Don’t let the infamous “Florida Man” deter you. If you like beautiful beaches, culture, exquisite eats, and extensive nightlife, Miami is where. it’s. at.
Now, how to de-mystify this vibrant city? Of course South Beach is an endless party, and Little Havana has some of the most delicious and authentic Cuban cuisine in The States… but with so many options, how do you choose the best of the best; and with so much diversity, how do you figure out which activities will match your taste and style?
Worry not! Take one left turn from the tourist traps and, with the help of this article, find yourself in the most unique and unforgettable parts of Miami. Below is a curated list of favorite happenings, brought to you by locals and avid travelers alike, so that all you have to do is sip your daiquiri, and let your Lyft driver know when to show up.
1. Check out South Beach
Get your party hat on because the vibe is always lively in South Beach.
Notorious for hosting Spring Break for over-worked college students all over the country, if you’re looking for an endless party this is the hood for you.
You can kick things off at Senor Frogs, a cheesy but super fun Mexican restaurant that takes “shot o’clock” pretty seriously.
However, don’t let the… youthful… vibes throw you off.
If your taste is slightly more sophisticated, then make your way down to Nikki Beach and lounge in the crisp, white cabanas (very photogenic) or make your way next door to Joe’s Stone Crab for the freshest (you guessed it) stone crab you’ll ever eat!
One of the most popular attractions in South Beach is Lincoln Road, a 10-block walk that ranges from luxury to trendy with its array of cafes, restaurants, stores, and of course, bourgeois locals.
Take a few hours to people watch, shop the streets and taste the eats of this famous Miami Beach strip.More Info (click to expand)
2. Photograph Wynwood
The Wynwood distract is a provocative array of painted walls by up and coming artists.
Simply wandering the streets will expose you to the colorful works of art that will seemingly beg to be made into a background for your Insta post.
The artistic vibe continues inside the reputable restaurants, like Alter, where you can enjoy chef Brad Kilgore’s tasting special, or Kyu, an Asian inspired cuisine that nails it’s delightful bites.
One thing’s for sure: Wynwood continues to thrive well after “magic hour” breaks.More Info (click to expand)
3. Check out Art Basel
Speaking of incredible art, the 2020 dates for Art Basel are December 3-6 and the massive art fair has visitors flocking from all over the world.
The four-day art festival on Miami Beach is compact with modern day artists showcasing their latest creations.
It’s an eclectic and electric scene that stimulates the mind, body and spirit, and helps dub Miami an international art hub.More Info (click to expand)
4. Drink wine in a beautiful garden
Lagniappe is a stunning wine bar with a festively lit back yard to lounge and converse in.
Walk in to the wine store, snag yourself a bottle (pay upfront) and then help yourself to the first come, first serve seating in the big back yard.
Their various jazz musicians will be there to serenade you while you drink your wine and munch on your freshly grilled, light bites.More Info (click to expand)
5. Explore Little Havana
Easily one of my favorite neighborhoods in all of Miami; Little Havana transports those who enter into Cuban culture.
The neighborhood has authentic Cuban restaurants, live music and salsa dancing to keep you busy all day and night.
Let’s take a closer look:
Ball and Chain
Where legendary artists, like Billie Holiday and Chet Baker once graced the stage, Ball and Chainis a hot spot cocktail bar, lounge and dance club that hosts events from jazz night to salsa.
Located on the famous Calle Ocho, and one of the oldest bars to boot, the space is rich in history.
Get ready to dance as you enjoy to vibrant atmosphere, sipping your specialty cocktail and listening to the band or DJ jam.
Sanguich De Miami
Don’t miss the best Cubano in town at the small (but big hearted) Cuban sandwich shop.
With all their ingredients made in-house, like its brined turkey, pickles and mustard, it’s no wonder the sandwiches are superior to any of the many competing Cuban cuisines.
In short, if you’re a fan, don’t miss out!
Versailles Restaurant and Cuban Cuisine
By far the best place to pull up to the window and order yourself a cafecito or croquette.
Not only can you get these Cuban essentials on the go, but you can also feel free to stop in to the most authentic Cuban restaurant in Miami, where Cubans from all over Miami meet to enjoy the home-like atmosphere.
Casa De Los Trucos
From rags to riches (both literally and figuratively) this crafty costume shop has gone from a little shack to larger adjacent building over the years, the better to accommodate excitable locals who love to sift through the weird merchandise.
The shop is sure to awaken your senses and inspire creativity.
From make up to madness, there’s a little something in here for everyone.More Info (click to expand)
6. Learn and dance the salsa
Although it might not be a typical activity to have on your itinerary, learning to dance the salsa in a place where Cuban culture thrives is an experience that will leave you smiling for weeks.
Though Ball and Chain is among the best, Hoy Como Ayer is also worth noting for it’s romantic atmosphere.
On Miami Beach, you can get your mojito at Mango’s Tropical Café just before going upstairs to take a salsa class at Salsa Mia.
Even if you decide to forego the class and just throw yourself into the mix, expect to get asked to dance by nicely dressed men who are going to spin you around (and around.)More Info (click to expand)
7. Indulge in a water activity
Blocked by the Bahamas, the water in Miami tends to stay pretty calm year round making it the perfect place to indulge in those water sports you’ve been dying to try.
Whether you’re into a more relaxing activity, like paddle boarding, or looking for something more high intensity, like jet skiing, there’s nothing you can’t make happen in Miami.
One of my personal favorites is parasailing, slowly gliding dozens of feet above the ocean, feeling the warm wind on your face as you take in the glistening waters below.More Info (click to expand)
8. Drive through (and stop to shop) Coral Gables
Coral Gables is a Mediterranean inspired neighborhood that offers cute shops, yummy bites and lively events, like Rumba and Flamenco Fridays.
Downtown you can find Miracle Mile, a pedestrian paradise with shops and restaurants.
Pick up some Argentinian empanadas at Graziano’s Market or yummy Spanish tapas at Bulla Gastro bar.
Among the tastefully decorated boutiques, you’ll find Books & Books, an independent bookstore, opened by law school drop out Mitchell Kaplan in 1982.
This quaint bookstore is ready to stimulate the brain while you browse the shelves and sip your coffee from their delish café.More Info (click to expand)
9. Day trip to the Everglades
Ready for a short break from the bustle of the city?
Listed as a world heritage site, the Everglades is the third largest national park in the lower 48 States.
Taking a day trip to visit this unique ecosystem is an incredible way to slow down and connect with nature.
From manatees to alligators, there’s hundreds of species to lay your eyes on.
Start off at Shark Valley where you can take a tram ride, then opt for an airboat tour, or take things slow by renting your own kayak.
Don’t forget to visit the Miccosukee village and see a (very respectful) alligator wrestling match.
Either way, getting lost in the mangroves (hopefully not literally) will transport you to a time where you had to fish for your dinner (and many here still do).
These days though, it’s best to stop by Pit Bar-B-Q, the only “Real Wood Burning Pit” on your way home and try some gator bites!More Info (click to expand)
10. Miami Seaquarium
Honestly, I debated putting this up there because they still do dolphin shows with tricks (and such) for entertainment… but Miami Seaquarium was such an inspiration to me when I was a kid that I decided to add it anyway.
This a great compromise if you’re trying to convince the family to avoid the more touristy mayhem of Orlando.
The Miami Seaquarium is fun for all ages, as it gives an intimate and educational look at the vast sea life surrounding South Florida and beyond.
They offer touch-pools for the young ones, or you can opt to swim with a dolphin!
Learn about the sea turtles that lay eggs on our beaches, and pet stingrays and sharks, all in the same day!
Miami Seaquarium is filled with magical moments that will last a lifetime.More Info (click to expand)
11. Eat Meat In Little Haiti
Clives is the spot that will make your mouth water with it’s authentic Jamaican style jerk chicken. Or curry goat. Or cow foot.
Pick your poison, you literally can’t go wrong.
If you’re not a fan of Caribbean on Caribbean, then follow the tempting smell of BBQ wafting down the street to a little (emphasis on “little”) restaurant called Bon Gout Naiomis for some delish Griot.
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, Griot is crispy, fried chunks of pork. Yum.
Order in a soft but somehow crunchy taco shell, or let it stand alone… just make sure you snag a side of plantains and you’re good to go!More Info (click to expand)
12. Eaaattttt Seeaaaaaa Foooooood
As I’m sure you can imagine, south Florida is crawling (sometimes literally) with the freshest of fresh seafood, and there’s something for every palate.
For instance, head to La Camaronera for a laid back vibe while you inhale your Conch Fritters or Snapper Sandwich.
Or, you can head to a more upscale, downtown vibe at Mignonette, and take advantage of their $2 oysters.
Salt and Brine resides inside the Time Out Market, and their attractive bites, such as kimchi crab, shouldn’t be overlooked just because at 4pm you can snag $1 oysters until they’re GONE!
Speaking of…More Info (click to expand)
13. Check Out The New Time Out Market
Have you ever spent hours doing research about the best restaurants in a city, only to find you’re drooling and wishing you didn’t have to choose and could take a bite out of all the best choices?
Well, apparently you’re not the only one.
It seems the go-to publication for all things delectable, (talking about Time Out, of course) got sick of merely writing about the best of the best and decided to create a hub where all their favorite restaurants could come together in one place.
And cuddle. You can be part of the cuddle party when you check out Time Out Market, where top rated chefs behind counters serve up supreme eats.More Info (click to expand)
14. Get Tipsy At Mama’s Or Gramps
Confused? Don’t be. Miami is a city that takes pride in its unique and flourishing nightlife.
Take “Gramps” for instance; this bar and event space is well known by the locals, and likely where they’ll flock to take advantage of the weekend, or if they need a pick-me-up throughout the week.
The festive yet unsuspecting spot has a happening outdoor space as well as a tropical chic interior.
Cut costs with their regular or late-night happy hour, and enjoy the neon lighting as you sip your icy bevvy.
Another option most locals are privy to is “Mama Tried”. An ode to mothers, this neighborhood bar serves the best cocktails around and wants you to enjoy them your own way.
Whether you want to take it easy during happy hour, or enjoy a rowdy crowd during late night hours, Mama Tried is a cozy, classy spot where you’ll definitely live by their motto and have “no regrets.”More Info (click to expand)
15. Cruise the Art Deco Hotel Scene
If you’re into architecture, or just like some cool eye candy, then take a trip down Ocean Drive and check out the part retro, part modern seaside scene of hotels that helped create the vibe Miami is best known for.
Constructed in the 30’s and 40’s and updated periodically to maintain integrity and add a modern twist, keep an eye out for the understated white, symmetrical buildings complete with pastel finishes and neon lights.
For movie enthusiasts, check out Park Central Hotel. Being infamous for crime in the 80’s paid off, as it became the perfect setting for the movie Scarface.
Don’t be afraid to wander inside and take a look at the interiors!More Info (click to expand)
16. Take a Seaplane Tour
That’s right… you can see the beautiful beaches and city of Miami from new heights when you opt for a completely unique touring experience.
Not only is this one of the more “Insta worthy” activities, but flying in a seaplane is an unforgettable experience all around.
Taking off from, and landing in the crystal clear water is enough to take your breath away, but the flight itself is also an overwhelming scene.
Go for as short as 30 minutes, or make a day out of it and head down to the keys for a mini vacay from your vacay.More Info (click to expand)
17. Picnic at The Barnacle
For nature geeks, families, or anyone who might like a quiet afternoon, The Barnacle House in Coconut Grove aims to bring you back to simpler times.
The beautiful house, still preserved since it’s construction in 1891, sits on the shore of Biscayne Bay.
Enjoy bird watching, or go “treasure hunting” with the little ones. The Barnacle also hosts entertaining events, like Shakespeare in the Park and a nighttime “haunting” ballet that takes you through a tour of the grounds.More Info (click to expand)
18. Get Lost In Tropical Gardens
Perhaps the gardens aren’t exactly what you think of when considering Miami’s most well known attractions, however the tropical ecosystem makes visiting one an experience you will not want to miss.
Fairchild Gardens is an 83-acre oasis, teeming with lakes, waterfalls, flowers and exotic plants that will immerse you in the jungle that is South Florida.
You could spend hours wandering around, checking out the rainforest-like scenery.More Info (click to expand)
19. Visit an Italian Renaissance Villa
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a National Historical Landmark.
The lavishly furnished Villa built in 1960 is perched on Biscayne Bay.
The state includes 34 decorated rooms and 11-acres of formal gardens.
The museum has collections dating all the way back to Pompeii!
Explore the grounds with guide and take in the lush surroundings, where Mediterranean meets the tropics.
Make sure you bring your camera!More Info (click to expand)
20. Stay on the beach
Whether it’s in the heart of South Beach, moving slightly up the road to trendy Mid-Beach or even venturing towards the quieter north beach, you’ll want to call one of Miami’s beachside hotels “home” during your visit.
When it comes to picking your hotel in Miami, choosing a spot that’s on the water ensures that you’ll get the chance to take advantage of the sparkling clear, blue calm Atlantic Ocean.
It’s typical that a beachside hotel also boasts a pool and a bar, meaning you don’t have to travel further than the elevator to indulge in good times.
There are dozens of hotels to choose from, and if you’re on a budget don’t sweat it, because budget friendly options are plentiful.
You can even snag a deal with Hotel Tonight, and experience high-end resorts for affordable prices!More Info (click to expand)
There are events and parties on every single night and in summer there are festivals pretty much weekly, you cannot get bored in this city that also never seems to be sleeping.
What are your thoughts about Miami? Do you have any questions or anything cool still to add on? We love to discuss travel so go ahead and fire away, there are no wrong comments!
Also, please let us know how your trip went and what was the most exciting part about it.