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The Travel Column 2003-5-1

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We are pleased to bring you The Travel Column, written fortnightly for "The Trinidad Guardian"


Once upon a time, before the giant mouse ate Orlando and the highways were designed exclusively to funnel the tourists directly into his backyard, there was another Florida. Tourist attractions have a way of springing up on the Florida roadside; those that can’t sustain the magic just wither and die, and they’re soon to be forgotten. Many however, have stood the trials and tests of time and have blossomed into major attractions. Believe it or not, Orlando, with it’s Walt Disney World and Universal Theme Parks, is not the only option for entertainment in Florida! South Florida, in particular the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale areas, offers many choices, which won’t have you and your kids dragging your feet for 12 hours a day.

Maybe you’re not planning a family vacation to Florida anytime soon, but you’re transiting Miami for a day or two. No time to get to Orlando that’s for sure! Maybe you’ll soon be on your 5th business trip to Miami for this year, and each time you’ve only seen the inside of an hotel or meeting room. How dismal. There’s tons for you to do, so extend your trip by a day, rediscover the kid in you and get out there and have some fun! Here are some perfect picks for quick entertainment in the Miami area, that are most enjoyable and quite easily accessible. (Hint: Best time to visit Miami is between October and May to avoid the humidity and heat of the summer months!)

Everglades Alligator Farm: Venture into unspoiled Florida at its wildest at South Florida’s oldest alligator farm. Explore the Everglades by thrilling airboat tour. Enjoy live shows every hour featuring alligators and snakes. Open daily 9:00 am to 6:00 pm - Homestead.

Miami Metro Zoo: A cageless zoological park on 290 acres, showcasing over 100 species of rare and exotic animals including koalas, white tigers and flamingos. Animal shows daily, with a children’s petting zoo and rides. The zoo even offers night tours for a behind-the-scenes look; with close-ups of selected animals, and interaction with zookeepers. Open daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm - Miami.

Miami Seaquarium: See sharks and dolphins, sea lions and seals. Learn about manatees, and all about eels! The Miami Seaquarium offers a day of fun, with exciting shows, exhibits and enjoyable presentations in its beautifully landscaped park overlooking Biscayne Bay. Have your own Dolphin Encounter; the Seaquarium offers an up-close look at these amazing mammals; you can even slip into a wetsuit and follow the trainers into the water for a one-on-one interaction with your own dolphin! Open daily from 9:30 am – Miami.

Parrot Jungle: This world famous bird sanctuary, wildlife habitat and botanical garden is home to over 1200 birds and animals. See spectacular bird and wildlife shows, and exhibits with monkeys, exotic reptiles, a petting zoo and children’s playground. Open daily from 9:30 am - Miami.

Jungle Queen: Operating for over 50 years, this is the famous Bar-B-Que and Shrimp dinner cruise. Offers an “all you can eat” dinner of ribs, chicken, shrimp, with a sing-along Vaudeville show. See Millionaire’s Row, Indian Village, alligator wrestling, rare birds and monkeys and cruise to Miami’s Bayside Marketplace. Daily cruises at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm - Ft. Lauderdale.

Miami Beach: Also known as the American Riviera, Miami beach is ultra hip and fun. A popular hot-spot for movie stars and fashion models, it offers wide sandy beaches, countless restaurants, and an exciting nightlife. The Miami Beach Visitors Center offers morning walking tours of the historic Miami Beach Art Deco district. These tours give visitors a chance to explore the architecture, shops, cafes and museums.

Bal Harbour Shops: The ultimate shopping experience! Bal Harbour has gained the enviable distinction as one of the most prestigious fashion meccas in the world. International renowned shops nestled within a lovely tropical garden setting; including Cartier, Chanel, Prada, Christian Dior, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Tiffany & Co, with Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue as the specialty department stores. Restaurants and continental bistros offer a variety of fine dining. Open daily from 10:00 am - Bal Harbour.

Cypress Gardens: To my dismay, I recently found out that these beautiful gardens became one of those attractions that withered and died. I have fond memories of visiting Cypress Gardens as a child and staring in wonder at the beautiful “Southern Belles”, ladies all dressed up in old-fashioned dresses walking amid the beautiful fields of flowers. Cypress Gardens opened in January of 1936, and after being open to the public for over 66 years, on April 10th 2003 a statement was released that April 13th would be the park’s final day of operation. The future of the land is uncertain; maybe the new developers will erect some sort of condominiums or upscale community, or maybe it may be turned into a public park or another tourist attraction. One thing is for sure, with their gates now closed, an era in Florida tourism is at an end. Hopefully, something else that benefits the public, will blossom in its place.

For excellent visitor information on Miami and the Miami Beach areas, visit the “Concierge Desk” at the City of Miami Beach’s website, at

Melanie Waddell, Director
May 1, 2003


Previous Travel Columns

bulletThe Travel Column 2003-4-3
bulletThe Travel Column 2003-3-13
bulletThe Travel Column 2003-2-27
bulletThe Travel Column 2003-2-13
bulletThe Travel Column 2003-1-30
bulletThe Travel Column 2003-1-16
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-11-28
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-11-14
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-10-31
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-10-17
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-10-3
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-9-19
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-9-5
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-8-22
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-8-8
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-7-25
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-7-11
bulletThe Travel Column 2002-6-27

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