Glorious beaches, world-class nightlife and unending shopping opportunities are just a few of the things that Miami is known for. The city is blessed with warm weather, and lies alongside the sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. Long a popular tourist destination, it has everything you could ever want from a city for a Florida vacation.
Visiting Miami is more than just visiting a single city. It is a chance to explore several unique neighborhoods, each with a distinct style, culture and architecture. From the Art Deco buildings on Miami Beach to the colorful homes in Little Havana, there is an incredible array of tourist attractions in Miami for you to admire and enjoy.
With so much things to do in Miami, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Magic City attracts the second-highest number of international visitors in the States after New York City.
If you’re after some sun, sea, and sand then head to idyllic Haulover Beach. Set on a shoal between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, it is noted for its beautiful blue waters, soft welcoming sands, and a stretch of clothing-optional shoreline.
Much less crowded than South Beach, it has plenty of outdoor activities and amenities to enjoy, as well as a large urban park. Besides picnic areas and playgrounds, are tennis courts, a marina and a golf course, with Haulover Beach lying just forty minutes drive northeast of the center.
Located just to the north of Downtown Miami is the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Founded in 1949, it occupies a state-of-the-art site in Museum Park beside Biscayne Bay.
A fun and family-friendly place, its extensive exhibitions have everything, from insects and dinosaurs to science, technology, and space flight. Aside from its fascinating exhibits, the interactive museum also boasts a gigantic aquarium and a planetarium with fascinating 3D films that take you to the outer edges of the cosmos.
Just south of the excellent science museum you can find the bustling Bayside Marketplace, home to all kinds of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Set along Miami’s waterfront, it is one of the most popular places to shop, dine or enjoy some entertainment in the city.
In total, it has over 150 boutiques, bars, and eateries, with countless kiosks and carts also dotted about. Adding to its casual ambience are the superb street performers and entertainment acts that perform daily, and the magnificent vistas of both the bay and marina.
An awesome neighborhood to explore, Miami Design District lies just north of downtown, next to many of the city’s other happening areas. It is known for its fabulous high-end shopping and dining scene, with upmarket stores such as Prada, Saint Laurent, and Dior, plus hip eateries dotted about.
This delightful district is also packed with art galleries, antique dealers, fashion boutiques, and sparkling showrooms. Many creative services and architectural firms are also based in the Design District.
Jungle Island is an amazing eco-adventure park that lies in the heart of Miami, between downtown and South Beach. While its incredible animal shows, exhibits, and encounters are the main draw, it also has pretty green spaces, a pristine beach, and epic views of the city’s skyline.
First opened in 1936, the park now offers immersive experiences where guests can meet capybaras, lemurs, and sloths among other animals. Amidst the lush vegetation, you can spy exotic birds, giraffes, and gorillas with displays and demonstrations teaching you all about the animals.
There are also fun ziplines, climbing walls, and escape rooms to try out.
Occupying the southern third of Key Biscayne is the serene wilderness of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Besides offering all kinds of outdoor activities, it has beautiful beaches and pristine nature for visitors to enjoy; some interesting historic sights are also scattered about.
Although it lies just fifteen minutes drive from the center of town, the park feels a world away with its tangled mangroves and wonderful white sands. In addition to cycling and hiking, visitors can go swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling. There’s also a small museum, visitor center, and the impressive Cape Florida Lighthouse.
Aside from iconic Ocean Drive, the main place to shop and dine in Miami Beach is Lincoln Road which runs through the center. Lined by amazing architecture with palms, fountains, and flowers, the busy pedestrian street has a very lively feel thanks to its numerous street performers.
In total, it boasts over 200 boutiques and stores, as well as countless cafes, eateries, and bars with art galleries, a concert hall, and a cinema complex also on offer.
Thanks to its eye-catching design, and thriving cultural and commercial life, Lincoln Road is widely considered one of the best shopping streets in the States.
If you’re looking to relax and unwind then you can’t beat taking a dip in the gorgeous Venetian Pool—a unique place to swim, soak and splash about. Unlike any other pool in the country, its turquoise waters occupy a former coral rock quarry, and is surrounded by rock formations and waterfalls.
Turned into a pool and tourist attraction in 1924, the Venetian-style lagoon is overlooked by two large historic towers and has charming porticos, palms, and grottos. Fed from an underground aquifer, its inviting waters are one of the most memorable places to cool off in town and lies only twenty minutes drive from the center.
Half an hour’s drive west of downtown you can find the enormous Dolphin Mall, home to numerous shops, stores, and eateries. The largest outlet shopping center in the area, it has everything you could ever want or need, and is just as popular with locals as with tourists.
Since opening in 2001, it has expanded considerably and now has over 240 outlets with Burlington, H&M and Old Navy among its major anchor stores. Aside from all its shops and fashion outlets, the massive mall has a wide range of excellent restaurants with a huge on-site cinema.
Lying in between Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive is another of Miami’s scenic streets, and most popular shopping and dining destinations: the atmospheric Española Way. Modelled after romantic Mediterranean villages, the palm tree-lined pedestrian street is a treat to stroll along and has a very quaint and rustic look and feel.
Lining the cobblestone street are charming cafes and pretty pastel-colored buildings that sport flower-coated facades. Besides shopping at the boutiques, visitors are spoiled for choice with superb restaurants that serve food from all around the world.
Taking you back in time to Old World Europe, Española Way is certainly not to be missed for all that it has to offer.
Just over an hour’s drive southwest of Miami is one of the most unique and impressive ecosystems in the States: the enormous Everglades. Known as the ‘River of Grass’ by its former Native American inhabitants, the massive tropical wetlands sprawl across much of South Florida.
Its masses of mangroves, marshes, and forests are home to rare and exotic animals, such as the American crocodile and Florida panther. While hiking along the national park’s trails or kayaking and motorboating its remote waterways, visitors can also spy snakes, turtles, and manatees from time to time.
Another great place to see all kinds of awe-inspiring animals is the sprawling Zoo Miami, forty-five minutes drive southwest of the center. In total, its lush tropical grounds house over 3,000 animals with everything, from orangutans and elephants to rhinos, tigers and gorillas on show.
Since its founding in 1948, the zoo has been a firm favourite with locals and tourists due to its amazing educational exhibits. These focus on animals and ecosystems from as far away as Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Besides enjoying seeing animals amble about their scenic and spacious enclosures, there are also captivating collections of insects, amphibians, and reptiles to check out.
In the Coral Gables area of Miami, you’ll find the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Surrounded by the Matheson Hammock Park, the botanic garden is a fantastic place to explore on a sunny day.
In the Wings of the Tropics Conservatory, you can spot thousands of exotic and rare butterflies as well as rare tropical fish and unusual plants. Then, in the Edible Garden, you can learn about how to create your own garden at home to reap the benefits of fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables and even edible flowers. Reflect on a wonderful, memorable day at the scenic and tranquil Moos Sunken Garden.
Bayfront Park is a green urban park right in the very center of Downtown Miami. It borders the waters of Biscayne Bay, meaning that you can set off on an unbelievably scenic walk right by the blue waters. Bayfront Park is also home to a range of events and performances.
You might be lucky enough to catch a major concert one evening, or you could take a yoga class in this gorgeous spot. If you’re eager to try something new, Bayfront Park is home to a flying trapeze school, which means that you can quite literally learn the ropes with an unparalleled view!
In northern part of Key Biscayne is Crandon Park, a stunning beach park that really offers something for everyone. As the name implies, there is a gorgeous two-mile beach that is widely considered one of the best beaches in Florida. Beyond that, you can explore a wide range of ecosystems in the region.
Entirely within Crandon Park, it is possible to hike through sandy dunes, navigate around the roots of mangroves and see the surf crash into the offshore sandbar. To top it all off, there are tennis facilities, a golf course and even a large marina where visiting boats are welcomed.
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, also known as Villa Vizcaya, looks as if it could have been transported straight from Europe. Although it sits right on the shores of Biscayne Bay, the main home was built in the 1920s in the Italian Renaissance style. The main building was once a private estate, but today is houses the museum, which boasts more than 70 rooms of European art and antiques.
Just as appealing is what you can find outside, where the lavish and extensive gardens are located. Beautiful manicured flower beds, shrubs and shade trees dot the property, making it a popular place for events and weddings.
In the heart of Miami’s famous South Beach is Lummus Park Beach, an urban park in the middle of all the action. Right on the Atlantic Ocean, Lummus Park Beach is an iconic spot that has been featured in countless films, television shows and music videos.
There’s a paved pathway that runs alongside the beach, but you can also walk right across the sand and dive into the cool waters of the Atlantic. Lummus Park Beach is the ideal place to start or end a walking tour of the top attractions in Miami, and it is just steps from wonderful bars, restaurants, shops and even Art Deco architecture.
If you can’t get to Cuba, the next best place to experience Cuban cuisine, heritage, music and culture is in Little Havana. The highlight of this Miami attraction is the main drag through the district, called Calle Ocho or 8th Street.
You’ll exclusively hear Spanish being spoken, and the surrounding shops on either side of the street sell Cuban favorites. On the street is Tower Theater, an Art Deco structure that still shows movies subtitled in Spanish. Stop in at Azucar Ice Cream Company to get Cuban-inspired sweet treats like a guava sorbet.
The Miami Beach Boardwalk is perhaps the best way to walk along the coast of Miami Beach. It stretches for over three miles, and it never veers far from the coast and Miami’s most stunning beaches.
The Miami Beach Boardwalk begins at Indian Beach Park in Mid-Beach Miami, and it heads south all the way to the heart of South Beach. Eventually, the boardwalk turns to a paved walkway, but it never stops being lively, vibrant and scenic. Head there in the early morning to beat the heat and join the countless runners and cyclists starting their day with some exercise.
If you’re a fan of art, then you won’t want to miss the incredible Wynwood Walls. This enormous outdoor exhibition is a collection of street art. More than 50 artists have been involved in the exhibit, and they come from Miami as well as from around the world. You can walk to the six main buildings, each of which transformed from a warehouse to a canvas and then to a work of art.
The murals change frequently, and the whole area is pedestrian friendly. Although you can get a view from your car, your own two feet will be the best way to experience the colors and skill of this unique art form.
In the 1930s, Miami Beach grew significantly. As a result, the city boasts a staggering amount of Art Deco architecture. Since the area is known for it, existing buildings are protected and preserved, and many of the interiors reflect their historic origins.
There are more than 800 examples of Art Deco architecture in South Beach alone, so that’s the best place for a walking tour. Although guided tours are available, you can also set off on your own and look for iconic landmarks like the Plymouth or the McAlpin. Be sure to check out the Bass Museum, which offers both an impressive collection of early 20th century pieces and an impressive Art Deco exterior.
Through Southern Florida, there is a major road known as the A1A. When it passes through much of Miami, it is known as Ocean Drive, and it turns into Collins Avenue as you head toward Miami Beach. Be prepared for thousands of people in their best swimsuits, a plethora of nightlife options, access to white sand beaches and plenty of roller skating on the paved sidewalk just next to the road.
Ocean Drive is lined with trees, which means that you can stroll back and forth, sightseeing and people-watching the whole way, and still take advantage of the shade on a hot Miami day.