Best Things To Do in Miami
From glamorous to intellectually-stimulating, Miami offers visitors a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities. The stellar Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and HistoryMiami are not to be missed. Shopaholics will gravitate toward the very fashionable Coral Gables for luxury spending. If you're with the kids, seek out the Zoo Miami or the Venetian Pool for an afternoon. Or, the most popular option, due east: a handful of beaches, sun, sand and seaside nightlife that make their year-round home in Miami Beach. You'll also want to explore the city's other neighborhoods, particularly the Design District and, of course, Little Havana. And whether you want to marvel at the homes along "Millionaire's Row" or spot gators in Everglades National Park, there's a boat tour for you.
Updated September 6, 2019
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Travelers go to Miami mainly for Miami Beach and they go to Miami Beach mainly for South Beach, the region's unrivaled crown jewel, which visitors say they can't get enough of. Here, the art deco history of the city meets the bright lights and vibrant nightlife of the younger generation.
There's something for everyone in Miami Beach – and a lot of it. White sand, an eclectic dining scene, prime shopping, luxurious spas and world-class nightlife are all staples in Miami Beach. Just make sure to bring plenty of loot – Miami Beach can be done on a budget, but you'll severely limit your options and it won't be nearly as fun.
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Located to the immediate west of downtown Miami, Little Havana is the symbolic and cultural capital for Cuban-Americans in Miami. The neighborhood brings in droves of visitors with its vibrant atmosphere and excellent food.
Calle Ocho (8th Street) is the center of activity here. Maximo Gomez Park, also known as Domino Park, is located at the corner of Calle Ocho and 15th Avenue and is a pleasant place to hang out and take in a game of dominoes or chess. Travelers recommend El Pub for its authentic Cuban food and cheap prices and also enjoyed the Versailles restaurant. For a departure from the neighborhood's signature flavors, consider Lung Yai Thai Tapas. Every March, the Calle Ocho Music Festival takes over Miami for a week, drawing thousands of attendees for a massive street festival celebrating Carnaval with tons of music, food and dancing.
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This beautiful zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals, representing more than 500 different species. It's famous for providing a natural environment for its residents without the use of cages – rather, the zoo employs strategically placed moats to separate the animals from the visitors.
Petting zoos and plenty of "edutainment" programs are sure to keep your little ones interested. The whole family will enjoy the giraffe feeding and mild rides. Recent visitors praise the zoo's cleanliness, the generous amount of space the animals have to roam and the friendly and knowledgeable employees. When planning your visit, keep a few traveler tips in mind: The zoo is large, meaning you'll be walking a fair amount, which will be alleviated by a good pair of sneakers. To avoid the crowds, get to the zoo right when it opens at 10 a.m. If you're visiting in the warmer months, you'll be happy to hear there are plenty of water fountains, misters and shaded play areas.
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This open-air street art installation – one of the largest in the world – is one of the reasons a formerly run-down neighborhood found new life as the art hub of Miami.
Founded in 2009 as a way to jump-start revitalization in the neighborhood lying between downtown and the Design District, the Wynwood Walls acts as an outdoor art museum covering more than 80,000 square feet of abandoned warehouse walls. The walls garnered such a positive response from the community that a year later the lot adjacent became known as the Wynwood Doors, where metal roll-down gates transformed into even more canvas space. The walls and doors are saturated with bright, eclectic street art and whimsical graffiti. Since its start, more than 50 artists from 16 countries have brought the walls to life.
- #5View all Photos#5 in MiamiBeaches, Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Crandon Park comprises the northern portion of Key Biscayne. The key began as a coconut plantation, before being donated with the stipulation that Miami-Dade County uses the land as a public park. With its abundance of activities, it's not hard to spend multiple days exploring the park's offerings. A tennis center, complete with 26 courts, a golf course, a marina and a beach all call the sprawling Crandon Park home.
Past travelers suggested visiting the key during low tide when you can walk out into the ocean and marvel at the numerous tide pools. Visitors were also impressed by the quality of the beaches in Crandon Park, which come complete with palm trees and white sand. Remember to bring food, drinks, chairs and umbrellas, as the island doesn't offer much in terms of amenities, according to recent reviews.
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About 30 miles west of downtown Miami and a world away from flashy South Beach, the Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wetland in the U.S. Known as the "River of Grass" for its slow-moving water, the national park offers a unique look into the diverse ecosystem and vegetation that filters water as it moves farther south toward the Florida Bay and Key West.
While most of the 1.5 million-acre park is protected for wildlife preservation, the northern area closest to Miami is open for private airboat tours. The highly rated Everglades Safari Park within the park offers eco-adventure tours that include airboat rides, which recent visitors enjoyed, interactive alligator shows, trails and exhibits about preservation. Other companies also operate similar tours where travelers can get up close and personal with much of the wildlife found within the park. Previous visitors say the tours are an educational experience for the whole family, but do caution that the airboat rides may be too loud for sensitive ears. You can also head to the Shark Valley Visitors Center for two-hour guided tram tours.
- #7View all Photos#7 in MiamiMuseums, Zoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Zoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science stands out from its competitors thanks to its expansive selection of offerings. The planetarium offers space enthusiasts an educational trek through the cosmos via its massive high-definition screen. It also puts on a variety of light shows. Meanwhile, the museum's three-level aquarium transports guests from Florida's Everglades to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The museum also hosts a rotating list of additional exhibits covering everything from the human microbiome to flight.
Reviewers raved about the museum's exhibits, saying that they offer something for visitors of all ages. Travelers are especially appreciative of the museum's interactive displays, which particularly appeal to children, as well as the informative employees. Recent visitors recommended arriving early and setting aside several hours to get your money's worth at the massive museum.
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Coalescing the stories of Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center serves as a stalwart for traditional Cuban culture. The museum houses pre-revolution Cuban art, from 1800 to the 1960s, as well as modern Cuban artists. As a performing arts center, the Cubaocho showcases Cuban music and dance. What's more, the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center doubles as a store, as many of the items you see in the museum are for sale.
Past travelers suggested stopping by the attraction for a drink (they offer mojitos to go) and maybe a cigar. In the evening, live music serenades visitors while they dance or take in the curated Cuban art, which recent visitors raved about. Many of the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center's recent travelers stopped by on a walking tour of Little Havana, but Cubaocho warrants a visit in and of itself.
- #9View all Photos#9 in MiamiMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Formally known as the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, HistoryMiami aims to add context to the lively culture that makes South Florida so distinct.
More than 100,000 square feet of space house multiple permanent collections, including one that follows the history of the region back to its Native American heritage. Exhibitions related to Miami's history include one of the largest Pan American World Airways collections in the country, as well as artifacts from local artisans, musicians and religious relics. The museum also features annual rotating installations that showcase Miami's influence on American pop culture. Past exhibits include memorabilia and a video from the Beatles' trip to Miami Beach in 1964.
- #10View all Photos#10 in MiamiRecreation, Sports, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, Sports, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Renovated in 2019, Marlins Park is home base for the Miami Marlins, the city's Major League Baseball franchise. Located in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, the ballpark is ultramodern with a trace of classic Miami culture. The park houses impressive, albeit superfluous, touches like aquariums behind home plate and custom artwork. Visitors who make it to a game get to watch one of baseball's most interesting teams. The Marlins have won two World Series titles since they began playing in 1993, though they did not move to Marlins Park until 2012. Travelers aren't guaranteed a win, though, as the Marlins have the least number of winning seasons of any Major League Baseball franchise.
Past visitors were astounded by the park's amenities. They praised the retractable roof, which ensures that it's always baseball weather, even during Miami's sweltering summers. Recent travelers also recommended stopping by The Clevelander, which boasts food, drinks, a pool and DJs in addition to an excellent view of the field. Ticket prices vary based on the game. They are available for purchase in advance on the Miami Marlins' page of the official MLB website or from scalpers around the stadium. Visitors can also take tours of the park for $10. Hours vary.
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Located in the Coconut Grove district, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens were originally built as a winter villa for businessman James Deering in the early 1900s. Today, it serves as a museum, with a wide variety of art from the 15th to the 19th century. The atmosphere and architecture are a key part of the experience, which impressed recent visitors. Much of the original house (which spans 38,000 feet) is intact and showcases a neat assortment of vintage furniture. Though for many travelers, the gorgeous gardens are the unquestioned highlight of any trip here. Visitors say the picturesque grounds remind them of ancient European mansions.
You can walk around the property at your leisure or rent an audio guide for $5. Guided, 45-minute tours of the first floor of the main house and gardens are also available for $5. Tours are offered daily at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
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From its position in the heart of downtown Miami, Brickell City Centre helps pump style through the trendy city's veins. The open complex spans three city blocks and four stories, housing roughly 100 different retail, restaurant and cinema options for visitors to pass the time. Despite being an open area, the Climate Ribbon installation that towers over the outdoor walkways works to lower the temperatures while maintaining Miami's glamorous style. Because of this, many reviewers said it's a nice place to go for a stroll.
The complex offers almost exclusively high-end stores, which means that window-shopping may be the only option for some travelers. Despite the price restrictions, you don't have to spend money to enjoy the Brickell City Centre. Many recent visitors recommend simply exploring the attractive space. The area's culinary options also receive praise from recent travelers, especially the Italian-inspired Casa Tua.
- #13View all Photos#13 in MiamiSwimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSwimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
This public pool with an Italian village theme is a relaxing alternative for those looking for water and sun away from the fast pace of South Beach. The pool does not use chemically treated water, relying instead on fresh water from artesian wells.
The Venetian Pool makes for a great family trip, but keep in mind that children younger than 3 years old are not admitted. Recent swimmers and sunbathers praised the architecture and refreshing water, though some said the admission prices are too high. If you get a case of the munchies, a cafe is available on-site with the usual assortment – pizza, mozzarella sticks, nachos and ice cream, among other concession snacks.
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Dolphin Mall attracts shoppers from all around Miami with its range of retail outlets and restaurants. The mall's position near the Miami International Airport makes it an excellent option for travelers with delayed flights, as well as anyone who forgot their socks or sunglasses and wants to avoid downtown prices.
Recent shoppers say the store options are great and also exalt the food court at the Dolphin Mall, which they say sports a range of eateries sure to appeal to every appetite. The wide selection of eateries mimics the diversity of retail options, which include H&M, Bose and Marshalls. Travelers with kids appreciate the mall's family-friendly options like Dave & Buster's and a movie theater.
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In a city of skyscrapers, Bayfront Park provides a welcome green space in downtown Miami. What's more, the park boasts a waterfront location on Biscayne Bay. Over the past century, the city expanded Bayfront Park's offerings to meet the requests of Miamians. Nowadays, the park hosts many events, such as yoga, movie nights and salsa classes, all of which are free. Bayfront Park also hosts a handful of paid events, including a flying trapeze school and concerts.
Recent visitors were impressed by the park's amphitheater and pavilion, which are where the concerts and yoga take place, respectively. They also enjoyed Bayfront Park's panoramic views of the bay. Many suggested walking here before or after a visit to Bayside Marketplace. However, some visitors noted that vagabonds tend to populate the area, meaning it may be unsafe after dark.
- #16View all Photos#16 in MiamiParks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
At 83 acres, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is one of the largest of its kind in the country. With a surplus of tropical plants and other beautiful greenery, you'll likely find the Fairchild to be one of the most relaxing attractions on your to-do list.
A free 45-minute narrated tram tour, which recent visitors recommend, will show you the highlights, but then you're on your own to browse the gardens as you see fit. Previous visitors suggest you stop by the butterfly garden and the sunken garden. They also recommend you budget plenty of time to just take in all of this park's natural beauty and give high marks to the docents.
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Situated between Bayfront Park, Miamarina and the PortMiami cruise ship terminal, the Bayside Marketplace is a hub for tourists who want to shop, dine and people-watch.
It's a one-stop shop to grab all sorts of Miami souvenirs, and with more than 150 shops and eateries, there's something for everyone. Popular shops and restaurants include Gap, Victoria's Secret, Five Guys, Starbucks and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. It's popular with passengers waiting to board their cruise ship or those returning from vacation and visitors who want to watch the yachts pull in and depart from the marina. The marketplace also features live music from local bands every afternoon and evening and is home to tour boat operators like the Thriller Miami speedboat adventures.
- #18View all Photos#18 in MiamiCafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDCafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Located on Calle Ocho in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, the Ball & Chain completed construction in the early 1930s, so it predates the area's status as the center of Miami's cultural scene. The restaurant and bar hosted live music from its founding until 1967, when the building was converted into a furniture store. An investment group returned the Ball & Chain to its entertainment roots in the 2000s, mirroring the neighborhood's Cuban culture.
Recent travelers loved the venue's live music, mentioning that the desire to salsa dance becomes contagious after a few mojitos. In addition to drinks, Ball & Chain also impresses visitors with its take on Cuban classics like pork tacos, conch ceviche and Cuban sandwiches. They also appreciate that the venue doesn't charge a cover fee, even late into the night.
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Fans of the mystical will love the Coral Castle Museum, which houses a sculpture garden made entirely of coral rock. The park's oddities begin with its creator, Ed Leedskalnin, who constructed the whole garden from 1923 to 1951 in secrecy. Part of the museum's fun comes from puzzling how one man could have secretly moved and carved more than 1,100 tons of rock. Another excellent question for the Coral Castle Museum's visitors: why?
Most recent travelers were delighted by the Coral Castle Museum's classic roadside attraction charm, though others felt it entrance was too pricey. Some praise the museum's tour guides, who weave Ed Leedskalnin's complex story into the information regarding each of the unique sculptures. Just don't expect to leave with any definitive answers.
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The Miami Design District fuels the fashion-forward Florida city with various luxury brand stores, including Gucci, Flight Club and Prada. If you're not here to shop, you'll find an abundance of art and architecture. Recent visitors praised the expansive art galleries that populate the area, while public displays, which include murals and statues, provide mind-bending photo backdrops. Travelers also enjoyed window-shopping as they strolled by the high-end stores. Many compared the area to Rodeo Drive. If you'd like a little help navigating the area, book one of the city's top tours, many of which stop in the area.
What's more, a variety of upscale restaurants call the Miami Design District home, which makes the area an excellent option for an elegant meal. The district sits about 3 miles north of downtown Miami, while Miami Beach floats just across Biscayne Bay. The Biscayne route on the city's trolley system stops in the center of the Miami Design District, and bus routes Nos. 3, 9 and 93 also offer stops in or nearby the district. For more information, visit the district's website.
- #21View all Photos#21 in MiamiMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
If you're looking to get your modern art fix in Miami, look no further than the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. Located off of Northeast 125th Street, the MOCA is an institution with a varied collection of work from both famous and emerging artists.
There's also an impressive array of temporary exhibits that complement MOCA's already-brilliant permanent collection. The permanent collection boasts innovative work from the likes of Nam June Paik, Dan Flavin and Louise Bourgeois. However, the museum is fairly small, something recent visitors found a bit disappointing, but you should be able to easily get through it in less than two hours.
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