Things To Do in Miami, FL While on Your Beach Vacation

Miami, Florida, is one of the world’s most vibrant and exciting cities. With its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and diverse mix of cultures and communities, it draws millions of visitors each year. Whether looking for thrilling outdoor adventures or relaxing days by the ocean, Miami has something for everyone.

As a tourist destination, Miami is 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!

South Beach

South Beach in Miami, Florida
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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, South Beach belongs to the prettiest beach areas around it. 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. Many colorful watchguards are lining the shore and making sure everyone stays safe. If you don’t mind waking up early, it’s a beautiful spot to observe the sunrise.

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. You’ll find many outlets, souvenir shops, and cute hippie stores if you like shopping. Keeping your eyes peeled on the walls, you can see several magnificent murals and street art pieces.

You can spend a few days at South Beach and still find enough things to do. It’s easy to get around Miami and its beaches 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.

Art Deco District

Miami Art Deco District
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Recommended by Debbie from WorldAdventurists.com

When 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. 

A walking tour is an excellent way to learn about the buildings and ensure you do not miss seeing the most impressive ones. If exploring them is not enough, find one to stay in. The Shepley Hotel was built in 1938, and you can rest your head in rooms that mix Art Deco with contemporary design. Staying at the Shepley also means you’re only a four-minute walk from the gorgeous Miami beach.

It is also important to note that seeing the Art Deco buildings lit up at night is a different atmosphere. It is worth taking the time to explore both during the day and after dark.

Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida
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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 want to learn more about the Miami street art scene. 

Multiple mural and art festivals are held here each year, allowing artists from around the country and the globe to express themselves on the walls of buildings and structures. It’s quite a sight to see! Interesting fact: Many murals don’t last long as graffiti taggers tag them. What’s the difference between a tagger and a graffiti artist? Well, a tagger tends only to leave their signature, while a graffiti artist composes larger pieces of artwork. 

Little Havana

Little Havana, Miami
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Recommended by Lavina of ContinentHop.com

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 many things to do.

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 is highly recommended if you like smoking! Centered around Calle Ocho (Southwest Eighth Street), you’ll also find rum bars, art galleries, and music centers here.

However, my favorite 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 watch them play.

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. Afterward, head to Azucar Ice Cream Company to taste some of the freshest Ice cream made from tropical fruits in the area. Regardless of whether you spend a day or 2 days in Miami, visit Little Havana!

Versace Mansion

Versace Mansion in Miami, FL
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Recommended by Ashley of JetsetJansen.com

Tucked away in one of the busiest streets of Miami is 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 turned into a boutique hotel, now known as the Villa Casa Casuarina. The hotel group purchased much of the original furniture at auction and maintained the interiors closely to the Versace style. Many of the walls are hand-painted, and the hotel has lots of intricate tile work. 

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. 

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, FL
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Recommended by Noel of OahuTravelNow.com

Vizcaya in Miami is one of the most memorable and beautiful private homes converted into a museum. 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 a rugged, wild countryside and was converted into a stunning Italian-style villa with magnificent gardens. There’s even a magnificent ocean entry area with a sunken cement ship and Venetian-style docking poles that give the Italian look and vibe along the Italianate villa and gardens.

Built in the early 20th century with gorgeous Renaissance gardens showcasing the entire property, there are over 32 decorated rooms to explore and 10 acres of manicured gardens to visit on the estate. Built to resemble an Italian 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 know how this fantastic 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, check out Vizcaya in Miami and be prepared to be impressed. You will also have an excellent lunch in their gift shop venue, which is a pleasant experience during the visit.

Pérez Art Museum

Pérez Art Museum in Miami, Florida
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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 an excellent place for families to visit during their vacation.

The museum now has a modern and sleek exterior. Overlooking Biscayne Bay, the art galleries focus on an impressive art collection between the 20th and 21st centuries from American, Western European, African, and African 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.

Much 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 be shown in other museums. Since the museum’s opening, PAMM has received a record number of visitors, over 150,000, in the first four months. It is the most-visited museum in the region and one of the best places to explore in Miami.

Kayaking with Manatees

Florida manatee
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Recommended by Vicky of BuddyTheTravelingMonkey.com

One of the top things to do in Miami during your vacation is 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; try not to make noise or splash your paddle.

You can also kayak out of the lagoon and around the island’s north side. From there, you’ll see some incredible views of the Miami skyline. After kayaking, you can also mountain biking on Virginia Key. VKOC also rents bikes, and the Virginia Key Bicycle Club built and maintained an impressive bike course.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
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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 on our planet. This historic garden records the Earth’s incredible diversity, from towering trees to delicate orchids. Whether you are an avid horticulturalist or enjoy exploring beautiful landscapes, visiting the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will surely be an experience you will never forget.

Bayside Marketplace

Bayside Marketplace in Maimi, Florida
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Bayside Marketplace, located in the vibrant heart of Miami, is a bustling waterfront complex known for its scenic views and lively atmosphere. This open-air mall, set against the backdrop of Biscayne Bay, offers a unique shopping experience with a diverse mix of over 150 shops ranging from local boutiques to internationally recognized brands.

Visitors can enjoy different dining options, from casual eateries to upscale restaurants, many of which offer alfresco dining with picturesque views of the bay. Bayside Marketplace is not just about shopping and dining; it’s an entertainment hub. Live music and performances are a regular feature, creating a festive ambiance. For those seeking adventure, there are boat tours that provide a different perspective of Miami, showcasing the stunning skyline and the rich marine life.

Additionally, the marketplace is a starting point for many sightseeing tours, including the famous Miami Duck Tours. The combination of shopping, dining, and entertainment options makes Bayside Marketplace a must-visit destination for tourists and locals looking to experience the essence of Miami.

Biscayne National Park Day Trip

Biscayne National Park
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Recommended by Candice of CSGinger.com

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%.

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 park’s heart is found by exploring 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.

The Institute offers many tours, making finding a tour to match your interests easy. The Heritage of Biscayne Cruise is a 3.5-hour tour 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.

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.   

Day Trip to Key West

key west, florida
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Recommended by Disha of DishaDiscovers.com

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, fantastic 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 is an experience in its own right. The Overseas Highway runs over 42 bridges, so 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.

The most popular thing to do is visit Duval Street, where most of the island’s bars, restaurants, and shops are located. You’ll also want to check out other attractions like the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. The author lived in this museum for many years, and 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 historical buoy marks the southernmost point in the continental USA, and taking a photo here is an absolute must.

And if you’re looking for beautiful beaches to relax on, head to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Be sure to check out the fort before hitting the beach. When it’s time for lunch, head 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.

Everglades Day Trip

Everglades National Park in Florida
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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. Visiting it all in one day is impossible, but you can see the highlights in an easy day trip from Miami.

The park comprises coastal mangroves, grassy marshes, and pine flatwoods. It’s one of the prime places to see alligators, and an airboat trip through the marshlands is a must-do activity. Three operators 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.

Another 15 minutes west is the national park’s Shark Valley section. Here, you can take a 2-hour narrated tram ride with 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. Renting a bike and cycling the route for more leisurely exploration is also possible. Shark Valley also has a couple of short interpretive trails, and the park rangers often conduct guided tours of the area.

Vacationing in Miami, Florida

south beach miami florida
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When it comes to vacationing in Miami, Florida, there are endless possibilities for things to see and do. Whether you want to relax on the beach or explore the vibrant city center, there is something for everyone in this vibrant coastal metropolis. The city’s natural beauty is legendary, and its long 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 and world-class shopping and dining experiences. No place can compare to Miami for those looking for an action-packed trip full of dazzling sights and exciting activities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandrea Sumuel - Groves is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.