In the common imagination, Miami it is considered the symbolic destination of all of Florida: from my point of view I can confirm all this, even if this great notoriety can give rise to misunderstandings. The most common mistake is actually just to regard Miami as just a tourist post in slippers and beach towel they spend the day on the beach before going to the trendy clubs on the seafront for the evening. Ok, it's true: thanks to the presence of enchanting beaches different from each other and scattered in various points of the city, Miami has a very rich tourist offer aimed atbathing activities and nightlife, of which it is undoubtedly among the world capitals.
However, don't forget that this large South Florida city caters to the needs of all travelers. Just think of South Beach, that more than a neighborhood is a "town within a city" characterized by boundless white sand beaches and crystal clear waters: the promenade of Ocean Drive however, it is also a fascinating open-air museum of historic style buildings Art Deco, a treasure that considerably enriches the visit. Besides South Beach, there is much more: the classy neighborhoods of Coral Gables e Coconut Grove, the labyrinthine contemporary verticality of Brickell e Downtown, the Cuban heart of Little Havana, the artistic vitality of Wynwood, the wild beauty of Key Biscayne...
The aforementioned neighborhoods represent the many faces of the city and require time and adequate preparation to be fully discovered and experienced. For this reason, before leaving, in addition to understanding how many days to visit Miami, it will be good to get an idea of the main places of interest to visit and various Things to do in the city. Let's find out together what to see in Miami.
- Miami what to see: places of interest and neighborhoods
- Visit Miami Beach
- The beaches of Miami
- Venetian Pool e Coral Gables
- Villa Vizcaya e Coconut Grove
- Wynwood Arts District
- Little Havana
- Downtown and Brickell
- Key Biscayne e Virginia Key
- The minor neighborhoods
- Miami museums
- Miami parks
- What to do in Miami: experiences not to be missed
- Watch an NBA game: the Miami Heat
- Other Sporting Events in Miami: NFL and tennis
- Biscayne Bay Cruise
- Excursions outside the city
- Festivals and other events in Miami
- Fare shopping a Miami
- Other popular tourist activities
- Miami in 3 days: recommended itinerary
- Other useful information for visiting Miami
- How to choose accommodation in Miami
- Car Rental and Florida SunPass
- Miami Pass
- Video to introduce you to the city
Miami what to see: places of interest and neighborhoods
Miami's attractions to see are plentiful and will require you to move from one end of the city to the other, traversing its diverse and exciting neighborhoods. For this reason, I recommend that you read our guide on how to get around Miami to better organize your stay logistically.
Visit Miami Beach
Let's start with the trendy and touristic side of the city: Miami Beach. Miami Beach means the "town within the city" that occupies the long, narrow strip of land that stretches between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, facing Miami Downtown and the entire North Miami area. Miami Beach is in turn divided into South Beach, Central Beach and North Beach; however, by main tourist interest, generally with Miami Beach we mean above all South beach.
South Beach: Ocean Drive and the Art Deco District
South Beach, the neighborhood of the city that goes from 24th St down to the southern tip, has attracted everyone's attention since the 1926s when - after the devastating hurricane of XNUMX (Great Miami Hurricane) - from agricultural area in difficulty, thanks to a farsighted and ingenious urban project, was transformed into a refined district in subtropical style dotted with palm trees and full of hotels, museums and elegant style buildings Art Deco: the district of the same name (Art Deco Historic District) is at its best on the Ocean Drive waterfront and parallel Collins Avenue, but wandering around it is possible to see references of this style even in the back streets.Spanish Way Spanish Way is an Iberian oasis in this row of Art Nouveau buildings, and represents a curious detour to take to see some examples of stile Mediterranean Revival.
Right along the charming coastline of Ocean Drive - in the shade of the palm trees of Lummus Park and on the white sand of the beaches - the seaside life of the city takes place, active 365 days a year. When evening falls, everyone moves to the clubs and discos in the area, always full of young people who want to have fun and have a good night. To find out more, read our South Beach article.
Central Beach e North Beach
Central Beach and North Beach are less flashy than South Beach, but they are still quite busy. Despite having changed over time, the two urban areas manage to protect the prestigious heritage of the XNUMXs, when they were the flagships of the city for luxury hotels and beachfront resorts, a paradise for the wealthy and for VIPs in search of the good life. Although today they do not manage to attract tourists as they once did, in addition to a suggestive promenade (Miami Beach Boardwalk), they retain some notable MiMo style buildings, an architectural trend in vogue in the second half of the last century.
The beaches of Miami
Le Miami Beach beaches are a real spectacle: the wide white sand coast, the iconic colorful lifeguard huts, the clear and crystalline water, the shady promenade of Lummus Park where beautiful girls and muscular hunks parade and have themselves photographed ... it really seems to be in a movie or music video! Behind the palm trees, the bright and lively facades of historic hotels stand out, with vintage cars strategically parked in front to make the experience of traveling back in time complete.
Away from Miami's skyscrapers are the wild beaches and tropical paradises of Key Biscayne, small islet south of South Beach, which I will talk about later. Finally, an incredibly little-known pearl: it is the Matheson Hammock Park, an artificial beach in the shape of an atoll in the area between Coral Gables and South Miami. Invigorated by the tides, crowned by palm trees and surrounded by mangroves and tropical plants, this hidden gem presents itself as the ideal choice for families and those who want some peace.
To find out more about these and other main beaches to consider during a trip to these parts, I refer you to our article on the best beaches in Miami.
Venetian Pool e Coral Gables
Imagine, if you can, one fabulous public swimming pool embellished with elegant buildings, graceful bridges and elaborate Venetian-style finishes: in the turquoise water gushing from the deep natural spring that feeds the pool, waterfalls plunge and welcoming coral rock caves open up, shaded by palm trees rising from the surrounding islets. This place is not a dream. It exists: it is there Venetian pool, probably the most famous and representative attraction of Coral Gables, a neighborhood that can only be defined as an ingenious urban invention by the architect George Merrick.
In the 12s, Merrick transformed, with major investments, a vast land of pine and citrus groves of about XNUMX km² into one of the most exclusive and prestigious neighborhoods in Miami: driving around this labyrinth of streets with Andalusian and Italian names you can see precious palaces and refined residences in Mediterranean Revival style (and it is not the only one) who doze quietly in the shade of the banyans, majestic trees that - with their intertwined trunks and unmistakable foliage - gently bend over the road accompanying the slow passage of cars.
In our article dedicated to Coral Gables we have indicated which are the monuments and attractions to visit in this prestigious district of Miami, with particular attention to shopping on the معجزه مسیر,en, the commercial area.
Villa Vizcaya e Coconut Grove
Perhaps among the things to do in Miami you would never have expected an attraction of this type, but this city is truly able to surprise. Back in 1914, James Deering, an eccentric Chicago tycoon, spent a whopping $ 15 million to build the coastal area of Coconut Grove (south of Downtown) a sumptuous Renaissance villa overlooking the ocean in the middle of the tropical forest. The idea was that, thanks to the ancient appearance and the impressive attention to detail of the interiors and the adjacent park, the sumptuous Vizcaya Villa gave the impression of having been inhabited for at least 400 years.
The ensuing result was an eccentric but very elegant palace that highlights Baroque, Renaissance, Rococo and Neoclassical influences. Inside the numerous rooms of this small palace - which spread over two floors around a Spanish-style courtyard enriched by lush tropical vegetation - you will find an ambitious collection of furnishings, furnishings and works of art (some original, others reconstructed), while outside it is fantastic to get lost in the paths of the villa's beautiful gardens, embellished with an orchidarium, elaborate flickering fountains, panoramic terraces, decorative sculptures and, last but not least, the grandiose marble vessel who is called to defend the villa from the waves of the sea.
Found Vizcaya Villa at 3251 S Miami Ave, on the north side of Coconut Grove, a smaller residential neighborhood than Coral Gables. Villa Vizcaya is not the only attraction of Coconut Grove: in its southern part, the neighborhood stands out for the exclusive character of the rich private houses hidden in the greenery and the historic residences overlooking the sea (Barnacle Historic State Park), and for the presence of lush tropical gardens (Kampong Garden) as well as a small harbor. Here is our article on Coconut Grove.
Wynwood Arts District
If you got an idea of Miami by reading the previous paragraphs, the small neighborhood of Wynwood (if you can call it that) is here to turn it upside down! Located north of Downtown, Wynwood is famous for its beautiful murals, an expression of an artistic vitality that in recent years has proved so lively and effective that it has transformed an unassuming industrial district into a beautiful open-air exhibition dedicated to street art.
Here you can breathe an authentic underground spirit in the air: there are no glittering skyscrapers or dream beaches, but low buildings and industrial warehouses frescoed with huge murals, clubs and bars for young people and artists, refined restaurants and unconventional shops. One can concentrate one's visit in the delimited space of the Wynwood Walls - where works by internationally renowned street artists are exhibited and sold at a high price - or wander (with due caution, although it is not a dangerous area) through the surrounding streets, in search of other graffiti, which spontaneously multiplied throughout the area. To find out more, read our article dedicated to Wynwood.
Miami is full in all of its neighborhoods with South American people, generally well integrated. Spanish is spoken almost as much as English, there are Venezuelans, Haitians, Argentines, Colombians and so on and so forth. However, the most important "enclave" of Miami, for well-known historical socio-political reasons, is precisely that Cuban. Little Havana is its beating heart, and more precisely the short stretch of Eighth Street (SW 8th St) which goes from 12th Ave to 19th Ave: a short walk here literally projects us into another world, among typical restaurants (watch out for the prices of cocktails: as soon as they see a tourist, Cubans easily adapt to the high prices of Miami!) and clubs where Cuban music is played from the early afternoon, small clubs where elderly with hollow faces play chess and dominoes, cigar shops and exotic fruit stores where strictly Spanish is spoken.
However, not everything is joyful and carefree in this neighborhood: there is also room for silence and emotion in front of the monuments of the Cuban Memorial Boulevard Park, where the events and heroes of Cuban independence and the dramatic outcome of the Bay of Pigs invasion (1961) are remembered. For more details, the reference is to our article dedicated to Little Havana.
Downtown and Brickell
Thanks to its flashy skyline, Downtown Miami immediately arouses the curiosity of anyone arriving in the city for the first time. Curiosity is satisfied when you get on the Metromover, a sort of small free elevated train that gives you the opportunity to wander among the skyscrapers that rise above Biscayne Bay: an experience that can hardly leave you indifferent.
However, when you then get off the Metromover and enter the Downtown you are a bit disappointed: beyond a few museums, art and entertainment centers and buildings indicated in our article on Downtown, the central area of Miami is actually a bit neglected and devoid of real interest for the visitor. Furthermore, at the other extreme, it is excessively touristy, especially in the area of Bayside marketplace, a busy shopping center overlooking the sea.
The situation definitely improves when you cross the Miami River to the south: Brickell it is a fairly confined neighborhood where hotels, luxury condominiums and skyscrapers stand out where Miami's successful bankers and financiers work. At street level, mere mortals can enjoy a pleasant day and night life, made up of pubs, classy shops, malls and cozy restaurants.
Key Biscayne e Virginia Key
The island of Key Biscayne faces right in front of Brickell, about 7 km from the mainland: to access it you need to take a pleasant toll road on the sea, the Rickenbacker Causeway, which offers a beautiful panorama of the skyline. Unfortunately, Key Biscayne does not stand out for architectural reasons, as it is overrun by luxurious but anonymous resorts where a wealth of tourism takes place. However, there is more: this is the place to look for beautiful beaches that are less crowded and chaotic than South Beach. I am referring above all to the beautiful and unspoiled beach of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area, in the shadow of the historic lighthouse, which it competes with Crandon park beach, another tropical paradise on the island, quilted with palm trees and suitable for long days of sun, sea and barbecues. Eye: Key Biscayne is full of iguanas… ophiophobics are warned!
Shortly before arriving in Key Biscayne, via a detour from the Rickenbacker Causeway, you reach a beach hidden in the vegetation of an even more pristine island: the Virginia Key Beach Park. To find out more about this and the other natural attractions of the two islands, read our in-depth study on Key Biscayne.
The minor neighborhoods
As you may have guessed, there is so much to see in Miami! But if you have time left and you want to discover other interesting neighborhoods, you can reach Little haiti, a particular Caribbean district that becomes more lively in the NE 2nd Ave area. Here they speak 3 languages (Creole, English and French), as the shop signs themselves testify.
To fully breathe the characteristic climate, also go to 54th street, where you will find some botánicas, shops where you can find clues of how much the cult of santerìa, a religion shaped by Yoruba slaves of African origin, is felt (here and in Little Havana). The santería unites and confuses the devotion to the gods of the original rite with that of the saints of the Christian tradition.
Not far away but totally different is the Design District, flashy commercial center in strong growth famous for the production of fine furniture. Here it is done luxury shopping, but if your pockets do not allow it, it can still be interesting to stroll between NE 38th St and 42nd, eyeing designer furniture, expensive fashionable clothes and jewels in the windows of the most prestigious brands in the world.
- Pérez Art Museum Miami: with a collection of about 2000 works of contemporary art ranging above all between American, European and African artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this museum is a candidate as the most important in the city and not only for its large exhibition of masterpieces, but also for the construction of the building itself, which is itself a work of art. If you want to know more you can read our guide to the Pérez Art Museum in Miami.
- The bass: another interesting contemporary art museum, housed in a 30s Art Deco building that once housed the city's public library. The name derives from its main benefactors, John and Johanna Bass, who donated their private collection thus giving way to the history of the museum.
- History Miami: previously called Historical Museum of Southern Florida, here you can learn the history of South Florida, understood as the region of the metropolitan area of Miami, the Florida Keys and the Everglades.
- Miami Seaquarium: it is one of the first water parks created in the United States. Here you can admire dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, killer whales and many other marine species, as well as enjoy shows, exhibitions and educational programs on marine wildlife conservation. To find out more, read our guide to the Miami Seaquarium.
- Jungle Island: it is not simply a zoo but a real theme park with a tropical background, with the possibility of interacting with animals and having numerous other special experiences. For more details also in this case, I refer you to our article on Jungle Island.
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden: This 34-hectare botanical garden showcases a wide assortment of rare tropical plants, with the aim of preserving biodiversity. To reach it you will have to move in the direction of Coral Gables, a few minutes from the aforementioned Matheson Hammock Park.
I recommend that you also read these articles:
- Where to sleep in Miami: neighborhoods and areas to find accommodation
- When to go to Miami? Climate and temperatures according to the seasons
- How to rent a car in Miami and for a Florida tour?
What to do in Miami: experiences not to be missed
Here are the main activities that you can do in the city, these are experiences that have a cost but that can further enrich your trip to Miami. However, by following the useful tips in the next paragraph you will also find some tips for saving money.
Watch an NBA game: the Miami Heat
If during your visit to the city i Miami Heat will have a match at theAmerican Airlines Arena, the stadium a stone's throw from Downtown's Bayside Marketplace, then you can consider spending an evening full of entertainment that only the NBA can offer.
Other Sporting Events in Miami: NFL and tennis
Miami is a city that can really offer a lot to sports lovers and more, so if you are not particularly interested in Miami Heat matches you will still be spoiled for choice. Those who prefer American football can head to the Sun Life Stadium (Hard Rock Stadium) in Miami Gardens, where you can see the games of the Miami Dolphins and the Hurricanes. In the same stadium there is also an important appointment for tennis lovers: the Miami Masters (0 Miami Open), held every year in the months of March and April.
Tickets to all Miami sporting events
Enter the TRAVEL code to obtain 10 euro discount on a minimum purchase of 150 euros
Biscayne Bay Cruise
Do one Miami bay cruise, maybe at sunset, it is the best way to admire it skyline and to see from the sea the port, the parks and the very rich houses of the Millionaire's Row overlooking Biscayne Bay. At the link below you will find a page where you can book at an attractive price Millionaire's Row Cruise, which sails the bay for 90 minutes starting from Downtown, more precisely from Bayside Marketplace.
Info on Biscayne Bay Cruise
Excursions outside the city
Outside the urban perimeter of Miami are some of the major tourist attractions of the Sunshine State. To stay nearby, I mention pretty Fort Lauderdale, the stunning Everglades National Park nature reserve, the bizarre Coral Castle and the paradisiacal Florida Keys, with Key West as its spearhead. A little further away are Orlando's incredible parks, the gorgeous ones Bok Tower Gardens and the aerospace facilities of Cape Canaveral.
To get an idea of what you can find around Miami take a look at our article on how to plan a tour in Florida.
Festivals and other events in Miami
As mentioned, entertainment is the order of the day in Miami; among the most important and significant events taking place in the city it is certainly necessary to point out theArt Basel/Miami Beach, a renowned trade fair event held in December, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, regarded as one of the leading outdoor art festivals. In March the Eighth Street Festival, an engaging Cuban-flavored kermesse held in Little Havana which includes jazz concerts, artistic competitions, sports competitions and much more.
Fare shopping a Miami
Do not forget shopping! As already mentioned, in Miami you will be spoiled for choice, given the wide availability of shops of all kinds and for every budget! Certainly fans will want to do some shopping in one of the more than 100 clubs in the Bayside marketplace, in Downtown, but it's not the only shopping area in which to shop. In South Beach it is worth a visit Lincoln Road, once called the "Fifth Avenue of the South", which today competes with District Design (see above). In Coconut Grove the little one is noteworthy CocoWalk (in March 2019 under renovation), in Coral Gables you can wander around the windows of the Miracle Mile, a short stretch of road (SW 22th St) that interrupts Coral Way's magical Banyan Line.
Other popular tourist activities
The city offers an extraordinary choice of paid tours and activities, from the most common (for example guided tours to discover the city or excursions in the surrounding area) to the most unusual and bizarre (do you know what it means to take a flyboard ride?). If you are interested in having a general overview of the entire offer available, you can take a look at the page indicated below:
Activities available in Miami
Miami in 3 days: recommended itinerary
Usually the standard period dedicated to Miami is 3 days, considering however that the time of stay can be easily extended, especially if we prefer to explore the surroundings (in our article on how many days to dedicate to Miami you will find our "flexible" itinerary modeled from 1 day to a week, easily applicable based on your residence time).
Below I summarize briefly how I would organize a Miami itinerary having 3 days available:
- Day 1: South Beach (morning and early afternoon) and Wynwood Walls (late afternoon)
- Day 2: Villa Vizcaya and Coconut Grove (morning), Key Biscayne and Virginia Key (afternoon)
- Day 3: Matheson Hammock, Venetian Pool and Coral Gables (morning and early afternoon), Little Havana and Downtown (afternoon and evening)
To see this itinerary in detail and understand how to best conceive travel times, I refer you to our guide on how many days to dedicate to Miami, where you will find an in-depth day by day of this daily itinerary.
Other useful information for visiting Miami
After my advice on what to see in Miami, it seems to me useful to also give some additional information that will help to better organize the stay in the city.
How to choose accommodation in Miami
The possibilities of choosing for overnight stays in the city are very numerous, given the large availability of facilities. Furthermore, as you may have read, the areas to choose from are many and all different from each other (South Beach, Brickell / Downtown, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove etc.). If you're trying to figure out which neighborhood best suits your needs, take a look at our tips on accommodations in Miami.Advice to save
If you are landing and departing from Miami, it may be convenient to opt for one flight + hotel package. Instead of buying both individually, I advise you to buy them on Expedia in a single solution, because usually the savings are far from indifferent: in my case I found an interesting offer that at a reasonable price included the flight and the stay for three days aOB Suites of Brickell in a room on the top floor of the building, with an incredible view of the sea.
The place is in any case to be recommended: here the link to book the structure on Booking, here the one to book on Expedia without a package while, to check the prices and conditions of the various packages flight+hotel to Miami, you can go to this page (offers are variable, you may not find the OB Suites).
Car Rental and Florida SunPass
Read carefully our tips for renting a car in Florida and, specifically, in Miami. Remember that some highways in Florida (and specifically around Miami and on the way to Orlando along the coast) are toll-free. Don't worry though, because you will be facilitated by a particular electronic payment system: you will find all the information about it in our in-depth analysis on Florida SunPass.
Depending on your needs, it might also be a good idea to use a tourist pass, a sort of pass that gives you discounted access to some of the main destinations, with the possibility of avoiding queues and planning your stay in the best possible way. In addition to this, there are numerous reductions and discounts for the main tours in the city and excursions in the surrounding area: we talked about them better in the article dedicated to Miami Pass.