Walk on the wild side in Miami

With one foot in the Atlantic Ocean and the neighbouring marshlands of the Everglades, so much of Miami’s identity comes from its closeness to nature. Miami’s tropical conditions allow for all kinds of exotic wildlife to thrive in the region, which is why the city is also well known for its zoos, aquariums and nature trails. So if you’ve ever wanted to take a walk on the wild side, the following Miami attractions make it possible.

Monkey Jungle

Orangutan hanging in a tree

Built during the 1930s in a natural forested area, conditions are perfect for our close family members to enjoy their monkey business in front of the paying public.

Discover how the park’s clever crew have solved the age-old issue of keeping animals in captivity – the park is designed to keep visitors enclosed while the monkeys are allowed to roam free.

Take the Rainforest Adventure Tour for a chance to explore five acres of this natural habitat, get up close and personal with cute capuchins, and have your picture taken with some new friends.

Zoo Miami

Malayan Tiger in the zoo

From its humble beginnings as a sideshow in the late 1940s, Zoo Miami has grown into Florida’s largest zoo, and the only sub-tropical zoo in the continental United States.

Among its 500 species are 40 endangered types of animal – including the Florida bonneted bat and the Malayan tiger. Zoo Miami prides itself on its conservation projects, and uses these threatened species as part of their extensive education programs.

The zoo’s well-designed layout allows visitors to see the bulk of the enclosures within a three-mile circuit – handy if you’re pushed for time or just want to pack in as much as possible.

Miami Seaquarium

Killer whale emerging from the water

Among its many other research centres and scientific bases, Virginia Key also has the Miami Seaquarium; one of the oldest in the States and the place Lolita the Killer Whale calls home.

This impressive specimen has lived here since the early 1970s, and is the star of daily exhibitions, where she performs her special dives and tricks to crowds each day.

Pay a visit to the Seaquarium and you’ll also get the chance to swim with dolphins, and become a trainer for the day – feeding the seals and maybe teaching them a trick or two.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Bird at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami

For the chance to see the gentler side of nature, a visit to the Fairchild Garden is where you’ll see all manner of exotic plant life that the warm Florida climate helps to preserve.

 The local conservation society has done an outstanding job of preserving these delicate species through fundraising and charging visitors a modest entry fee.

Their ‘Million Orchid Project’ promises some stunning scenery, while the chance to visit beautiful butterflies and tropical fish inside the conservatories is another highlight of the botanic garden.

The garden is part of Matheson Hammock Park, which features hiking trails, amazing ocean views and a unique building built from coral stone in which to grab a bite.

Shark Valley Tram Tours

Panoramic view of the Shark Valley near Miami

Take a tram tour through the Everglades and get up close with Miami’s most famous natural habitat. The so-called ‘River of Grass’ runs more than 100 miles long, and is home to crocodiles, alligators and other reptilian life.

These unique marshy conditions have also allowed all manner of grasses and trees to flourish, an achievement which has granted the area protected status and the subject of many international scientific studies.

During your tour of the Tamiami Trail you’ll learn everything there is to know about this fascinating area while getting to see the wildlife up close.

Whether you’re a nature buff or looking for something to entertain the kids, Miami’s dedication to preserving its natural heritage makes it one of the States’ best destinations for nature-lovers.

There’s no better way to explore all this fascinating city has to offer than hiring a car in Miami and ensuring you make the most of your time in this wonderful corner of Florida.