The ocean is swell, if you like sand up your rear end and don't mind the constant threat of sharks. There are more than a few places you can take the family to get refreshed this summer if you prefer your water chlorinated.
Go glam at Coral Gables' historic public pool that was once a stage for Tarzan's Esther Williams and Johnny Weismuller, poolside dancers, acclaimed orchestras and the occasional presidential hopeful. The 800,000 gallons of swimming water are purified and replenished every night by a subterranean aquafier for the hundred thousand visitors that want to take a dip each year.
Venetian pool is open seven days a week until Labor Day, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, Coral Gables residents pay $5.50 for ages 13 and up, $4.50 ages 3-12. Non-residents pay $13 ages 13 and up and $8 ages 3-12. Children under three are not allowed.
2701 DeSoto Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-460-5306.
If the idea of trooping around Zoo Miami in this heat makes you want to stick your head in the ground like an ostrich, keep in mind that nestled inside are several places where the kids can splash and play for hours while you stay cool in the shade. In the Children's Zoo area as well as by the Monkey Meadow are splash parks for the kids to take a break and get refreshed during their adventures in zoology. Also, the Ocean Voyage area of Playworld Playground has spouting fountains, overflowing buckets of water and a whale tail spouting water. The Fiesta Fountain at the Amazon & Beyond Village Plaza has water shooting up from the ground. You might just skip the animals and head straight to the splash zones.
Zoo Miami is open daily from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Admission is $19.95 for adults, $15.95 kids 2-12. Kids under 2 are free.
12400 S.W. 152 Street, Miami. Call 305-251-0400.
Inside the 12-acre park in Aventura is the splash pad area, perfect for taking the kiddies to cool off during the dog days of summer. The tot-friendly park has a mini water slide, geisers, sprinklers of every kind and places for all the yoga moms to work on their tans.
Free for Aventura residents, non-residents $10 plus park entrance fee of $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 17 and under. Operation hours during the summer are Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. -7 p.m.
3301 N.E. 190 Street, Aventura. 786-314-6492 or 305-466-8556.
For those of you who head west on the Dolphin Expressway and get stuck in the bumper-to-bumper action around Miami International Airport, you have surely gazed north around 37th Avenue and looked with longing at Grapeland Water Park, with its network of water slides and other splashy attractions taunting you as you sweat through your shirt. Bring the whole family because this park has safe activities for the little ones and exciting rides and slides like the Bucaneer River Ride and the Pirate's Plunge for the older kids, so no one can complain. Friday during the summer they have family movie nights with extended park hours.
The park is open daily from 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Admission is $7 ages 2-13, $12 Miami-Dade residents over 14, $15 for non-residents.
1550 N.W. 37 Avenue, Miami; 305-960-2950.
Wind your way through the lush foliage of Pinecrest Gardens till you find their Splash 'N Play area amongst the huge banyon trees. Kids can pass the afternoon splashing around while parents take turns appreciating the tropical landscape or reading the lates James Patterson novel.
Park entrance is $5, $3 for seniors.
11000 Red Road, Pinecrest; 305-669-6990.