I recently had the opportunity to experience Miami like a tourist. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Miami’s varied and plentiful museums offer visitors another way to appreciate the Magic City’s history and culture.

When you think Miami, images of beautiful beaches and people-watching on Ocean Drive automatically come to mind. But I got to see another side of Miami thanks to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Miami Museum Month. Twenty-three participating museums are offering discounted prices or BOGO (buy one get one free) admission during the month of May. I visited four of the city’s museums, and found that there is a museum out there for everyone. 

I started at HistoryMiami, where I learned about the history of the city and the greater South Florida region—which is a real cultural crossroads of the Americas—and about Miami’s rich past and its diverse inhabitants.

The Teen Miami exhibit is one that kids will enjoy at HistoryMiami. It is a cross-decade exploration of teen history and culture in Miami. Visitors learn how Miami teens were impacted by World War II and the Vietnam War, and listen to the sounds created by local teen garage bands and R&B stars of the 1960s. The exhibit ends on June 9, 2013, so be sure to see it soon.

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Beyond the Beaches: Enjoying Miami’s Museums-Miami Children's Museum

The Miami Children’s Museum was a favorite of my two little ones. It’s designed for kids to play, learn, and create artwork. Between walking through a six-foot piggy bank to making noise in the world music studio and much more, kids won’t want to leave the museum.

My Miami museum tour concluded at the Coral Gables Museum, which was originally a police and fire station. I enjoyed the Italy in Motion exhibit, which features Vespas, Ferraris and cool bikes. The exhibit focuses on design and mobility, with the theme of style, velocity and identity.

Beyond the Beaches: Enjoying Miami’s Museums-Miami Science Museum

At the Miami Science Museum, I learned about the plans for their new digs, which will open in 2015. It will be world-class museum in a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient building. The museum is small for now, but your young scientist can spend a few hours learning about hurricanes or visiting the planetarium.

As public schools face funding cuts for arts and cultural programs, it’s important that we parents step up and expose our kids to the cultural and educational riches available at our local museums. With summer coming, why not use up some of your kids’ free time by discovering the exhibits and collections right in your own city?