The Best Things to Do in Miami

They don’t call this the Gold Coast for nothing—Miami’s beaches are stunning, and so are the people, but its restaurants, architecture, museums, and culture make this more than a beach town, from hot Cuban music to cool Art Basel openings.

1001 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District is the first 20th-century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, with 800 structures of historical significance, most built between 1923 and 1943. The Miami Design Preservation League hosts tours to view some of the city’s buildings and historic outdoor spaces. The candy-colored buildings overlook the emerald waters of the Atlantic and have porthole windows, ship-like railings, sleek curves, glass blocks, shiny chrome, and gleaming terrazzo floors resembling the ocean liners of yore.
1200 South Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149, USA
The Cape Florida Lighthouse, in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on the tip of Key Biscayne, is the oldest lighthouse in the state. The newly restored 95-foot white-brick tower, which sits on sand and rocks, attracts plenty of visitors, who enjoy climbing up to the top for the view of downtown Miami and the Atlantic Ocean. The park also includes a replica of the lighthouse keeper’s 1825 cottage.
301 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
One of the best spots to relax in Miami is Bayfront Park, 32 acres of lush grounds that include the Klipsch Amphitheater and the Tina Hills Pavilion. The Fourth of July fireworks and the New Year’s Eve countdown are just two of the community events that occur here throughout the year. From the beach you can watch dolphins jump and play while luxury yachts pass through Biscayne Bay, and you’ll also have great views of the cruise ships and marina. Take the renovated baywalk, shaded by oak and palm trees, past the rock garden and waterfall and several benches. Fitness classes are offered in the park during the week.
3300 Grand Ave, Miami, FL 33133, USA
In Coconut Grove, you’ll find an open-air weekend farmers’ market offering delicious sustainable fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, and seeds. In addition to checking out the fresh produce, be sure to stop by the local vendors who sell amazing vegan, dairy-free, and raw foods and baked goods, including vegan sushi and ice cream, raw coconuts, and Indian cuisine. On Saturday mornings, you’ll usually find women in activewear looking for a post-workout snack and families doing their weekly shopping.
6747 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149, USA
Crandon Park’s beautiful two-mile beach on Key Biscayne is known for its pristine sand and calm waters, as well as its mangroves, coastal dunes, and sea grass beds. There’s also an amusement center as well as a nature center where you can see exotic plants and rare fish and animals, and best of all for families, Crandon’s famous offshore sandbar protects swimmers from crashing surf. Sunseekers can rent cabanas at the south end of the beach.
1800 Biscayne Blvd Unit #110, Miami, FL 33132, USA
Critical Mass is a cycling event for the Miami community, usually held on the last Friday of every month, where bicyclists, skateboarders, in-line skaters, roller skaters, and other self-propelled commuters ride around the streets of the city in a large group. The event usually draws between 1,000 and 2,000 participants. You’ll see views of downtown Miami, Biscayne Bay, Brickell, Key Biscayne, and Coral Gables. As you pass through residential neighborhoods like Little Havana, business owners will gather outside to cheer everyone on and offer beverages. There is no sign-up process, and beginners are encouraged to attend. See a local bike shop for rentals.
3750 South Flamingo Road
The Florida Everglades are home to a vast array of plant and animal life, and an airboat cruise through part of Everglades National Park’s 1.5 million acres reveals a beautiful display of south Florida’s natural flora and fauna. Among the water- and landscapes: swamps, mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine and cypress forests. The Everglades are home to the endangered leatherback turtle and the Florida panther, as well as abundant racoons, possums, deer, and birds. The big draw is alligators—lots of alligators. A walking tour includes a scenic stroll under a green canopy of towering bald cypresses.
401 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
Even if you’re in Miami for a short amount of time, it’s important to get out on the water. Take a 90-minute sightseeing cruise departing from downtown Miami and you’ll cruise past Brickell Key, Fisher Island, and the stretch known as Millionaire’s Row on Miami Beach, as well as get a great view of the Miami skyline and the big cruise ships steaming out of the Port of Miami. The tour passes the homes of Shaquille O’Neal, Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, and Al Capone, the house where Scarface was filmed, and more.
2400 S Bayshore Dr, Miami, FL 33133, USA
Kennedy Park is located in Coconut Grove, right on the water with a view of the open bay, an outdoor gym including a green ladder you can climb up and down, a running path on an outdoor track, and a children’s play area. Looking to relax afterward? Grab a frozen lemonade or piña colada from the A.C.’s Icees truck or relax on a wooden dock by the water.
Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Lincoln Road is a pedestrians-only boulevard in the heart of South Beach and one of the most popular places to visit in the area. Lined with shops and restaurants in historic Art Deco buildings and shaded by tall trees and fountains, Lincoln Road Mall has some of the best people-watching in Miami. Every restaurant has outdoor seating, and there are street performers and a farmers’ market that showcases the local community, farms, and purveyors. Visitors come from all around the world, so grab a cortadito and take it all in.
212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137, USA
This vibrant neighborhood is just north of Wynwood and the Miami Design District and is getting increasing attention from visitors for its independent galleries, street murals, hot restaurants, and cool bars. It’s also a great place to experience a strong Afro-Caribbean culture and tradition. On the third Friday of every month, the Little Haiti Cultural Complex puts on Big Night in Little Haiti, a concert series showcasing local bands, dance troupes, and some of the biggest names in Kreyol music. Although after-parties are held at neighboring establishments, things typically climax with a procession on nearby streets, picking up pedestrians as the night goes along.
501 Marlins Way, Miami, FL 33125, USA
The state-of-the-art, 36,700-seat Marlins Park in the heart of Downtown is the home of the Miami Marlins baseball team. It has a retractable roof that takes just 13 minutes to go from fully closed to fully open, and there’s a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled concourse that overlooks glittery downtown Miami. The venue also houses a nightclub and several bars and restaurants—even one with a swimming pool. Take a group tour to see one of the country’s most high-tech baseball fields up close, including the field, the clubhouse, the batting cage area, the home run sculpture, the bobblehead museum—and the aquarium at home plate.
1130 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
The Miami Beach Cinematheque is an intimate theater in South Beach that’s housed in the former City Hall, built by Carl Fischer in 1927. Now home of the Miami Beach Film Society, which screens independent and experimental movies and film classics to a seated audience of just 50, the space has been restored and renovated into an amazing cinema, gallery, bookstore, library, and café. The building also hosts art exhibitions, live performances, and mini movie festivals.
Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Ocean Drive is classic South Beach: Art Deco hotels in candy colors, buzzy restaurants, luxury cars, and of course beautiful people. It’s great any time of day, when you can walk from 1st Street to 15th Street or just sit at an outdoor café with a foamy latte. Have sunset drinks on The Betsy hotel’s rooftop by the sky-high pool or dine at Gianni’s, the restaurant in the new luxury boutique hotel Villa Casa Casuarina, which was once the mansion where Gianni Versace lived and was killed. The over-the-top interiors have been preserved, as has the mosaic pool with 24-karat gold tiles.
1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
The intimate Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) opened its doors off Biscayne Boulevard in December 2013, offering world-class exhibitions, outdoor sculptures, and spaces for art, relaxation, and dining. Prior to entering the three-story building, you meander along a walkway past cruise ships and several acres of meadows, before coming face-to-face with the striking vertical greenery of the Hanging Gardens, designed by Patrick Blanc. The thought-provoking exhibitions often skew political, with a focus on international 20th- and 21st-century art. The very natty gift shop, located on the ground floor, is also worth exploring, with items like robots and unusual objects for the home. In 2017, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science opened next door.
1130 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
For a taste of the good life, head to South Beach, known for its Art Deco hotels lining Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, glittering nightlife, and see-and-be-seen vibe. The long stretch of beach, starting with the pier at the top of historic Washington Avenue, is a great place to take in the Miami of postcards and enjoy the sunset over the cityscape. This is where you’ll find some of Miami’s best shopping, top-tier nightlife, and award-winning restaurants, not to mention great people-watching and luxury-car spotting.
40 Island Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
The Miami outpost of a hotel brand well known for its Los Angeles and New York properties, The Standard Spa, Miami Beach is less a hotel in the traditional sense, and more a spa with guest rooms set amid tropical gardens. The concept extends to the hotel’s atmosphere, which is downright staid compared to the party scene of so many Miami Beach hotels. A nearly all-white color scheme and extra-comfortable linens, pillows, and robes give rooms—small by local standards—a calm, comfortable air. Extra attention has been invested in the hotel’s common areas, with lots of Danish and 1950s-inspired furniture and spaces arranged in such a way that some spots offer solitude while others focus on bringing people together. There’s a reason many guests have called The Standard a playground for adults: a co-ed hamam, gardens with hammocks and swing chairs, and a hydrotherapy circuit (including bayside infinity and icy plunge pools) are just a few of the on-site attractions.
3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129, USA
Completed in 1916, this Italian-inspired villa on Biscayne Bay was the home of the early 20th-century industrialist James Deering and is now a National Historic Landmark. The house was modeled after historic villas and country estates in the Veneto region of northern Italy. The heart and main living area of the house is the Courtyard, which was originally open to the sky. Diego Suarez, who had worked in Florence, designed the gorgous formal gardens with classic Italianate flair, but modified for the heat and humidity of southern Florida. Thousands of varieties of orchids flourish in the greenhouse, while subtropical trees, palms, and low hedges highlight the lines of the gardens’ layout.
Southwest Coconut Grove, Miami, FL 33133, USA
Coconut Grove represents old-school Miami. This small pocket of bayfront parks, marinas, shops, and restaurants just south of downtown Miami was one of the city’s first neighborhoods, and people from all over the city are realizing that the Grove is cool again. Recently, independent shops and restaurants have been opening, and young families have started moving in to enjoy the art galleries, green spaces, and pedestrian-friendly streets. Coconut Grove’s waterfront location and historic charm kick off its appeal, but the real winner here is the dining scene. Mouthwatering options include French, Peruvian, Hawaiian, and Mediterranean cuisine, creamy gelato, and more. Come hungry.
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
The Adrienne Arsht Center is a performing arts venue and cultural hub where the Miami City Ballet, the New World Symphony, and the Miami Symphony Orchestra perform. There are also series from the Cleveland Orchestra and the Florida Grand Opera, as well as jazz and dance performances. There is always something going on at the center, and Miami locals take advantage of VIP access to shows on a regular basis. The theater also hosts the major national tours of Broadway hits such as The Color Purple and Chicago.
401 Biscayne Blvd #2305, Miami, FL 33132, USA
Just minutes from PAMM, this festive downtown Miami marketplace is on Biscayne Bay. Take a stroll, rent a charter boat, or simply practice your photography skills, as the views along the bay are breathtaking, especially at sunset. Restaurants range from a Bavarian beer hall to a seafood bar and grill to a Cuban hot spot. To truly soak in the Miami music spirit, venture here in the evening for the free concerts. Expect crowds when there’s gorgeous weather (since this is Miami, that would be most days), but you will still be able to find some open space to take in the scene.
While the call of the beach is powerful in Miami, sooner or later world-class art, architecture, and shopping lure most visitors to the Design District. Marc Quinn’s acrobatic Myth Fortuna sculpture of Kate Moss and Fernando Botero’s iconic Maternity are among the eye-catching installations on display in the neighborhood’s plazas and along its palm-lined streets. The new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) opened in December 2017, and other top galleries include Locust Projects and Maman Fine Art. When it comes to the art of fashion design, major brands are well represented: Versace, Bvlgari, Harry Winston, Miu Miu, Prada, and Max Mara, just to name a few. Refuel between stops with creative comfort food (and refreshing cocktails made with hand-squeezed juice) at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.

Calle Ocho or Little Havana is where all things Cuban and Latino come together in Miami. Start your walking tour of Little Havana at Maximo Gomez Park (aka Domino Park). If you play dominoes and have the patience to wait for a spot at a table, you will be in on the hottest game this side of the Florida Straits. Or just watch as all ages face off for hours and hours. Then follow the pink marble of the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame that honors Latin stars such as the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. Stop for tostones (fried plantains) and ropa vieja (shredded beef), or a medianoche, a morning or late-night version of the Cuban sandwich with sweeter, lighter bread. And don’t be afraid to try some chicharrones (fried pork rinds). ¡Buen provecho!
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