The Top Things to See and Do in Miami

Miami Beach filled with swimmers and surfers enjoying the waves
Miami Beach filled with swimmers and surfers enjoying the waves | © ADS / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Aisha Moktadier
10 September 2020

Miami is one of the greatest destinations to fly to during the winter and spring, which is the peak season. When visiting the Magic City, be sure to hit any of these exciting destinations for an unforgettable vacation.

Visit the Venetian Pool

Swimming Pool
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Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, Miami. The Venetian Pool is an 820,000-gallon swimming oasis
© Dorling Kindersley ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
You’ll have to hit South Beach while you’re in Miami, but if you’re looking for another beautiful place to tan, relax and swim, you’ll want to visit the Venetian Pool. Located in the heart of Coral Gables, it is a historic lagoon carved out of coral that has been around since 1924, and it also boasts waterfalls and caves. Its gorgeous blue water and natural beauty make it a wonderful place for both families and groups of friends to sit back and soak up the sun.

See the Pérez Art Museum Miami

Museum
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© Daniel Azoulay / Courtesy of PAMM | © Daniel Azoulay / Courtesy of PAMM
The Pérez Art Museum Miami, otherwise known as the PAMM, is a beautifully designed museum that hosts several wonderful events and exhibits, including multi-dimensional and mixed-media pieces from renowned artists. Once you’ve walked around the museum, you can visit the gift shop for some great trinkets (think quirky postcards and coffee table books on art, history and fashion) and the on-site restaurant, Verde, for a cup of coffee or a quick snack. The museum offers guests a stunning waterfront view and swinging chairs.

Go to a Wynwood Art Walk

Hiking Trail, Art Gallery
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Your tour of Miami isn’t over until you’ve seen Wynwood, the arts district, and have attended an Art Walk, which take place every second Saturday of the month. Galleries open and offer viewings, free drinks and music, and the whole district is alive with a block party feel. Bars have DJs and local talent playing, with refreshing cocktails and food trucks serving up some tasty street food eats. You can view the street art, along with performances by drummers and dancers on every street corner.

Visit Calle Ocho (and Viernes Culturales!)

Art Gallery, Historical Landmark
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Domino Park (Parque del Domino). Miami. Florida. Little Havana's Domino Park is a gathering place for the Cuban community
© Felix Stensson / Alamy Stock Photo
Anyone who comes to Miami has to visit Little Havana, which is the epicenter of Cuban culture and politics in Miami. Men gather for café con leche and pastries and talk about their favorite memories from Havana. Families gather for delicious, authentic Cuban meals and Cuban ice cream. When it reopens, head to Ball and Chain, a lounge in Little Havana where people come to dance, drink, eat and listen to local bands. Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays), happen on the last Friday of every month. This must-see event is when the whole stretch of Calle Ocho comes together to celebrate Cuban culture, with live music, dancing, galleries that stay open to show off Cuban artists’ work, games of dominoes and people rolling and smoking Cuban cigars.

Enjoy the Miami skyline (and delicious food!) at Juvia

Restaurant, Bar, French, Japanese, Peruvian, American, $$$
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If you’re looking for a place with an outstanding view and an even more impressive lunch menu, then Juvia is the place for you. Situated on the roof of a parking garage, it features the most breathtaking view of Miami (both during the day and at night when the stars are out, and the city is lit up). Food-wise, it offers guests delicious dishes like fresh ceviche, Chilean sea bass, king crab eggs Benedict and, of course, bottomless Bellinis. If you’re looking for a romantic spot for dinner, Juvia is equally impressive at night, complete with a full bar. Make sure to wear your best attire for this spot.

Get a great tan on South Beach

Natural Feature
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Lifeguard Tower of South Pointe Park on Miami South Beach, Florida.
© Axel Schmies / Getty Images
At some point during your vacation, make sure to hit South Beach for a great tanning session. Bring along some friends or your family and a cooler of cold drinks. When you’re ready to drink, be sure to use plastic cups as Miami Beach is very strict about glass containers on the beach. Dip into the water and catch some (small) waves. Enjoy a game of beach volleyball or go rollerblading. You’ll be sure to walk away with a golden glow and the most beautiful beachy waves.

See the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Museum, Park, Botanical Garden
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Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was once home to James Derring
© Bill Sumner
The Vizcaya Museum is a historic villa – first built in the 1910s – that once belonged to James Deering and served as his winter home. The main house features beautiful rooms that guests can walk through and decor that will amaze, including fresco ceilings from Tuscany and France, marble flooring and stained-glass doors. There is also an enchanting garden that you can walk through and enjoy, and the museum creates a stunning photogenic backdrop. Guided tours of the gardens and the villa’s first floor last 45 minutes.

Visit Zoo Miami

Zoo
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You might not think the zoo would be a fun thing to check out, but it’s a good time for both tourists and locals alike. Zoo Miami is the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida and is home to 900 animals. Voted as one of the top zoos in the US, its attractions include the camel encounter, water-play areas, the giraffe feeding station and boat rides. There’s a lot to see here, so set aside a whole day for this attraction.

Take a 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
Take a stroll down Ocean Drive, an iconic thoroughfare in Miami’s South Beach neighbourhood. This 1.3mi (2km) stretch of road is famous for its Art Deco hotels and restaurants, many of which have appeared in films and TV shows over the decades (part of the Sunray Apartments building was used as a set in 1982’s Scarface). Ocean Boulevard is also where you’ll find Casa Casuarina, the 1930s mansion that was owned by Italian fashion designer Giovanni Versace from 1992 until his death in 1997.

Visit the Bayside Marketplace

Shopping Mall, Market, Shop
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At some point, you’ll need to make your way over to Bayside for a boat ride, some salsa dancing and to buy some trinkets to take home with you. The Bayside Marketplace is home to little shops that sell all kinds of items, including jewelry, bikinis, home decor and clothing. Take a boat ride around the bay to get some fresh air and a lovely view of downtown Miami. Afterward, stay for a filling seafood lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., or head to the Knife Parrilla for an unforgettable steak.

Swim on the pristine beaches at Crandon Park

Park
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Key Biscayne, Crandon Beach - Florida (US) - Wildlife abounds at Key Biscayne's beautiful Crandon Beach
© oriredmouse
For one of the best swimming experiences in Miami, head for the pristine shores of Crandon Park. Located in between the city and the island town of Key Biscayne, in the middle of the Rickenbacker Causeway, it offers white beaches, tennis and golfing facilities and plenty of activities for kids. You can also see the ruins of Crandon Zoo, which was home to over 1,000 animals before it closed in 1980. Parking spaces are plentiful and cost $5 per day during the week and $7 on the weekends.

Go shopping at Lincoln Road Mall

Shopping Mall
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Fountain at Lincoln Road Mall, South Beach, Miami. Lincoln Road Mall is a pleasant open-air shopping area in South Beach
© Peter Schickert / Alamy Stock Photo
Shoppers and food lovers will want to check out Lincoln Road Mall, a smart cluster of stores, cafés, bars and restaurants in Miami Beach. Big brand outlets such as Lacoste and Nike can be found alongside independent shops specializing in clothing, shoes and beauty products. The hospitality offering is similarly diverse, ranging from espresso and ice cream to pizza and teriyaki. To enjoy a bargain cocktail or two, check out the various bars’ happy hours.

Chill out in David T. Kennedy Park

Park
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Most of Miami’s parks have reopened to the public, although their picnic areas, gyms and playgrounds remain closed. One of the city’s biggest and best green spaces is David T. Kennedy Park located on the waterfront in the Coconut Grove area. It offers biking trails, dog parks and shaded boulevards on which to stroll or jog. The park’s legendary refreshment van A.C.’s Icees, a specialist in iced lemonades and hotdogs, has temporarily moved to Pan American Drive near City Hall.

Soak up the Cuban ambience in 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
For a concentrated dose of Miami’s hugely enjoyable Cuban culture, head to Máximo Gómez Park in Little Havana, known informally as Domino Park. Named after a Cuban revolutionary, it’s where the city’s retired Cuban residents gather for games of dominoes, cups of potent Cuban coffee and to exchange the latest gossip. Grab a seat on one of the benches that line the colorfully decorated walls, watch the people playing and soak up Little Havana’s vibrant street life. The park is open every day from 9am to 6pm.

Additional reporting by Mark Nayler

These recommendations were updated on September 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.