Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Miami and Miami Beach are popular destinations for a city or beach break for both domestic and international visitors. Their warm year-round climate attracts those looking to relax by the hotel pool or on one of the many white sandy beaches. Both cities have lively bars and clubs for visitors looking for a good time, but there are also plenty of family-friendly attractions, great museums, architecture, wildlife, and more.
Whether you want to go in search of alligators in the nearby Everglades or admire impressive murals in the Wynwood Art District, we’ve rounded up the best 30 things to do in Miami and Miami Beach.
Hot Tip: If you’re planning to take a flight into Miami for your vacation, check out our useful guide to Miami International Airport (MIA) that will tell you all about the terminal facilities, ground transportation, airlines, and more.
Best Things To Do in Miami Beach
1. Jet Along the Coastline in a Speedboat
Jet around on a speedboat for a 45-minute ocean adventure that will take you along the Miami coastline. You’ll cruise past celebrity mansions, along Miami Beach and Star Island, and can see the spectacular Miami skyline from a unique perspective. Sit back and enjoy the ride, accompanied by music and your captain’s commentary.
Hot Tip: Film every squeal on this thrilling ride with the best waterproof action camera.
2. Admire Vibrant Architecture in the Art Deco Historic District
Featuring over 800 buildings, South Beach’s Art Deco Historic District has the highest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the U.S. Stroll along Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue or between 5th and 23rd Street and you’ll spot sleek buildings sporting a variety of pastel hues, geometric designs, and porthole windows.
Pop into the Art Deco Museum where you can see these architectural features on scale models and learn about how decades of neglect nearly led to the destruction of these magnificent buildings.
3. Catch a Show at the North Beach Bandshell
The North Beach Bandshell is an amphitheater that has been providing entertainment for the North Shore community for decades. Since being built in 1961, the theater has been updated with several renovations, including a solar-powered canopy that protects much of the main viewing/dance area come rain or shine.
From film screenings to concerts, the theater has a bustling schedule of entertainment and can accommodate up to 1,350 guests with general admission and 800 guests seated.
4. Explore South Beach by Bicycle
There’s no better way to explore South Beach than on 2 wheels. Miles of bike paths follow the coastline along the promenade and weave through parks. Hire a bike from one of the many rental shops in the area, or join a South Beach bike tour to learn more about Miami’s rich culture and history. Your passionate local guide will take you through the Art Deco Historic District, along the famous Ocean Drive, and to South Pointe Pier and Park.
5. Hang Out at South Pointe Park and Pier
At the southern tip of Miami Beach is a lovely urban green space called South Pointe Park. With direct access to the beach and fabulous views of the coastline and downtown skyline, it’s a popular spot for tourists and locals. Walk out on the pier and watch passing cruise ships, kayakers, and surfers playing in the rolling waves, or you might also witness a successful catch or 2 as it’s a popular fishing spot. For kids, there’s a water splash zone and play area, along with restrooms and a restaurant.
6. Enjoy Nature at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden
The Miami Beach Botanical Garden is located on the grounds of the Miami Beach Convention Center and offers a little slice of tranquility among bustling South Beach. 3-acres of beautifully landscaped gardens are home to over 100 species of palm trees, water features, and an abundance of wildlife. Spot the colorful varieties of butterflies that are attracted to some of the native plants or the turtles that mill around in the ponds.
Hot Tip: If you’re into your horticulture, pick up an audio guide to find out what’s what, or join one of the free guided tours.
Best Free Things To Do in Miami
7. Travel Around the City for Free
When it comes to exploring Miami, you’re not restricted by expensive taxis or car rentals. Free transport is available to nearly every corner of the city and includes the Metromover that operates downtown and in the Brickell area and multiple trolley services. Trolleys are available across Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Doral, and more and look like vintage streetcars. You can hop on and off at your leisure.
Hot Tip:Take a look at a map of the Miami trolley system to see where you can travel on your trip.
8. Discover Epic Murals at the Wynwood Art District
The Wynwood Art District is an exhibit on an epic scale, with warehouses covered in street art and murals created by local and international artists. You can roam around for free with your own walking tour or join a local artist as they guide you to some of the best pieces by golf buggy. As well as impressive art, the trendy neighborhood is home to a wealth of bars, restaurants, and breweries perfect for enjoying a cold one.
9. Join a Free Yoga Class
Miami has a thriving health and well-being community and offers free yoga sessions across various locations. Whether you’re a local resident or visiting for a city break, you’re welcome to join these sessions, which are often first-come, first-serve. Every weekday evening or Saturday morning, you can join fellow yogis at the Tina Hills Pavilion at Bayfront Park, or if you prefer to practice on the beach, 3rd Street Beach Yoga holds morning and late afternoon sessions in Miami Beach.
Hot Tip: You’ll need your own mat to join a free class in Miami, so take a look at the best yoga mats for travel.
10. Admire Sculptures at the Institute of Contemporary Art
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami is the only museum in Miami that offers free admission year-round. You can’t miss the building’s metallic frontage that gives a glimpse of what’s inside. Whereas you will find works from world-renowned artists, there’s also a real emphasis on recognizing local and emerging artists through rotating exhibits. Head outside to the sculpture garden, where innovative pieces from artists Allora & Calzadilla, Pedro Reyes, and Mark Handforth are on display.
Best Things To Do in Miami & Miami Beach With Kids
11. Feed Giraffes at Zoo Miami
Due to its consistently warm sub-tropical temperatures, Zoo Miami can accommodate many animals that are suited to the warmer climes of Australia, Asia, and Africa. In fact, it is home to over 500 species, ranging from African elephants to chimpanzees and Sumatran tigers to Cuban crocodiles. Some of the enclosures allow you to get up close to feed giraffes, camels, or rhinoceros, and you can learn all about some of Florida’s own inhabitants at the Florida: Mission Everglades exhibit.
Book your tickets in advance with 24-hour cancellation.
12. Nurture Creativity at the Miami Children’s Museum
Miami Children’s Museum provides a fun, interactive, and safe environment for children to play and learn together. Numerous exhibits will be sure to spark your little one’s curiosity and imagination through different challenges, role-play, and creative experiences. At Pet Central, kids can learn how to take care of their favorite animals or can compose their own pieces of music in the Music Makers Studio.
Hot Tip: If you’re planning a family trip to Miami, make sure you’ve got one of the best credit cards for maximizing family travel.
13. Ride an Airboat Tour Through the Everglades
The Everglades National Park is a subtropical wilderness consisting of 1.5 million acres of marshes, mangroves, and natural water passageways. These grassy swamps are home to many endangered creatures, from green sea turtles to Everglades snail kites and manatees to the Florida panther. Spot alligators as you cruise along on an airboat tour and learn all about the unique landscape and wildlife.
Hot Tip: Keep any nasty little bugs at bay with the best natural insect repellents and bug sprays for travel.
14. Hop On and Off an Open Top Bus Tour
From South Beach to Little Havana, the Big Bus tour goes all over Miami to the most popular city sights and attractions. Sun yourself on the open-top deck while you listen to live commentary as your guide points out landmarks and tells you all about the city’s history. With 1.5- to 3-day passes available, you can explore Miami and Miami Beach at your leisure and hop on and off buses that cover 2 routes throughout the beach area and city.
Hot Tip: Book a sightseeing pass that saves money on attractions in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
15. Learn About Exotic Birds at the Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary
Located near the Everglades, the Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary takes in native wildlife that requires rehabilitation or a permanent home. This includes alligators, otters, bobcats, and eagles — just a few of the species that can be found within a selection of habitats. Walk through the 25,000-foot free-flight aviary where you’re surrounded by hundreds of birds native to Florida, or check out the Bird of Prey Center, home to endangered or injured falcons, hawks, and vultures.
Book your tickets in advance with 24-hour cancellation.
Best Things To Do in Miami for Couples
16. Discover the Cuban Culture of Little Havana
Little Havana is a charming Latin American neighborhood that originated in the 1960s when many Cubans fled the Castro regime to Miami. The main area runs along 8th Street, also known as Calle Ocho, where you’ll find an array of Latin American restaurants, rum bars, and cigar shops. Join a walking tour of Little Havana with a local expert and visit Maximo Gomez Park to watch domino players and learn about the significance of certain pieces of street art.
17. People Watch at Bayside Marketplace
Bayside Marketplace is a great place to kick back with a drink and watch the world go by. Tourists excitedly gather in the marina awaiting their cruise vacations, shoppers can browse over 150 shops and boutiques, and there’s a good selection of mostly chain restaurants, including the Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump Shrimp.
You can listen to live music every afternoon and evening from local bands playing on the stage, and if you fancy cruising around beautiful Biscayne Bay, boats depart from the marina.
18. Stroll Around the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the former home of agricultural industrialist James Deering and is now a national historic landmark open to the public. Built between 1914 and 1922, Villa Vizcaya (as it was originally known) was inspired by Mediterranean architecture fused with American traditions to suit the subtropical climate. With magnificent gardens, waterfront views, and a charming interior, it’s a lovely activity to share with your loved one and it’s clear to see why the museum is a popular venue for weddings.
19. Splash Around in the Venetian Pool
Inspired by the Mediterranean, this former rock quarry was transformed into the Venetian Pool in 1923. It’s a beautiful oasis of waterfalls and towering trees that surround a freshwater pool. Kids and adults can splash around in the waterfalls and explore caves under the watchful eye of the pool lifeguards.
Hot Tip:There are limited sun lounges to rent at Venetian Pool, but guests are welcome to bring their own seating.
20. Explore the Mysterious Coral Castle Museum
Coral Castle was a 28-year-long creation by Ed Leedskalnin, who is said to have embarked on the project solo after being abandoned by his sweetheart on their wedding day. From his heartbreak rose an incredible feat of engineering, as he carved and constructed the castle, furniture, and various other items from oolitic limestone, using just basic pulleys and winches. The mystery of how he did this has been likened to Stonehenge and the pyramids and the museum draws many visitors looking for answers or to just appreciate its beauty.
Best Beaches in Miami & Miami Beach
21. Sun Yourself on South Beach
When you think of Miami, you immediately picture art deco buildings, palm trees, and colorful lifeguard huts, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in South Beach. This trendy neighborhood has so much to offer for art, dining, and entertainment, but its sparkling sandy beach steals the show. Popular with swimmers and sunbathers, you’ll also find a kids’ playground at South Pointe Park, and when you’re feeling peckish, stroll across Ocean Drive for plenty of restaurant choices.
Hot Tip: At night, Ocean Drive is buzzing with bright neon lights and music. It’s quite the contrast to its daytime atmosphere, so check it out and keep a lookout for the flashy cars that zip up and down the stretch along the beach.
22. Bare All on Haulover Park Beach
Haulover Park Beach is located north of Miami Beach, with the Atlantic Ocean on 1 side and the Intracoastal waterway on the other. There are plenty of picnic areas in the park if you want to avoid getting sandy while eating and the northern end of the beach is an officially recognized nudist beach — perfect if you’ve forgotten your swimsuit or want to avoid tan lines!
23. Spend the Day at Bill Bags Florida State Park
At the southern tip of Key Biscayne, Bill Bags Florida State Park is a scenic spot just a 15-minute drive from downtown Miami. Relax on the gorgeous beaches, walk or cycle along the trails and spot wildlife, or climb a historic lighthouse. Swimming is permitted from the beaches, but exercise caution as there are no lifeguards. There are 2 dining options in the park, and these concessions also rent bicycles, kayaks, beach chairs, and umbrellas.
24. Take Your 4-Legged Friend to Hobie Island Beach Park
If you’re traveling with your 4-legged friend, Hobie Island Beach Park is the place to hang out. This dog-friendly beach has shallow water perfect for safe splashing and is also popular for water sports, such as windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Located just off the Rickenbacker Causeway, the beach has some fantastic views of the city skyline and offers free parking.
Hot Tip: Check out our guide to traveling with pets if you’re planning to bring your pooch on vacation with you.
25. Snorkel in Search of Marine Life at Crandon Park Beach
Crandon Park Beach is also on Key Biscayne at the northern end of the island and was once home to one of the largest coconut plantations in the U.S. These palm trees now just create an idyllic location to relax on the 2-miles of white sandy beach, while those looking for adventure can snorkel in search of marine life or go bird watching. There’s plenty to keep everyone entertained for the day, including tennis courts, skateboarding areas, a kids’ amusement center, and concession booths for snacks and rentals.
The Best Events in Miami
26. Party in Little Havana at the Calle Ocho Music Festival
The Calle Ocho Music Festival is the largest Latin music festival in the U.S. and has been running for over 40 years. The free celebration takes place in March and is held across 20 blocks of Little Havana with 10 stages for performances, food stalls, and activities. It’s the grand finale of Carnaval Miami and has an all-star line-up that has previously featured Gloria Estefan, Camilo, and Jessi Uribe.
27. Listen to Live Music at Jazz in the Gardens
Jazz in the Gardens is a 2-day event held in March at the Hard Rock Stadium, featuring jazz, soul, and R&B. This weekend festival is always a star-studded event with previous year’s headliners including Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige. In addition to smooth tunes, visitors can also enjoy delicious Caribbean food or pick up a unique piece of jewelry or artwork in the marketplace.
Hot Tip: Check out our guide to the best rewards credit cards for entertainment purchases to see which cards may offer bonus earnings on your purchase before booking your festival ticket.
28. Cheer on Sailors at Miami Sailing Week
Miami Sailing Week is an annual regatta that has taken place in March for over a decade, attracting both competitors and spectators with a love of sailing. Races kick off from Regatta Park in Coconut Grove, where crowds gather at the Miami Sailing Week Village for live music, food, and good times.
29. Dance to World Class DJs at the Ultra Music Festival
Ultra Music Festival is the ultimate electronic dance party featuring everything from progressive house to dubstep and techno to trance. The event features worldwide acclaimed and emerging DJs and artists with previous headliners including David Guetta and Major Lazer. The festival is held in March at Bayfront Park and attracts an international audience of over 700,000 party people.
30. Admire Creative Works at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival
Each Presidents’ Day weekend, over 100,000 visitors flock to the Coconut Grove Arts Festival where South Bayshore Drive and some surrounding roads are lined with creative exhibits. Visitors are able to admire (and purchase) unique pieces ranging from sculptures to photography and fashion to jewelry. There’s also a family zone packed full of kids’ entertainment, live music, cooking demonstrations, and more.
It’s easy and free to get around Miami, so there’s no reason not to go exploring (unless you’re perfectly happy chilling on a beach). Hop on the trolley all the way up or down Miami Beach and admire the vibrant art deco architecture along the way or check out the city’s creative scene, from astounding street art to fabulous festivals. You’ll never be bored in Miami or Miami Beach, that’s for sure.
Featured Image Credit: Antonio Cuellar via Pexels
Frequently Asked Questions
3 days or a long weekend is the perfect amount of time to spend in Miami and will allow you to enjoy a day trip to the Everglades, 1 day at Miami Beach, and 1 day exploring downtown and Little Havana.
Miami is known for its year-round warm climate, fabulous beaches, Everglades National Park, and colorful art deco architecture in South Beach.
Cheap or free activities in Miami include:
- Wynwood Art District
- Outdoor yoga classes
- Travel on the monorail or trolleys
- Miami Beach Botanical Garden
- Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
- Little Havana
Miami has many attractions that families will love, including:
- Zoo Miami
- Miami Children’s Museum
- Airboat tour of the Everglades
- Open-top bus tour
- Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary
Free transport is available to nearly every corner of the city and includes the Metromover that operates downtown and in the Brickell area and multiple trolley services. Trolleys are available across Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Doral, and more, and look like vintage streetcars. You can hop on and off at your leisure.
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