Relaxing on the beach—or in a luxury penthouse—and watching the waves lap ashore is not the only way to experience Miami’s coast. Book a kid-friendly, boat tour for an unforgettable glimpse at the port city. Here are our picks for two Miami cruises your whole family will love, whether you want to view palatial celebrity residences or ‘gators in the ‘Glades.
Millionaire’s Row Cruise
To see how the rich and famous of Miami live, book an Island Queen’s Millionaire’s Row Cruise. For this 90-minute yachting trip, you’ll want a seat on the covered upper deck so you don’t miss a thing. Breathe in the salty ocean breeze and bask in the warm sunshine. You’ll be traveling around Biscayne Bay, first taking in the towering downtown Miami skyline, then the Port of Miami, and, finally, Miami Beach. The guides point out all of the most impressive sights from glass skyscrapers, to massive ocean liners embarking on their Caribbean vacations, to the beautiful beaches.
That’s where typical Miami cruises end, but the Millionaire’s Row Cruise keeps cutting ahead, sailing into the waters surrounding the private islands inhabited by Miami celebrities. Your first glimpse of what is known as “Millionaire’s Row” will be at Fisher Island—the exclusive community that is only accessible by boat—which is dotted with lofty luxury resorts and residences of Miami’s upper echelon. Next, you’ll cruise to Star Island, where your tour guide will point out the massive homes of the stars. The Island Queen gets within feet of the shoreline and barrier palm trees, allowing you to glimpse the tennis courts, helicopter pads, and shimmering infinity pools of the brightly painted mansions. If you get hooked on the luxury, you can even book out the entire Island Queen for a private friends and family tour—exactly like a millionaire would do.
Everglades Holiday Park Airboat Rides
Just a short drive from the glitz and glam of South Beach is a subtropical, wildlife-rich national park known as the Everglades, where you can run into manatees, alligators, and panthers. The best way to truly experience the natural wonder and thrill of it all is on a different type of Miami cruise—an airboat ride. Get a ticket at Everglades Holiday Park, and hunker down for one of the most exciting adventures you will ever experience outside of a roller coaster. Your airboat captain starts the trip with a few safety precautions (for example, no matter how calm the water looks, don’t put your fingers in). And then the giant fan on the back of your boat roars to life, pushing you at top speeds across rivers of grass, lily pads, and curly mangrove trees. Every few minutes, the boat stops, and the guide points out the snouts of alligators creeping through the water around you. The beasts appear more curious than vicious, locking eyes with you and occasionally thrashing their tails to splash you and your camera with water. But don’t try to pet them! The watercraft trip covers miles of wetlands and a lot of educational information about the South Florida habitat, including the history of the Native Americans who have lived in the Everglades for thousands of years. Everglades Holiday Park also runs an alligator rescue organization, and if you’re feeling brave, they’ll let you hold a (tame) baby ‘gator before you head home.