Once upon a time, most people just zipped across tiny Watson Island on the causeway between downtown and Miami Beach. In the past decade, though, Watson has become one of Miami’s top family draws, thanks to the Miami Children’s Museum (below) and this pricey but excellent diversion for kids and animal lovers. The 19-acre park features an Everglades exhibit, a petting zoo, and several theaters, jungle trails, and aviaries. Living here are hundreds of parrots, macaws, peacocks, cockatoos, and flamingos. Continuous shows star bicycle-riding cockatoos, high-flying macaws, and numerous stunt-happy parrots. One of the most popular shows is “Tale of the Tiger,” featuring awesome animals. Jungle Island also features the only African penguins in South Florida as well as a liger—part lion, part tiger—and endangered baby lemurs. There are also tortoises, iguanas, and a rare albino alligator on exhibit. Tip: The park’s website sometimes offers downloadable discount coupons, so take a look before visiting, because you definitely don’t want to pay full price for this park. To see all the shows and exhibits, expect to spend upwards of 4 hours. Note: The former South Miami site of (Parrot) Jungle Island is now known as Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Rd. (www.Pinecrest-FL.gov; [tel] 305/669-6990), which features a petting zoo, mini waterpark, lake, natural hammocks, and banyan caves. It’s open daily from 9am until 5pm; admission is $3 for adults, $2 for kids.
- David Paul Appell