Long days, short nights and sweltering heat — that’s South Florida in the summer. But along with the rising temperatures, the season brings activities for everyone to kick back, explore and make the most of summer fun.
There are tons of places around town where you can ride out the rising temperatures. Some of these are inside, far from the glare of the sizzling sun and where air conditioning becomes the greatest ally. Other happenings will take you into the great outdoors, where tree-filled canopies and ocean breezes help beat the heat.
Here are some of the ways to keep busy while keeping cool.
PARK N’ WATCH
As the sun sets and temperatures drop, film reels will begin to play at the new Blue Starlite drive-in movie theater location in Coconut Grove behind the playhouse.
After first launching last September in Wynwood, owner Josh Frank made the decision to relocate the theater to a lot behind the Coconut Grove Playhouse to attract more families.
The new location, which opens June 23, will provide room for more vehicles — comfortably fitting 30 cars instead of the 18 at the Wynwood space.
“Miamians love their cars and love being in their cars,” Frank said. “This is a night you can spend with the people you love and the cars you love.”
Blue Starlite has also teamed up with Taurus in the Grove to offer meal baskets that can be delivered to the cars.
“We partnered with Taurus bar and restaurant so we can be more like the drive-ins from the ’50s,” Frank said. “We wanted to add some customer service elements so that we could create even more of a special one-of-a-kind experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Ticket packages for vehicles range from $30 to $45. There is also the option to purchase an $8 ticket and sit in the pedestrian seating area.
A FLOATY AND A MOVIE
Watching movies can be a poolside activity, too. During the summer, Grapeland Water Park in Miami will be hosting Dive In Movies on the last Friday of the month.
From 5:30 p.m., families are welcome to go for a swim, zip down water slides or float on the lazy river. At 8 p.m., the water slides will close and everyone will be directed to a pool where they can watch the night’s family film.
“We have tubes so you can swim, you can float, or you can sit on a lounge chair by the pool,” said Lara DeSouza, deputy director for the city parks department.
The next Dive In Movie will be Monsters University on June 27. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Disney’s Planes and E.T. will be screened on the last Friday of July, August and September respectively. Admission is $5 per person for everyone over the age of 2.
“This allows parents to bring their kids to do something different and affordable,” DeSouza said.
Go somewhere where the summer weather cannot. Inside any of the local ice-skating arenas, it is easy to forget the humidity after a few laps around the ice.
Lace up your skates at Kendall Ice Arena, where there are public skate sessions from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays.
“I don’t know if they want to cool off or if it just because it is a cool thing to do, but we have a lot of families come in,” manager Jorge Seijas said.
Sundays are the designated family day, with a public skate session from 1 to 10 p.m.
For the teen crowd, weekend evenings feature live local DJ performances where skaters can perfect their triple axles during a light show.
And those who are brave can make their way to the ice arena for karaoke night on Thursdays. Only then can you face both the perils of wiping out on the ice and performing off-key in front of other skaters.
Admission for the public skate sessions is $7 and skate rental is $3.
IN TOUCH WITH NATURE
Juicy mango chunks and hundreds of tropical plants will steal the spotlight the weekend of July 12-13 at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for its 22nd Annual International Mango Festival.
“Mangoes are very popular here in South Florida,” said Brooke LeMaire, a spokesperson for the Garden. “We celebrate them here because David Fairchild was one of the first pioneers to introduce mangoes to the United States.”
The Garden will be showcasing mangoes from around the world — Southeast Asia, Egypt, South America and the Caribbean. Colombian mangoes will have a special place as the featured fruit for this year’s festival.
In a pitched tent, guests can sink their teeth into various kinds of mangoes and vote for their favorites. Cooking demonstrations featuring fresh mango dishes, yoga sessions and lectures on growing mangoes are some of the activities that will be offered.
Kids can attend a workshop on tropical plants — complete with microscopes — get their faces painted, makes crafts and take part in a children’s yoga class.
Vendors and mango growers will be selling mango dishes and products, and during an auction, guests can bid to take batches of the tropical fruit home. Small mango trees will be available for purchase for those who want to grow their own fruit for years to come.
“You can see the difference in shape, texture and taste between different mangoes,” LeMaire said. “It’s a really neat way to experience the tropics.”
Admission costs $25 for adults, $12 for children and teens.
A DAY AT THE MUSEUM
Many local museums have calendars full of good diversions from the heat.
The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach has brought back its wildly successful “Hot Nights Cool Jazz” series, which accidentally began five years ago.
“Instead of the music being a backdrop to this event, people sat down and treated it like a concert,” said Fernando Ulibarri, event coordinator. “We saw an opportunity to start a concert series.”
The four-part series, which takes places every other Friday evening, has been growing in popularity ever since.
“The space fills up and it is very positive,” Ulibarri said.
Ulibarri is a musician himself, and will play his original guitar compositions on the final night of the series. For other nights, he has invited other Miami musicians to perform, including pianist Mike Orta and bass player Gary Thomas.
Free for members, $10 for others. All guests are welcome to enjoy wine and beverages in the courtyard during the concert.
To get the whole family involved, the Miami Children’s Museum will be hosting a number of special events throughout the summer.
June is National Ocean’s Month, and a celebration at the museum will bring families under the tide to explore marine life June 28.
“Miami is right at the edge of the ocean, and it’s a good thing to understand that ecosystem,” said Peter Kisiluk, a museum manager.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the ocean extravaganza will feature ocean-themed art projects and a seashell excavation. Guests can also get close to marine life by visiting the1,000-gallon fish tank.
Kisiluk said families are invited to watch a black-light performance on the history of marine life in the afternoon, taking them back to prehistoric seas.
Admission is $14 for Florida residents, and $7 for city of Miami residents.