Things to do in Miami, Florida

With sunny skies and beach weather year-round, Miami has become one of the most exciting cities in the United States.

Culturally diverse, Miami is known for its large population of immigrants, 70% of which are Hispanic and Latinos. This gives the city a special flavor that can be found in its sizzling beaches, high-end nightclubs, and Cuban sandwiches. Expect to hear every Spanish dialect possible and to meet people from all over the world, as tourists flock the town no matter the month of the year.

The best way to see Miami is to move away from the stereotypes and see beyond the beach. From interesting museums, to a myriad of cultural events, to an rapidly growing art scene, the city is becoming increasingly interesting with every passing year.

When on vacation to sunny Miami, here are the top 5 things to do:

1. Wynwood Art District

Street art in Wynwood, Miami (© Lizartpix CC BY-SA 5.0 International) Spray painted murals in Wynwood, Miami (© Wuerzele , CC-BY-4.0) A peacock roaming Geneva's Botanical Gardens (© Tiia Monto, CC-BY-ASA-3.0).

With street art covering virtually every wall in the district, Wynwood is turning into Miami’s trendiest neighborhood.

A couple of years ago, Wynwood was not much to look at. Today, this neighborhood has become the art district of the city and is drawing a hip, alternative crowd.

Wynwood’s greatest allure are its walls, which display some of the finest examples of street art in the entire country. To match these pieces are the countless art galleries, the concept restaurants, and boutique bars that line the streets. If you want to find a different kind of party than the ones you’ve seen in movies, this is most definitely the place to go.

where? There is no specific point from which to start exploring the neighborhood, but the Wynwood Walls, located on 2520 NW 2nd Ave is one of the most popular spots. As with most places in Miami, the best way to get to it is on car.

when? Daytime is a good time to visit Wynwood if you’re one to escape crowds, or if you want to do some shopping. If you’re looking for a party, however, nighttime and weekends are when you’ll be able to enjoy the cool underground bars. If you’re lucky enough to be in Miami on the second Saturday of the month, then going to Wynwood’s Art Walk is almost a rite of passage. This monthly event sees the entire neighborhood become a giant street party where art galleries and studios open their doors, and the streets and bars are full to the rim.

£$€¥ Though Wynwood is hipster paradise, you can still find pretty decent prices for food and drink. Shopping tends to be quite expensive, however, especially if you’re looking to enhance your art collection.

2. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Villa Vizcaya, Miami The gardens of Vilal Vizcaya, Miami (© Dr Zak, CC-BY-ASA 3.0) A fountain in the grounds of Villa Vizcaya (© Ebyabe, CC-BY-ASA 3.0)

Bringing an air of Mediterranean Italy to Miami, Vizcaya is a must-see for history lovers.

This estate-turned-museum is most definitely one of Miami’s most astonishing historical landmarks. Once owned by the wealthy businessman, James Deering, the grandiose 1920s estate is now a museum open to the general public.

Visitors can tour around the beautiful mansion and the expansive gardens, designed in the style of the Italian Renaissance. The grounds are truly remarkable, with mazes of pillars, stairs, fountains, and statues. To top it all off, Vizcaya is built right on the waterfront, so that you can admire the glistening water as you tour the Great Gatsby-esque estate.

where? The estate is located on 3251 S Miami Ave in the Coconut Grove neighborhood. Again, the most convenient way to reach it would be on your private car. However, those with access to the Miami MetroRail will be happy to know that the Vizcaya station leaves visitors within reasonable distance.

when? Vizcaya is open every day -except on Tuesdays- from 9:30am to 4:30pm. It does not open on Thanksgiving or Christmas day.

£$€¥ General admissions for those over 12 is $18. Senior citizens enter for the special price of $12, students and visitors in wheelchairs are charged $10, and children from 6 to 12 years of age pay $6. Veterans and children 5 years or youngers can enter free of charge.

3. Little Havana

Little Havana, Miami (© Infrogmation, CC-BY-ASA-3.0) Marlins Park, Miami (© Roberto Coquis, CC-BY-ASA-2.0) Domino Park, Little Havana, Miami (© Infrogmation, CC-BY-ASA-3.0)

Filled with Cuban immigrants, domino tables, and cultural events, Little Havana will make you feel as if you’ve left the US.

This neighborhood has just the right amount of chaos and informality to make you feel relaxed and at home. Here, you’ll be hearing Spanish from all corners, and might even have a hard time finding someone who speaks English.

Restaurants abound with delicious Cuban food, from croquetas to platanos to the famed Cuban sandwich, this is as authentic as you’ll get outside of Cuba. You’ll also see old men spending the afternoon playing dominos, and realize that a taste of island life has been brought over to Miami.

Little Havana is also known for its emphasis on cultural events. The Tower Theatre shows classic and independent films, art galleries are constantly holding new expositions, and plays and concerts are the bread of everyday life.

where? If you follow the infamous Calle 8, you will inevitably end up in Little Havana. Memorial Boulevard, located on 8th street with SW 12th-17th avenues is the best place to start the tour and see some major places of interest.

when? There is no bad time to visit Little Havana. With memorials, museums, and restaurants open during the daytime, and bars and clubs open at night, you will always find something to do. If there is a specific place that you wish to visit, check its hours of operation before hand. Remember, business here is conducted more informally than elsewhere in the country, so don’t be surprised if the times you find online don’t match the actual ones- the owner of that small restaurant might decide on a whim to close his shop and go play some dominos.

£$€¥ Little Havana is the place where you get to do glamour for a fair price. Most places of commerce are relatively inexpensive, and you will find quality food and entertainment for little money.

4. Fairchild Gardens

Chuhuly Glass at Fairchild Gardens, Miami (© Karin marie Mansfield, CC-BY-ASA-3.0). Waterlilies at Fairchild Botanical Gardens, Miami (© Ethan Oringel, CC-BY-ASA-2.0). Tropical fruit at Fairchild Botanical Gardens (© Cscott.zona, CC-BY-ASA 2.0).

Botany and art combine in Fairchild Gardens to create a breathtaking floral paradise.

Fairchild will make you feel as if you’ve entered the Garden of Eden. With 83 acres of gardens, you will find a wide diversity of species, including orchids, palms, and the giant African baobab tree. Its enchantment brings in a steady supply of visitors throughout the year, which include tourists, school groups, and even wedding parties.

The gardens, however, are much more than a pretty space to spend the day. Since its opening in 1936, Fairchild has been fiercely committed to preserving the biodiversity of South Florida. Its programs include research as well as educational efforts. Through its actions, it has become a safe space for ecologists and scientists working for the ecosystem of the region.

where? Located in Coral Gables, you can find the Fairchild Gardens at 10901 Old Cutler Road. Since there is no designated bus stop near the gardens, it is advisable to go by car. If you are within biking or walking distance, you can skip the car ride and enjoy an Eco-discount of $5 for adults and $2 for children.

when? Fairchild is open every single day of the year except for Christmas day from 9:30am to 4:30pm. The garden stays open later on select Thursday nights when there are special events.

£$€¥ Adults get in for $25, seniors for $18, and children over 6 for $12. Veterans and children under 5 enjoy free admission. 

5. South Beach

Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami (© chensiyuan, GFDL). South Beach, Miami (© Wikiwopbop, CC-BY-ASA-3.0). Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami

Art Deco buildings, shirtless pedestrians, and tanned faces make South Beach the heart of Miami.

No visit to Miami would be complete without at least a glimpse into life at South Beach. After all, this is the Miami that has captured people’s imagination for decades. The neighborhood is famous for its beaches, its boardwalk, and its overly indulgent lifestyle. If glamour is your style, you’ll feel right at home at the fine-dine restaurants in Española Way, the row of stores in Lincoln Road, and the high-end clubs spread throughout.

However, there is a deeper side to the infamous neighborhood. Art Deco architecture permeates every corner, family-owned businesses can still be found, and cultural events bring intellectuality to the party-driven streets.

where? If you’re at a loss of where to begin to explore South Beach, just head to Ocean Drive. This is where you’ll find the most iconic images of Miami, including the beach. Unlike most other places in the city, it is actually convenient to walk, bike, or take a bus.

when? Beach during the day and party during the night seems to be the motto that drives life at South Beach. This means that this district never sleeps, so show up whenever you desire without worrying.

£$€¥ As Miami’s most popular district, South Beach is also one of its most expensive. From restaurants to bars to clubs, expect to pay the price of location. The beach is, of course, free, but parking tends to be difficult to find and often costs