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Miami Children's Museum

If South Florida lacked a state-of-the-art museum for young families it got it in grand fashion when Watson Island welcomed Miami Children's Museum in 2003. Kids can spend hours exploring the various exhibits and attractions at the modern venue spanning a gargantuan two stories.

Let's walk you through what you will find.

Starfish tiles will guide you towards a whimsical coned entrance. The box office is airy with the museum's gift shop to your left and a Subway sandwich shop to your right. Once you have purchased your tickets you will come to an interactive sand castle structure. Kids are welcome to climb up to the tower and come down the spiraled slide. There is plenty to do on the first floor. A banking center will find kids stamping checks and learning about currency. A play supermarket has items stocked with a checkout line at the ready and just behind that you will be able to pick oranges, go fishing and even milk a cow. Don't worry, it's all pretend but definitely educational.

A clinic allows guests to dress up as doctors, brush a huge set of teeth, try on various casts and get lively with a green screen video. Those with energy to burn are welcome to pedal bikes that light up a virtual block. You also have a fire truck, complete with a fire pole to slide down from and firefighter gear to wear as well as a stuffed pet care center.

Indian American homesteads and exhibits showcasing Latin American culture are also there towards the back of the museum. Outside you will find Everglades Park, an active playground with slides, drums, crocodile steps and more.

More attractions await upstairs. From four stations that allow you to drive radio controlled boats to a Carnival Cruise Line exhibit that includes a faux buffet line and limbo pole (look for the red button to get the music started) you will also be able to try on life vests, guide crates through mechanical pulleys and plot your course to exotic ports of call. The music room allows you to try your hand at playing various instruments as well as karaoke, listening stations and adding sound effects to classic movie clips. The art room allows you to make crafts, from stamped art to other daily activities.

New in 2005 was Mount Michimu - a climbing rock wall where, for $3 a try ($2.25 for museum members) you can scale a two-story rock wall to either ring a bell or set off a volcano eruption. Yes, Mt. Michimu is short for Miami Children's Museum.

Sounds like a lot? Kids love it. Okay, some parents love it too. It's definitely one of the finest children museums in the country and you can't beat the location -- in the beautiful Watson Island strip, facing the mammoth cruise ships at the port on one end and Parrot Jungle Island at the other.

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