Top 25 Things to Do in Miami

From art deco glamour to Little Havana's sizzle, Miami serves up a spicy blend of cultures, cuisines and cutting-edge cool.

West Parker
By
West Parker
July 18, 2024

As the sun dips below the horizon, casting a golden glow across Biscayne Bay, the pulsing beats of salsa music drift from a nearby cafe. Welcome to Miami, where the night is just getting started and the party never stops.

This electric energy epitomizes the Magic City, a place where Latin American flair meets beach town cool, creating a cultural cocktail unlike anywhere else in America. From the neon-lit streets of South Beach to the mural-covered walls of Wynwood, Miami is a feast for the senses that'll leave you craving more.

Ready to dive into the Magic City? Grab your sunglasses and appetite for adventure – we're about to explore the 25 best things to do in Miami that'll make your trip unforgettable.

Soak Up the Sun on South Beach

Sunbathers on South Beach, Miami, with iconic colorful lifeguard tower in the background
Nothing beats a day on South Beach! Pro tip: arrive early to snag a prime spot near one of those Instagram-famous lifeguard towers.

Picture this: crystal-clear waters, powdery white sand, and a backdrop of pastel-colored Art Deco buildings. That's South Beach in a nutshell. But this isn't just any beach – it's a see-and-be-seen hotspot where beach volleyball games and impromptu photoshoots are as common as sunbathers. Stake out your spot on the sand, take a dip in the warm Atlantic waters, or simply people-watch as the parade of beautiful locals and tourists strolls by. As the day heats up, cool off with a frozen mojito from one of the nearby beach bars. Who says you can't have your beach day and drink it too?

  • Location: Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience the quintessential Miami Beach vibe and enjoy world-class people-watching.

Insider Tip: Visit on a weekday morning for a more relaxed atmosphere and better chances of finding a prime spot on the sand.

Stroll Through the Art Deco Historic District

Pastel-colored Art Deco Carlyle Hotel on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, illuminated at dusk
Feeling like I've stepped back in time on Ocean Drive! Did you know Miami Beach has the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world?

Step back in time as you wander through the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world. Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue are a living museum of 1930s and '40s design, with over 800 preserved buildings sporting pastel colors, porthole windows, and sleek curves. Each facade tells a story of Miami Beach's glamorous past. Join a guided tour to uncover the secrets behind these architectural gems, or create your own adventure, camera in hand. As the sun sets, the neon signs flicker to life, transforming the district into a dazzling display of light and color. Who knew history could be so... cool?

  • Location: Ocean Drive and surrounding streets, Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • Hours: Always visible, guided tours available daily
  • Admission: Free to explore, guided tours from $30

Why Visit: Immerse yourself in Miami's iconic architectural style and snap Instagram-worthy photos.

Insider Tip: Download the Miami Design Preservation League's self-guided tour app for a free, in-depth exploration at your own pace.

Get Inspired at Wynwood Walls

Person posing in front of a vibrant mural at Wynwood Walls, Miami's open-air street art museum
Found my new profile pic at Wynwood Walls! This place is a street art lover's paradise - every corner is an Instagram opportunity.

Who says art belongs in stuffy museums? At Wynwood Walls, the streets are the canvas, and graffiti is the masterpiece. This open-air museum showcases larger-than-life murals by world-renowned street artists, transforming once-abandoned warehouses into a kaleidoscope of creativity. As you wander through the ever-changing outdoor gallery, you'll find yourself surrounded by epic works that spark conversation and challenge perceptions. Hungry for more? The surrounding Wynwood Art District is peppered with galleries, boutiques, and hip eateries. Grab a craft beer at a local brewery and debate your favorite piece – that's what we call art appreciation, Miami-style.

  • Location: 2520 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:30 AM - 11:30 PM
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience the cutting edge of street art in a vibrant, Instagram-ready setting.

Insider Tip: Visit during the week to avoid crowds and get unobstructed photos of your favorite murals.

Savor the Flavors of Little Havana

Cuban sandwich and coffee at Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, Miami, with colorful surroundings
Fueling up in Little Havana with the holy trinity: Cuban sandwich, cafecito, and people-watching on Calle Ocho. This is the real Miami!

Close your eyes and let the aroma of strong Cuban coffee and sizzling empanadas transport you to Havana – no passport required. Little Havana, the heart of Miami's Cuban community, pulses with Latin rhythms and old-world charm. Stroll down Calle Ocho (8th Street) and you'll find yourself swept up in a whirlwind of culture. Watch skilled cigar rollers practice their craft, sip on a refreshing guarapo (sugarcane juice), or challenge a local to a game of dominoes in Maximo Gomez Park. And don't even think about leaving without trying a Cuban sandwich from Versailles, the unofficial town hall of Little Havana. One bite and you'll understand why Miami runs on Cuban time.

  • Location: SW 8th Street between 12th and 27th avenues, Miami, FL 33135
  • Hours: Varies by business, best visited during daytime

Why Visit: Immerse yourself in Miami's vibrant Cuban culture and indulge in authentic cuisine.

Insider Tip: Join a food tour to sample the best of Little Havana's culinary delights and learn about the neighborhood's rich history.

Explore the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Visitor touching a stingray in the Ray Touch Pool at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami
Getting up close and personal with some slimy friends at the Frost Science Museum. Who knew stingrays felt like wet velvet?

Who says science can't be cool? At the Frost Museum, you'll find yourself lost in wonder as you journey from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of the galaxy. This state-of-the-art facility is a playground for curious minds of all ages. Stand in awe as hammerhead sharks glide overhead in the 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream aquarium, feel your heart race in the 8K planetarium show, or get hands-on with interactive exhibits that bring science to life. And don't miss the chance to touch a stingray – it's shockingly smooth! With four buildings dedicated to different aspects of science, you might need to clear your schedule – curiosity has a way of making time fly.

  • Location: 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132
  • Hours: Daily 10 AM - 6 PM
  • Admission: Adults $29.95, Children $20.95

Why Visit: Experience cutting-edge science exhibits and breathtaking aquarium displays in one innovative space.

Insider Tip: Buy tickets online in advance to skip the lines and save on admission.

Step Back in Time at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Stone barge structure in the waterfront gardens of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, with Biscayne Bay in background
Feeling like royalty at Vizcaya! This place is proof that Miami's got some serious old-world charm hidden up its sleeve.

Ever dreamed of living like a Gilded Age tycoon? Vizcaya Museum and Gardens lets you do just that – if only for a day. This opulent Italian Renaissance-style villa, built in the early 20th century, is a feast for the eyes and a window into Miami's lavish past. As you wander through the 34 decorated rooms, each more extravagant than the last, you'll feel like you've stepped into a time machine. But the real showstopper? The meticulously manicured gardens overlooking Biscayne Bay. With hidden grottos, elaborate fountains, and stunning bay views, it's no wonder this spot is a favorite for both history buffs and romantic couples. Who knows? You might even spot a peacock or two strutting their stuff on the grounds.

  • Location: 3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129
  • Hours: Wednesday-Monday 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM, Closed Tuesdays
  • Admission: Adults $25, Children (6-12) $10

Why Visit: Experience the grandeur of Miami's Gilded Age in a stunning architectural setting.

Insider Tip: Visit on a weekday afternoon for smaller crowds and the best light for photos in the gardens.

Venture into Everglades National Park

Alligator near an airboat at Everglades Safari Park in Everglades National Park, Florida
Just casually cruising past some sunbathing gators in the Everglades. Remember folks: photos are fine, but no selfies with these guys!

Swap the urban jungle for a real one with a trip to Everglades National Park. This vast subtropical wilderness is unlike anywhere else on Earth, home to rare and endangered species like the Florida panther, American crocodile, and the elusive manatee. Hop on an airboat for a high-speed adventure through the "River of Grass," keeping your eyes peeled for alligators sunning themselves on the banks. For a more serene experience, kayak through mangrove tunnels or hike along boardwalks that wind through sawgrass marshes. As the sun sets, the Everglades come alive with a symphony of frogs and night birds – nature's own nightly performance. Just remember: bug spray is your best friend out here!

  • Location: 40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, FL 33034
  • Hours: Open 24/7, Visitor Centers typically open 9 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: $30 per vehicle, valid for 7 days

Why Visit: Experience one of America's most unique ecosystems and spot wildlife in their natural habitat.

Insider Tip: Take a ranger-led tour for the best chance to spot wildlife and learn about the park's delicate ecosystem.

Admire Contemporary Art at Pérez Art Museum Miami

Visitor admiring large, colorful contemporary artwork in east gallery at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
Getting my art fix at PAMM. Between the jaw-dropping exhibits and that million-dollar view of Biscayne Bay, I could spend all day here!

Art lovers, rejoice! The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is your ticket to the cutting edge of contemporary art. But don't let the word "museum" fool you – this isn't your grandmother's art gallery. Housed in a stunning building that seems to float above Biscayne Bay, PAMM is as much an architectural marvel as it is a cultural hub. Inside, you'll find a diverse collection that celebrates international art of the 20th and 21st centuries, with a special focus on works from the Americas, Caribbean, and Atlantic rim. From thought-provoking installations to vibrant paintings, the exhibits here will challenge your perceptions and spark conversation. And when you need a break? Head to the sculpture garden for a moment of zen with a view that'll take your breath away.

  • Location: 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132
  • Hours: Thursday-Monday 11 AM - 6 PM, Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Admission: Adults $16, Youth (7-18) $12

Why Visit: Engage with cutting-edge contemporary art in a stunning waterfront setting.

Insider Tip: Visit on the second Saturday of the month for free admission and special programming.

Wander Through the Canopied Streets of Coral Gables

Tree-canopied Coral Way with Mediterranean Revival architecture in Coral Gables, Miami
Wandering through Coral Gables feels like I've been transported to a European village. Those early 20th-century city planners knew what they were doing!

Step into a fairy tale as you explore the tree-lined streets of Coral Gables, where Mediterranean Revival architecture reigns supreme. Known as "The City Beautiful," this planned community from the 1920s feels like a slice of Europe in the heart of Miami. Start your journey at the Biltmore Hotel, a National Historic Landmark that looks like it was plucked straight out of a Spanish castle. Then, lose yourself in the winding, canopied streets, where each turn reveals another architectural gem. Feeling adventurous? Take a dip in the Venetian Pool, a historic public swimming pool carved out of a coral rock quarry. With its waterfalls, cave-like grottos, and palm-fringed shores, it's the closest you'll get to swimming in a Venetian lagoon this side of the Atlantic.

  • Location: Coral Gables, FL 33134
  • Hours: Always open, individual attractions vary

Why Visit: Experience the charm of a meticulously planned 1920s community with stunning architecture.

Insider Tip: Rent a bike to cover more ground and truly appreciate the neighborhood's lush landscaping and hidden gems.

Shop and Gallery Hop in the Design District

Shoppers browsing Gucci store window in the Miami Design District, with modern architecture visible
Window shopping in the Design District. My wallet's staying firmly in my pocket, but a girl can dream, right?

Got champagne taste and a passion for art? The Miami Design District is calling your name. This once-overlooked neighborhood has transformed into a mecca for high-end shopping, innovative art, and architectural eye candy. Stroll down palm-lined streets and you'll find yourself surrounded by luxury boutiques sporting names like Gucci, Dior, and Louis Vuitton. But it's not all about shopping – the district is peppered with world-class art galleries and public installations that'll make you feel like you're wandering through an open-air museum. Hungry after all that art appreciation? The district's dining scene is just as cutting-edge as its fashion. From celebrity chef restaurants to trendy food halls, your taste buds are in for a treat. Who says you can't have your art and eat it too?

  • Location: Bounded by NE 38th St, NE 42nd St, NE 2nd Ave, and Biscayne Blvd
  • Hours: Varies by store and gallery, typically 11 AM - 7 PM

Why Visit: Indulge in luxury shopping and world-class art in a beautifully designed urban setting.

Insider Tip: Don't miss the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami – it's free and showcases cutting-edge exhibitions.

Snorkel at Biscayne National Park

Snorkeler observing tropical fish near Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park, Miami
Snorkeling in Biscayne National Park is like swimming in an aquarium. Who needs TV when you've got this underwater show?

Think you've seen all of Miami? Think again. Just a stone's throw from the city lies an underwater wonderland waiting to be explored. Biscayne National Park is 95% water, protecting a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands, and fish-beguiled coral reefs. Strap on a snorkel and dive into a world teeming with tropical fish, colorful coral formations, and even the occasional sea turtle. For a real adventure, kayak to Elliott Key, the park's largest island, where you can hike through hardwood forests and camp under the stars. And history buffs, listen up – the park's Maritime Heritage Trail lets you explore shipwrecks dating back to the 1800s. Who knew paradise was just a boat ride away from downtown Miami?

  • Location: 9700 SW 328th Street, Sir Lancelot Jones Way, Homestead, FL 33033
  • Hours: Park waters open 24/7, Dante Fascell Visitor Center open daily 9 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: $15 per private vehicle, valid for 7 days

Why Visit: Explore an underwater national park with pristine reefs and diverse marine life.Insider Tip: Book a guided snorkeling tour to the park's outer reefs for the best chance to see diverse marine life.

Take a Dip in the Venetian Pool

Swimmers enjoying the historic Venetian Pool's cave grotto in Coral Gables, Miami
Cooling off at the Venetian Pool. Fun fact: this 820,000-gallon pool is filled with spring water daily. Talk about a fresh dip!

Forget cookie-cutter hotel pools – the Venetian Pool is in a league of its own. Carved out of a coral rock quarry in 1923, this Coral Gables gem feels more like a Venetian lagoon than a public swimming pool. With its grottos, waterfalls, and palm-fringed islands, it's the stuff of tropical daydreams. Take a refreshing plunge in the cool spring water (it's freshwater fed daily!), explore the cave-like grottos, or simply lounge poolside and soak up the Mediterranean vibes. And don't worry about the crowds – the pool limits capacity, so you'll always have room to splash around. Who knew time travel could be so refreshing?

  • Location: 2701 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134
  • Hours: Vary seasonally, typically 11 AM - 5:30 PM, closed Mondays
  • Admission: Adults $20, Children (3-12) $15

Why Visit: Cool off in a historic, one-of-a-kind swimming pool with a magical atmosphere.

Insider Tip: Visit on a weekday for a more relaxed experience and better chances of snagging a prime lounging spot.

Shop and Dine on Lincoln Road

Lively nighttime scene of outdoor dining on Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, Miami Beach
Dinner with a side of people-watching on Lincoln Road. Pro tip: come hungry and leave room for dessert!

Welcome to Lincoln Road, where Miami's see-and-be-seen culture comes to life. This pedestrian-only promenade is the beating heart of South Beach, a place where locals and tourists alike come to shop, dine, and people-watch. By day, browse through a mix of high-end boutiques and familiar brands, or pick up some unique souvenirs at the weekend farmers market. As the sun sets, the street transforms into a lively outdoor dining room, with restaurant tables spilling onto the sidewalks and the sounds of clinking glasses and lively conversation filling the air. Grab a seat at an outdoor café, order a mojito, and watch the parade of stylish locals, quirky street performers, and wide-eyed tourists pass by. It's dinner and a show, Miami style!

  • Location: Lincoln Road between Alton Road and Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • Hours: Varies by business, typically 10 AM - 11 PM

Why Visit: Experience the heart of South Beach's shopping, dining, and people-watching scene.

Insider Tip: Visit on a Sunday morning for the farmers market, where you can sample local produce and artisanal goods.

Go Wild at Zoo Miami

Visitor hand-feeding a giraffe at the African feeding station at Zoo Miami
Making new friends at Zoo Miami! Did you know giraffes have 32-inch tongues? That's one way to reach the top shelf!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! At Zoo Miami, you'll come face-to-face with creatures from all corners of the globe. As the only subtropical zoo in the continental U.S., it's home to animals that would make Tarzan jealous. Hop on a safari cycle and pedal your way through habitats ranging from Asian jungles to African savannas. Get up close and personal with giraffes at the feeding station, watch in awe as giant river otters play in their habitat, or try to spot the elusive clouded leopard. And for the little ones? The children's zoo lets kids cool off in a splash zone while learning about farm animals. With over 3,000 animals representing 500 species, you might want to pack a snack – this wild adventure could take all day!

  • Location: 12400 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177
  • Hours: Daily 10 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Adults $22.95, Children (3-12) $18.95

Why Visit: Experience a world-class zoo with unique subtropical species and interactive exhibits.

Insider Tip: Visit early in the morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler and animals are more active.

Explore Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Visitor exploring the lush rainforest exhibit at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Miami
Getting lost in the green wonderland of Fairchild Garden. With over 3,400 species of plants, it's like a real-life jungle book!

Step into a tropical paradise at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, where 83 acres of lush landscapes, rare tropical plants, and colorful flowers await. Named after one of the most famous plant explorers in history, this living museum is a feast for the senses. Stroll through the butterfly garden, where delicate wings flutter all around you, or lose yourself in the misty rainforest, where towering palms and exotic ferns transport you to another world. Don't miss the chance to ride the open-air tram – it's the perfect way to cover ground while learning about the garden's incredible biodiversity. And if you're lucky enough to visit during the annual Mango Festival, prepare your taste buds for a flavor explosion. Who knew botany could be so... delicious?

  • Location: 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156
  • Hours: Daily 10 AM - 4 PM
  • Admission: Adults $24.95, Children (6-17) $11.95

Why Visit: Immerse yourself in a tropical paradise and discover rare plant species from around the world.

Insider Tip: Check the garden's event calendar for special festivals, concerts, and night garden events.

Relax at South Pointe Park

Visitors on South Pointe Park Pier watching a cruise ship sail by during a vibrant Miami sunset
Catch the daily cruise ship parade from South Pointe Park. It's like Miami's version of rush hour, but way more relaxing!

At the southern tip of Miami Beach lies a hidden gem that locals love – South Pointe Park. This 17-acre oasis offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of South Beach, with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay, and the Miami skyline. Take a leisurely stroll along the winding promenade, watch massive cruise ships glide by from the fishing pier, or let the kids run wild in the splash fountain. As the sun begins to set, join the locals on the grassy hill for a perfect view of the changing colors. And if you're feeling peckish? Joe's Stone Crab, a Miami institution, is just a stone's throw away. Now that's what we call a perfect Miami evening!

  • Location: 1 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Enjoy stunning views and a local vibe away from the tourist crowds of South Beach.

Insider Tip: Visit during sunset for breathtaking views and a chance to see the Port of Miami's evening cruise ship parade.

Catch a Concert at Bayfront Park

Crowd enjoying Ultra Music Festival at main stage in Bayfront Park with the Miami skyline as backdrop
Rocking out at Ultra in Bayfront Park with the best backdrop a concert could ask for. Miami sure knows how to set the stage!

Looking for a taste of Miami's famous nightlife without the club scene? Head to Bayfront Park, where the city comes alive under the stars. This 32-acre urban oasis in the heart of downtown Miami is more than just a pretty face – it's a cultural hub that hosts everything from yoga classes to world-class concerts. Spread out a blanket on the lawn for a free movie night, or dance your heart out at the Ultra Music Festival if you're visiting in March. The park's amphitheater has hosted everyone from classical orchestras to rock legends, all with the twinkling lights of the Miami skyline as a backdrop. And the best part? The gentle bay breeze keeps things cool even on the steamiest Miami nights. Now that's what we call entertainment with a view!

  • Location: 301 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132
  • Hours: Open daily 7 AM - 10 PM
  • Admission: Free entry, event prices vary

Why Visit: Experience Miami's outdoor entertainment scene in a beautiful waterfront setting.

Insider Tip: Check the park's event calendar for free yoga classes, movies under the stars, and live music performances.

Step Back in Time at the Ancient Spanish Monastery

Visitor in historic stone archway of St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church (Ancient Spanish Monastery) in North Miami Beach
Stepping back in time at the Ancient Spanish Monastery. Hard to believe this 12th-century cloister made it all the way from Spain to Miami

Prepare for a serious case of déjà vu at the Ancient Spanish Monastery. No, you haven't been transported to medieval Spain – this 12th-century cloister was actually shipped piece by piece from Segovia to Miami in the 1920s. Talk about extreme home makeover! Wander through the peaceful gardens and arched walkways, and you'll feel like you've stepped into a time machine. The monastery's story is as fascinating as its architecture – it was once owned by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and spent years in storage before being reassembled in North Miami Beach. Today, it's a serene oasis where history buffs and Instagram enthusiasts alike can soak in the old-world atmosphere. And if you're feeling romantic? It's a popular spot for weddings. Because nothing says "til death do us part" like 800-year-old stones, right?

  • Location: 16711 West Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, FL 33160
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 AM - 4:30 PM, Sunday 11 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Admission: Adults $12, Children (7-12) $5

Why Visit: Experience a piece of medieval Spanish architecture in the heart of Miami.

Insider Tip: Join a guided tour to learn about the monastery's fascinating journey from Spain to Miami.

Marvel at the Stiltsville Houses

View of historic Stiltsville houses on stilts in Biscayne Bay, Miami, from a boat tour
Spotted the famous Stiltsville houses! These quirky structures are all that's left of Miami's prohibition-era party scene on the water.

Ever dreamed of living on the water? The residents of Stiltsville took that idea to heart – literally. This collection of wooden houses perched on stilts in the middle of Biscayne Bay looks like something out of a tropical fairy tale. Once a prohibition-era hotspot for gambling and wild parties, today Stiltsville is a quirky remnant of Old Florida charm. While you can't visit the houses up close (they're part of Biscayne National Park), you can marvel at them from a distance on a boat tour. As you cruise by, let your imagination run wild – what would it be like to wake up every morning surrounded by nothing but turquoise waters? Just watch out for hurricanes!

  • Location: Biscayne Bay, visible from Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park or boat tours
  • Hours: Visible 24/7, boat tour times vary
  • Admission: Free to view, boat tour prices vary

Why Visit: Witness a unique piece of Miami history and imagine life on the water.

Insider Tip: For the best view, take a sunset boat tour – the houses look magical silhouetted against the colorful sky.

Enjoy Live Jazz at The Betsy Hotel

Jazz musicians performing in the intimate lobby lounge of The Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Swinging to some smooth jazz at The Betsy. Who needs sleep when you've got all that jazz?

Craving some smooth tunes with your cocktail? Step into the lobby of The Betsy Hotel, where the spirit of old-school Miami Beach comes alive every night. This swanky spot on Ocean Drive hosts live jazz performances that'll transport you straight to the golden age of cool. Sink into a plush armchair, sip on a perfectly crafted Old Fashioned, and let the sultry sounds wash over you. The intimate setting means you're never far from the action – you might even catch the pianist's wink as he launches into a Cole Porter classic. And the best part? There's no cover charge. So whether you're a jazz aficionado or just looking for a classy night out, The Betsy hits all the right notes.

  • Location: 1440 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • Hours: Live jazz nightly from 6 PM - 11 PM
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience world-class jazz in an intimate, historic setting on Ocean Drive.

Insider Tip: Arrive early to snag a prime spot near the piano – and don't be shy about making requests!

Kayak Through Mangroves at Oleta River State Park

Kayaker navigating through mangrove trails at Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach
Found a little slice of wilderness right in the city at Oleta River State Park. Keep your eyes peeled for manatees!

Ready to trade the city's concrete jungle for a real one? Oleta River State Park, Florida's largest urban park, offers a slice of wilderness right in the heart of North Miami Beach. Grab a kayak and paddle your way through winding mangrove forests, where the only sound is the gentle splash of your oar and the calls of herons and ibises. Keep your eyes peeled for manatees and dolphins – they've been known to make guest appearances! If you prefer to stay on dry land, the park boasts miles of off-road cycling trails that range from easy to "hold-onto-your-handlebars" challenging. And when you need to cool off? A pristine beach awaits, far from the crowds of South Beach. Who knew getting back to nature could be so easy in the Magic City?

  • Location: 3400 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach, FL 33160
  • Hours: Daily 8 AM - Sundown
  • Admission: $6 per vehicle

Why Visit: Experience Florida's natural beauty and outdoor adventures just minutes from downtown Miami.

Insider Tip: Rent a cabin for the night to extend your adventure and wake up to stunning sunrise views over the bay.

Meet Marine Life at Miami Seaquarium

Visitor interacting with a dolphin during encounter at Flipper Lagoon in Miami Seaquarium
Living out my marine biologist dreams at Miami Seaquarium. These dolphins are even smarter (and smoother) than I imagined!

Dive into an underwater world at Miami Seaquarium, where flippered and finned friends are waiting to make a splash in your day. This 38-acre marine paradise is home to everything from playful dolphins and gentle manatees to toothy sharks and colorful tropical fish. Watch in awe as killer whales perform gravity-defying leaps, or get hands-on at the touch pools where you can pet velvety stingrays. For a truly unforgettable experience, sign up for the dolphin encounter program – swimming alongside these intelligent creatures is sure to put a smile on your face that'll last long after you've dried off. And don't worry, landlubbers – there's plenty to see on dry land too, including a tropical reef habitat and a rescue and rehabilitation facility where you can learn about marine conservation efforts.

  • Location: 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149
  • Hours: Daily 10:30 AM - 6 PM
  • Admission: Adults $47.99, Children (3-9) $37.99

Why Visit: Get up close with marine life and enjoy interactive animal experiences.

Insider Tip: Book animal encounters in advance as they often sell out, especially during peak season.

Play Ball at Flamingo Park

Group playing beach volleyball at Flamingo Park courts in South Beach, Miami
Burning off those Cuban sandwiches with a game of volleyball at Flamingo Park. Miami's idea of a 'winter' sport!

Want to burn off some of those Cuban sandwich calories? Head to Flamingo Park, a 36-acre recreational paradise in the heart of South Beach. This local favorite is where Miamians come to sweat, socialize, and soak up the sun. Challenge your travel buddies to a game of tennis, shoot some hoops on the basketball courts, or take a refreshing dip in the Olympic-sized pool. If you're feeling nostalgic, the park's baseball field might look familiar – it starred in the 1988 movie "Miami Blues". And for those who prefer spectating to participating, grab a spot on the bleachers and watch the locals engage in some friendly competition. Who knows? You might even get invited to join a pickup game. Just remember to hydrate – that Miami sun doesn't mess around!

  • Location: 999 11th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • Hours: Daily 7 AM - 10 PM
  • Admission: Free for park entry, some facilities may have fees

Why Visit: Experience local Miami life and enjoy a variety of sports and recreational activities.

Insider Tip: Visit on a weekend morning to join in on free yoga classes held on the park's expansive lawn.

Gaze at the Stars at Frost Planetarium

Visitor gazing at immersive dome display during cosmic show at the Frost Planetarium in Miami
Mind = blown at the Frost Planetarium. Who knew you could travel to the edge of the universe without leaving Miami?

Ready for a cosmic journey? Buckle up and blast off at the Frost Planetarium, part of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. This state-of-the-art dome is your portal to the universe, offering a mind-bending visual experience that'll make you feel like you're floating among the stars. With its 16-million-color 8K visual system and surround sound, you're in for a treat whether you're watching a show about distant galaxies or diving into the microscopic world of atoms. And don't worry if you can't tell a quasar from a black hole – the planetarium's expert-led shows break down complex cosmic concepts into bite-sized, awe-inspiring chunks. It's out of this world entertainment that'll leave you starry-eyed!

  • Location: 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132
  • Hours: Daily 10 AM - 6 PM
  • Admission: Included with museum entry: Adults $29.95, Children (3-11) $20.95

Why Visit: Experience cutting-edge planetarium technology and gain a new perspective on our universe.

Insider Tip: Check the schedule and arrive early to secure seats for popular shows, especially on weekends.

Cruise Biscayne Bay at Sunset

Passengers toasting on Island Queen Cruises sunset boat tour with colorful Miami skyline in background
Toasting to another perfect Miami day on a Biscayne Bay sunset cruise. Is this real life or am I in a postcard?

What's better than a Miami sunset? A Miami sunset on the water, of course! Hop aboard a sunset cruise on Biscayne Bay and prepare for a feast for the eyes. As you glide across the calm waters, watch the sky transform into a canvas of oranges, pinks, and purples, painting the Miami skyline in a golden glow. Sail past the mansions of Star Island (keep an eye out for celebrity sightings!), the towering cruise ships of PortMiami, and the twinkling lights of downtown. Many cruises offer a cash bar, so you can toast to your Miami adventure with a mojito in hand. Whether you're looking for a romantic evening or just a unique way to see the city, a sunset cruise is the perfect way to cap off your day in the Magic City.

  • Location: Various departure points, including Bayside Marketplace and Miami Beach Marina
  • Hours: Typically depart 1-2 hours before sunset
  • Admission: Prices vary, average $40-$80 per person

Why Visit: Experience Miami's stunning skyline and vibrant waterways from a unique perspective.

Insider Tip: Book a cruise that includes a narrated tour to learn about Miami's history and celebrity homes along the way.

Grab a Cuban Coffee at a Ventanit

Hand holding Cuban coffee at La Carreta's ventanita (walk-up window) in Little Havana, Miami
Fueling up Miami-style at a ventanita. Warning: this tiny cup packs a punch that'll keep you salsa dancing all night!

Need a pick-me-up? Do as the locals do and hit up a ventanita for a shot of Cuban rocket fuel – er, we mean coffee. These walk-up windows, scattered throughout Little Havana and beyond, are a Miami institution. Order a colada (a small cup of strong Cuban espresso meant for sharing) or a cortadito (espresso with a splash of milk) and prepare for a jolt of energy that'll keep you buzzing all day. And while you're there, why not indulge in a pastelito (Cuban pastry)? The guava and cheese variety is a local favorite. Just remember: sipping your coffee at the window while chatting with locals is part of the experience. It's not just a caffeine fix – it's a cultural immersion!

  • Location: Various locations throughout Miami, especially in Little Havana
  • Hours: Typically early morning to late night
  • Admission: Colada $2-$3, Cortadito $1-$2

Why Visit: Experience a beloved Miami tradition and get your caffeine fix, local style.

Insider Tip: If you order a colada, remember it's meant for sharing – pour it into the small cups provided and offer some to those around you!

And there you have it – 25 of the best things to do in Miami! From sun-soaked beaches to world-class art, from wild Everglades adventures to chic urban experiences, Miami truly offers something for everyone. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned Miami veteran, this diverse city always has something new to discover. So grab your sunscreen, put on your dancing shoes, and get ready to explore the Magic City. Who knows? You might just find yourself planning your next trip before this one's even over!

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:51 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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