Miami, Florida is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world. With its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and diverse mix of cultures and communities, it draws millions of visitors each year. Whether you are looking for thrilling outdoor adventures or relaxing days by the ocean, Miami has something for everyone.
As a tourist destination, Miami is definitely worth a visit. Whether you are interested in historical architecture, lively nightlife, or local cuisine, there are endless opportunities to explore and enjoy all that this wonderful city has to offer. So if you’re looking for a fun and unforgettable vacation destination that won’t break the bank, be sure to put Miami on your list!
1. Art Deco District
Recommended by Debbie from WorldAdventurists.com
When you are visiting Miami, you will not want to miss the brightly colored and historic buildings within the Miami Art Deco District. Declared a U.S. historic district in May 1979, the buildings have been well-kept and have gorgeous interiors.
The buildings are mainly from the 1920s and 1930s. However, you can also find buildings from the Mediterranean Revival (the early 1920s) and Miami Modern (1940s). Miami has the most Art Deco buildings in the world!
To find these buildings, wander within the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, along Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Lincoln Road.
Take a Walking Tour
A walking tour is an excellent way to learn about the buildings and to make sure that you do not miss seeing the most impressive ones. If exploring them is not enough for you, find one to stay in.
The Shepley Hotel was built back in 1938 and you can rest your head in rooms that mix art deco with contemporary design. Staying at the Shepley also means that you’re only a quick four-minute walk from the gorgeous Miami beach.
It is also important to note that seeing the art deco buildings lit up a night is a whole different atmosphere. It is worth taking the time to explore both during the day and after dark.
2. Wynwood Walls
An outdoor graffiti museum, the Wynwood Walls feature murals by artists from all over the world. You can find the Wynwood Walls between 25th and 26th streets at 2520 NW Second Avenue. The graffiti museum is free to the public, however walking and golf cart tours are available if you are interested in learning more about the Miami street art scene.
There are multiple mural and art festivals held here each year; allowing artists from around the country, and the globe, to express themselves on the sides of buildings and structures. It’s quite a sight to see!
Interesting fact: Many of the murals don’t last long as they are tagged by graffiti taggers. What’s the difference between a tagger and a graffiti artist? Well, a tagger tends to only leave their signature, while a graffiti artist composes larger pieces of artwork.
Next time you are in Miami, be sure to check out the Wynwood Walls!
3. South Beach
Recommended by Veronika of TravelGeekery.com
When visiting Miami, you shouldn’t leave out South Beach. Located on the southern part of a barrier island off the coast of Miami, the South Beach belongs to the prettiest beach areas around. The long sandy beach stretches for about 2.5 miles. To the North, South beach then turns into Miami beach.
Apart from swimming, enjoying the crystal clear water, and sunbathing, you can observe the big container ships entering the Miami port. There are many colorful watch guards lining the shore and making sure everyone stays safe. If you don’t mind waking up early, it’s a wonderful spot to observe the sunrise.
Nightlife and Dining
At South Beach, it’s not only about the beach time per se. The area is known for its nightlife and dining. Beautiful pastel-colored Art Deco buildings, of which one is the famous Versace villa, adorn Ocean Drive and the streets crossing it.
If you like shopping, you’ll find plenty of outlets, souvenir shops, and cute hippie stores. Keeping your eyes peeled on the walls, you can come across several magnificent murals and street art pieces.
You can virtually spend a few days at South Beach and still find enough things to do. It’s easy to get around Miami and its beaches even without a car. The public transport works flawlessly, there are even free buses riding along the beaches, and with ridesharing options, you’ll have no problems getting around.
4. Biscayne National Park
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One of the best things to do in Miami is to visit Biscayne National Park. The park is about 55 minutes south of downtown Miami. Biscayne National Park is unique in that most of the park is water – about 95%.
Getting to Biscayne National Park
The best way to see Biscayne National Park is by boat. There is a small visitor center and a few walking paths nearby, but the heart of the park is found by exploring on the water. If you don’t have a kayak, boat, or paddleboard, the best way to see the park is on a tour from the Biscayne National Institute.
Take a Tour
The Institute offers a large variety of tours making it easy to find a tour to match your interests. The Heritage of Biscayne Cruise is a 3.5-hour tour and is great for young families or those not wanting to get in the water. Your tour will take you around to some of the keys in the park and you will get an hour or so to explore one of the keys.
Get in the Water
If you want to spend time in the water, the snorkeling in the park is fantastic. Biscayne National Park is one of the best places to go snorkeling in the United States. There are healthy coral reefs as well as shipwrecks that are fun to explore. There is no snorkeling from the beach. Snorkeling is only allowed from a boat.
5. Little Havana
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What makes Miami perfect to visit isn’t just the perfect weather or the beautiful beaches but the fact that here you’ll find people of many cultures, thus making it a destination where you’ll find various cuisines and a great many things to do as well.
Little Havana, located in Miami, is one such example. You’ll find numerous restaurants here serving authentic Cuban fare. You’ll also find many little workshops where people hand-roll authentic cigars, and you can watch them while they do so! Purchasing a few are highly recommended if you like smoking! Centred around Calle Ocho (Southwest Eighth Street) you’ll also find rum bars, art galleries and music centres here.
However my favourite pastime in Little Havana was watching the local elders play dominoes at Maximo Gomez Park. While they invite watchers to join them, it is fun to just watch them playing.
If hungry after all the excitement, an authentic Cuban sandwich made with roast pork, ham, cheese, pickles and mustard is highly recommended from any of the delis in the area. After which head to Azucar Ice cream company to taste some of the freshest Ice cream made from tropical fruits in the area.
Irrespective of whether you spend a day or 2 days in Miami, make sure to pay a visit to Little Havana!
6. Versace Mansion
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Tucked away in one of the busiest streets of Miami is where you’ll find the famed Versace Mansion. If you don’t know it’s there, you might easily walk by it or mistake it for any boutique hotel–which it is.
The famous building, once owned by fashion designer Gianni Versace, sits in the middle of Ocean Drive on Miami Beach. Versace spent millions on the renovations, which include the thousands of imported Italian tiles that make up the iconic pool.
The entrance to the Versace Mansion happens to be the location of Gianni’s murder, which was portrayed in American Crime Story. After his death, the house was bought and eventually turned into a boutique hotel, now known as the Villa Casa Casuarina.
The hotel group bought a lot of the original furniture at auction and maintained the interiors closely to the Versace style. A lot of the walls are hand painted and there’s lots of intricate tile work throughout the hotel.
Book a Reservation
To get a glimpse of the world of Versace, you’ll need to book a stay at the hotel, or make a reservation for lunch or dinner. While a reservation at the restaurant doesn’t allow you to tour the house, you do get to see the outdoor courtyard and the famous pool.
7. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
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One of the most memorable and beautiful private homes converted into a museum is Vizcaya in Miami. A living museum that was once the home of the Deering family of the Deering McCormick fortune in Coconut Grove, an exclusive area of Miami.
The estate was once rugged wild countryside and converted into a stunning Italian styled villa with magnificent gardens. There’s even a magnificent ocean entry area with a sunken cement ship and Venetian style docking poles that really give the Italian look and vibe along the Italianate villa and gardens.
Built in the early 20th century with gorgeous Renaissance gardens that showcase the entire property, there are over 32 decorated rooms to explore along with 10 acres of manicured gardens to visit on the estate.
Built to resemble an Italianate Renaissance villa with a French inspired Renaissance garden, the entire property is stunning to see how this came into being and taking a tour, you really see how this amazing property was developed from the ground up. Even incorporating new technology like a rotary dialed telephone in the home.
If you love visiting historic homes, then check out Vizcaya in Miami and be prepared to be impressed and also have a wonderful lunch in their gift shop venue which is a nice experience to have with the visit.
8. Pérez Art Museum
Recommended by Kenny of KnycxJourneying.com
Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) was founded in 1984 and it has been Florida’s most prestigious art museum. The museum is renovated and relocated to the Museum Park Downtown in 2013 with the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science as a neighbor. The facility is opened in 2017, making both of them a great place for families to visit during their vacation.
The museum has a modern and sleek exterior now. Overlooking the Biscayne Bay, the art galleries focus on an impressive art collection between the 20th and 21st century, from the American, Western European, African, and artists. The permanent collection has over 1,800 pieces of artwork, including art pieces from artists like Kiki Smith, Joseph Cornell, James Rosenquist, Frank Stella, Purvis Young, and Kehinde Wiley.
A great amount of effort was paid to support the development of young and up-and-coming artists in the region. Besides, the museum has dedicated space to showcase large-scale installation art pieces that won’t usually be able to shown in other museums.
Since the opening of the museum, PAMM has received a record number of visitors of over 150,000 in the first four months. It is the most-visited museum in the region, and one of the best things to do in Miami.
9. Kayaking with Manatees
Recommended by Vicky of BuddyTheTravelingMonkey.com
One of the top things to do in Miami during your vacation is to go kayaking with manatees on Virginia Key. Virginia Key is a small island just off of Miami; it takes about 15 minutes to get there from Downtown Miami. On the island, Virginia Key Outdoor Center (VKOC) offers kayak rentals and can take you on fun tours around the island.
The best place to see manatees on Virginia Key is by the lagoon where you launch your kayaks. They love the warm water and seagrass there, so you can see them year round. They move slowly but come up for air so if you are patient, you’ll see their noses and hear a puff of air. It’s important to remember not to disturb them, though. Don’t paddle too close to them and try not to make noise or splash your paddle.
You can also kayak out of the lagoon and around the north side of the island. From there you’ll see some pretty great views of the Miami skyline. After you’re done kayaking, you can also spend some time mountain biking on Virginia Key. VKOC also rents bikes and the Virginia Key Bicycle Club built and maintains an impressive bike course.
10. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is one of the world’s finest botanical gardens, renowned for its impressive collection of tropical plants and ecosystems. Located in Miami, Florida, this treasure trove of diverse flora is committed to preserving and studying the rich variety of vegetation that exists on our planet.
From towering trees to delicate orchids, this historic garden provides a living record of the Earth’s incredible diversity. Whether you are an avid horticulturalist or simply enjoy exploring beautiful landscapes, a visit to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget.
11. Bayside Marketplace
Bayside Marketplace is one of the top tourist destinations in the city. With its bustling waterfront location and wide array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, Bayside draws thousands of visitors each year from all over the world. Whether you are looking for souvenirs to take home or just want to enjoy some delicious local cuisine, this popular marketplace has something for everyone to experience. Whether you come to browse the artisan crafts or catch a live show on one of the outdoor stages, you are sure to have a great time at Bayside Marketplace. So if you are looking for an exciting day out in Miami, don’t miss this one-of-a-kind destination!
12. Day Trip to Key West
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One of the best things to do in Miami during your vacation is to take a day trip to Key West. You can enjoy beautiful beaches, amazing seafood, and the unique charm of Key West in just one day during your visit to this colorful city.
The Miami to Key West drive itself is an experience in its own right. The Overseas Highway runs over 42 bridges, which means you’ll get a fantastic view of the Florida coastline as you approach Key West. Once you reach Key West, there are several things to do and see in this scenic destination.
Things to Do
The most popular thing to do is visit Duval Street, which is where most of the island’s bars, restaurants, and shops are located. You’ll also want to check out some other attractions such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. This museum is where the author lived for many years, and it features several of his original works and personal belongings.
Another popular attraction in Key West is the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S.A. This is a historical buoy that marks the southernmost point in the continental USA, and taking a photo here is an absolute must.
And if you’re looking for some beautiful beaches to relax on, head over to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Be sure to check out the fort before hitting the beach.
When it’s time for lunch, head over to the Southern Most House Hotel and indulge in a lobster pizza. Ask to sit outside so you can enjoy the view of the ocean.
13. Everglades Day Trip
Recommended by James of ParksCollecting.com
Everglades National Park is huge. It covers 1.5-million acres of wetlands, making it the largest subtropical wilderness in the US. It’s impossible to visit it all in one day, but you can definitely see the highlights in an easy day trip from Miami.
About the Park
The park is made up of coastal mangroves, grassy marshes and pine flatwoods. It’s one of the prime places to see alligators and taking an airboat trip through the marshlands is a must-do activity.
There are three operators who conduct airboat tours, all about a 40-minute drive from Miami South Beach.
Speeding through the grasslands on a classic airboat while keeping an eye out to spot some alligators is an experience you won’t want to miss.
Take a Tour
Another 15 minutes further west is the Shark Valley section of the national park. Here, you can take a 2-hour narrated tram ride that does a 15-mile loop through the River of Grass.
The tour includes a stop at a 45-foot-high observation deck for some beautiful panoramic views of the Everglades. It’s also possible to rent a bike and cycle the route for more leisurely exploration.
There are also a couple of short interpretive trails in Shark Valley, and the park rangers often conduct guided tours of the area.
A day trip to the Everglades is a highlight of any trip to Miami.
When it comes to vacationing in Miami, Florida, there are endless possibilities for things to see and do. Whether you want to spend your time relaxing on the beach or exploring the vibrant city center, there is something for everyone in this vibrant coastal metropolis.
The natural beauty of the city is legendary, and its long stretches of sandy beaches make it one of the most popular destinations on the East Coast. But beyond just lounging by the water, Miami also boasts a world-renowned arts and culture scene, as well as world-class shopping and dining experiences.
For those who are looking for an action-packed trip full of dazzling sights and exciting activities, no other place can compare to Miami.
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Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and escape! Alex’s mission is to help peopl find the perfect vacation destination.