See also: Where to Stay in Miami
The undisputed king of spring break destinations, Miami has ‘party’ written all over its tropical attractions. You’ll find yourself on mile-long beaches the minute the sun rises, then in art galleries come afternoon. Or maybe you will breeze through iconic Lincoln Street or the historic Art Deco district; maybe you will be strolling through Miami’s many gardens. Indulge in the city’s glitzy cuisine and rooftop bars, its artsy corners and coastal parks. And if by chance you are still sizzling with energy in the evening, there’s a blazing trail of nightlife waiting for you to tear up the dance floor.
Lap once around Ocean Drive
Start off your Miami visit by lapping around the iconic Ocean Drive, an image capture that appears in films and TV series to represent Miami’s flashy persona. Having developed out of cropland and mangroves into the colorful 1st street to 15th street stretch of glam, Ocean Drive draws in crowds with art deco buildings and palm tree aesthetics. You can also eat your way through the multitude of brunches, lunches and restaurant bars and indulge in some people watching.
Cruise along South Beach
If there’s one neighborhood in Miami you can’t afford to miss, it is South Beach. Encompassing the wider area of Ocean Drive and famous Lincoln Road Mall, South Beach is the heart of Miami’s glamourous lifestyle. Featuring celebrity-chef restaurants, nightlife that marks Miami is prime spring break location, art deco architecture and generous ivory beaches, this one stop will have you out from dawn to dusk and back to dawn.
Explore Everglades National Park
Nature isn’t far away with Everglades National Park, where visitors can opt for a walking tour, exploring on bicycles or zipping around on airboats. It is known for its massive sprawl of 1.5 million acres, comprised mostly of wetlands and marshes. Spot alligators lurking in the weeds even as cranes dip their necks for a drink; elsewhere, panthers prowl as freely as the manatees winding in water. The national park is definitely worth a full-day visit.
Admire art around Wynwood neighborhood
To be specific, Wynwood Walls has transformed the neighborhood into an open-air art gallery. What originally was an effort to beautify the area had blown up, effecting dozens of murals by renowned artists. Now an all-year attraction that renews itself with every Art Basel, you can even sign up for a guided tour to understand the meaning behind these unique artworks. Alternatively, you can visit Miami’s top J Wakefield, Wynwood Brewing and Concrete Beach breweries for a round of craft beers.
Drop by Zoo Miami
Visit the oldest and largest zoological garden in the state for a close-up meet-and-greet with thousands of animals. Long-necked giraffes, sneaky crocodiles and flighty birds have all made Zoo Miami home; the sub-tropical environment also allows many Australian and African species to reside comfortably. Ride the Safari Cycle to catch up with the zebras and lions!
Open your eyes at Frost Science Museum
Four buildings make up the amazing Frost Science Museum, 250,000 square feet broken down into the Aquarium, the Frost Planetarium, the North Wing and West Wing. Whether it is imitating the deep sea habitats of colorful marine life, drawing the stars or provoking curiosity, the museum aims for hands-on learning by featuring interactive displays alongside informational exhibits. Check out their website for their dynamic Overnight Adventure where visitors can explore after hours.
Mingle with the locals at Bayfront Park
Exactly what it sounds like, Bayfront Park is a brilliant green space sitting right on the edge of water. Clean and well-paved paths lead you through its neatly trimmed quad, waterfront promenade and casual recreational spaces within the park. You’ll find a playground, a performance area, open-air yoga classes and more entertainments led by the local community. It is especially beautiful come sunset as the city illuminates from behind, and the sun drops right before your eyes.
An eye-opening experience at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
Thanks to Norman Braman, the Institute of Contemporary Art exists to puzzle and amaze us with experimental art works. Take advantage of the free entry and guided tours to explore the series of avant-garde to bizarre pieces that decorate its walls, and see how provoking questions and ideas translate into various mediums. The museum’s sculpture garden also calls for attention, a fitting follow up when the weather is cool enough for outdoor lounging.
Swing by the Dezer collection
If you have ever fantasized about tearing through down like an agent on a mission or escaping from a heist, the Dezer collection is the garage of your dreams. This privately owned cluster of cars doesn’t just showoff classic models of American and Italian origins; you can find a comic series of Batmobiles and James Bond’s favorite wheels. The General Lee, Delorean and more are all on display in North Miami.
Paddle at Oleta River State Park
Nestled in Biscayne Bay is the floating urban park of Oleta River State Park – a thousand-acre expanse of nature trails, a 1,515-mile paddling trail, camp grounds and more recreational spaces. Kayaking along thick mangrove forests is being transported to a magical river removed from city noises, yet turn the corner and you could be staring at expensive waterside condos. From comfortable cabins to picnic areas to more nature-driven areas, Oleta River State Park is an amalgamation of both modern comforts and natural entertainment.
Shop at Lincoln Road
Lincoln Road is all about feel-good buys, lounging about in cafés, a lightly glam atmosphere and cultural venues. While away the hours with blocks of boutiques and upscale shops, or catch a show at Colony Theatre. Even if you’re not up for cashing out, Lincoln Road’s iconic design welcomes window-shoppers and casual passerby.
Tour around the Monkey Jungle
Established in 1935, Monkey Jungle retains its one of a kind design; instead of looking at animals in cages, you roam about their habitat behind bars. This wildlife park houses around 4,000 primates, all of which are allowed to run wild within the subtropical forest the reserve is in. Book the rainforest adventure tour to get up close and personal, and feed the monkeys unlimited treats during this bonding session.
Wander the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Perched on the bankside of Coconut Grove, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens brings a touch of Italian Renaissance in form of a luxurious villa and meticulous garden. 43 acres of lush estate are open to public, hosting outdoor activities such as waterfront yoga as well as jazz parties and craft-based events. Its stunning grounds and previous-century interior entices many brides and bloggers alike to come shoot on its breathtaking stairs and in front of its decorative works. An architectural gem and art curator, Vizcaya Museum is a must for creatives.
Hang around Hollywood Beach Boardwalk
The scent of salted air, long wavy palms and sand everywhere – welcome to the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk. A Miami classic that every tourist has to experience, there are plenty of visual distractions alongside beachside bars to serve you chilled drinks under sweltering heat. Lick your way to cool salvation with a generous dosage of soft serve ice cream, or join the masses leaving sweaty tracks with their bikes. Alternatively, stick an umbrella into the sand and fall asleep to the sound of rushing waves and jovial chatter of other beach goers.
Detour to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Water fun is a must at this coastal state so buckle up and drive to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for some of the world’s most stunning coral sites. Just an hour away from Miami is crystalline waters and layered reefs where you can snorkel for hours, watching vibrant fish dart in and out of their homes. With no need for reservations or a boat, just open beach and water access, you can easily come by for a few hours of off shore exploration.
Experience the Russian and Turkish Baths
It’s no five-star hotel experience for sure, but the Russian and Turkish Baths are guaranteed to wipe you clean of stress – just in a rather bizarre setting. Located within a nondescript building, facilities include lockers, changing rooms, an endless array of steam rooms and saunas, cold pools and hot springs. While some people would describe the environment as dingy, the baths’ eccentric décor is simply part of the experience; you’d also be too busy sweating it out to really care!
Versailles Bakery in Little Havana
Taste Cuban culture at Little Havana’s Versailles Bakery, a 1970s favourite that remains the pulse of the Cuban community. Besides a small cup of coffee and pastry of the day, you can also enjoy a full sit-down meal at the restaurant. Try their deliciously plump croquettes, special stuffed plantains or bring with you their deliciously layered sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with the quintessential ham, roasted pork and cheese-dripping combo!
Visit the Miami Seaquarium
For some water magic, spend some time at the 38-acre Miami Seaquarium. While it is one of the oldest oceanariums in the country, you certainly don’t feel its age! You can expect spectacular dolphin and killer whale shows alongside friendly sea lions and waddling sea turtles. Between the eight marine animal shows and other displays, you’ll learn plenty about life in the ocean. Want to get up close? Enjoy a hands-on experience at Dolphin Harbor where their dolphin interaction programs will have you making new friends in no time.
Marvel at the Coral Castle Museum
The well-hidden Coral Castle Museum will stun you at first glance; its origins are even more awe-inspiring. Built single-handedly by Ed Leedskalnin, this castle of coral rock was 28 years in the making. From the 9-tonne gate to every curve and block of the sculptures sitting within the estate, the handiwork makes it hard to believe that no one had come across the project when in progress. It is truly a unique attraction only to be found in Miami.
Be dazzled by Miami Design District
Fashion and architecture intertwine at Miami Design District to present sleek structures, open-air shopping complexes, art installations and glitzy goodness. Palm Court and Paradise Plaza are must visits for high-end shoppers, whereas artists can indulge in the various art galleries and the Institute of Contemporary Art. There’s even an internationally flavored St. Roch Market for growling stomachs.
Loop around on the Metromover
Sometimes the best way to see a city is to take its public transport through downtown – especially if it runs on a winding, elevated track. Miami’s Metromover is something out of a sci-fi movie, crowded with people as it whizzes between gleaming chrome buildings and blander concrete blocks. Ride it from Brickell to Arsht Center and cross your fingers for a mysterious ‘car won’t move so please get off’ incident just so you can try walking the Mover tracks.
Meal and activities at Bayside Market Place
Perched on the banks of Biscayne Bay is the white-washed, two-story shopping center of Bayside Market Place. An open-air site with shops and restaurants alike, we recommend it for its comfortable ambiance and connective hub. It acts as the jet-off point for various activities, including speedboat and water taxi sightseeing, cruises, charter fishing and bike tours that will familiarize you with Miami.
Play at Crandon Park
Coconut plantation turned public park, Crandon Park offers a variety of recreational spaces. Stroll through the peaceful Crandon Gardens or browse the nature center; there’s even a marina, golf course and tennis center for sporty visitors. It is also the seedling that blossomed into Zoo Miami, from small-scale Crandon Zoo of 1948 to the massive 1,000-strong habitat of over 380 species. If you have a spare slot in your itinerary with no idea where to go next, Crandon Park is guaranteed to keep you well occupied.
Explore the Deering Estate
Miami hides surprising historical treasures in their many luxe estates, and Deering Estate is one such gem-filled chest. Where architectural buffs may enjoy a quick sweep of the manors, historians would be riveted by the 50,000-year-old animal bones and human fossil remains that trace back to Paleo-Indian tribes. Those of more outdoor persuasion can spend hours tracking down the different birds and wildlife that inhabit the sprawling estate, or stroll the mangrove boardwalk.
Go wild at Xtreme Action Park
Don’t let the kitschy name put you off because Xtreme Action Park is exactly what you need to relive those wild child days. An unimaginable play space that will set off your adventure radar, it runs a ropes course for monkey kids, offers up trampolines and go-karts for adrenaline junkies. There’s even a glow-in-the-dark arena where you can pretend to play space pirates and blast bazookas. Too hardcore? Grab a pair of roller skates and race about the tracks.
Lounge around the Venetian Pool
Beauty isn’t restricted to the pageant queens and muscly lifeguards memorialized in vintage portraits at Venetian Pool’s entrance – it is also the tinted green freshwater and lowkey luxe of the swimming pool complex. Waterfalls hum beside stone bridges, a cave and swaying palms; the Venetian Pool serves up a place of relaxation and aquatic fun with a dab of Italian touch.
Browse masterpieces at Perez Art Museum
Art is a must-see in Miami and Perez Art Museum doubly so. Hosting works by contemporary masters such as Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and James Rosenquist, the stunning collection is matched by the museum’s waterfront setting along Biscayne Bay. If you time it right, the museum offers free programs every second Saturday of the month, while every third Thursday piles on the entertainment with music at night.
Take a tram around Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
There’s no shortage of natural beauty in Miami, and the 83-acre Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is one such delight. Feast your eyes on the stunning variety of flora and the interspersing thickets of palms, cycads and more tropical fauna. More notably, you can tour the grounds by means of a tram to enjoy an elevated experience.
Visit the Schnebly Winery
For those who don’t like regular grape-based wines (red or white), Schnebly Winery offers a sweeter alternative. Made from tropical fruits, the wine offered here can be sampled in rounds of five with a branded wine glass as souvenir. You can also order some food to go along with the tropical wines or local brews. Some visit for the ambiance as its garden is extremely scenic, backing the rustic buildings with waterfalls and ponds.
Watch the sunset at South Pointe Park
There’s no shortage of knolls and grassy swathes in Miami, but none with a view like South Pointe Park. Poised at the tip of Miami Beach, this green space offers up the sky and sea where the sunset blends in shades of purple and gold. Grab a picnic blanket, a bottle of wine and to-go bites before settling down for a breather amid a busy schedule.
Grab a drink at rooftop bar Sugar
Get classy at this casually rich city and mingle at rooftop Sugar – a bar that offers both funky cocktails and panoramic views. Skip the requisite observation deck visit for this charming garden set instead; a tasteful experience 40 floors high. If you’re lucky, you might even be admitted into the secret cocktail bar called the Tea Room (which serves an unusual, late-night brunch).
Discover EDITION Hotel’s Basement playground
We know hotel facilities to include swimming pools, gyms, spas and maybe a casual recreational space, but EDITION hotel beats the competition by providing a full-scale playground in its basement. Take your dance shoes out for a spin under its glitzy disco ball, or exchange them for a pair of bowling sliders. When you’ve worked up a sweat on the dance floor or bowling alley, switch over to the ice-skating rink (yes, it indeed exists) and cool down with a few laps.
Greet wildlife at Jungle Island
Having evolved from a parrot sanctuary to fully-fledged zoo, Jungle Island combines lush forest and open bay to craft the perfect home for a range of wildlife. Birds, orangutans, lemurs and every animal you can name coexist in this tropical haven. Kids and adults alike have a blast with the zip line play area, flight simulator and even an escape room! You can also sign up for an animal encounter for the chance to feed your favorite animal.
Capturing art at The Bass
Roam about the Art Deco building that hosts The Bass, a well-rounded contemporary art institution that grew out of a private collection in the 1960s. Your aesthetic adventure begins on the lawn with Ugo Rondinone’s signature ‘Miami Mountain’ and the colorful interpretation of texting. Move into the halls for a series of permanent and temporary exhibitions, featuring vivid sculptures to fantastical paintings.
Traverse through Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
What better way to relax than meandering through a serene 400-acre park, divorced from the crowds and busy schedules of city life? Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park stretches along the coast of Key Biscayne to provide both foliage-shaded lawns as well as waterfront rest areas. Picnic at the tables or on the beach, or enjoy their biking trails. You can also climb up to South Florida’s only lighthouse for top-down view of ombre waters.
Skydive and defy the skies
Definitely throw yourself off a plane for literally breath-stealing views of Miami; just remember to strap your parachute on. Free fall from 14,000 feet and scream out your elation over the painting that is South Florida, the Everglades and fringing Atlantic Ocean. If your stomach turns tipsy-topsy and your smile is splitting your face – that’s what freedom feels like. In no time at all you’ll be back on your feet and staring up at the sky, hoping to do it all over again. If having the world at your feet feels a bit too intimidating, visit iFLY instead for an indoor skydiving experience.