My mom began going to John Pennekamp when she was a kid and I've been going to John Pennekamp since before I can remember. Most people go for the crystal clear water and the beautiful coral reefs and exotic fish. These can be seen either through glass bottom boats or while snorkeling and/or diving. There are many other activities available, too - canoeing, kayaking, fishing in limited areas, hiking and swimming to name a few. Don't miss the 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium in the visitor center. It's awesome! The entrance fees are more than reasonable.
My first association with The Barnacle was as an elementary school student. I thought this place was so neat I took my parents back. Deep in the heart of Coconut Grove lies an oasis from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. The Barnacle Historic State Park offers a view of Biscayne Bay and of Old Florida. Commodore Ralph Munroe's home and boathouse are right out of the 19th century and one can well imagine what life may have been like for him and his family as they made their home in the wilds of South Florida, watching and encouraging its growth. Munroe's principal passion was designing yachts. In his lifetime, he drew plans for 56 different boats. As a seaman, civic activist, naturalist and photographer, Commodore Munroe was a man who cherished the natural world around him. A walk into the park passes through one of the last remaining tropical hardwood hammocks which once made up all of Coconut Grove. Commodore Munroe used many of his boat-making skills to build this unique house. I think one of the most amazing things about this house is that it was built for the surrounding area - the windows catch all the available winds so that it stays cool even without air conditioning. The Barnacle is an unobtrusive old-fashioned gem amid the glitz and glamor of Coconut Grove.
Whenever we have young guests from out of town, we like to take them to Coopertown, which was originally an Indian village where the family of Jimmy Osceola lived and is now home to a population of 8 human residents! One of the first things you notice is the restaurant, which serves Florida delicacies like froglegs and gator tail. They also serve very good breakfasts, steak, fresh catfish, shrimp and hamburgers. It is amazing some of the people who have eaten there - Dennis Weaver, Doris Day, Burt Reynolds, Dana Andrews, Ron Howard, country singer Slim Whitman, Micky Mantle, Billy Martin, Bob Kuechenberg, Chuck Norris, Kurt Russell, Mariel Hemingway, Raul Julia and Beverly D'Angelo. There is an alligator exhibit where the guides will give you an up close and personal tour of the resident gators. And last but certainly not least are the exciting airboat tours of the Everglades. We've seen alligators, herons, snakes, raccoons, turtles, beautiful butterflies and grackles among other things. Next door to the restaurant, there is also an Indian Village which has authentic arts and crafts which should not be missed.
When the first Pearl opened farther south, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. These stores carry anything you could need in the way of arts and crafts supplies. Everything from airbrush supplies to drawing materials to frames and mats to gold leafing supplies to paints to technical pens to Yankee artist canvas - it's all there. The helpful staff is always available to answer your questions and/or point you in the right direction. When we lived in South Miami, I was in Pearl a couple of times a week. Now that we've moved down to the Perrine area, I don't get into Pearl as often; however, anytime I'm doing a craft project and need something that is hard to find, I make a trip to Pearl. Once inside, it is hard to leave in less than an hour - there's always something else to look at.
Michaels is a fabulous craft store with more items than you can think of. I enjoy doing many crafts - counted cross stitch, jewelry, scrapbooking, miniatures, Fimo clay items, etc - and I can always find anything and everything I need here. I also enjoy decorating my home for various seasons and find a variety of decorating accessories at Michaels. Just spending time browsing through Michaels is a delightful experience (as long as I don't have the kids). There are dozens of classes offered at Michaels, too, in case you want to learn a new craft. Make sure you watch for the 40% off coupons in their fliers and the Sunday Miami Herald.
When we lived in South Miami, Fuchs Park was my son's favorite park. He loved feeding and watching the ducks. I enjoyed sitting by the lake surrounded by the lush greenery. While sitting in the peace and tranquility of Fuchs Park, it is hard to believe the hustle and bustle of busy Dixie Highway is just beyond reach. A trip to Fuchs Park was always a highlight of our day.
Also has pro beach volleyball.
Named after Congressman Dante B. Fascell this park is larger and busier than my preferred Fuchs Park. I would take my infant son here for a change of pace. Now that he's older, he prefers Dante Fascell Park over Fuchs Park. There is more for him to do here. Amenities include pavillion rentals, a tennis facility, playground area and tot lot.
A fabulous, much-needed program, The After School House is a unique endeavor that was designed primarily for residents of South Miami. The mentoring and tutoring program helps elementary and middle school children improve their self image, experience success and learn basic school skills. Older students are also encouraged to sign up for tutoring and use computers. When I worked at Ludlam Elementary, I could see what a positive impact this program had on our students.
I was about 12 when Actors' Playhouse began in Kendall. I saw my first production there when my mom took me for my 13th birthday. We saw a few more shows in that theater before it moved into the gorgeously restored Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables. The atmosphere in this magnificent, spacious Art Deco theater makes each show even more enjoyable. Since its founding, Actors' Playhouse has produced more than 90 productions including the large-scale musicals, off-Broadway style musicals, mysteries, comedies and thrillers. I am looking forward to taking my son here this fall to his first play - Alexander, Whos Not Not Not Not Not NOT Going to Move! I know it will be an awesome experience he won't ever forget.
The Falls is an open mall with a natural setting and, of course, features falls and fountains. There are about 100 stores including Bloomingdales, Macy's, The Gap, Ann Taylor and Ralph Loren Polo. You can enjoy shopping at any of the stores after eating at eateries like Johnny Rockets, T.G.I. Friday's, Los Ranchos or P.F. Chang's. If you're not in the mood for shopping, you can always enjoy a movie at the theater. For a special treat, head to the mall any Thursday and you'll catch one of their Tropical Thursdays programs - live entertainment at the Center Stage featuring the newest and hottest musicians from South Florida.