Must-Visit Attractions in Miami

Ocean Drive, Miami's most iconic street, is an attraction in itself
Ocean Drive, Miami's most iconic street, is an attraction in itself | © Luis Gomez / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nick Dauk
16 June 2021

The cosmopolitan city of Miami combines art deco glamour with beachfront luxury in southeast Florida. Swim in the Venetian Pool, eat Cuban fare at Versailles and cruise down Ocean Drive – here are just a handful of things to do in the Magic City.

Clubs, cafes, and catching rays; planning a solid schedule for a trip to Miami is effortless. After you’ve beaten the heat by the pool, dig a little deeper and discover everything else this city has to offer. International eats, exotic wildlife, and boutique shops are waiting around every corner. Here are our recommendations for things you simply must do while visiting this vibrant city.

Explore the Cuban district of Little Havana

Architectural Landmark
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Cuban neighborhood of Little Havana in Miami Florida
© James Schwabel / Alamy Stock Photo

Cigars. Coffee. Food. We’re salivating just thinking about a trip into Little Havana. This slice of Cuban paradise will send your senses into overdrive. Stroll down Calle Ocho with a hand-rolled cigar in one hand and a hot, turbo-charged coffee in the other. Follow your eyes, ears, nose or even your hips; they’ll lead you to fresh plates of ropa vieja (Cuban-style braised meat) and live Latin music that’ll keep you dancing well into the night.

Raise an eyebrow in the World Erotic Art Museum

Museum
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Explore eroticism across a spectrum of culture, time and sexuality at the Wilzig Erotic Art Museum. More than 4,000 titillating pieces of erotic art will tempt you to examine your own eros. Gay art stands proudly beside exhibits charting sexually suggestive scenes from Pompeii to the pinup era. Far more than an expose of nudity, the diverse artwork from around the globe embraces and showcases our inner urges, beauty and biology.

Snap a selfie at the Wynwood Walls murals

Art Gallery, Brewery, Museum
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Art and Graffiti in Wynwood Walls Miami.
© Jochen Brood / Alamy Stock Photo

Once blank warehouse walls and a city dump, this site has now become the vibrant Wynwood Walls. Good luck finding the perfect selfie, though. These canvases stretch over 80,000sqft (7,432sqm), not including the murals in the garden space, the fifteen roll-down doors and the graffiti pieces dotted throughout the neighborhood. Each mural is stunning, showcasing more than 50 artists from around the world. Come early if you want to get the best crowd-free shots.

Tuck into Cuban food at the legendary Versailles

Bakery, Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Cuban, Coffee, $$$
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You need to try Cuban cuisine in Miami, plain and simple. Versailles is indubitably the most popular Cuban restaurant in town. We won’t waste time telling you about all of the international acclaim it continues to receive. Instead, we’ll let their menu do the talking. The classic Cuban staple ropa vieja, swimming in wine and tomato sauce. Chicharrones topped with Cuban mojo and onions. A famous Cuban sandwich stacked with sweet ham, roast pork and Swiss cheese. There’s nothing more to say.

Venture inside the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Botanical Garden, Museum, Park
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Overview of Vizcaya in Coconut Grove
Courtesy of Vizcaya Museum & Gardens | Courtesy of Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
This Gilded Age estate is so enchanting, you’d think you were in a dream. Stroll through the gardens, dotted with urns and antique statues. More awaits inside the Main House with each room showcasing different periods of Italian art history. And yet, the gardens and museum simply do not compare to the beauty of the stained-glass doors and marble floor in the Swimming Pool Grotto.

Take a dip in the Venetian Pool

Swimming Pool
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Swimming pool, Venetian Pools in Coral Gables, Miami, Florida, USA
© Clifton / imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Surf away from South Beach and splash into the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables. Coral rock surrounds this former quarry, filled with natural spring water. It’s the largest freshwater swimming pool in the US. Waterfalls and cave-like grottos add a little something extra to your swim. When you’re done, drip dry under the palm trees and climb to the top of the lookout tower where you’ll see the ocean beckoning you back. You packed a few extra swimsuits for a reason, after all.

Shop at Bayside Marketplace

Market, Shop, Shopping Mall
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Bayside Marketplace, Miami, Florida, USA
© Andre Kohls / F1online digitale Bildagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Spend the day by the Biscayne Bay and spend a little cash while you’re at the Bayside Marketplace. You won’t blow your budget bouncing between Skechers, Victoria’s Secret and Express, but you might do so with a geek out at the comic shop or Disney Store. You can see Miami from above with a ride on the Skyviews Observation Wheel, but we’d suggest doing that before you settle in for a few pints at the Bavaria Haus Beerhall.

Catch a Marlins game at the Loan Depot Park

Building, Park, Stadium
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In Miami, any afternoon is a good excuse to shirk your responsibilities and head to a Marlins game. LoanDepot Park is west of downtown in Little Havana, a destination in its own right. If you visit in the off-season, you can tour the facility and check out the Marlinator home run sculpture. No need to worry about rain either; this field features a retractable roof, so you can stay dry catching fly balls amid one of Florida’s torrential afternoon summer storms.

Ponder modern art at the Perez Art Museum of Miami

Art Gallery, Museum, Park
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View of PAMM Perez Art Museum
© Maria Kraynova / Alamy Stock Photo

Nothing against the classics, but even art aficionados get a little heavy-eyed staring at Renaissance and Neoclassical pieces. The PAMM keeps the creative spark alive by showcasing only 20th and 21st-century pieces. This focus on international modern art offers the opportunity to highlight Miami’s diverse global community. Rotating exhibits showcase art from the African diaspora, the Caribbean and Latin America. As a mirror of the community, PAMM has established itself as a flagship museum in the city.

Marvel at global masterpieces inside the Frost Art Museum

Art Gallery, Museum
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Beautifully displayed on the Florida International University campus, the Front Art Museum wants to teach you a thing or two about interpreting art across the cultural spectrum. The steel, marble and bronze installations throughout the campus alone will pique your interest as you walk into the gallery proper. Paintings and multimedia by Haitian, Cuban and Latin American artists fill the majority of the space, while the ongoing curation of Japanese netsukes and other non-Western pieces bring global flair to the museum.

Take a walk through Bayfront Park

Park
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Bayfront Park
© Frank Fell / Alamy Stock Photo
Don’t feel like spending money at Bayside Marketplace? You can still spend your day by the Biscayne Bay for free at Bayfront Park. With offer ample places to work on your tan while you watch the sparkling yachts cruise by. When the moon starts shining, follow the live music to the amphitheater. Before leaving, toss a penny in the Pepper Fountain and wish that your travels bring you back to the Magic City.

Ogle at the Miami Design District

Art Gallery
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Art deco hotels at night with neon lights along Ocean Drive in the Art Deco District of South Beach Miami Florida
© Jason Bryan / Alamy Stock Photo
The Miami Design District’s sleek, modern architecture provides the perfect counterpart to South Beach’s art deco design. This neighborhood will dazzle, delight, and dare you to redo your home’s entire interior design. Ornare, Dupuis and other interior furnishing stores are staged near art galleries that will inspire your inner designer. Prefer to look at beauty in situ? You can take a free guided art tour around the district to explore all of the art and design that makes this Miami community pop.

Relax with a drink at CocoWalk

Shop, Theater
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Get down to Coconut Grove’s CocoWalk and spend the day wandering the shops and restaurants at this upscale mall. There’s no reason to get tempted into an orgy of tag popping and tapas tasting. Sit back with a cigar and a whiskey neat in CocoCigar. When you’re feeling that right amount of relaxation, settle in for a show and scratch kitchen dining at Cinepolis.

Spot exotic birds on Jungle Island

Amusement Park, Park
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A flock of Caribbean flamingos at Jungle Island, Miami.
© Peter Etchells / Alamy Stock Photo
Cross the MacArthur Causeway and get wild at Jungle Island. Macaws, parrots and hundreds of other exotic birds will soar so close to your head that you might lose your hat. Thankfully, the snakes, alligators, apes and tigers that also call the island home won’t wander as close to you. With the Miami Children’s Museum and Ichimura Miami Japan Garden also on Watson Island, Jungle Island is the perfect start to a day with the family.

Get back to nature at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens

Botanical Garden, Museum, Park
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Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
© Phil Degginger / Alamy Stock Photo
Grab a breath of fresh air at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens and let your senses take in the fresh flowers, vibrant butterflies and cool shade. The Keys Coastal Habitat, Moos Sunken Garden and Organic Vegetable Garden are but a few of the exhibits showcasing native and exotic plants. Does a literal walk in the park sound a little too tame for your trip? Plan a visit during one of their many events, where you can take yoga classes, listen to live music, paint plant portraits and even learn how to become a bonsai tree artist.

Watch apes swing through the trees at Monkey Jungle

Park, Zoo
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Monkey Jungle isn’t monkeying around: their Java macaques, Cameroon gorillas, howlers, capuchins and squirrel monkeys roam free without cages. You can follow the jungle trails to each animal’s area and watch them act naturally without human direction or interference. Join a guided tour through the semi-natural rainforest and get up close and personal with a few troops. As if that wasn’t enough to howl over, the vibrant parrots in the Wings of Love geodesic domes are another feature to squawk about.

Dance ‘til the early hours at LIV

Nightclub, Pub Grub, $$$
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Famous DJs regularly spin at LIV nightclub in Miami, where you can party ’til the wee hours
© Photo by Thaddaeus McAdams / Getty Images
The Miami you see in the movies is as real as it gets at LIV. Be prepared to make it rain if you want to book a VIP table with bottle service. There’s no option other than to go all out, especially when you’re rubbing elbows and sharing champagne with celebs like Lil Wayne and Future. Can you really put a price on the night of a lifetime?

Stroll down Ocean Drive

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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Hotel Carlyle, Ocean Drive, Miami. Art Deco buildings line Ocean Drive
© GAUTIER Stephane/SAGAPHOTO.COM / Alamy Stock Photo
We’d argue that every trip to Miami should start and end on Ocean Drive. The stunning art deco hotels are as vibrant as the crowds filling the surrounding bars, cafes and restaurants. Day or night, you can spend hours sipping coffee or simply strolling the sidewalk, feeling the warm Florida sunshine on your skin. Stop by Icy-N-Spicy for obligatory ice cream.

Splash cash at the Lincoln Road Mall

Cafe, Restaurant, American
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Lincoln Road Mall lets you spend your time in South Beach under the sun without digging your toes in the sand. We’d trade the flip flops for a pair of sneakers though; this outdoor mall stretches ten blocks. G-Star Raw, Red Zebra and Alchemist will suit you up with new threads and O Bag Miami, Swatch and Uno de 50 will hook you up with the rest. Show off your new look with happy hour mojitos and margaritas at Havana 1957, Balans and Chotto Matte.

Watch chess masters play at Domino Park

Park
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Latin men playing dominos at Domino Park, Little Havana, Miami. Slow down in Little Havana at this famous Cuban landmark, popular with visitors and locals alike
© Chuck Mason / Alamy Stock Photo
While everyone on the street will know it as Domino Park, you’ll need to map out Maximo Gomez Park to get to the game. Across the street from the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, you’ll see dozens of people huddled around domino and chess games. It is a member’s only affair, but players don’t mind the crowd. Grab a scoop of domino (Oreo cookies and cream) ice cream from Azucar Ice Cream Company and settle in under the shade to immerse yourself in these lively table games.
These recommendations were updated on June 16, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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