Anyone interested in learning more about the history of Miami, its ecosystems and its various communities would be wise to sign up for a tour with Dr. Paul George, local historian and Miami Dade College professor. Dr. George regularly leads walking, coach and boat tours that cover almost every facet of Miami history, past and present. Join Dr. George on a boat trip to Stiltsville, a remnant community of six houses perched on stilts in the middle of crystal turquoise waters. Now a part of Biscayne National Park, Stiltsville was, in its heyday, the site of legendary parties and scandalous activities. Dr. George also leads theMany Faces of Miami coach tour, which travels by bus through some of Miami’s most ethnic neighborhoods, including Little Haiti, Overtown and Allapattah. George also conducts popular walking tours of Little Havana, downtown Miami, the historic Miami City Cemetery, Coconut Grove, and Coral Gables.
In partnership with the League of Paranormal Investigators, the Deering Estate at Cutler offers a variety of ghost tours, paranormal investigations, and overnight experiences. Guests can hear about the sightings and experiences from the actual paranormal investigations of the Estate, and experience evidence recorded on video, in photographs, and via audio recordings during the ongoing investigation of one of Miami’s most haunted properties.
Miami Duck Tours offer a decidedly unique way to explore Miami by land and sea. As you glide through downtown Miami and South Beach aboard “vesicles” that look like ducks on wheels, your guide quacks on about landmarks and encourages you to interact with the locals. Next thing you know you are cruising into Biscayne Bay, passing celebrity mansions from the water. Experience Miami GoCar Tours, the worlds first GPS-Guided, Storytelling Cars and zip all over town while this little yellow car takes you on a GPS-guided tour. Your talking GoCar navigates and shows you the way – but that’s not all. As you enjoy the drive, it takes you to all the best sites and tells the stories that bring this unique city to life. It’s like having a local show you around. Go where tour buses can’t. Best of all, the adventure happens at your pace. Stop for photos, take detours, grab a coffee, break for lunch, or blaze your own trail and explore the city streets, neighborhoods and parks on your own. Enjoy a half-day biking tour of Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District, with South Beach Bike Tours you will see first hand, incredible architecture, famous movie locations, celebrity homes and fabulous hotels, the bikes, safety helmets and refreshments are all provided. Experience the excitement of the only Zodiac RIB ride (the same boats used by the FBI, special military forces, DEA and Coast Guard) in Florida on Ocean Force Adventure’s two-hour outdoor adventure sightseeing boat tours as you speed across brilliant blue ocean waters and soak up the sun-drenched Miami skies to explore the glamour, the mystery and the history of Miami Beach and Biscayne Bay. The latest way to explore Miami is through Roam Ride’s Vespa Tours, featuring the Street Art Tour and Gallery Tour in the Wynwood Arts District, Little Haiti Studio Tour, South Beach Art & Architecture Tour and eco-tours of the Redland. Dragonfly Expeditions, who promote themselves as “purveyors of uncommon adventures,” offers the Florida Everglades Backwater Tour, voted one of the world’s best eco-tours. Guests can travel the wild backwaters on a private tour with experienced field biologists and naturalist guides for a day of discovery and exploration in one of the world’s most threatened and beautiful wild places – The Florida Everglades and Big Cypress Preserve. Other great city tours include Grayline Miami’s “hop on hop off” double-decker bus tours, as well as DECOBIKE’S Discovery Miami Beach tour — using a Discovery Player to experience hotspots and history.
Just 45 minutes south of the city, is the Redland, an agricultural paradise where visitors can spend an entire day sampling fresh-from the-farm produce and savoring the exotic fruits and vegetables that have become the foundation for “Floribbean” or “New World” cuisine.
Exploring the back roads by bicycle, in-the-know tourists and locals alike line up at Burr’s Berry Farm for delicious strawberry shakes or at quaint Knauss Berry Farm for their sticky-sweet baked goods, such as cinnamon rolls. All roads lead to Robert is Here, a popular pit stop for visitors en route to Everglades National Park, offering exotic tropical fruits along with famous fresh fruit shakes and homemade key lime pies. In season, visitors can harvest their own vegetables at the many U-Pick farms that line Krome Avenue and the surrounding streets. Schnebly Redland’s Winery, Miami Dade County’s first wine production facility, sells locally pressed wine made from overripe tropical fruit, grown as part of the family’s produce business on 96-acre (39 hectares) farm.
Open daily, the Fruit and Spice Park, a one-of-a-kind tropical botanical garden, has more than 500 varieties of fruit, nut and spice trees. Or, by appointment, one can arrange to visit orchid groves or check out small boutique farms that grow specialties like baby lettuce and cherimoya. At the end of a long day of wandering through bird and butterfly sanctuaries, tropical nurseries and fruit groves, visitors can find respite in charming bed and breakfasts such as the lushly landscaped Grove Inn Country Guesthouse.
When stomachs are full, great family-owned attractions that recall simpler times are a marked contrast to the high-tech organized mega theme parks in other parts of the state. This region is home to the aforementioned Monkey Jungle, Everglades Alligator Farm and Coral Castle — each retaining the flavor of the old South with quaint hospitality. Also nearby, revitalized downtown Homestead, boasts an historic main street loaded with antique shops, restaurants and ArtSouth, a funky colony of artist studios and gallery spaces. Also make sure to take in Zoo Miami which is rated one of the top 10 zoos in the nation, and is the only subtropical zoo in the continental U.S. This enormous cageless zoo showcases more than 2,000 animals from Asia, Africa, Australia, and North and South America, representing more than 500 species, 40 of which are endangered.
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