The best things to do in Miami: top attractions of the city

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Miami is a one-stop-shop for all things. The city’s top attractions include endless dining, shopping, and relaxation. And since it’s a destination that has it all, the best things to do in Miami include visiting award-winning restaurants, shopping at fancy stores, relaxing by the beach, and going to many bars for all-day drinking.

If you’re not familiar with Miami and are looking for the best way to explore what the city has, or if you have been many times and need a refresh on the best places to visit in Miami, this post is for you!

This post covers the best things to do in Miami and will provide you with a list of the city’s top attractions.

Palm trees in South Beach

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Top things to do in Miami – top attractions

Wynwood

There’s so much to do in Wynwood, Miami’s hippest neighborhood. So much so that you could probably spend your entire Miami itinerary here. However, though the streets are always alive, the best days to visit are Friday and Saturday.

The trip to Wynwood involves lots of walking (and eating!). When wandering through the streets, stop by the coolest spots around NW 2nd Avenue, the busiest area in the neighborhood: Wynwood Walls, one of the most Instagramable places in Miami, and walk around the streets looking for graffiti walls and other street art with unique designs and messages.

When it’s time to eat in Wynwood, Cayo Tacos is a busy and beloved restaurant. However, my favorites are KYU, with its Asian-inspired menu, and Doya, for Mediterranean fare. For your coffee fix, head over to Panther Coffee. But if you prefer to have your coffee with a sweet on the side, Salty Donut has delicious and flavorful donuts, and Zak the Baker is a local institution with yummy pastries and tasty sandwiches.

Additionally, if you feel overwhelmed by all Wynwood offers, you can join a 1-Hour Street Art Tour.

Wynwood Walls

If you find yourself in Wynwood, you must stop to see the Wynwood Walls, which today is possibly the most photographed place in Miami and one of the best things to do in the city. The space is considered an outdoor museum of international street art and brings together a series of walls painted by different global artists.

When planning your visit, it’s good to know that Wynwood Walls is open from Sunday to Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm and Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 8 pm. Lastly, tickets can be bought online or at the entrance and start at US$ 12.

Superblue Miami

Superblue is Miami’s new center for experimental and immersive art. The space brings together the work of various artists, including the art collective TeamLab and renowned light sculptor James Turrell. The result is a collection of interactive projections representing a new way of experiencing art in this futuristic, interactive, and technology-based museum.

In my opinion, Superblue is one of the best attractions in Miami right now, and you should be sure to add it to your itinerary and pop in for a few hours.

The operating hours of Superblue Miami are from 11 am to 7 pm from Monday to Wednesday, 10 am to 7 pm from Thursday to Sunday, and 10 am to 8 pm Friday and Saturday. Also, you can purchase entrance tickets online with a starting price of US$ 36.

Read more about Miami’s attractions: All you need to plan your visit to Superblue Miami.

Design District

A visit to the Design District is one of the best things to do in Miami. Here, designer stores (Dior, Hermés, Cartier, etc.) are scattered amongst art sculptures. So even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it’s still a great place to walk around.

When walking around Miami’s Design District, pop by the Museum Garage (NE 1st Ave & NE 41st St), a super cool parking building displaying 5 art facades designed by different artists and architects.

Also, you can find some of the best things to do in Miami in the Design District. When it’s time for a dose of art, stop by the De La Cruz Collection and check out the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) current exhibitions.

There are also a couple of places to eat in the Design District, including the trendy Swan and my favorite – Mandolin Aegean Bistro with Mediterranean vibes. And if you, like me, have a major sweet tooth, pay a visit to Aubi & Ramsa for alcohol-infused ice cream (the hazelnut martini is delicious) or Night Owl for warm cookies. Need a coffee fix? Then grab a coffee complete with a logo on top at either Dior Café or Fendi Café; or if you prefer your coffee more low-key, then head over to OTL.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

One of the prettiest places to visit in Miami and the top things to do in the city is a visit to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens – a waterfront 20th-century Italian Renaissance mansion turned museum in Coral Gables.

At Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, you’ll see the building fully equipped with early 20th-century furniture. However, the most incredible part is the surrounding gardens, which cover a massive area and have hundreds of types of plants.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is one of the best places to visit in Miami to have a pleasant outdoor tour.

You can buy tickets online for US$ 25 (for adults), and Vizcaya is open to the public from Wednesday to Monday from 9.30 am, and the last admission is at 4.30 pm. In addition, visitors can enjoy select areas on the first floor of the Main House until 5 pm and the gardens until 5.30 pm.

Brickell

Of the many places to visit in Miami, Brickell is surely becoming one of my favorites. With its high-rise buildings and office towers, the city’s financial center is diverse and dynamic, with lots of dining, arts, and entertainment attractions that are hard to pass.

One of the best places to visit in Brickell is the Brickell City Centre, a super-modern, billion-dollar open-plan development that attracts chic crowds for its trendy stores and movie theater. Also, one of my top places to eat in Miami is in Brickell City Centre – Casa Tua Cucina, an Italian market (like Eataly in NYC) that mixes various restaurants with a gourmet emporium.

Besides, despite the multitude of skyscrapers and traffic, there’s still a bit of tranquility in Brickell. You can stroll along the waterfront promenade and soak in the skyline views from different angles. With luck, you can spot a manatee and maybe even dolphins. Plus, you can extend the experience by continuing your walk to Brickell Key and taking a moment to rest on one of its many benches.

Lastly, with a hot dining scene, it’s hard to name the best places to eat in Brickell – but I’ll try! For breakfast, B Bistro + Bakery and Rosetta Bakery are great choices. For dinner, Cipriani has exquisite Italian dishes, and LPM has a fantastic menu with all things French. When craving an Asian-inspired menu, the Pubelly Sushi branch offers inventive reinterpretations of Japanese dishes, and Hutong and Sexy Fish attract a hip crowd. For unforgettable views of Biscayne Bay and the skyline, head over to La Mar by Gastón Acurio on the terrace of Mandarin Oriental. And for drinks, Sugar is the neighborhood’s best rooftop bar at the East Hotel, with unbeatable views that stretch from the Everglades to the beach.

Continue reading to learn more about Miami’s top attractions.

Bayfront Park

From Brickell, you can also walk to Bayfront Park, one of the top outdoor attractions in Downtown Miami.

In the surroundings of Bayfront Park, there are also other top places to visit in the city, including the American Airlines Arena, Freedom Tower, the open-air mall Bayside Marketplace, and Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel, an enclosed gondola ride that rises nearly 200 feet above Bayside Marketplace, offering iconic views of the area.

Miami Beach and South Beach

Most of us, when thinking about Miami’s attractions, think about the blue ocean and sunny days. So, you can’t complete a visit to the city without visiting Miami Beach and South Beach, Miami’s top places to visit.

If this is your first visit to Miami, staying by the beach is probably the best option. Choose a beachfront hotel, like the W South Beach or the 1 Hotel South Beach, that has beach chairs and umbrella service to spend your mornings by the sea and the afternoon eating in the delicious restaurants in the area.

If your hotel has bike service, grab one or rent one with Citi Bike to ride along Ocean Drive, South Beach’s main avenue, to check out the area’s historic art deco buildings in pastel colors and the lively boardwalk with the most diverse crowd. Feel the sea breeze along the way and occasionally stop to take pictures of the iconic colorful lifeguard houses – a symbol of Miami. Finish your tour at the end of South Beach in South Pointe Park, where you’ll have a stunning ocean view.

Food options aren’t limited in Miami Beach and South Beach, with the latter having a handful of the best restaurants in Miami. In South Beach, stop to eat at worldly known Italian restaurant Carbone, enjoy crabs and key lime pie at Joe’s Stone Crab, try the Italian classics at Forte Dei Marmi, grab a streak at Prime 112, and visit Planta and Pura Vida for wholesome foods. In Miami Beach, Byblos has delicious Mediterranean dishes, the refined Casa Tua provides an authentic Italian meal, Cecconi’s gives you al fresco Italian dishes, and Pao by Paul Qui, inside Faena hotel, has an Asian-inspired menu by a Top Chef winner.

Ocean Drive

When visiting Miami, take some time to explore Ocean Drive, in South Beach, to see the pastel-colored art deco buildings and its lively boardwalk full of people from all over the world.

Walking along the Ocean Drive boardwalk, one of the top things to do in Miami, is the epitome of sunny Miami with its diverse public, neon signs, and 24/7 drinks. Make use of the Citi Bike public bike-sharing system and take a look at the dozens of art deco buildings built between the 1920s and 1940s in the region. To learn more about the constructions, the Art Deco District Welcome Center can give you more insights into the architectural style. And examples of the buildings are many, from the beach police headquarters to a vast list of hotels like Beacon Hotel, Cardozo Hotel, Breakwater Hotel, and others.

Also, on Ocean Drive, you’ll find the mansion reminiscent of the style of a European villa previously owned by fashion designer Gianni Versace, one of the top attractions of Miami.

South Pointe Beach and South Pointe Park

Following Ocean Drive to the end, you’ll arrive at South Pointe Park, a lovely park for a walk, run, or bike ride. Here, you can sit on the benches to soak in the ocean views and catch the best sunset in Miami.

If you get hungry in the area, you’ll find Smith and Wollensky, a well-known steakhouse chain by the water, or you can walk a little more to Call Me Gaby for Italian bites.

Little Havana

In Little Havana, you’ll appreciate the recreation of life in Cuba by its migrants, with restaurants, barbershops, cafes, cigar shops, and Cuban music everywhere.

Today, the historic refuge of Cubans in the city has become quite touristy. Still, it’s worth taking an afternoon to visit the neighborhood’s epicenter, SW 8th St – the famous Calle Ocho. In addition to the various Cuban shops, including the famous cigar shop Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co., the street has a Cuban version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame that features Cuban personalities, like Gloria Estefan. A few blocks away is also the Brigade 2506 Memorial, which honors the 114 CIA-trained Cuban exiles who died in the Bay of Pigs in 1961 while trying to overthrow Fidel Castro’s regime.

When it’s time to eat in Little Havana, Ball & Chain is a must-see restaurant with an outdoor patio where you can spend a few hours eating tapas and sipping cocktails. Afterward, have ice cream at the Azucar Ice Cream Company. And if you’re in the mood for more cocktails or live music, La Trova is an excellent choice (named one of the top bars in the world).

You can also join a food and cultural tour of Little Havana.

Miami tours

There are a couple of tours that are very famous amongst visitors to the city. Of the day trips and tours, some of the best attractions in and near Miami are:

Half-Day Everglades Airboat Ride & Wildlife Show: this half-day trip from Miami takes you on a bus to Everglades National Park, where you’ll hop on an airboat for a 45-minute ride and an educational wildlife show. This is one of the top attractions in Miami, as you can spot alligators, turtles, and birds in their natural habitat.  You can also see a wildlife show and get close to alligators to learn more about them. You can even take a picture with a baby alligator at the end!

Everglades National Park Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show: explore one of the US National Parks in this tour, where you can spot alligators, turtles, and various birds that are only found in Everglades National Park. You’ll also have the unique experience of riding on an airboat, which is designed to operate well in shallow water and marshlands. This tour doesn’t include transportation to/from the park.

Miami – The Original Millionaire’s Row Cruise: go on a 90-minute sightseeing cruise around Biscayne Bay. The tour allows you to have a different perspective of Downtown Miami’s skyline, the Port of Miami, Fisher Island, Miami Beach, and Millionaire’s Row – the city’s home to the rich and famous.

Day Trip to Key West: Key West is the most southern point of the USA and is only 90 miles from Cuba. So, hop on this tour from Miami Beach to Key West to spend 6 hours exploring the island by strolling the artistic streets or relaxing at outdoor cafes and restaurants. And once here, don’t forget to try the key lime pie.

Miami: Sunset Cruise through Biscayne Bay and South Beach: enjoy the best of Miami’s sunset on a cruise across Biscayne Bay to have wonderful views of the city’s skyline.

Tips for visiting Miami

Getting to Miami

Miami International Airport, 8 miles from Brickell and 12 miles from Miami Beach, receives domestic and international flights. Additionally, you can fly into Fort Lauderdale airport, 38 miles from Brickell.

Miami airport has Metrorail services – the Orange Line takes you to areas such as Miami Beach, Brickell, and Coconut Grove. The Miami Beach Airport Express bus runs every half hour and goes to Miami Beach from 41st Street to South Pointe Drive. It is also possible to take a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or book a shuttle transfer.

Getting around Miami

Car is still the best option to get from one place to another in Miami. Apps like Uber and Lyft are still the best way to get around Miami, as they are cheaper than traditional taxis, and you won’t need to worry about parking if you rent a car. However, renting a car is worth it if you’re planning on visiting other cities in Florida.

The best time to visit Miami

December to March (winter) is considered the peak season: hotel prices go up, and the city is packed and festive, with temperatures between 590 F and 790 F. Spring Break, usually in March, fills Miami Beach with partygoers. May marks a strategic break between the high season and summer heat, but there can be storms. June, July, and August are the rainiest months, and September and October have mild temperatures. November is an excellent choice: the sea is still warm, rains very little, and hotel prices are not high.

Where to stay in Miami

The best places to stay in Miami to explore its top attractions are Brickell and Miami Beach. Of them, these are a few hotels to consider:

BEST HOTELS IN BRICKELL

  • SLS LUX Brickell: a perfect hotel that is strategically located close to many eateries, Brickell City Centre, Bayfront Park, and American Airlines Arena. The swimming pool is gorgeous and surrounded by cabanas where you can cool down and relax.
  • Mandarin Oriental: located in Brickell Key, Mandarin is one of the best 5-star hotels in Miami. Here, you’ll be pampered with all the luxury amenities and have access to La Mar by Gaston Acurio and its Peruvian fare.
  • EAST Miami: the highlight of this Brickell hotel is the 4 swimming pools which include a lap pool, spa pool, cold plunge, and hot tub. It’s also exceptionally well located, and, in the hotel, you’ll find Sugar, a 40th-floor rooftop bar, and Quinto La Huella, a famed and authentic Uruguayan restaurant.

BEST HOTELS IN SOUTH BEACH/MIAMI BEACH

  • 1 Hotel South Beach: an oceanfront hotel with a private beach area and many on-site dining options. It features 4 swimming pools, including a gorgeous adults-only rooftop pool, and is one of the best hotels in Miami.
  • W South Beach: a beachfront hotel with ocean views, on-site pools, and dining options that include Mr. Chow (Asian cuisine). The amenities are some of the best you can find in Miami, and W is certainly one of the top places to stay in the city.
  • Faena Hotel: a dreamy, luxury hotel in Miami, with great amenities that include the red beach chairs and umbrellas that are Pinterest-worthy. At Faena, you’ll also find the famous Pao by Paul Qui, which has an Asian-inspired menu by a Top Chef winner.
  • The Miami Beach EDITION: a luxury hotel in Miami that has it all: a bowling alley, nightclub, an on-site ice-skating rink, and other features that will make you not want to leave this place.

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I am Elen, and I help 9-5ers plan their next getaway. I curate travel experiences, from places to sip a coffee to stays in boutique hotels, so you can save time when planning your next vacation. Here you will find travel guides, tips, and the best itineraries for your next trip.

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