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Three ways to show your kids the magic of Miami

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    The Great Egret at Everglades National Park, which is just over an hour from Miami. (National Park Service/Rodney Cammauf)

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    Apr. 4, 2012: Linda Jacobs touches an orangutan at Jungle Island in Miami. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Blessed with a young and vivacious atmosphere, great beaches and year-round sunshine, it’s no wonder kids love Miami. Aside from its golden shores, the city has innumerable museums, sights and attractions that are sure to keep the whole family entertained. From quirky museums to wildlife parks and natural wonders, Miami’s vast repertoire of entertaining experiences ensures that visitors of all ages have endless choices. Here are three of the finest Miami experiences for young and old.

Miami Children’s Museum

The Miami Children’s Museum is undoubtedly one of the most innovative and interesting children’s museums in America. The four elements of the museum’s motto -- “play, learn, imagine, create” -- are present throughout each of its 14 different galleries. Interactive exhibits allow kids to discover a diverse range of subjects, exploring everything from a supermarket to a shipping port. Within this massive 56,500-suqare-foot complex, kids can learn about money and print their own bills in a giant walk-through piggy bank, or climb through a two story sandcastle to see sands across the globe. The museum usually plays host to a variety of excellent travelling exhibits, ensuring that the experience remains fresh for repeat visitors.

Jungle Island

Located just across the causeway from the Children’s Museum is a very different, yet equally enthralling attraction. Jungle Island is a 19-acre, open-air sanctuary filled with exotic animals, birds, reptiles and fish. Jungle Island was once famous primarily for its magnificent collection of parrots, but over the course of almost eight decades, Jungle Island has amassed an impressive assortment of creatures from a wide variety of species. Kids and animal lovers are well catered for with several theaters, a petting zoo, aviaries and jungle trails. The park also features several daily shows performed by some of its most colorful inhabitants, including ferocious tigers, exotic birds and more. The serpentarium houses some fascinating reptiles, including the largest crocodile west of Asia. Other star attractions include America’s only African penguins and an enormous liger – a big cat that’s half-lion and half-tiger.

Everglades National Park

Teach your kids about one of the world’s most interesting and unique ecosystems on an unforgettable trip to Everglades National Park. Just over an hour’s drive from the heart of Miami, this sprawling park encompasses swamps, sub-tropical jungles and prairies teeming with colorful wildlife, including 14 rare and endangered species.Kids can experience the great outdoors and learn about nature on a hiking trail or participate in one of the numerous ranger guided programs. Visitors can even take a boat guided tour through the swamps to observe the local crocodiles in their natural habitat. Be sure to stop by the Ernest Coe Visitors Center near the homestead entrance, where helpful park rangers and maps provide a great introduction to all the Everglades has to offer.