Located on a natural and man-made island between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach is Florida’s trendiest vacation destination, primarily a haven for the remarkably rich.
Founded in 1915, Miami Beach is close to some of the state’s most visited attractions, such as Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Monument and the Florida Keys.
Miami and Miami Beach are known for their all-night clubs, posh restaurants and endless stretches of white sand. These cities have stunning Art Deco architecture and an interesting and diverse mix of cultures.
Here are 15 things to do in Miami Beach.
1. South Beach
Often referred to as the American Riviera because it’s a playground for the rich and famous, South Beach attracts a lot of tourists every year, and not all of them are high rollers.
Sure, you might stand out if you’re wearing a fanny pack and a pair of Hush Puppies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit some of the area’s best attractions.
As the name suggests, South Beach is known for its stunning beaches, but it’s also full of historic Art Deco buildings that are best seen on a tour.
South Beach’s cuisine is known for its international influence; although many restaurants are pricey, there are also reasonably priced options.
2. Miami Children’s Museum
Located on a smaller island between South Beach and the city, the Miami Children’s Museum is a family-friendly oasis in the middle of the city with mostly adult entertainment.
The museum has a wealth of educational exhibits, with highlights including a mock castle, a giant piggy bank, and a music-making studio, all of which encourage children to play and interact.
While the museum is great to visit anytime, it’s especially appealing when South Florida’s weather isn’t conducive to outdoor activities.
Rumor has it that the museum is offering one free evening every month. While you can save on admission, you may have to compete with hordes of other cost-conscious families.
3. Ocean Drive
For lovers of architecture—especially the iconic forms and flowing lines of the Art Deco movement—Ocean Avenue is well worth a visit.
For the average Joe, many hotels and restaurants are unaffordable, but it is still possible to visit the scenic area and learn about its history and culture. It is convenient and relatively inexpensive to do so as part of a guided tour.
You’ll be sure to appreciate the historical and architectural insight of your local guide, and along the way you may discover some affordable and relatively undiscovered gems.
4. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Located in laid-back coconut groves, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens isn’t quite as famous as some of Miami Beach’s other attractions, but it shines in the natural beauty and history departments and is worth a few precious hours of vacation.
Comprising nearly 50 acres of professionally planted gardens, the grounds also include a stunning Italian Renaissance villa with sweeping views of the nearby city and bay.
The idyllic venue features an event-rich calendar of events, including yoga, live entertainment, and arts and crafts shows.
Check their website for directions, times, and entry fees.
5. Spanish Monastery
South Florida is home to the longest continuously inhabited settlement in the country, and Spanish merchants and monks were among the first to explore and settle in the area.
Dating back more than seven centuries, St. Bernard Clairvaux Abbey was originally built in Spain but was bought in the 1930s by American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who dismantled it and shipped it to Florida, then rebuild.
Made up of tens of thousands of individual pieces, this is no small festival, and it’s a true South Florida treasure worth seeing.
It’s open every day and very cheap.
6. Holocaust Memorial
Although it may seem out of place in a city full of glitter, vanity, and materialism, the Holocaust Memorial in South Beach is a poignant local attraction, a fun and educational tour.
It opened to the public in 1990 and includes some fantastic sculptures, architectural elements and a peaceful meditation garden.
The site’s most prominent sculpture captures the pain and torment of death camp victims such as Auschwitz and Buchenwald, which many visitors claim is one of the most memorable things they’ve experienced during their trip.
The site is free to visit, and guided tours are available.
7. Philip and Patricia Science Museum
Comprising hundreds of thousands of square feet of exciting exhibits, displays, and activities, the Philip and Patricia Science Museum is the perfect place to study and entertain for hours in the morning or afternoon—especially for those traveling with kids.
The museum is spread across four buildings, and its most popular features include a massive aquarium with half a million gallons of water that is home to an incredible array of colorful marine life. There’s also a planetarium that offers guided tours of the universe and a cool laser show.
The museum also hosts unique pajama party events, including companionship, kid-friendly activities, and meals.
8. Wynwood Brewing Company
Like much of the rest of the country, South Florida has experienced a beer renaissance in recent years, and Wynwood Brewing Company is one of the pioneers in the region.
Located in an unassuming warehouse, Wynwood’s reputation isn’t for its location, but for its amazing variety of styles of high-quality microbrews.
Many of the brewing company’s products are available at local retailers, but they’re a real hit at bars.
The food is okay too; it’s the perfect way to get away from the Florida sun for a few hours, grab a great beer, and support the local economy.
9. Deering Manor
Originally a winter retreat for a wealthy family, the Deering Estate has now become a unique historic attraction open to the public.
Comprising various buildings and elevated boardwalks, the estate is known for its Native American archaeological sites dating back nearly 50,000 years.
It’s all about the best experience as part of a guided history and nature walk. Along the way, visitors will learn about the Deering family and the historical significance of the site, especially as it relates to the lives of the Native Americans who lived in the area for thousands of years before European settlement.
10. Wynwood Wall
From humble beginnings, Wynwood Walls started with just a few commissioned murals, but over the years has grown to nearly 40, many by renowned artists from around the world.
The murals change frequently to coincide with the annual Art Basel show. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area before the show, you might see new artists working on their giant masterpieces.
Wynwood Walls is open year-round and free to visit, but there are also relatively inexpensive one-hour guided tours for those who want to learn about the work’s creator and his inspiration.
11. Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden
With hundreds of days of sunshine each year, abundant rainfall, and a subtropical climate, southern Florida is an ideal environment for growing a variety of plants, trees, and flowers, while Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens is filled with a colorful array of native and non-native species.
Covering nearly 90 acres and named after a world-renowned local botanist, it features a museum and many unique professionally cultivated gardens.
Offering interpretive trolley tours, they also offer a variety of seasonal festivals and events, including guest speakers, arts and crafts, and delicious food and drink.
12. Perez Art Museum
Miami and Miami Beach are mecca for the contemporary art world, attracting artists, gallerists and collectors from all over the world.
Located along picturesque Biscayne Bay, the Perez Museum of Art has one of the most important collections of modern art in the country, including a variety of mediums from some of the biggest names in the game.
It sounds like a direct, hands-off venue, but it’s not. The museum has a variety of interactive exhibits and other programs designed for children.
The museum also features a cool gift shop and a stylish restaurant with a view.
13. Little Havana
South Florida is known for its large Cuban population, many of whom arrived in the country as part of the Mariel Boat Lift held in 1980.
Known for its Caribbean-inspired music, culture, and food, Little Havana is one of the region’s most exclusive neighborhoods, offering visitors a variety of shopping, dining, and sightseeing options.
Home to many unique galleries, Little Havana has always been a hotspot for fusion cuisine, featuring up-and-coming chefs known for their modern take on old Cuban classics.
Consider a Cuban sandwich and espresso at a local diner for a truly unique experience.
14. Everglades National Park
Comprising more than one million acres of primeval forest, mangroves, and swamps, the Everglades is a natural treasure, home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the United States and home to many iconic animals such as alligators and alligators , Florida panthers and a wide variety of predatory and wading birds.
The Everglades National Park is open to the public, and although you can explore on your own, many visitors opt for guided tours.
Seeing it all from an airboat is an exhilarating experience that will allow you to get up close and personal with the many fascinating marsh dwellers.
15. Participate in some club activities
Miami Beach’s list of worthy “things to do” doesn’t exclude its world-famous clubs.
In fact, the city’s clubs are among the most famous in the world. While it’s true that they are primarily young, wealthy, and extremely attractive fields, there are plenty of options for the budget-conscious traveller as well.
If you’re lucky enough to fall into the former category, clubs like Bleau Bar and STORY are great options, but if you don’t want to put up with long lines and excessive snob, consider lower-end clubs that offer evening tours that often include dinner and drink deals , making them great value for money.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Miami Beach, FL, FL
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