12 best things to do in Miami

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Visit Miami: What are the best things to do and see in the “Magic City”?

Miami is in many ways one of the most alluring cities in the United States. A multi-faceted city, it has everything for everyone to enjoy. Packed with excellent places to eat, drink or go shopping, it is an ideal city to visit, whether you’re keen on partying the night away, or to relax on its sunny beaches. An enticing and lively metropolis, Miami is filled with things to do: wander among the nostalgic Cubans of Little Havana, stroll through uniquely decorated neighborhoods, and if you’re lucky, come across celebrities along the way. Miami is also blessed with amazing surroundings and sublime natural sites such as the Everglades and Keys. Whether it’s your first or second time visiting Miami, below is a non-exhaustive list of things to do and see in what is certainly Florida’s best city.

What to do in Miami? Follow the guide !

1. Miami Beach

Miami Beach, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – Ines Hegedus-Garcia

Miami Beach is actually a distinct municipality from Miami. Located on a barrier island, it is connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. The area is well-known for its sandy beaches and the famous Art Deco District, with pastel-colored buildings from the 1930s featuring classic neon signs. An expensive tourist area, Miami Beach is filled with beachfront restaurants, shops, hotels, and plenty of sunbathing opportunities.

2. The Art Deco District

Art Deco, Miami

Photo credit: Fotopedia – Steve Minor

Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is reminiscent of a bygone era in Florida with its beautifully restored 1930s Art Deco buildings. These historic pastel-colored buildings feature bright neon signs that illuminate the nightlife, and covered terraces for alfresco dining. Many of these buildings are located on Ocean Drive, overlooking the beach and the ocean.

3. South Beach

South Beach, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – Phillip

Located at the southern end of Miami Beach, where Art Deco buildings line the shore, this is the most famous and sought-after side of Miami Beach. In summer, the beach is an unmissable attraction for locals and tourists, and in winter it’s just as nice a place to stroll.

In Miami Beach, you can’t miss the Ocean Drive, the famous road that runs along the ocean, as its name suggests. If you’re driving, try it: it’s worth the ride!

4. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Vizcaya museum and Gardens in Villa Vizcaya, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – Smart Destinations

Villa Vizcaya is very touristy but nevertheless deserves a visit. Located on the shores of Biscayne Bay, on the south side of Miami, the old-fashioned Renaissance-style mansion and former home of industrialist James Deering takes you back to a time when Miami was filled with trees rather than road traffic. Built in 1916, this beautifully maintained 34-room mansion is surrounded by several acres of European-style gardens filled with fountains and statues, some dating back to ancient times. A stylistic masterpiece, the entire villa is a jewel, but an even more stunning is the ornamental breakwater leading into the bay. Carved in Florida limestone in the shape of an oversized Venetian boat, it is adorned with all kinds of decorative sculptures, and makes it one of the most beautiful places to photograph the sunset in Miami.

5. Little Havana

Little Havana, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – Phillip

Visit Little Havana to get a taste of Cuba. Miami Cubans are incredibly proud of this neighborhood, even if they do not live there. Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street) and the surrounding area reflect the American dream of hundreds of thousands of Cubans who fled to Miami following the arrival of Fidel Castro in 1959. Many restaurants and shops in the neighborhood are replicas of their counterparts left behind in Cuba. The mediterranean-style houses with their rocking chairs on the porch, the smell of tobacco floating in the cigar shops, and the Latin music purring from all the record stores helps them feel at home… far from home.

6. The Everglades

Everglades, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – Guillaume Capron

Spread across 1.5 million acres of marshland, sawgrass meadows, and subtropical jungles, Everglades National Park is one of the most unusual public parks in the United States. Located on the southern tip of Florida, the park is home to 14 rare and endangered species, including the American crocodile, the Florida panther, and the Caribbean manatee. Much of the park comprises primeval wilderness, only explored by enthusiasts and researchers, but you can easily visit the park and have the opportunity to hike, camp, and canoe. One of the park’s most famous attractions is to go on an airboat ride to meet the alligators.

7. The fresh and quiet air of Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – Ines Hegedus-Garcia

Key Biscayne is perhaps not as beautiful and alluring as Miami Beach, but for what it seems to lack in bling, it makes up in serenity. The northernmost island of the Florida Keys, Key Biscayne was initially developed as an exclusive seaside resort in the 1900s, and was favoured by U.S. President Richard Nixon, who bought a house there in the 1970s. Despite the rise in real estate prices, the island has maintained a tranquil atmosphere. Aside from a rather discreet nightlife and a few shops, visitors are mainly attracted by the island’s natural surroundings, home to pristine beaches, two coastal parks, a bike path, and magnificent views of Miami. To the north, Crandon Park’s picnic and barbecue areas are ideal for spending the day with the family, and at the southernmost end of the island, it’s good to swim in the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area.

8. Visit Miami’s museums

Children Museum, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – Phillip

Miami is packed with great museums to visit. And there’s something for everyone ! Here is a list of our personal favorites:

  • The Miami Children’s Museum hosts educational and fun exhibitions that will awaken the curiosity and creativity of children. Ideal for families!
  • The Miami Science Museum features a planetarium, an observatory (Weintraub Observatory), and a nature center. Children will love it.
  • On a different note, the World Erotic Art Museum boasts a private collection gathering over 4000 objects from all ages, continents, and styles.
  • The Seaquarium
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in North Miami
  • The Pérez Art Museum which replaced the Miami Art Museum in 2013
  • The museums of the Wynwood Art District
  • Ernest Hemingway’s House in Key West, located 207 km southwest of Miami

9. Experience Miami’s cinematic atmosphere

Movie scenes, Miami

Photo credit: dediosonline.com

Home to many notorious film locations, the landscapes of Florida and the city of Miami have attracted numerous filmmakers. Think of Miami Beach’s nightlife in the James Bond movie Goldfinger (1964), the Carlyle Hotel in The Birdcage (1996), scenes of Scarface (1983) by Brian de Palma, the Cardozo hotel in There’s Something About Mary (1998) … The video game Grand Theft Auto game: Vice City was also inspired by the city. In short, at many moments, you will have the impression of already seen in Miami!

10. The Keys

The Keys, Florida, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – David Berkowitz

Located off the southern coast of Florida, the Keys are a coral cay archipelago. The islands are connected by the Overseas Highway, offering an amazing scenic drive from Key Largo to Key West across 110 miles and 42 bridges! The Keys are a true marine ecological treasure where you can admire corals, seagrass, and an array of birds and fish. At the end of the road, 150 miles from Miami, lies the legendary Key West, where Hemingway once dwelled. Now America’s alternative hangout, it is home to many writers and artists. These islands are a great place to practice sports, especially water sports.

11. Take a dip in the Venetian Pool

Venetian Pool, Miami

Photo credit: Flickr – Mauricio Lima

Possibly the world’s most beautiful public outdoor pool, the Venetian Pool in Miami boasts stunning Moroccan and Italian influences. A former quarry, it was designed by architects George Merrick and Phineas Paist, blending Mediterranean buildings with a waterfall and a small Venetian bridge. The place is filled with charm (save for its occasional invasion by loud-playing toddlers) and is a perfect spot for a lazy afternoon spent swimming and sipping a cocktail.

12. More Ideas for Miami Tours

  • Miami MetroZoo
  • Jungle Island
  • Gold Coast Railroad Museum
  • American Airlines Arena
  • The Bayside Marketplace shopping center

Miami: how to get there? Where to stay?

Miami is a tourist destination in the United States. Many airlines schedule international flights to Miami International Airport every day, including many flights from London Heathrow and Paris Roissy-CDG. You will also find many daily direct flights from the North of the US and Canada, notably from New York JFK, Ottawa and Toronto-Pearson. To find the best prices and the best flight routes, you can search on our partner’s website Skyscanner .

Different areas should be chosen as a priority before booking your accommodation. Read our article to find out where to stay in Miami. To find a cheap hotel in Miami, simply search on this hotel aggregator.

Have you ever visited Miami? How was it?

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