There is no shortage of incredible things to do in Miami.
This is the biggest town in Florida. It has incredible beaches; great museums and art galleries; parks and natural sites. Add to that the incredible night scene, the delicious food, and the easygoing atmosphere and you will see that this is a fabulous holiday destination, any time of year.
If you are planning to spend just a weekend in Miami, or are looking to visit as part of a longer trip around Florida; or even if you are just stopping in town on a long layover, you will be glad to know that this city has something for you. From sightseeing to relaxing at Miami beach; from shopping to chilling at a fabulous hotel; from gorging on good food to sipping a cocktail and partying until the wee hours – you have it.
Curious to find out more? Continue reading to discover what you can’t miss!
The Best Things To Do In Miami
Go to Miami Beach
Visiting Miami Beach is a must-do. It’s fun to see how it was built – it is actually located on a barrier island connected to mainland by a set of bridges. The area is packed with great restaurants, hotels, shops and the beach is – needless to say – fabulous. The highlight is Ocean Drive, where you can spot many art deco buildings (more about this below). Another must-see is Collins Avenue.
GOOD TO KNOW: South of Miami Beach, you will find Key Biscayne, which is known for its beaches; and Crandon Park, a spot perfect for swimming and where there is a Family Amusement Center.
And South Beach
If you are a fan of the beach, you will enjoy your vacation in Miami. If you are not, spending time in South Beach is still a must. It’s located at the southern end of Miami Beach and it’s the kind of place that gets super-crowded in peak months, but nevertheless fun.
TIP: Make sure not to miss Lummus Park, running along Ocean Drive from 5th to 15th streets: it’s the pretties part of South Beach; as well as South Pointe Park, one of Miami’s prettiest city parks, and still very much a local spot.
You will find a paved walk – Lincoln Road Mall – where you run, walk or bike. South Beach is also the best place in town for celebrity spotting – so take your tabloids out and start memorizing faces!
These are the best tours of Miami that also go to South Beach:
- Private tour of South Beach and Miami Beach in vintage car
- Half day double decker bus tour and boat tour of Miami
- Splashdown: duck tour of Miami and South Beach
Visit Everglades National Park
If you are a lover of nature, make sure to visit Everglades National Park, which is Florida’s largest swamp. The park covers an area of 1.5 million acres and is inhabited by alligators, crocodiles, snakes and a variety of birds.
The Visitors Center is a good place to stop in search for more information, and to pick up a map for the many walking trails which are perfect for wildlife spotting. The Anhinga Trail, which starts at the Royal Palm Visitor Center, is wheelchair accessible too and one of the visitors’ favorite.
The park can also be visited on one of those famous airboats such as this Everglades National Park Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show tour.
Go to Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden
Easily one of the best places to visit in Miami, this is a place where you can admire an immense variety of tropical plants, flowers, and trees – among them the very rare petticoat palm. You can explore on foot of jump on the 45-minute tram tour, which runs every hour.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: In order to visit Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden you need to get a timed ticket, which is available from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $25.95.
Visit the New World Center
Designed by Frank Gehry to be the campus of an orchestral academy, the New World Center is a fantastic music venue where you will be able to find a wide range of events. The park outside is a wonderful place to relax. There is a massive screen too for regular film and music events showings.
Visit the Museums
The following are some museums you may want to visit.
Institute For Contemporary Art (ICA)
Located in the Design District, this state of the art building should be enough to make you want to visit. The museum is dedicated to emerging local artists, but inside you will also find pieces of the likes of Picasso.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum, which is free to visit is located on 61 NE 41st St. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Perez Art Museum Miami
This is another great place for art lovers.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Perez Art Museum is located on 1103 Biscayne Blvd; it’s open every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, except for Thursdays when it closes at 9:00 pm.
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
If you are a science geek – and even if you aren’t – the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is a fun place to visit, and it’s safe to say it’s a place even kids will love. It’s divided into four main areas / topics: an aquarium that has a strong focus on South Florida; a planetarium; and two wings – the North and South – which are dedicated to permanent and temporary exhibits.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Monday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Friday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Tickets cost $29.95 USD for adults and must be bought in advance.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Built in 1916 in Italian Renaissance-style, the mansion which was once the home of James Deering has 34 rooms set around a courtyard. Inside, it is jam-packed with European furniture and pieces of arts dating from the 15th to the 19th century; whereas the garden is a fabulous maze of Italian and French-style fountains and sculptures.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is located at 3251 South Miami Avenue. It’s currently open Thursday to Monday from 9:30 am, and the last entry is at 4:30 pm and tickets cost $18.
Jewish Museum of Florida
Located in a former synagogue and run by the Florida International University, this small museum contains a few artefacts related to the history and presence of Jews in Florida and is the perfect starting point for a guided tour to discover the Jewish culture in Miami, which goes across the area and some of its most significant buildings.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Jewish Museum is located on 301 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach. Admission is $12 USD, but access is free on Saturdays.
This fabulous art gallery was first opened in 2019 to exhibit the impressive collection of Don and Mera Rubell, which includes pieces from more than a thousand artists – among them Jeff Koons and Oscar Murillo.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Rubell Museum is located on 1100 NW 23 St. It’s open Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm; Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 am to 7:30 pm. Admission is $15 USD.
Miami Children’s Museum
This museum is a must for families. You will find 14 galleries with exhibits about art, culture, communication and more; as well as 4 outdoor exhibits.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Children’s Museum is located on 980 Macarthur Causeway. General admission is $22 USD.
Visit Freedom Tower
One of the things to do in Miami is visiting the Freedom Tower. This is located on Biscayne Boulevard, and it is one of the city’s landmarks. It was built in 1925 and is one of the oldest sky-scrapers in the south east of the USA. It used to serve as the immigration center for the Cubans who entered the country in the 1960s – hence its name.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Freedom Tower is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 1:00 to 6:00 pm. It closes at 8:00 pm on Thursdays. Admission is $12.
Go to Cape Florida Light
This beautifully restored lighthouse – which is no longer working – if an interesting place to visit. The views from there are stunning – but beware that you’ll have to climb 109 steps to get to the top. Guided tours – usually lasting about 30 minutes – are a nice way to discover more about the building and the area.
Visit Deering Estate at Cutler
One of the most interesting places to visit in town is Charles Deering Estate, which dates back to the 1920s. The estate – now listed in the National Register of Historic Places – is where Richmond College (former Richmond Hotel) is located, as well as other places of historical significance such as the Stone House, in Mediterranean revival-style. The land surrounding the estate is thought to be the largest virgin coastal tropical hardwood hammock in the country.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Deering Estate is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $15 USD.
Enjoy Miami street art scene
If you are a fan of street art, make sure to visit the Wynwood district. This is located north of Downtown and it’s a place bursting with life with bars, restaurants and shopping opportunities. More importantly, at Wynwood Walls you will find some incredible graffiti!
Walk around the Art Deco Historic District
Visiting the Art Deco Historic District is one of the best things to do in Miami. This is a place that takes visitors back to the 1930s and 1940s with pastel colored buildings and massive neon signs that were put up after a 1926 hurricane destroyed the area. Most of them are located on Ocean Drive and Collings Avenue, overlooking South Beach. There’s no way you should miss it during a trip to Miami.
If you want to do a good Miami tour that also goes to the Art Deco district, these are some good options:
- Two-hour Art Deco bike tour
- South Beach Art Deco segway tour
- Private tour of Miami Art Deco, Little Havana and Wynwood by vintage car
Take a walking tour of Brickell Avenue
Starting from the Dade Heritage Trust offices, where Miami’s first physician used to live, this is one of the most interesting things to do in Miami if you want to learn a bit more about its history. You will get to see Point View (the city’s first subdivision) as well as the mansions of Millionaires’ Row, where the rich and famous would once live.
Visit the Ancient Spanish Monastery
The Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, was actually built in 1133 in Northern Spain. It was then bought by William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper magnate, who made sure it got dismantled and brought over to this side of the world. It took more than 25 years and new owners to find a suitable location, in North Miami.
Take a cruise from Miami Downtown
A cruise from Miami Downtown is a good way to learn a bit about the history of the city, and to admire some beautiful villas belonging to the reach and famous. Make sure to check out the original Millionaire’s row cruise.
Eat your way around Little Havana
This part of town is strikingly different from the rest, with a culture that is very influenced by its Cuban population. Go to Little Havana to find street parties, art galleries and street murals, museums, rum tasting, cigar smoking and more. Yet, when there you should definitely make it a point to try the Cuban American cuisine in Little Havana, and having a sip of the delicious Cuban coffee. To try all the best food I recommend going on a food tour in Little Havana such as this Little Havana food tour of Miami.
If you happen to be in Miami in March, don’t miss Calle Ocho Festival. It’s a fantastic celebration of Cuban Culture, a massive street party with lots of good Latin American music and Caribbean food. It obviously takes place in Calle Ocho.
GOOD TO KNOW: Another good area to dine is the Bayside Marketplace. It overlooks Miami waterfront and docks and is a fabulous lunch spot, with plenty of good restaurants and regular live entertainment. It’s where tours of Biscayne Bay departs from.
Spend some time in Bayfront Park
Next to Bayside Market Place, Bayfront Park is a nice place to explore for a while. There you will find some interesting monuments, including the Pepper Fountain, which is electronically controlled; the Light Tower, which is actually an open air theater; a playground and more.
Go on a Key West day trip
I honestly think that a day trip is not enough to fully appreciate Key West (consider going on a multi-day trip instead), but if that is all you have, you may as well try to make the most of it. Several Key West day trips depart from Miami – they last all day, so be prepared to be tired once you head back. Tours usually include a boat trip for snorkeling and dolphin watching; and free time to explore on your own. You can consider this option or this one.
Go to Fort Lauderdale
Another great place for day trips is Fort Lauderdale. It’s just 35 minutes drive from Miami and you’ll find an incredible art scene, beautiful beaches, great restaurants and more.
Visit Coral Castle
For a different day trip, head to this place at about 40 minutes drive south of town. Built by Ed Leedskalnin between 1923 and 1951, it’s a place filled with mystery and nobody truly understands how the building was made.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Coral Castle is about 40 minutes drive south of Miami.
Other Fun Things To Do In Miami
Have a cocktail
One of the best things to do in Miami is having a good cocktail. If you are a lover of margaritas and mojitos you are in the right place. Among the bars you should visit during your vacation, there are Bungalow By The Sea and Driftaway at Generator, both located in Miami Beach. For a good spot to have a drink downtown, go to Mama Tried.
If there’s one thing Miami is famous for, that’s the party scene. During a Miami trip, you really have to get out and party at least once. I recommend finding a local spot in Little Havana where you can dance salsa, but if you are too shy to ask, perhaps a nightlife tour may be a good idea.
Attend a basketball game at American Airlines Arena
If you are a basketball fan, don’t miss a Miami Heat game at this massive, energy efficient venue that can hold more than 19000 spectators. It’s located in Biscayne Bay, where it first opened in 1999.
Even if you aren’t a shopaholic, a little window shopping won’t hurt, right? And one of the best things to do in Miami is shopping. Come on, indulge! The best places to go for a shopping spree are Miami Design District and Upper Buena Vista, just north of it – that’s where you’ll find a very imposing 120-year-old oak tree, as well as nice gardens and quiet walkways.
What Not To Do In Miami
Often mentioned among the places to visit in Miami, you may actually want to avoid visiting Monkey Island, Jungle Island and Zoo Miami. In general, I don’t recommend visiting places where animals are exploited for tourist purposes. Some of these allege to have conservation purposes. If you are in doubt, check out the statements of PETA online here or here.
Have you ever been to Miami? What are your recommendations for things to do there?
Are you planning a trip to the US? Make sure to read all my posts:
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