnin’s unrequited love, though no one saw him actually build the massive structure which he reportedly created using homemade tools. The mystery of how the castle was built endures to this day.

This table, when viewed from the top, is a near-perfect map of Florida. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Coral Castle: a gift from the man to the woman who abandoned him. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Of course, no trip to Miami is complete without a visit to “the glades” – which is where the Everglades Alligator Farm (everglades.com) comes into play, taking guests on an exhilarating airboat trip over the alligator-infested waters that used to cover so much of the Sunshine State. It’s out – relatively – in the middle of nowhere, along with the Robert Is Here fruit stand.

It's worth the drive just for one of the delicious milkshakes made on-site. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

It’s worth the drive just to the Robert Is Here fruit-stand for one of the delicious milkshakes made on-site. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

I have never had a better fruit milkshake in my life, and Robert has been here selling fresh fruits and more since starting his business on that very corner in 1959. They’re so good, I might just fly back to Florida to get one!

Embarking one of the airboats for a tour of the Everglades. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Embarking one of the airboats for a tour of the Everglades at the Everglades Alligator Farm. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

If you want to stay within reach of the city, but are looking for something a little more “zen”, head to the Turnberry Isle Resort.

Located in nearby Aventura, halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, The Turnberry Isle resort is closer to a Caribbean paradise than a property in densely-populated suburbia. The first thing you’ll notice is the complete absence of traffic noise, thanks largely to the two sprawling 18-hole golf courses that surround the property. In fact, it’s so relaxing I actually forgot what city I was in!

In the words of our expert instructor: "The ball gets hit because it's in the way." Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Ooh-la-la: Golf at the Turnberry Isle Resort in Aventura, Florida. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Click here to view our complete profile of the Turnberry Isle Resort!

The resort even puts together a calendar of events and activities you can take part in, from golf and tennis clinics to guided tours of the on-site Chef’s Garden, or just relaxing to the live music in the Lobby Lounge every Thursday-Saturday. Best of all, there’s organized activities for kids that encourage them to have fun and be creative; they can even help feed the on-site koi fish and turtles.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is illuminated by the Florida sun. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is illuminated by the Florida sun. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

If you’re into the beach scene, the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne  will fit the bill. The 450-room luxury property situated on 12 acres of topical gardens is also remarkably family-friendly, with a special Ritz Kids program that caters to children aged five to 12 with arts and crafts, pool games, tennis, basketball, and even half-and-full day adventures.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne has a grand elegance that's still welcoming to families. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne has a grand elegance that’s still welcoming to families. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The adults might want to spend some time in the on-site RUMBAR, where Hemmingway himself would likely have approved of the 54 different rums sourced from 18 countries.

With that kind of selection, why leave Miami?

The Atlantic Ocean at sunset, seen from the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Atlantic Ocean at sunset, seen from the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Click here to read our full Live Trip Report from Miami, Florida!

From the Deck Chair will return tomorrow.

 

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