Things to Do in Miami
Bayside Marketplace, a vibrant waterfront mall in downtown Miami—and the city’s most-visited attraction—sits above Biscayne Bay and features many shopping, dining, and entertainment options. The open-air market has more than 100 shops ranging from apparel to bath products to electronics, and often live performers are on hand to keep shoppers entertained.
Miami's South Beach neighborhood features 10 miles (16 km) of beaches with a buzzing, carnival-like atmosphere. With a trendy Caribbean-chic café culture and an impossibly hip and sexy nightlife scene, the area is a non-stop people-watching mecca.
Miami is often called the Magic City, and if it truly is, this opulent Italian Renaissance-style villa, the housing equivalent to a Fabergé egg, is its most fairy-tale residence. Built for industrialist James Deering in 1916, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens brims with 15th to 19th century furniture, tapestries, paintings and decorative arts.
The poetic seaside grounds, which front Biscayne Bay, are full of splendid gardens (including a secret garden), beautiful fountains, sculptures, elegant pools, a charming Florentine gazebo, canals running everywhere and lots of trails. The landscape and architecture were influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance models and designed in the Mediterranean Revival architecture style.
Nearly 200,000 people visit Vizcaya each year including some of the world's leading dignitaries such as President Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth of England and King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. In 1994, the historic Summit of the Americas was held at Vizcaya with President Clinton and the 34 leaders of the Western Hemisphere.
Vibrant Cuban culture permeates every aspect of the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida—you’ll find it in the colorful murals, the monuments to heroes past and present, the residents facing off in the domino park as they discuss politics, and in the cigar rollers at work amidst the ever-present aroma of Cuban coffee.
Wynwood Walls is an art exhibition that spans 80,000 square feet of wall space. Located in Miami’s Wynwood district, the “outdoor museum” boasts a constantly changing collection of murals by some of the world’s top graffiti and street artists.
Just three miles of the coast from Miami, Fisher Island is one of the world’s most exclusive beach communities. Cut off from the mainland by the creation of a canal in 1906, it has then been owned by some of Florida’s wealthiest citizens. Today it’s an upscale oasis with private shoreline access and golf course.
Real estate here is prime, and the last census revealed that Fisher Island has the highest per capita income of any place in the United States. No roads or bridges lead to the island - it is accessible only by ferry or private invitation. Aside from the warm, turquoise waters and white sands of its shores, there are mansions, apartments, a private marina, an observatory, and one hotel located on the island. Luxurious and tropical, a visit to the private island offers a glimpse into a community that truly is home to the rich and famous.
One of the first established neighborhoods in Miami, Coconut Grove melds an eclectic history with a modern vibe, creating a historic, hipster hub for food, art, and culture. From its idyllic waterfront on Biscayne Bay to quaint walking streets lined with boutiques and cafés, the village is the perfect laid-back base for a Miami vacation.
Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District is a colorful, vibrant section of the trendy South Beach neighborhood. The area includes about 900 unique buildings—from nautical-themed hotels to pastel-colored mansions—and was the first 20th-century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.
Break away from the throngs of tourists crowding Miami Beach, and discover the revitalized district of Wynwood. Once nothing but run-down warehouses, the now-hip neighborhood is known for its mural-lined streets. Visitors also enjoy the numerous art galleries, coffee shops, craft breweries, and Puerto Rican–influenced eateries.
The Miami Design District is dedicated to innovative fashion, design, architecture and dining. The area juxtaposes design brands with restaurants, international art collections and permanent and temporary art installations, while its new buildings exist with transformed historic ones. Design showrooms fill the area, including Holly Hunt, Knoll, Luminaire Contract and Ann Sacks, while retailers like Christian Louboutin, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Prada also saw the potential for the area and have opened stores here.
The district continues to evolve, and new renovations continue with additional luxury brands like Givenchy, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani and Van Cleef & Arpels slated to open shop. The long-term dream for the district is for it to exist as a renowned destination for cutting-edge fashion, art, design and culture, while maintaining its commitment to creative experiences.
More Things to Do in Miami
The 17-acre South Pointe Park, also known locally as just South Pointe, offers expansive views of popular sights like Downtown Miami, Fisher Island and Biscayne Bay, all the way out to the Atlantic.
Originally used in the early 1980s to house a police unit, horse stables and the Port of Miami’s Harbor Pilots, the area has undergone major changes since then. Now a thriving park, the site includes 20-foot wide walkways lined with Florida Limestone and an ocean-themed playground area for children. There are numerous amenities, including a restaurant and a separate dog park, and at night, the promenade is lit up by neon light towers that provide stylish functionality.
Watch for cruise ships sailing past and check out the park’s contemporary art sculptures. The beautifully maintained grounds have become a popular spot for film crews and photo shoots, so keep watch for any celebrity sightings.
Parrots and macaws fly freely in outdoor aviaries at Jungle Island (formerly Parrot Jungle Island) in Miami. Visit this lush, family-friendly waterfront facility to spend an educational day seeing cockatoos and orangutans and learn about a range of animals, from flamingos to crocodiles to tortoises.
Thanks in part to its subtropical climate (which allows for large swathes of natural habitat), Miami’s zoo is one of the best in the country, filled with a variety of animals from Asia, Australia, and Africa. More than 200 species roam the cageless exhibits, separated from visitors by cleverly-designed moats.
Since 1962 the 2.6-acre urban oasis of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden has provided locals and travelers with easy access to some of the most diverse plant life on earth. Visitors can wander the well-kept grounds where lush green lawns with glittering fountains and stone paths lead the way to impressive atriums filled with colorful blossoms.
Wetlands and mangroves, orchids and bromeliads are just some of the standing exhibits on offer at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. The stunning Japanese Garden with its classic red lacquered bridge and placid ponds is one of the main attractions of this destination, while an expansive edible garden and placid water lily ponds are among other highlights that draw tens of thousands of travelers here each year.
An aquarium, planetarium, and science museum all in one, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is one of Miami’s top landmarks for an educational experience. Visit to learn about everything from research on coral reefs to the hunt for dark matter to how prehistoric animals evolved to fly. Interactive exhibits offer a fun, hands-on experience for kids.
The Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, formally known as the Holocaust Memorial of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, is a labor of love by a small group of Holocaust survivors who came together in 1984 to develop a permanent memorial in the city. The group established a private nonprofit organization and decided on Miami as a location given the high concentration of Holocaust survivors settled in the city.
One of the most important elements of the Holocaust Memorial is the Sculpture of Love and Anguish, a giant bronze representation of an outstretched arm, rising from the earth and stretching to the heavens. The entire area is made up of vignettes of family members trying to help each other in a final act of love.
The Memorial Wall is a somber reminder of the lives who were lost during the Holocaust. It’s the only link for many survivors to their families, a place they can see their loved ones’ names carved on a remembrance memorial. Holocaust survivors serve as docents, offering testimony and explanations to visitors, and the memorial offers lectures, seminars and school tours. Interestingly, the location includes the street numbers of 1933-1945, numbers matching the exact years of the Nazi regime.
With its warm, clear waters and white sands, Miami Beach has perhaps some of the best urban beaches in the United States. Located just over the bridge from the city of Miami, it is also known for its vibrant neighborhoods, fine dining, pulsing nightlife, and architectural claim to fame: the area boasts the largest concentration of art deco buildings in the world.
Since 2013 this stunning glass structure with Miami coastal views has been showcasing contemporary and modern art to the masses. With one of the most impressive collections south of the Mason Dixon Line, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) drives to display works created in the 20 and 21st century from artists around the world. With colorful exhibits that reign from the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Australia, there’s a world of wonder inside PAMM’s doors. Museum educators host interesting talks and tours that unlock stories about the art and artists that line the halls of PAMM and a unique community-based program brings speakers, thinkers and creators to the community for informative lectures and roundtables.
Miami is known for its lively nightclub scene, sandy beaches and fiery flavors. But Dolphin Mall has put this colorful city on the map for shopping and entertainment, too.
With more than 240 stores, shops and restaurants—including high-end discount outlets—Dolphin Mall has become a destination for travelers eager to shop ‘til they drop. Visitors can explore the mall’s unique layout—which includes areas like Ramblas, Playa and Moda, which pay homage to Miami’s multicultural roots. Guests can comb through casual apparel, home design and décor, and even high-end boutiques that offer up one-of-a-kind designs.
Rickenbacker Trail is considered one of the best places for biking in Miami. Spanning the entire island of Key Biscayne, the 8.5-mile path includes well-known spots like Virginia Key Beach, Crandon Park and the Miami Seaquarium, and begins in southern Miami before continuing south along Rickerbacker Causeway/Crandon Boulevard.
There are picnic areas, coastal dunes and even an amusement center at the popular Crandon Park, which sits at the northern end of the trail. Visitors often snorkel, kayak and hike here, or visit the museum and historical lighthouse. Another spot is Bill Baggs Cape State Park, which includes one of the more low-key beaches along the trail. If you stop in Virginia Key, there are beverage, snack, and ice cream vending machines on site. Be sure to try smoked fish at Jimbo’s, a tiny restaurant shack that has earned quite a reputation.
If you’re biking the Rickenbacker Trail, there is an option that adds approximately four miles to your ride if you turn at Virginia Key’s Arthur Lamb Road. If you are really adventurous, the trail combines with Commodore Trail, Old Cutler Trail and Biscayne Trail for a ride totaling around 27 miles.
The De la Cruz Collection contains works from the personal collection of Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz and covers 30,000 square feet with art. Before moving to this site in 2009, the original space was an extension of the couple’s home of 25 years and focused on international contemporary art.
The art space includes various rooms with rotating exhibits, including one dedicated to showcasing local Miami artists’ works. Look for lectures designed to increase public awareness of art history and modern-day art practices. To help further promote the local art scene, Miami creative often submit proposals for site-specific installations, and classes and workshops designed with local schools take place as well. The De la Cruz family has also developed internship opportunities and a scholarship program for high school and college students. The De la Cruz Collection is privately owned and funded by Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz.
If you’re looking for a dose of retail therapy while in Miami, Aventura Mall is the place to go. This expansive shopping complex exudes sophisticated style, with upscale boutiques such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry alongside trendier favorites including Apple, Anthropologie, and Topshop.
Miami Children's Museum is not so much a museum as a glorified playhouse, with areas for kids to practice all sorts of adult activities like banking and food shopping, caring for pets, playing TV news anchor in a studio and acting as a local cop or firefighter.
Kids can pretend they’re banking at the miniature Bank of America, shopping at the local Publix Supermarket, or taking a Carnival cruise ship, which even stops in the re-created port of Brazil. One of the more impressive exhibits is the World Music Studio, where budding rock stars can lay down a few tracks and play instruments.
Miami Children’s Museum also offers educational displays about subjects ranging from Miami architecture to Brazilian culture. There are also hundreds of bilingual, interactive exhibits as well as programs, classes, and learning materials related to arts, culture, community, and communication.
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