This Miami institution took flight from its lush, natural South Miami environment and headed north in the winter of 2003 to a new, overly fabricated, disappointing $46-million home on Watson Island, along the MacArthur Causeway near Miami Beach. While the island doubles as a protected bird sanctuary, the jungle's former digs (in a coral rock structure built around 1900 in the heart of South Miami) had a lot more charm and kitsch. The overpriced 19-acre park features an Everglades exhibit, a petting zoo, and several theaters, jungle trails, and aviaries. Watch your heads because flying above are hundreds of parrots, macaws, peacocks, cockatoos, and flamingos. Be sure to check out the Crocosaurus, a 20-foot-long saltwater crocodile that hangs out in the park's Serpentarium. Also a pleasant surprise here is the Ichimura Miami Japan Garden. Continuous shows star roller-skating cockatoos, card-playing macaws, and numerous stunt-happy parrots. There are also tortoises, iguanas, and a rare albino alligator on exhibit. The park's website sometimes offers downloadable discount coupons, so take a look before you visit because you definitely won't want to pay full price for this park, which has nerve to charge for parking. If you do get your money's worth and see all the shows and exhibits, expect to spend upward of 4 hours here. Note: The former South Miami site of (Parrot) Jungle Island is now known as Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Rd. (tel. 305/669-6942), which features a petting zoo, mini-water park, lake, natural hammocks, and Banyan caves. Open daily from 8am until sunset; admission is free.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010