While the Magic City is commonly known for sandy coastlines and the annual Art Basel fair, the inland areas of the city also offer a wide array of art, culture, food and entertainment. Miami sits at the intersection of Latin American and Caribbean cultures, with international influence in every pocket of the city.
Between the Latin music on Calle Ocho and the eccentric Art Deco of Ocean Drive, Miami is nothing short of a sensory overload and a unique experience for all visitors. For those who have only a day to spend in the city that averages 80F (27C) year-round, here’s a 24-hour itinerary of must-visit Miami spots.
Start the day off slow and easy, in true Miami fashion. Stroll through South Pointe Park – the southernmost tip of South Beach – and take in the morning sunlight before it gets too hot. The urban park features sweeping waterfront views of Biscayne Bay, Fisher Island and Downtown Miami and is well liked for its walking paths, grassy lots and sculptures. On any given day, you’re likely to catch locals playing fútbol or rollerblading through the park. For those looking for a quieter morning in Miami, walk down the South Pointe Pier, a 450-foot-long (140-meter) pier renovated in 2014 that now serves as a popular fishing spot. From there, head north along Miami’s white sandy beach and make your way to Ocean Drive, which is a pleasant 20-minute walk or quick car ride away.
Miami’s palm-tree-lined Ocean Drive stretches from First Street to 15th Street. The notorious strip lined with pastel buildings is home to the historic Art Deco District, clad fittingly with vintage cars. Make a pit stop at the Art Deco Welcome Center to learn more about the area’s concentration of Art Deco architecture, or simply cross the street (to the beach side) to fully embrace the retro features of The Carlyle, The Tides or The Breakwater.
Grab a light and healthy breakfast or brunch at Pura Vida or Under the Mango Tree, where you can’t go wrong with an açai bowl or vegan empanadas. Or go for a heartier option at Big Pink or The Front Porch Café. From there, head to Little Havana, which is around a 20- to 30-minute drive, depending on traffic.
As your afternoon starts, head to Calle Ocho, the core of Little Havana and one of Miami’s most emblematic streets. Akin to a modern-day Cuba, Calle Ocho houses home-made-cigar shops, colorful storefronts, authentic ventanitas and spiritual stores that take you to the heart of Cuban culture. Murals and live music bring the street to life, as do generations of Cuban immigrants playing dominoes with masterly finesse at Máximo Gómez Park. Less than two minutes away is the Paseo de las Estrellas (Walk of Fame) – dedicated to Latin American musicians, actors and writers.
In light of Miami’s constant humidity, treat yourself at Azucar Ice Cream Company – a tribute to Cuban artist Celia Cruz. A popular choice there is the shop’s staple Abuela María flavor, made with María cookies, guava and cream cheese.
Top off the afternoon with some downtime at Ball & Chain, another Little Havana joint, where Billie Holiday once graced the stage. The bar-slash-lounge is adored by locals for its live music, authentic food and delicious mojitos. Plus, its palm-tree-laden patio makes it a perfect place to dance salsa or wind down.
It’s not a complete trip to Miami without a pit stop in Wynwood – the US’s unofficial capital of the modern street art movement. The Wynwood Walls, an outdoor gallery of wall-to-wall rotating art installations, have showcased over 50 artists from 16 countries since 2009.
After a good dose of art, shop at local boutiques like Simonett for one-of-a-kind, thoughtful pieces, and Plant the Future for flora and greenery. Or opt to tour the local breweries at J Wakefield Brewing or Veza Sur Brewing Co.
While Wynwood offers a variety of new age dining options like Hiden and 1-800-Lucky, you can easily take a 30-minute walk or a 10-minute drive to the upscale retail stores of the Design District, which also houses Mandolin Aegean Bistro. The Greek and Turkish restaurant is situated in a former home that offers a counterpoint to the modern, sleek vibe of its creative neighborhood. The cottage’s quaint blue-and-white decor brings to mind the designs found in Aegean coastal towns, and the restaurant’s cozy garden patio certainly takes cues from the beachside eateries that inspired its cuisine. While there, order the Greek or Turkish sampler to indulge in Mandolin’s tastiest appetizers.
Nightlife in Miami is just as loud and bright as anything else the city offers. Stop by El Patio or Proyecto Tulum in Wynwood for Latin music outdoors, or Gramps for a casual hang-out with craft beers and live entertainment. For a true taste of Miami’s electronic music scene, make your way to Downtown Miami and begin your night at Floyd, a luxe speakeasy, before moving on to Club Space, a rooftop that attracts some of the world’s best DJs (open Friday through Sunday). No matter where you go, the party goes well into the early morning.