Miami may not have a very efficient public transportation system or pedestrian-friendly streets, but although traveling by car is the easiest way to get around, there are a few areas you can explore by foot. The artsy neighborhood of Wynwood is walkable, as are parts of Brickell, Coral Gables and Coconut Grove – though you’ll need a ride to get there. We’ve focused on one area with the best cultural sights, historic monuments, water views and a taste of city life – here’s our walkable guide to Downtown.
Begin your journey through the Magic City with a visit to the historic Gesu Church on 2nd street in Downtown. This Roman Catholic Church is the oldest in Miami and was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The beautiful stained glass and arched windows are a nod to colonial architecture, and it was built on land donated by Henry Flager, one of the city’s founders.
Gesu Church, 118 NE 2nd St, Miami, FL, USA +1 305-379-1424
A few blocks east of the church, the Freedom Tower is considered the “Ellis Island of the South” for serving as a Cuban Assistance Center from 1962 -1974. Though first used as the headquarters for the newspaper The Miami Times, it later became the government facility that processed documents for Cuban refugees fleeing from the Fidel Castro regime. The tower – clad in its Mediterranean Revival style with cupola – is now a contemporary art museum and meeting hall.
Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL, USA +1 305-237-7738
Pérez Art Museum Miami
Cross Biscayne Boulevard onto the Pérez Art Museum Miami for a peek of the modern architecture and its collection of Latin American modern art. Nestled on the grounds of Museum Park along Biscayne Bay, PAMM was designed by famous architects Herzog & de Meuron, and boasts unique canopy gardens, a plaza and three levels of galleries. While on your walk through Museum Park, you can also stop for a picnic on the lush green lawns or continue on your cultural excursion with a visit to the Frost Museum of Science perched on the same grounds.
Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL, USA +1 305-375-3000
PAMM | © Daniel Azoulay Courtesy of PAMM
American Airlines Arena
Next to Museum Park is the American Airlines Arena, the entertainment and sports venue where the Miami Heat (three-time NBA Championship winning basketball team) plays. There are numerous concerts, games and shows to see here, but you don’t need to enter if you don’t have a ticket. Still, it’s great for a picture!
American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL, USA +1 786-777-1000
Port of Miami
While walking along Biscayne Boulevard, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Port of Miami. The busiest port in the world, it served 5.3 million visitors in 2017, hence the city’s moniker, “The Cruise Capital of the World.”
Port of Miami, Miami, FL, USA
Cruises docked at the Port of Miami | Public Domain Pixabay
Simón Bolívar monument
Directly in front of Bayside Marketplace, don’t miss the Simón Bolívar monument. The Venezuelan “liberator of Latin America” from the Spanish colonies is featured here surrounded by a share of Latin American flags.
Simón Bolívar monument, Miami, FL, USA
It may be a tourist trap, but you can’t leave Miami without a walk through Bayside. The outdoor marketplace sits along Biscayne Bay with beautiful views of the water, the marina, and plenty of restaurants and shopping to keep you occupied. Grab a frozen pina colada at Let’s Make A Daquiri, and enjoy the live music while sinking into the pace of Miami’s bohemian lifestyle.
Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd R106, Miami, FL, USA +1 305-577-3344
Bayside Marketplace | © Songquan Deng / Shutterstock | © Songquan Deng / Shutterstock
Adjacent to Bayside, Bayfront Park is a 32-acre urban park with a children’s playground, artist statues and a sandy area with loungers and waterfront views where you can enjoy the gentle breeze underneath the palm trees. The best part of Bayfront is you can continue along the sidewalk until you cross the Brickell Avenue Bridge onto Brickell’s business district. (You can also hop on the free Metromover which is located just across Biscayne Boulevard.) For a tour of Miami Beach, you’ll have to take the bus, but once there it’s easy to navigate on trolley, bus or by foot!
Bayfront Park, 301 North Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL, USA +1 305-358-7550
Bayfront Park | Public Domain Pixabay