Growing up in Miami means a number of things. It means warm weather on Thanksgiving and beach days during winter break. It means knowing at least a little bit of Spanish (because you want to be able to order something yummy from Palacio de los Jugos). And it also means you probably went on one of these field trips, which most folks who once attended Miami-Dade County Public Schools remember fondly. Think back and see if you can remember riding a yellow bus to any of these Miami spots.
Everglades National Park
Out-of-towners might assume that Miami locals frequent the enormous national park in our backyard, but they would be wrong. That’s because most of us know that while the Everglades can be stunning, it’s also usually coated in a heavy layer of mosquitos. But as kids, we were taken at least once or twice to explore and enjoy that wetlands that Marjory Stoneman Douglas defended so fervently. We remember this as that field trip where we got to see an alligator fairly close up.
Chances are if you grew up in Miami, one of your first theater experiences was at the Actor’s Playhouse. This great little theater runs a number of kid-friendly productions each year and welcome field trippers by the dozens. Maybe you saw A Christmas Carol here, or a phenomenal production of Alice in Wonderland. Maybe it even sparked your desire to start acting. Or maybe it was just nice to get out of the classroom for a change.
Biscayne Bay Nature Center
Also known as the coolest field trip ever, this two-day adventure meant going to the beach and getting plenty wet. You’d usually spend one day wading in the water near the shore, and then investigating animals and other finds in their learning center. You’d also spend a second day trekking through the mangroves, where a kid would occasionally lose a shoe. You might remember this one as the field trip where your classmate got a baby crab crawling up his shorts.
Miami-Dade County Youth Fair
Every kid dreamed of the day their class finally got to go to the Youth Fair on a field trip. It was one of those rare instances where you knew your teachers wouldn’t throw anything educational into the lesson plan about the trip. This one was strictly for fun. That is, unless you’re the kid that threw up after the Gravitron or the one who almost flew out of the Double Looper (y’all remember that ride).
The Little Farm
Most of us did not grow up far south because areas like the Redlands and Homestead had small populations up until the last decade. Back then, going down to the farms for pumpkin patches and other holiday festivities wasn’t as en vogue as it is these days. This may have been your first encounter with chickens and cows and ponies. It might’ve even been your first (and/or only) time milking a goat. Regardless, fond memories were made.
HistoryMiami and the Downtown Cultural Center
Once known as the Historical Museum of South Florida, kids remember this field trip as the one where they got to go downtown. Sure, some of it was a bit more educational than we would’ve wanted, but they also had that really cool trolley you could sit in. This field trip usually went hand in hand with a brief visit to the Downtown Library, or the Miami Art Museum (now the PAMM located on US-1), which was just across the way.
A day at the park is pretty great, isn’t it? Most kids would agree, and as locals, we all know that few parks are larger and more awesome than Tropical. It’s got baseball diamonds and hills to run up and down, bike and running paths, a lake, basketball courts, and everything else you could possibly want in a park. Some of us even got to host our annual Field Day here (you know, it’s like the Olympics of elementary school).
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
People in Miami go to Vizcaya for a handful of reasons. They’re either taking quinceañera photos here, or attending the ultra-luxe Halloween party, or their abuelita wanted to check it out. But once upon a time, Vizcaya was also the location for Miami’s coolest renaissance festival ever. And if you grew up in the ’90s and ’00s you might remember packing into a bus and making your way to this incredible mansion where Charles Deering and his crew wintered in the early 1900s.
Despite how you may feel about the park now, nearly every young child visited the Miami Seaquarium on a field trip. Kids love fish tanks and animal shows and we all know this place is chock full of both. Where else in Miami can you see seals, sea lions, and dolphins in the same area? And if you’ve been there within the past, oh, 45 years, you definitely recall getting splashed by Lolita the orca (or being jealous of all the kids in the lower rows who did).
Miami Science Museum
While we impatiently await the opening of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, many of us look back fondly on our days at the Miami Science Museum. Everyone remembers this fun-filled field trip because it was so interactive. The beauty of MiaSci was that kids could go around and touch just about everything. There were buttons and levers and screens (more so in later years) and that cool platform you could stand on and hold on to that spun you around till you couldn’t see straight. They also had that great animal section in the back where birds of prey and giant tortoises could be observed by eager gradeschoolers, and that incredible planetarium and gift shop (where else could you buy mood rings year-round?) We’re pretty sure the new one will be pretty amazing though.