Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Miami-Dade County, FL

  • Published 2023/04/30

In Southeast Florida lies Miami-Dade County, the third largest county in the U.S.A. with a Hispanic-majority population.

Spanning 2000 square miles, Miami-Dade County is home to many well-known universities, picturesque historic districts, and the Port of Miami, the largest passenger port in the world.

Miami-Dade County is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America and worldwide.

Because of its top-notch shopping scene and pristine beaches with beachfront parks, it draws millions of tourists annually.

Besides being home to some of the world’s largest urban centers, it also harbors natural wonders, including two famous national parks.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Miami-Dade County.

Discover the Natural Beauty of Everglades National Park

Erget at Everglades National Park

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Covering an area of more than 1,000,000 acres, the Everglades National Park spans three counties: Miami-Dade County, Monroe County, and Collier County.

UNESCO declared this park a World Heritage Site in 1979.

The part of the park under Miami-Dade County includes the Everglades Alligator Farm and vast stretches of forests and wetlands.

Airboat at Everglades National Park

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It is home to several rare species of American crocodiles and alligators, Floridian panthers, and manatees.

Some of the things you’ll enjoy doing here are bird-watching, boating, camping, fishing, and partaking in educational programs.

You must hike different trails to see wild turtles, alligators, and herons.

Alligators at Everglades National Park

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If you’re afraid to sail into the waters, you can still see dolphins and crocodiles from the towers.

This park’s natural beauty draws millions of tourists every year.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Miami-Dade County, the Everglades National Park should be at the top of your list.

Thick vegetation at Everglades National Park

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Take a Stroll along the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

View of Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

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Calle Ocho Walk of Fame is the main attraction of Little Havana, a small neighborhood situated west of downtown Miami and named after Cuba’s capital city.

The Calle Ocho Walk of fame, constructed in 1988, pays tribute to Cuban and Latin artists, musicians, actors, and writers who have shaped the Little Havana community.

First, head to the Little Havana Visitor’s Center on 8th Street, where you’ll find information such as maps, a list of upcoming events, and guided food and cultural tours.

The Walk of Fame stretches from the 12th to the 17th avenues.

People walking on the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

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It contains more than 20 pink marble stars on the sidewalks commemorating Latin celebrities like Celia Cruz, Willy Chirino, and Gloria Estefan, to name a few.

At Southwest 13th Avenue, you’ll find the Cuban Memorial Plaza, which features monuments dedicated to prominent figures who fought for the independence of Cuba.

While strolling the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, you might want to enjoy a Cuban meal at the famous Casa Juancho or La Carrera restaurant.

Close up of a star at Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

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See a Show at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens

Bird's eye view of the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens

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Miami Gardens’ Hard Rock Stadium is the most famous venue in south Florida.

It opened to the public in 1987 in an unincorporated region of Miami-Dade County.

Later, it was relocated to Miami Gardens.

Entrance to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens

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It has hosted many Super Bowls, MLB World Series, men’s and women’s tennis, football National Championship Games, and the CFP National Championship.

It is the home field to the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes.

Besides hosting sports games, the Hard Rock Stadium has also held some of the world’s biggest concerts and performances by top artists like Beyoncé, Madonna, and Rolling Stones, to name a few.

Football game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens

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Visit Amelia Earhart Park

Entrance to the Amelia Earhart Park

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Sprawling along 500 acres, Amelia Earhart Park is Hialeah’s largest urban amusement park, with five lakes as its biggest attractions.

It offers many activities, including wakeboarding, mountain biking, pony riding, and boating.

This park is a perfect family recreation spot as it allows families to partake in fishing from the park’s Fishing Pier end and enjoy picnicking.

You’ll also have a great time exploring the Bill Graham Farm Village, representing the agricultural history of Miami-Dade County through sheep-shearing and horseshoeing.

You can go swimming and boating on its five lakes.

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities, visit Amelia Earhart Park.

Enjoy Canoeing at Oleta River State Park

Canoe passing through a tunnel at Oleta River State Park

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Just 30 minutes from downtown Miami, in North Miami Beach, lies the largest urban park in Florida, the Oleta River State Park.

The Oleta River State Park is a beautiful natural park famous for canoeing.

Likewise, it offers many other equally exciting activities, including mountain biking, paddling through lush mangrove covers, and swimming in the turquoise sea.

The Oleta River divides the park, and its mouth constitutes the most scenic vista of this gorgeous natural oasis amidst a concrete desert.

Fox at Oleta River State Park

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You can go canoeing and paddling on the Oleta River while people relax or have picnics on the park’s peaceful beaches.

You may rent paddleboats, kayaks, or canoes to explore the mangrove ecosystem.

You’ll see unique Floridian flora and fauna, including birds like herons and ibis, fishes like barracudas and mangrove snappers, and native wildflowers and butterflies.

If you’re lucky, you might spot a few dolphins and manatees, as they seldom appear to crowds.

Beach at Oleta River State Park

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Check Out Contemporary Art at Perez Art Museum Miami

Entrance to Perez Art Museum Miami

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The Perez Art Museum Miami is a major cultural attraction in Miami-Dade County.

Established in 1984, the museum preserves and exhibits contemporary international art.

The museum changed its name from Center for the Fine Arts when it moved to downtown Miami in 2013.

It features a vast collection of diverse artworks ranging from the diaspora art of Africa and Latin America to 20th and 21st-century European and American art.

Dining area at Perez Art Museum Miami

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See the drawings of Christo and Jean Claude, the minimalistic paintings of Yayoi Kusama, and North American sculptor Leandro Elrich’s first monographic exhibition, “Liminal.”

You’ll also see films, literary works, sculptures, and architectural designs from across the globe.

After exploring the museum, grab a snack at the museum’s waterfront restaurant and enjoy the views of Biscayne Bay.

Stop by the Perez Art Museum Miami gift store for souvenirs, art books, or attractive prints.

Huge sculpture at Perez Art Museum Miami

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Visit Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Light house at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

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On the Southern tip of Key Biscayne Island lies the historic Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

It offers various experiences and activities like boat camping, roller-blading, swimming, kayaking, hiking, etc.

Named after Bill Baggs, an editor of the Miami News who worked to preserve and protect the natural setting of this land, Bill Bags Cape Florida State Park has many historical landmarks and amazing beaches.

Shoreline of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

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The Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is the homestead of the oldest remaining structure in Miami-Dade County, Cape Florida Light.

Cape Florida Light, first created in 1825, is a historic lighthouse on the site where slaves and Black Seminoles boarded ships to escape to the Bahamas.

After suffering destruction due to natural hazards and war, the lighthouse was renovated in 1855.

Go on a lighthouse tour to note every minute detail of the historic building.

Upon reaching the top, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the island.

Boats at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

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Take in the Wonders of the Biscayne National Park

Lagoon at Biscayne National Park

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To the south of Miami lies an enormous natural park, the majority of which is the water of Biscayne Bay.

The remaining portion comprises the bay’s offshore coral barrier reefs and emerald islands.

This park is known as the Biscayne National Park, occupying an area of more than 170,000 acres.

It carries 100,000-year-old imprints of human history and preserves the marine ecosystem of the Biscayne region.

Picturesque sunset at Biscayne National Park

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The Tequesta people inhabited Biscayne National Park for 4,000 years before the Spanish arrived.

It is home to hundreds of aquatic creatures like manatees, sponges, soft and hard corals, mollusks, crustaceans, big fishes, hawksbills, sea turtles, and endangered American crocodiles and alligators.

Besides these, you’ll also see mangrove marsh, shoal grass, seagrass meadows, and typical Floridian coral limestone ridges on the islands.

You can try catching lobsters and fish or enjoy walking along the banks of the water while taking in the jaw-dropping serene vistas of the mangrove marsh.

Lighthouse at Biscayne National Park

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Explore the Mysterious Coral Castle

Beautiful view of the Coral Castle

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The Coral Castle is a museum between Homestead and Leisure City replete with limestone structures carved by the Latin-American eccentric sculptor Ed Leedskalnin.

With audio stands narrating the history of the place in different languages and guided tours, this museum transports its visitors to a fantastic world of fantasy that Leedskalnin created with great pride.

Stone sculptures at Coral Castle

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This mysterious museum features a vast hand-sculpted gate weighing nine tons, 1000-ton walls, a polar telescope, an accurate sundial, chairs, tables, fountains, and celestial objects.

These things are all made of oolite.

Some of the Coral Castle statues and structures resembling the Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge will leave you wondering how a man could sculpt such things by hand.

Grab a meal at the Coral Castle café once you’re done taking in the mysteries of this fantasy world that you might have often seen on TV channels and the internet.

Stairs at Coral Castle

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Explore the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

Beautiful view of Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

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In Coral Gables, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden is a museum-slash-botanic garden with a learning and conservation research facility.

It started operations in 1938 to preserve biodiversity and became recognized by the American Orchid Society.

Even though it’s a garden carved with a specific design, it has retained much of the natural tropical setting and wildlife of the land on which it stands.

First, learn the basics from a visitor’s map available at the Visitor’s Center, and then see the natural beauties yourself.

Lilly Pond at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

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Those sections of the garden that deserve special mention are the Montgomery Palmetum growing the rarest palm species from across the globe.

The Tropical Flowering Trees Collection features more than 700 exotic flowering plant species.

This garden also boasts many exotic tropical fruits like cycads, bromeliads, durian, orchids, palms, etc.

Beautiful pink flower at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

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Spanning 83 acres, this garden has lowlands and elevated areas offering a 360-degree view of the entire garden.

It looks nothing less than the dreamy natural garden landscapes we find in fairy tales, and fantasy reads.

It’s a perfect location for family outings and romantic dates, as it hosts many family ceremonies and wedding events throughout the year.

The Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden’s natural beauty is the perfect setting for such events.

Unique glass art exhibited at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

Mia2you /

Revisit the Past at History Miami Museum

Previously known as the Historical Museum of South Florida, the History Miami Museum in downtown Miami is Florida’s largest history museum.

This museum was first opened by the Historical Association of Southern Florida in 1962.

In 1968 it was relocated to the Miami-Dade Cultural Center and underwent rapid expansion.

Today, History Miami Museum has permanent, temporary, and community exhibitions, all dedicated to translating different aspects of Florida’s History.

Amongst its permanent exhibitions, Tropical Dreams: A People’s History of South Florida deserves a special mention for portraying images, objects, archaeological finds, and artifacts from 12,000 years of Florida’s history.

Harboring more than 37,000 artifacts from prehistory to the 20th Century, this museum hosts many educational events and fairs throughout the year.

Enrich your adventure with a visit to the History Miami Museum.

Swim with Dolphins at Miami Seaquarium

Exterior view of the Miami Seaquarium

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One of the oldest marine aquariums in the United States is the Miami Seaquarium on Virginia Key Island.

Spanning 38 acres, the Miami Seaquarium transports its visitors to an underwater world.

If you have always been fascinated by sea creatures and their behaviors, visit this aquarium.

Dolphin show at Miami Seaquarium

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In the Dolphin Harbour section, you can also swim with dolphins.

If you don’t know how to swim, you can still enjoy watching the marine aquarium’s fascinating mammal shows featuring sea lions and dolphins.

While taking a tour, you’ll encounter different sharks, reptiles, manatees, and sea turtles.

Some of their famous rescued animals include the killer whale Lolita and the dolphin Bede.

Whale show at Miami Seaquarium

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Watch Animal Shows at Jungle Island

Boats docked at Jungle Island

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Located between South Beach and Downtown Miami, Jungle Island is an eco-park formerly known as Parrot Jungle.

It is one of the most popular and oldest tourist destinations in Miami-Dade County.

Established in 1936, the park presently features a collection of about 3000 parrots and other animals.

Colorful parrot at Jungle Island

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It displays animal shows and enables the tourists to interact with the animals up close and feed them.

Jungle Island has three kinds of animal encounters, Flamingo Encounters Lemur Encounters, and Sloth Encounters.

The most attractive section is the Parrot Cove beach, a waterpark with stunning views of Miami Beach.

Other fun activities are waterslides and the wild tunnel flight.

Tiger at Jungle Island

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Encounter Wild Animals at Miami Zoo

Visitors clicking pictures at Miami Zoo

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The Miami Zoo is America’s only sub-continental zoo and the largest in Florida.

Built in 1948 inside Crandyon Park at Key Biscayne, Miami Zoo is now located on the former Naval Air Radio Station site in Miami-Dade County.

Spread across a 750-acre area, Miami Zoo houses about 3,000 animals belonging to about 500 species from Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas, including a hundred rare or endangered wild species.

A lion sleeping at Miami Zoo

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This zoo is unique because it provides the ideal natural habitat for each type of animal and tree species by preparing soils and a tropical setting.

This open-air exhibit facility allows its visitors to see rare plant species and animals from close yet safe proximity.

Flamingos at Miami Zoo

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Take Amazing Photos at Vizcaya Museums and Gardens

Beautiful view of the Vizcaya Museums and Gardens

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If you want to take Instagrammable garden photos, visit Vizcaya Museums and Gardens.

It has spectacular gardens growing sub-tropical native plants.

Likewise, it has imported French or Italian designs built with Cuban sandstones, Floridian corals, and estate properties.

They are museums steeped in the historic aesthetic traditions of Europe.

It was built in 1916 on Biscayne Bay by the American businessman James Deering, who used it as his winter residence.

Mesmerizing architecture of Vizcaya Museums and Gardens

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Miami-Dade County opened it to the public in 1954 after doing restorations.

Since then, it has granted money for its preservation from time to time.

In 1994, it gained the designation of a National Historic Landmark, and to date, it remains a favorite among tourists.

The Vizcaya Museums and Gardens comprise the villa in Renaissance Italian and Mediterranean architecture, formal Italian gardens, open green fields, native forest landscapes, and recreational facilities.

The estate’s interiors, containing European antiques and furnishing, are as photogenic as the outer vistas.

Interior view of the Vizcaya Museums and Gardens

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Shop and Dine at Bayside Marketplace

Shops at Bayside Marketplace

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On the banks of Biscayne Bay lies the two-storied open-air shopping hub known as the Bayside Marketplace.

Its scenic waterfront, laden with bars, themed restaurants, cute cafes, live music performances, and family functions, presents its tourists with a unique and vibrant local scene.

Shop around a bit, and when you’re done shopping, grab a cocktail at Mojito Bar or Lola Bar.

Night view of the Bayside Marketplace

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Otherwise, you might satisfy your sweet cravings at the Sugar Factory.

The Food Court in that area also serves various international cuisines.

Shop a little more and settle down for a sumptuous meal at any of the fine restaurants in the Bayside Marketplace, like Hard Rock Café and Kuba Cabana.

Souvenir shop at Bayside Marketplace

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Take a Tour of the Art Deco Historic District in South Beach

View of the Art Deco Historic District in South Beach

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The Art Deco Historic District in South Beach is one of the most attractive touristy places in Miami-Dade County.

The district features over 900 geometrically aligned Art Deco buildings from the 1930s and 1940s, bathed in bright colors.

It still manifests and preserves a unique 20th-century architectural style.

You can start your tour from the Art Deco Welcome Center to gain basic knowledge about the place and then embark on a walking tour to explore the Art Deco treasures.

View of the Art Deco Historic District in South Beach

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The two most exciting buildings here are the Miami Beach Art Deco Museum, representing Streamline Moderne, and the Amsterdam Palace.

The palace was modeled after Christopher Columbus’ Mediterranean Revival Style home in Santo Domingo.

Drenched in vibrant colors, the sea-facing hotels lining the Art Deco Historic District streets are also a treat to the eye.

View of the Art Deco Historic District in South Beach

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Go on a Shopping Spree to Bal Harbour Shops

Signage of Bal Harbour Shops

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As the most fashionable neighborhood in South Florida, Bal Harbour is an exotic shopping destination in Miami-Dade County.

This small village between Miami Beach and Aventura offers its tourists many recreational activities, including golf museums, private beaches, luxury spa resorts, and many eateries.

It also has the world-famous Bal Harbour Shops.

Designer shops at Bal Harbour

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Bal Harbour Shops is an internationally renowned open-air shopping complex comprising everything a shopaholic could ever want.

Created by the Whitman family in 1965, Bal Harbour Shops is famous for its variety, glamour, quality, style, exquisite collection, and vast area it occupies.

Explore Gucci, Prada, Hermes, Dior, and Alexander McQueen to upscale gift shops like Bulgari, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth, and Neiman Marcus.

This shopping center is unique because it features tropical palm trees, gardens, and koi ponds, which are situated in pretty outdoor cafes and eateries.

Outdoor cafe at Bal Harbour Shops

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Check Out Street Art at Wynwood Art District

View of the Wynwood Art District

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Miami-Dade County has picturesque districts known worldwide for their uniqueness.

However, Wynwood Art District deserves a special mention.

The Wynwood Art District, located in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, is known for its impressive graffiti art that has received international media coverage and recognition.

Colorful building at Wynwood Art District

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Its walls are painted with world-class murals by world-class artists like Kenny Scharf, Shepard Fairey, Mark Coetzee, Nick Cindric, and Nina Arias, to name a few.

Wynwood Art District is home to many galleries, museums, collections, art complexes, and studios, including the Museum of Graffiti and the Wynwood Walls, where street art started.

Take a solo or guided Cycle Party tour to skip hustling through the crowd to reach the main spots.

Art exhibit in a gallery at Wynwood Art District

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Formerly considered Miami’s “Little Puerto Rico,” this district has a good dining scene and a vibrant nightlife with top-notch restaurants, gastro clubs, and breweries.

The best time to explore this place is during Miami’s international Art Basel art fair.

Wall Murals at Wynwood Art District

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Soak up the Sun at Lummus Park

Walkway at Lummus Park

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Everyone knows that some of America’s best beaches are in Miami.

Your exploration of Miami-Dade County will be incomplete if you don’t laze around on the shores of Miami Beach City.

What’s better than Lummus Park?

Bird's eye view of the Lummus Park

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Lummus Park is situated in the South Beach area and is one of the most popular beachfront attractions in Miami Beach city.

Having appeared in many Hollywood movies and TV shows, Lummus Park is a multipurpose park with playgrounds, winding pathways, restrooms, and gym areas.

People usually flock here to relax, swim, and sunbathe.

Giant christmas ornament at Lummus Park

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Final Thoughts

However long you stay there, you’ll never run out of tourist spots in Miami-Dade County.

This county has almost everything a tourist looks for and more!

Stop waiting and explore the best things to do in Miami-Dade County, Florida!

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