Top Things to Do in Miami

Enjoy all the fun at these top attractions in Miami.

Miami is one of South Florida’s premier vacation destinations, with beautiful beaches, great weather, history, culture, sports and entertainment.

From museums to the streets of Little Havana, you can always find plenty of things to do in Miami. Across the bay, Miami Beach with its Art Deco District, miles of beachfront, and fun vibe is a must-see in the area.

This guide will help you discover the best places to visit with a list of top tourist attractions in Miami and Miami Beach.

MIAMI BEACH

Located on a barrier island and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, Miami Beach is a mix of quiet neighborhoods, lively entertainment district and long stretches of white sandy beaches.

The southernmost portion of the island is the historic and action-packed area known as South Beach. This is where you will find many of the top attractions and things to do.

One of the biggest attractions in Miami Beach is the Art Deco Historic District with buildings from the 1930s and early 1940s, and numerous beachfront restaurants, bars, shops and hotels.

The main street in this area is Ocean Drive located along the oceanfront and home to the beautiful Art Deco buildings.

MIAMI BEACH BOARDWALK

The Miami Beach Boardwalk is the best way to walk or bike along Miami Beach’s oceanfront. It stretches for over three miles running along the coast and Miami’s beaches.

The boardwalk begins in the heart of South Beach and goes all the way to Indian Beach Park in Mid-Beach.

Head there in the early morning or at sunset to beat the heat and join countless runners and cyclists starting their day with some exercise.

ART DECO DISTRICT

The Art Deco Historic District is located in South Beach between 5th Street and 23rd Street, along Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue.

These Art Deco buildings were inspired by the 1925 Paris exhibition that launched the Art Deco movement.

These buildings have been built between 1934 and 1940 in this architectural style that dominates the trendy South Beach neighborhood.

The district has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.

There are more than 800 examples of Art Deco architecture in South Beach, the largest collection of this architectural style in the world. Therefore, this is the best place for a walking tour.

Discover history, architecture and learn about Art Deco and secrets of South Beach with SoBeach Walking Tours. These are the most fun and educational walking tours in Miami Beach as well as very affordable with prices starting at $25 per tour.

SOUTH BEACH

Located at the southern end of Miami Beach from the tip of the island north to 26th Street is the always action-packed party vibe neighborhood of South Beach.

This is where many people come to when they plan a vacation to Miami. The beautiful white sandy beaches along Ocean Drive are one of the biggest attractions.

This is the most popular beach in Miami and one of the top beaches in Florida. This is a place to see and be seen and where the Art Deco buildings with its neon signs line up along Ocean Drive.

A paved boardwalk along the oceanfront offers miles of bicycle and walking path. By day, it’s a great place to take a tour or hang out at the beach. At night, it comes alive with dining and nightlife.

OCEAN DRIVE

Ocean Drive is the heart of South Beach. This famous street is lined with quaint, pastel-hued Art Deco buildings and hotels, restaurants that spill out onto the streets, rollerbladers zooming down the beachside pathways, and muscled men working out on the beachfront outdoor gym.

This oceanfront street is the place to go for a cup of coffee, an oversized margarita and some excellent people-watching.

It only makes sense that this beautiful street has served as the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s most iconic films and TV shows like Scarface, The Birdcage, Miami Vice, There’s Something About Mary, and many more.

Ocean Drive runs parallel to the ocean between 1st and 15th streets.

LINCOLN ROAD

Originally opened in 1912, and redesigned in the 1950s by architect Morris Lapidus, Lincoln Road Mall was once dubbed the “Fifth Avenue of the South”.

This is Miami Beach’s most popular pedestrian outdoor shopping spanning 10 blocks and located between 16th and 17th streets from Washington Avenue to Alton Road.

Many trendy sidewalk cafés, stores, boutiques and restaurants line up this popular strip area in the heart of South Beach.

If you are looking for a stunning rooftop view, check out Juvia. On the other hand, Isabella’s is an ideal spot for delicious Mediterranean food.

Or you can sample a little bit of everything at Lincoln Eatery, a food hall with everything from sushi to pizza and a fabulous rooftop bar.

Sundays welcome a weekly farmer’s market, where you can stroll Lincoln Road enjoying fresh smoothies and sampling a wide variety of local vendors.

Also, on Sundays from October through May, you can search for rare finds at the Lincoln Road Antiques and Collectibles Market.

ESPANOLA WAY

Find a slice of old-world Europe right in the middle of South Beach.

Española Way is a charming, pedestrian-only strip lined with shops, art galleries, al fresco dining, sidewalk cafes, live music and people watching.

The street functions as an elegant, picturesque cousin to nearby Lincoln Road.

This quaint and picturesque Spanish-inspired street is located between 14th and 15th street in Miami Beach, stretching from Washington Avenue to Jefferson Avenue.

Experience Paris café culture at favorite A La Folie Café, serving French classics.

WYNWOOD WALLS

This is the city’s first and only outdoor museum dedicated to street art.

Wynwood Walls is at the epicenter of the Wynwood Arts District, full of colorful graffiti and street art with a roster of more than 50 murals painted by renowned artists from around the world.

Inside Wynwood Walls Museum is where you will find retail shops, prints for purchase and galleries.

The Wynwood Walls is the undisputed selfie capital of Miami. Read up on the best guided tours you can take around the Wynwood Arts District.

LITTLE HAVANA AND CALLE OCHO

Little Havana, the Cuban district in Miami is known for its cultural scene. Restaurants and specialty food shops line the streets where you can see locals socializing in the parks.

Calle Ocho (Southwest Eighth Street) is the main street running through the district where much of the activity takes place.

It is a vibrant thoroughfare lined with Latin-inspired restaurants, bakeries, fruit stands, cigar shops, rum bars, art galleries and music venues. The street is lined up with murals and walls are covered with portraits of Cuban legends.

It is also where you will find the famed Máximo Gómez Park (known as Domino Park), where locals gather for a heated game of dominoes.

Pay a visit to one of Little Havana’s top Cuban restaurants, you are going to want to sample everything from strong, sweet Cuban coffee to the savory Cuban sandwiches. Or head to Azucar Ice Cream for artisanal ice cream and sorbet with tropical flavors.

If you are looking to discover the rich art and cuisine of Miami’s Cuban culture with a guided tour, don’t miss this guide to the Best Walking Tours in Miami.

Stop by Little Havana Welcome Center on Calle Ocho between Domino Park and McDonald’s. This welcome center provides visitors with information on attractions, points of interest, maps, events calendars, and tours.

VERSAILLES RESTAURANT

Serving authentic Cuban cuisine since 1971, Versailles Restaurant is a Little Havana landmark known as a gathering place for the Cuban community.

Serving traditional Cuban fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, choose from an extensive menu of Cuban comfort classics like croquetas and vaca frita to and assortment of Cuban sandwiches.

Visitors on the go can order a potent shot of sweet Cuban coffee from the restaurant’s window.

Versailles’s adjacent bakery doubles as a dessert shop selling flans, pastries, key lime pies and ice cream. Reservations are not accepted unless you are a party of 15 or more.

BAYSIDE MARKETPLACE

Bayside Marketplace is a large outdoor-style mall with numerous souvenir shops, well-known chain stores, cafes, restaurants and live entertainment. It is a great place that draws locals and tourists alike.

The mall is located along Miami’s waterfront looking over docks and boats on Biscayne Bay.

Sightseeing tour boats leave from here visiting Biscayne Bay, Star Island, the Port of Miami, Millionaire’s Row and many more points of interest.

Here you will also find boat rentals, jet ski tours, bike tours and fishing charters. There is also a water taxi service to Miami Beach in the area.

Among the attractions at the Bayside Marketplace, you will find Sky Views Miami observation wheel.

Towering 200 feet in the air, this Ferris wheel has climate-controlled gondolas plus one glass floor VIP from where you have amazing views of Biscayne Bay and Miami.

BAYFRONT PARK

Bayfront Park is a 32-acre green space in the heart of downtown Miami adjacent to the Bayside Marketplace and sits right on Biscayne Bay.

The park has open lawn spaces, a wide bay walk, winding walkways, a sandy beach area, a stunning fountain, an amphitheater used for musical performances, a waterfall, and a children’s playground.

Locals come here to run or walk on the paved trails. A waterfront trail connects the park to the adjacent Bayside Marketplace, the waterfront outdoor mall with tons of stores, restaurants and bars.

Bayfront Park is also surrounded by some of Miami’s most iconic sites like the FTX Arena, home of the NBA Miami Heat, the Freedom Tower and Maurice Ferré Park. These spots are all within walking distance.

FTX ARENA, The Miami HEAT

A 20,000-seat multipurpose sports and entertainment arena located on Biscayne Bay, this waterfront venue is one of the nation’s premier sports and entertainment facilities and is home to NBA champion Miami HEAT.

FTX Arena also hosts a variety of concerts, special events and cultural events.

Check out Miami HEAT schedule here. Also, see their calendar of events and concerts.

MIAMI DESIGN DISTRICT

Spanning 18 square blocks, this multilevel open-air shopping complex and arts district is a treasure trove of luxury fashion boutiques, art galleries, public art and trendy restaurants.

The neighborhood also features the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), where admission is always free. Visit local galleries, including David Castillo, Locust Projects and the De La Cruz Collection.

The Miami Design District has also become a prime dining destination. Don’t miss Michelin-starred Cote and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Peruvian darling Itamae for some of the best meals in Miami.

PHILIP AND PATRICIA FROST MUSEUM OF SCIENCE

Spanning across a massive 250,000 square feet, the Frost Museum occupies four buildings and sits on land overlooking Biscayne Bay surrounded by Miami’s skyline.

The museum’s permanent exhibitions are dedicated to South Florida’s biodiversity, the physics of light, aviation, the human mind and body, and more.

It features a 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream aquarium across three levels that houses all sorts of sea creatures, and a planetarium dome displaying 16 million colors through 3-D projectors.

The 250-seat auditorium is tilted at an angle to allow for a near-360 degree experience as visitors journey to a galaxy far far away or take a deep dive under the sea.

PEREZ ART MUSEUM

The Perez Art Museum, known locally as the PAMM, occupies prime real estate on Miami’s waterfront.

The architecturally magnificent building houses a collection of 20th and 21st century art with an emphasis on works that relate to Miami’s ethnically rich community as well as Latin America, the Caribbean and the African diaspora.

Art lovers can explore the museum’s three floors of galleries comprised of nearly 3,000 permanent collection pieces.

Then head outdoors to the lush hanging gardens, large scale sculptures amidst the native hammock garden.

Complete your visit with seasonal contemporary cuisine and spectacular views of Biscayne Bay at Verde.

For the museum’s free days, check out this listing of The Best Free Things to Do in Miami.

Save a few dollars on parking (flat rate of $15) by combining a visit here with a stop at the Philip and Patricia Museum of Science located right next door.

ADRIENNE ARSHT CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

This $500 million César Pelli creation opened in downtown Miami in 2006. The beautiful postmodern architecture alone makes it worth a visit to Adrienne Arsht Center.

It is the home to the Florida Grand Opera and the Miami City Ballet, and occasionally hosts the New World Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra.

Touring Broadway shows, musicals, and world music shows are also featured. Check out the schedule of performances here.

VIZCAYA MUSEUM AND GARDENS

An Italian Renaissance-style villa and gardens set on Biscayne Bay, this national historic landmark was the luxurious winter home of industrialist James Deering.

Built in 1916, the Vizcaya mansion has 34 rooms arranged around a central courtyard. Its meticulously landscaped gardens, bayfront terrace and the house itself make up a total of 43 acres.

The place is filled with an impressive collection of European furniture and art spanning the 15th to the 19th centuries.

Vizcaya’s 10 acres of gardens show Italian and French fountains, pools, sculptures, rare orchids, and an ornately carved barge featuring female figures.

Tours are highly recommended. Check out tour options and get tour tickets onsite when you arrive at the admissions booth.

DEERING ESTATE

Built by Chicago industrialist Charles Deering as his winter estate at about the same time that the Vizcaya was constructed. This is a 444-acre estate listed on the National Register of Historic places.

The main building, the Stone House, was built reminiscent of properties in Spain. The vast grounds offer nature walks, a mangrove boardwalk, and canoe trips to pleasant Chicken Key.

Deering Estate is also home to the Cutler Fossil Site and Cutler Burial Mound. The Fossil site, excavated in the 1980s, revealed a Paleo-Indian shelter and animal bones from the Pleistocene Era.

The Burial Mound is a prehistoric mound that contain 18 burials of the Tequesta Indians. The Burial mound is accessible only via their guided Natural Area Tours.

FAIRCHILD TROPICAL BOTANIC GARDEN

One of South Florida’s natural jewels, this 83-acre garden, is named after renowned botanist David Fairchild.

Originally founded in 1938, the Fairchild gardens are filled with lush tropical rainforest with a stream, sunken garden, a large vine pergola and a museum of plant exploration.

The garden’s collection includes more than 3,400 species including tropical fruit, orchids, butterflies and native and exotic plants.

Narrated 45-minute-long tram tours give visitors a look at the resident flora without having to walk for miles.

To cap off your visit, enjoy lunch at the onsite Glasshouse Café, set in a lovely limestone cottage with outdoor dining available.

KEY BISCAYNE BEACHES

For a beach day that’s fun, relaxing and more quiet than most, try the sandy shores of Key Biscayne, Crandon Park and Virginia Key.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

At the tip of serene, secluded Key Biscayne is this 400-acre state park with beach access, picnic tables, bike trails, and watersport rentals. It is a great place with accessible parking close to the sand.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to South Florida’s oldest standing structure: a historic lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1825 to guide mariners off the Florida Reef.

Take a free tour of the lighthouse and climb the 109 steps to the top of the lookout. Tours are offered Thursday through Monday at 10 am and 1 pm. Vehicles with up to eight people pay $8 for parking.

Equally quaint, the beach stretches 1.25 miles in length and has been listed as one of the best beaches in the country.

Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent, while more active beach-goers can rent ocean kayaks, canoes or hydro bikes. Grab a bite to eat at either the Lighthouse Café of Boater’s Grill.

Crandon Park Beach

Crandon Park Beach stretches 2 miles and was once a coconut plantation.

In addition to its white sand and calm waters, there are beachfront picnic tables and grills available for use.

Near the North Concession area, you will find stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, kite boards and cabana rentals.

Nature lovers will enjoy Crandon’s Park vast ecosystem, from a mangrove boardwalk and fossilized reef overlook, to dunes, and more.

You can go on a guided, or self-guided nature tour. Inquiry about activities and tours at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center.

Historic Virginia Key Beach Park

Less than a mile from the shores of downtown Miami, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is located on the 82-acre barrier island of Virginia Key.

It is one of the area’s most scenic beaches, full of nature and beautiful views of the bay and the Atlantic.

Visitors can stroll a mile-long shoreline, ride an antique carousel, be transported around the area by a miniature train and explore the hammock trail on a nature boardwalk.

Virginia Key is also known for having one of the largest mangroves wetlands in the state.

You can rent a kayak or take a moonlight paddleboard tour of the area. Or rent a bike and ride through some of the most adrenaline pumping bike trails in all of Miami.

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK

This massive national park spans 1.5 million acres of lush subtropical wetlands and is home to alligators, cranes, turtles, manatees, bald eagles, deer, bobcats, and even panthers roam their native habitat freely.

You can choose your own adventure inside the Everglades National Park, either hiking, biking, canoeing or gliding through the “river of grass” on an airboat.

The park is situated roughly an hour from downtown Miami. Within the park is a Visitors Center, as well as walking trails and boardwalks for wildlife viewing.

At Shark Valley you can embark on a ranger-led tram tour around a 15-mile paved loop, or rent bikes to explore.

Winter and the shoulder season of early spring and late fall are popular times to visit.

Visitors can explore on foot, and on bicycle but the best ways to experience the Everglades is on an airboat tour.

These high-speed boat trips take visitors out into the marshes and streams to see alligators and other wildlife.

If you are looking for a tour, check out this post on the Best Everglades Tours.

For a taste of the ‘glades, make a pit stop at Everglades Gator Grill where you can sample the grilled gator sandwich and other regional fare.

ZOO MIAMI

Zoo Miami spans across 950 acres and is the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida.

Due to the zoo’s sub-tropical temperatures, species native to Australia, Africa and other warm climates reside here. There are no cages or fences here with animals enclosed by moat-style perimeters.

All the old favorites are present, from elephants and rhinos to storks and flamingos, bears, camels, kangaroos, tigers, giraffes and monkeys.

For a unique way to see the animals, rent a Safari Cycle, ride the monorail or take a narrated tram tour around the property.

For kids, there’s a wildlife carousel ride, a petting zoo with pony rides along with shows in the amphitheater and animal feedings.

Other big draws included a 500-gallon aquarium, amphibians, reptiles and insects and the largest open-air Asian aviary in the western hemisphere.

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