Florida escape: Soak up the sun and sand in Aventura

Aventura is between the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Photo Credit: iStock

The city offers a family-friendly trip just outside of Miami.

Aventura is between the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Aventura is between the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Photo Credit: Daniel De Mato

Aventura has been a mainstay for the snowbird set to escape the cold weather. The Florida city — developed out of swampland in the 1970s and incorporated nearly 25 years ago — is also building its reputation as a relaxing, family-friendly destination.

Located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Aventura and the surrounding area boast attractions like fine dining, culture, nature and, of course, the beach.

OUTDOORS

At more than 1,000 acres, Oleta River State Park (admission $2/pedestrians, $4-$6/vehicle; 3400 NE. 163rd St., North Miami Beach, 305-919-1844, floridastateparks.org/oletariver) is one of Florida’s largest urban-area parks. Visitors can enjoy activities like fishing, swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding through Biscayne Bay and its mangroves, as well as hiking and biking on more than 10 miles of wooded trails. There’s also a small lagoon for swimming and fishing.

Cruise the open waters of the Intracoastal Highway in your very own boat. Luxury Yachts (from $150/hour; 15000 Collins Ave., Bal Harbor, luxuryyachtsinc.com) offers everything from jet ski rentals to yachts with a crew for a journey south, where you’ll meander past waterfront mansions and stop at a sandbar for swimming.

No trip to South Florida would be complete without a beach day. The nearby Samson Oceanfront Park (17425 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, sibfl.net/ccs/parks/samsonpark) is a picturesque public beach. Grab a salad or a wrap at Juice & Java (17608 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 305-933-3700, juiceandjava.com) across the street and picnic on one of the beach’s covered tables.

INDOORS

Dine on local heirloom tomatoes with burrata at Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak.
Dine on local heirloom tomatoes with burrata at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak. Photo Credit: Jennifer H. Cunningham

South Florida has long been known for its vibrant dining scene, and Aventura is no different. Chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak (19999 W. Country Club Dr., 786-279-6600, michaelmina.net) serves organic, wood-grilled cuts of beef, accompanied by appetizers and sides like local tomatoes with burrata and truffle mac and cheese.

Shoppers will want to hit up the Aventura Mall (19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-935-1110, aventuramall.com), the biggest shopping mall in Florida and one of the largest in the United States. It has more than 300 different retailers, from fast fashion like Zara to luxury brands like Gucci, as well as a movie theater and restaurants including Serafina Miami and another Mina joint, International Smoke.

Get your culture fix at the Museum of Contemporary Art (closed Mondays, admission $10/adults, $3/students and seniors; 770 NE. 125th St., North Miami, 305-893-6211, mocanomi.org), home to more than 400 works of modern art and monthly jazz concerts.

Break a sweat with the kids at the Ninja Lounge (from $14; 14401 NE. 19th Ave., North Miami, 786-590-5000, ninjalounge.com), a fitness and recreational facility decked out with trampolines, a bouldering wall, obstacle courses and a virtual reality park.

GOOD TO KNOW

Getting there: Fly direct to Miami International Airport in about 3 ½ hours. From there, it’s a 30-minute drive to Aventura.

Getting around: Although public transportation options are limited, many of the hotels and attractions are a short walk or Uber ride away.

Where to stay: The JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa (19999 W. Country Club Dr., 786-235-8435, jwturnberry.com) just completed a multimillion-dollar renovation and is home to two championship golf courses, restaurants and a full service spa (a new water park is also set to open later this year). Go for more rustic accommodations in one of 12 cabins at Oleta River State Park (3400 NE. 163rd St., North Miami Beach, 305-919-1846, floridastateparks.reserveamerica.com). The cabins sleep up to four people, and the park has additional campground facilities with flushing toilets and cold water showers.

Jennifer H. Cunningham