Everything You Need to See and Do in Miami
Tips and Guides, Miami,
Miami is one of the most famous cities anywhere in the world, known for its great weather, amazing beaches, and vibrant cultural scene. Miami is more than just sand and surf, however, as there are a true plethora of fantastic things to discover. So, if you’re looking forward to finding a , make sure to also read this very guide to everything you need to see and do in Miami.
Of course, the first thing many people think of when they hear the word ‘Miami’ is sun-drenched beaches and this is for good reason. A is a wonderful chance to soak up the sun and relax in some truly stunning sandy locations. is world-famous and the place to be for fun times in the sun with friends and family. Miami Beach is actually located on an island just off the mainland, with bridges connecting the city to the sandy stretches of beach. South Beach is the most famous section and known around the world for its glamour, nightlife, fantastic restaurants, and top attractions. Miami Beach is certainly far more than just sand and water.
Coral Gables and the Venetian Pool
is a neighbourhood of Miami known as ‘The City Beautiful’, and it’s not hard to see why with its tree-lined streets and picturesque natural features. Filled with fantastic shops, top restaurants, and some rather stunning architecture, Coral Gables should certainly be on your Miami to-do list. To help describe the area a little further, a representative from Coral Gables told us:
“Coral Gables is a unique location to visit while travelling to Miami as it is a place like no other. As you arrive in Coral Gables, visitors immediately notice a sense of place, where lush vegetation and stately trees welcome you, where street names are in Spanish, where historic entrances, plazas and fountains present a hint of being in Europe, and where you are surrounded by Mediterranean architecture. Named recently among the top 100 best places to live in America, Coral Gables is a must-see stop when in Miami. Up-scale shops with an outdoor Florida feel welcomes shoppers at the Shops at Merrick Park. Downtown Coral Gables has revamped its famous Miracle Mile and Giralda Plaza as a pedestrian-friendly oasis where shoppers can dine outside in the many foodie destinations or shop around town.”
And if all that isn’t enough, Coral Gables is also home to the , a unique aquatic facility that is enjoyed by a great many locals and visitors alike. The City of Coral Gables told us: “The Venetian Pool is the only 820,000-gallon pool in the U.S. fed with cool spring water daily, featuring two waterfalls and coral caves in a magical setting. Formed from a rock quarry in 1923, the Venetian Pool is a favourite attraction to visit and is included in the National Register of Historic Places. Call for a schedule of hours and admission rates at 305-460-5306. Located at 2701 DeSoto Boulevard.”
Fresh Fruit at Robert Is Here
For those that want to engage in a truly authentic Miami experience, picking up some fresh fruit at the beloved local attraction known as is an absolute must. Starting off as a simple roadside fruit stand, Robert Is Here has since grown into a popular tourist destination, offering live music, picnic tables, and, of course, delicious fresh fruit. Robert Is Here kindly spoke to us about what makes them so special:
“We are family run and we strive to make sure every customer leaves satisfied. We cut fruit for free, we help pick the fruit out, we ship home anywhere in the US, and we've even helped jump-start batteries or fill empty gas tanks when people get stuck near our store. We truly care about the community here and we donate to most local schools and school clubs all the way up to Miami. People new to visiting us can expect a wide variety of produce throughout the year, and when any of our fruits are in season we have plenty on display. If we don't have it or grow it, we can get it or find it for you most of the time.”
Azucar Ice Cream Company
With the beach setting and fantastic weather, enjoying some top-notch ice cream while in Miami is surely a must, and there is no better place to do so than at . The team at Azucar Ice Cream are truly passionate about their craft and are able to offer customers a whole host of creative to help them cool down on a hot Miami day. To help paint the picture further of what’s on offer, Azucar Ice Cream Company told us:
“Azucar Ice Cream is an authentic cultural experience! Our ice creams are made daily with a lot of love. The flavours are inspired by Cuban favourites. We acquire our fruits and vegetables in Homestead, Florida from farmers that harvest the fruits with care.
“People visiting the store will get a real sense of what fruits really taste like. The store has the ‘Sabor’ of Cuba. We trademarked a flavour called ‘Abuela Maria’, which is guava, cream cheese and Maria crackers in vanilla ice cream!”
Eat and drink in Coconut Grove
Image credit: Robert Sullivan
One Miami neighbourhood that must be visited during your Miami holiday is known as and it’s a location that is as attractive as its name suggests. Founded in 1873 by pioneers, artists, and adventurers, Coconut Grove is like an oasis within the city and boasts a charming atmosphere that won’t fail to delight. This laid-back corner of Miami is replete with galleries, cafes, boutique stores, and gourmet restaurants, providing visitors with plenty to see and do. Exuding a certain bohemian flair, Coconut Grove is a superb spot for a top-notch meal and drink during the evening.
There are many superb locations to choose from but one such spot that has to be mentioned is . Established in 1969, it is one of the most respected restaurants in Miami and has even appeared on its fair share of films and TV shows (including Miami Vice!). This waterfront bar is a truly peaceful location to enjoy a cocktail, delicious seafood, and an eclectic mix of live Caribbean music and popular hits.
And for other attractions to visit in Coconut Grove, , the go-to resource for all things Miami tourism, recommends the , a National Historic Landmark built in the early 20th century. Speaking to us, Suzie Sponder, director of media relations for Europe at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau said: “An extravagant European-style estate set in the funky Coconut Grove neighbourhood, Vizcaya is a key cultural hub in Miami where visitors can learn about its interesting history, as well as the tropical native vegetation in its spectacular gardens.”
Enjoy art and culture in Wynwood
Image credit: Wynwood BID/Mary Beth Koeth
is known as the arts district of Miami and, as such, this vibrant neighbourhood should be your go-to destination in order to ensconce oneself in Miami’s artistic culture. Home to a number of intriguing galleries, including the Rubell Family Collection (more on this below), Wynwood is the urban core of Miami and has seen its once neglected areas restored into myriad innovative businesses that you can see thriving today. The impressive street art will be instantly noticeable upon arrival and with the help of the – where thousands of visitors arrive to enjoy the best of Miami’s art scene – Wynwood has become recognised as a premier artistic destination. Throw in top bars, antique shops, and wonderful artisanal eateries, and Wynwood is a neighbourhood that demands to be explored during your Miami adventure.
We asked the team at Wynwood why they believe the area is becoming increasingly popular for travellers: “More and more visitors are venturing beyond the beach to experience Wynwood’s unique arts, culture, and nightlife offerings. The former industrial district is located in the geographic heart of Miami, making it easy to get to, and it sets itself apart with the highest concentration of street art in America, award-winning bars and restaurants and unique local retailers. The district’s laid-back, unpretentious vibe is another reason why visitors from near and far continue to make Wynwood an essential part of their Miami travel plans.”
And for things to look forward to seeing and highlights of visiting, Wynwood told us: “Wynwood has something for visitors of all stripes – art lovers, foodies, fashion gurus and beer enthusiasts, alike. As visitors walk through the district, they’ll discover street art at every turn. An ever-changing line-up of colourful murals covers the walls of the low-rise warehouse buildings that dominate the district’s urban landscape. In between snapping photos in front of the murals, Wynwood visitors can dine at local artisanal eateries like or , sip craft beer at one of four breweries, or see what the neighbourhood’s eclectic mix of retailers has to offer.”
Rubell Family Collection Museum
The (referenced above) is a contemporary arts foundation that was established in 1964 with exhibits starting within its 45,000 square foot Wynwood facility (once belonging to the DEA) in 1993. With a constantly expanding collection of modern art, the Rubell Family Collection today boasts one of the world’s largest privately owned and publicly accessible contemporary collections. Featuring a number of renowned artists from across the globe, as well as acquiring and exhibiting exciting work from emerging artists, modern art lovers will be delighted during their visit to the museum. Presenting a number of enthralling thematic exhibitions each year that often travel to other museums around the world, the Rubell Family Collection Museum is a special place to be.
Waterfront dining at the Rusty Pelican
Image credit: Rusty Pelican
With the beautiful ocean views available and cool sea breeze, it would be a shame not to take advantage and enjoy a delightful waterfront meal at a top restaurant like the . Located on Rickenbacker Marina, the Rusty Pelican offers unmatched views of Miami’s waters, a sophisticated dining environment, and contemporary cuisine to delight your palate. The innovative chef at the Rusty Pelican, Jim Pastor, gave us his opinion on what makes his restaurant such a top dining spot in Miami:
“The Rusty Pelican is an iconic waterfront dining destination overlooking the downtown Miami skyline. The world-class wine program was curated by internationally renowned Master Sommelier Michael Jordan and it pairs perfectly with my elevated comfort food menu. There’s something for everyone - fresh seafood and raw bar selections, the signature 16 oz. bone-in rib eye and Niman ranch bone-in 20 oz. pork chop, unique garden-fresh salads, sushi and house-made pasta. The craft cocktails, created by Head Mixologist Oscar Amaya, are perfect to enjoy with friends as well!”
If this all sounds like a can’t-miss Miami experience, make sure to note down chef Jim Pastor’s top dishes to try upon visiting: “Some of my favourite menu items are the Boar Shank and Grilled Herb Marinated Octopus. I love the Boar Shank because it’s unique - it’s not a common dish to find on menus in the Miami market. I think the octopus is particularly noteworthy and will exceed expectations with unique components like crispy sunchokes and squid ink emulsion.”
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
Image credit: Frost Science
Miami really is a city that has it all, so it should come as no surprise that there is also a pretty spectacular science museum to engage your intellectual curiosity. , otherwise known as Frost Science, offers visitors an incredibly immersive experience that encompasses spectacular interactive exhibits and hands-on displays that run the entire gamut of scientific fields such as physics, chemistry, and biology.
Frost Science was established in 1950 and today entertains new guests and returning visitors alike with its continually fresh themes and exhibits. Highlighting what makes this marvellous scientific museum a must-visit, Frost Science told us:
“The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is a space unlike any other. Located in Downtown Miami's Museum Park, Frost Science has six floors of spectacular vistas and interactive moments, including a 360-degree view of Miami, a captivating three-level aquarium, a 250-seat planetarium, an interactive LED dance platform in the Baptist Health South Florida Gallery, traditional science exhibitions and so much more.”
And regarding the specifics of what visitors can look forward to seeing, Frost Science said: “Frost Science’s goal is to deliver a science experience for everyone, regardless of age or background. Our state-of-the-art planetarium offers three different shows that touch on subjects ranging from space to the human body - and everything in between. The three-level aquarium allows visitors to see and interact with species from the Gulf Stream and Coral Reef habitats, as well as the Everglades. Our permanent exhibition Design Lab: Engineering presents visitors with the challenges engineers face while putting their critical thinking skills to the test in a laboratory setting. Our other permanent exhibit, Feathers to the Stars, allows guests to explore all the facets of flight, from feathered dinosaurs to rocket ships. And then we have multiple travelling exhibitions rotating inside the institution throughout the year, giving guests a fresh and exciting experience with each visit. They’ll never see the same exact thing twice!”
Explore Little Havana
Suzie Sponder of Miami and the Beaches, when speaking to us about the joys of visiting Miami, explained that stopping by Little Havana is an absolute must: “One of the best ways to experience an authentic Miami is to head over to the Cuban heart the city in Little Havana where you can learn about immigration to the city, watch first-hand the local production of cigars or soak up the atmosphere with a Mojito.”
Miami has a significant Cuban population and thriving culture running through its heart, and the epicentre of Miami’s Cuban influence can be found in the area known as . This was the neighbourhood that became home to many Cuban refugees that came to settle in the United States and is still today a vibrant cultural hub in Miami. Little Havana is an essential stop for those wanting to explore the city to the fullest, and with its pulsating restaurant scene, exciting open-air social areas, and sumptuous speciality food shops, it’s not hard to see why. Cuban culture is incredibly distinctive and the Latin music that can be heard in Little Havana can’t fail to lift the spirit. For incredible Cuban food, music, and even a spot of dominos in Domino Park (a tradition among older Cubans), discovering Little Havana will surely be a highlight of your trip.
And to explore the area with those truly in the know, linking up with folks like would be a shrewd move indeed. For a full guide to the area, including , make sure to visit this eminently helpful resource.
Live music at Ball & Chain
When in Little Havana there are a great number of spots that should be visited but none more so than the incredibly popular . A recreation of a 1930s venue, Ball & Chain is a bar and lounge and is also a jazz and salsa hotspot that is the place to be for fantastic live music, great drinks, and immaculate food. This world-famous nightlife destination will prove to be a sublime way to spend an evening in Miami, and with a plethora of exciting events throughout the year – including live salsa and jazz – Ball & Chain is a bar experience like no other and one that you will be looking back on with fond memories for many years to come. On the special nature of an evening at Ball & Chain, the venue told us:
“What makes Ball & Chain so unique is the deep and rich history behind it. Once you walk through our doors, you can feel that nostalgia and authenticity. We wanted to recreate the live music venue as it was in 1935 so our guests will feel transported to a different time, from the music to the décor and overall atmosphere.
“We are huge supporters of local musicians and we have live music at Ball & Chain daily from noon-6pm as well as Grammy-nominated bands on nights and weekends. Our food menu is comprised of modern-day twists on Cuban classics and all of our craft cocktails are inspired by Cuban influences and culture, for example, our Calle Ocho Old Fashioned and signature Mojito.”
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Image credit: Jason Lopez
For those who would like to take a relaxing look at Miami’s tropical nature, a visit to is the perfect venue. Dedicated to conserving the planet’s tropical plants and presenting their beauty to the world, Fairchild is one of the premier conservation and education-based gardens anywhere on earth and a true leader in the field. While you should certainly take our word for it, here is what Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden themselves told us about their wonderful Miami attraction:
“Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is an 83-acre gem tucked away on Old Cutler Road. We are best known for our palm, cycads and tropical plant collections. It’s an escape to the Tropics, museum of plants, and an institution with awesome education initiatives (the , our collaboration with to grow plants in space, the Fairchild Challenge and ).”
And explaining what visitors can look forward to enjoying upon their , the team at Fairchild told us: “Guests can hop on a 45-minute free narrated tram tour and explore the grounds with our experts. Tram guides will give a brief tour of Fairchild’s history, plants, and mission. Popular exhibits include the indoor exotic butterfly garden – the Wings of the Tropics Conservatory, our Tropical Plant Conservatory and Rare Plant House, and the William F. Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion. Walk through our Richard H. Simons Rainforest and check out our Orchid Odyssey exhibit – a spectacular display of orchids nestled in our outdoor rainforest exhibit. Don’t forget to snap a selfie at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Palm Glade – a gorgeous long, narrow view across the Garden’s landscape, featuring two large lakes.”
For a piece of Florida history and a slice of Miami’s idyllic natural environs, a trip to is one that you won’t want to miss out on during your stay. The Deering Estate exists to preserve the 1920s-era estate of Charles Deering (a preservationist, environmentalist, and art collector, among other things) and is situated on the picturesque coast of South Dade. With its mangrove forests, salt marshes, coastal dunes, and tropical Rockland, the 440-acre estate is certainly something to behold. Populated with historical buildings dating back to the late 1800s, and an Indian burial ground from the 16th Century, visitors are welcomed by Deering Estate to explore the breath-taking grounds, enjoy the exhibits at its Artist Village, and discover its secrets through fascinating education tours.
Telling us more about this fascinating location, the team at Deering Estate told us: “The cultural asset and historic site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, serves as a 21st-century museum, an international cultural and ecological field station, and a premier South Florida attraction. The Deering Estate is also designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and part of the Atlantic Flyway. The 2,000 mile long Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail runs through the Deering Estate, linking our natural habitats to nearly 500 other sites acknowledged for their bird wildlife viewing and educational opportunities.”
In terms of what visitors can look forward to seeing and doing, the Deering Estate said: “Guests can explore the Estate grounds, historic homes and natural areas. Guided and self-guided tours are available. The oldest existing buildings on-site are those built by the Richmond Family and Charles Deering: Richmond Cottage (c. 1896), Carriage House (c. 1916), Power House (c. 1916), Pump House (c. 1916), Chinese Bridge (c.1916), Boat Turning Basin (c. 1918), and Stone House (c. 1922).
“Visitors can also enjoy breath-taking views of Biscayne Bay with manatees visiting in the boat basin. A variety of tours, learning programs, special events and exhibits are offered throughout the year. Speciality tours include bird and butterfly walks, night hikes, sunrise and moonlight canoe tours, and more!”
is one of the most popular attractions in all of Miami and should certainly be visited during your time in the area. Located on Watson Island, Jungle Island can be reached in minutes from South Beach and Downtown Miami, and is an attraction that will delight visitors old and young. Comprised of exciting interactive experiences, fascinating shows, and untold exotic wildlife, Jungle Island is a true zoological treat. Jungle Island is currently closed (as of April 2018) due to Hurricane Irma but is due for a grand re-opening in spring 2018, unveiling a whole host of improvements in the process.
Speaking to us about the attraction, the team at Jungle Island said: “What makes Jungle Island special is that it has such a rich history in the community as well as a bright future. The park is currently undergoing a transformation into an eco-adventure park, all while keeping true to its mission to provide guests with an epic journey through nature, animal discovery and new adventurous experiences.”
Returning to the marvellous wildlife attractions of this exciting Floridian city, is a setting where friends and families can enjoy seeing a tremendous range of animals within habitats that are close to their natural setting. Also known as the Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens, this title better paints the picture of what’s on offer as Zoo Miami is indeed more than a zoo, with its open-air exhibits and 750 acres of land. With more than 500 animal species, 100-plus exhibits, shows, feedings, and being the only sub-tropical zoo in the continental United States, Zoo Miami thrives as a must-visit Miami attraction. South Florida’s unique climate is perfect for helping keep a marvellous variety of animals from around the globe, and with the residents grouped according to their geographic territories, Zoo Miami presents a real safari vibe for those that visit.
Zoological Wildlife Foundation
Image credit: Zoological Wildlife Foundation
Miami is brimming with fascinating wildlife and contains a number of great locations in which to experience it. One such place is the – an organisation which dedicates itself to educating the public about endangered species and rare animals. Beyond being a must-visit attraction to enjoy in Miami, the foundation plays an important role in raising public awareness on the preservation of these beautiful creatures. This five-acre zoo offers visitors an intimate wildlife experience, with guided tours that allow guests to get up close and personal with a great variety of animals. With educational commentary by guides, and the chance to feed camels and toucans (among other stunning animals), it’s clear why the Zoological Wildlife Foundation is so well thought of.
Everglades National Park
Image credit: NPS Photo J Roark
Those that have seen images of Miami on film and TV will be very aware of its iconic Everglades. The covers a staggering 1.5 million acres of swampland that truly has to be seen to be believed. Home to all sorts of intriguing wildlife, including alligators, snakes, and numerous birds, this national park provides the perfect setting for those interested in observing wildlife in its natural setting. With myriad walking trails and boardwalks to facilitate viewing, and exciting airboats available to traverse the waters, Everglades National Park will be an experience unlike any other you’ve come across. The unparalleled landscape of this World Heritage Site is also available for a number of fun activities, from canoeing and fishing to biking and camping.
The park comes highly recommended by Suzie Sponder of Miami and the Beaches, who told us: “Often compared to a grassy, slow-moving river, the Everglades is made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species. For an added adventure, take an airboat ride at one of the many attractions on the outskirts of the park.”
Another of the city’s most well-known and thrilling attractions is . Offering world-class sea life exhibits and wildlife experiences, the aquarium is a true family favourite that delights visitors from near and far. Miami Seaquarium puts on impressive daily shows that display the incredible behaviours of dolphins, killer whales, and other stunning ocean mammals. Combining the displays with massive observation tanks that are home to a wide variety of tropical fish, alligators, and sharks, family members young and old will be able to enjoy a terrific time at one of Miami’s premier attractions. Exhibits include Penguin Isle, where visitors can meet the feathered creatures first hand, and even the opportunity to hop in the water with dolphins and sea lions for an unforgettable Miami experience.
Summary of everything you need to see and do in Miami
Image credit: The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors’ Bureau
“With the year-round good weather, top-ranked beaches and the sparkling waters of Biscayne Bay edging a cosmopolitan metropolis right by the cruise port, Miami is an enticing destination, with cultural and historical attractions aplenty.” - Suzie Sponder, Director of Media Relations Europe, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
As you can surely see, there is so much to see and do in Miami, from top wildlife, fascinating art districts and famous bars to enthralling museums and cherished local establishments. To help you assemble your Miami to-do list, make sure to note down a few of the above, or simply refer to the below list of all the wonderful attractions and locations mentioned:
- Miami Beach
- Coral Gables and the Venetian Pool
- Fresh fruit at Robert Is Here
- Azucar Ice Cream Company
- Eat and drink in Coconut Grove
- Enjoy art and culture in Wynwood
- Rubell Family Collection Museum
- Waterfront dining at the Rusty Pelican
- Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
- Explore Little Havana
- Live music at Ball & Chain
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
- Deering Estate
- Jungle Island
- Zoo Miami
- Zoological Wildlife Foundation
- Everglades National Park
- Miami Seaquarium
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