Coined the “Magic City”, the enchantment of Miami is apparent even to the first-time traveller. When the sun rises, the sprawling skyscrapers and tropical forests are basked in a soft glow, a signal for the beautiful wildlife of Florida to start to emerging from their deep slumber. Amidst the bustling nightlife, high-heeled models strut down Lincoln Road with a martini in hand — the party is only just getting started!
Explore the hidden side of Miami with these 15 things to do during your stay.
1. Explore the Coral Castle
Can you believe this stone garden was built single-handedly? There’s certainly magic in the creator, Edward Leedskalnin’s hands, who managed to carve out these beautiful stone sculptures. Working tirelessly from 1923 to 1951, Leedskalnin gifted us one of Miami’s most legendary work of art. Till today, art critics are mystified by how a 5-foot tall man could cut through thick coral stones and move them to their present locations. Perhaps you could solve the mystery yourself by paying the garden a visit!
Address: Coral Castle Museum 28655 South Dixie Highway Miami, FL 33033 (305) 248-6345
Price: from 7 USD
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday 8 am – 6 pm, Friday & Saturday 8 am – 8 pm
Website: Coral Castle
2. Tread past the flora and fauna on Jungle Island
Jungle Island is more than just a mere forest, it is heaven for wildlife lovers worldwide! Combined with the natural beauty of Miami’s flourishing landscape, the island has long been home to a wide selection of vibrant animals. The twin orangutans are a popular sight, as are the fluttering colours of over 300 different species of birds. Keep an eye out for cycads, a seed plant with an ancient fossil history as well as the intriguing African Sausage Tree (which really resembles its name!).
Address: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail Miami, Florida 33132
Price: from 32.95 USD
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10 am to 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
Website: Jungle Island
3. Take a dip in the Venetian Pool
What better way to cool down during the sweltering heat than to cannonball into a large pool of pristine water? Up your summer vacation game by opting for the Venetian Pool instead of the overcrowded beaches. The water in this pool isn’t your usual chlorine waves, but rather, it is filled with spring water from an underground aquifer! Sit back and chill with an ice cold martini in hand, as you watch the sun set beyond the scenic waterfalls.
Address: 2701 de Soto Boulevard, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Price: from 5.50 USD
Opening Hours: Varies depending on season. Check the website for more information.
Website: Venetian Pool
4. Take a stroll down Ocean Drive
Boasting a delectable selection of picturesque restaurants, take a lovely evening stroll by the swaying palm trees after a filling dinner. Watch as the quiet street transforms into a vibrant nightlife scene when the sun sets. The loud music coming from Nikki Beach Club certainly sets the mood for the rest of the night! For party animals, rave till late with the locals here, or if that isn’t your cup of tea, you can opt instead to set off on a exquisite cruise across the high seas.
Address: Eighth Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL
Opening Hours: Varies depending on the shop’s opening hours. Check the website for more information.
Website: Ocean Drive
5. Admiring fine art in the Art Deco District
A must-see after you’ve toured Ocean Drive, head over to the Art Deco District nearby for a glimpse into the past. Style Moderne, as it was called, is stylised with clean lines and geometric patterns, and South Beach has since adapted the style by adding a tropical touch to the existing design. The pastel hues add vibrancy and are representative of the local culture here — cheerful, bright, and friendly!
Art Deco District
Address: 1001 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Opening Hours: Varies depending on the specific shop. Usually open till late.
6. Immerse yourself in Cuban culture in Little Havana
Welcome to Little Havana, the only neighbourhood in Miami where you can catch a whiff of fragrant Cuban Coffee mixed with the slight hint of tobacco from the elderly men rolling a cigar. Amongst intense games of dominoes, visitors will find the festive Cuban and Afro-Cuban music that pulse through the streets are a joy to jam out to. Slow down your pace and enjoy a cup of coffee with the locals, all whilst admiring the colourful murals that decorate the streets.
Address: 1442 SW 8th St. Miami, FL 33135 305/643-5500
Opening Hours: Varies depending on the specific shop.
7. Shop till you drop at the Bayside Marketplace
What’s a vacation without some shopping, right? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Head over to the Bayside Marketplace after you’ve had your coffee fix back at Little Havana, and prepare to brave through crowds of enthusiastic shoppers. Splurge on some of your favourite brands ranging from Crocs, GAP, and Victoria’s Secret — there’s even the Disney Store for the little ones. Be sure to stop by the Miami Walk of Fame to see if you can spot the names of your favourite celebs!
Address: 401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, Friday - Saturday: 10:00 an - 11:00 pm, Sunday: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Website: Bayside Marketplace
8. Tour the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Home to James Deering, the grand Vizcaya house and gardens took reference from the beautiful 18th century Italian Mediterranean architectural style and adapted it to create a sprawling paradise that looks as though it was taken directly out of a painting. Explore the well-maintained secret garden, where you can catch a moment of peace within the high stone walls with the nearby flora and fauna as your silent companion.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Address: 3251 South Miami Avenue Miami, FL 33129
Price: from 6 USD
Opening Hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
9. Say hi to Lolita, the friendly killer whale at Miami Seaquarium!
Ain’t she a cute one? Aside from Lolita, there are plenty of exotic sea creatures living at the Miami Seaquarium. Consider trying your hand at being a trainer for a day by signing up as a participant. Aside from getting up close to your favourite mammals, you get to feed the curious otters and teach the penguins how to spiral down the waters, too! Sign up for the “Dolphin Encounter” package if you’d like to give the dolphins a friendly handshake or a little peck on their cheeks — they love it when you give them attention! Editor’s Note: Although killer whales are an attraction offered in Miami, Trip101 strongly advocate against supporting captive killer whales.
Killer whales were raised in the wild, and in the wild is where they belong. Born to swim across long distances, keeping them captive in a tank actually stresses them out which in turn leads to occasional accidents happening with their trainers.
Most captive killer whales have been separated from their parents since young. Please try to avoid supporting killer whale attractions and watch them in their full glory where they truly are home — the vast ocean.
Address: 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway Miami, FL 33149 (305) 361-5705
Price: from 34.99 USD
Opening Hours: 10 am - 6 pm
Website: Miami Seaquarium
10. Tour the Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Locomotive fans, rejoice! Here at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, you can gawk at some of your favourite train models up close. Boasting a wide collection of over 40 railcars, you just can’t pass on a chance to hop a ride on some of the oldest and most historical trains in the world!
Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Address: 12450 SW 152nd Street Miami, FL 33177-1402
Price: from 6 USD
Opening Hours: 11 am – 4 pm
Website: Gold Coast Railroad Museum
11. Take a day off at South Beach
Shimmy into your best swimsuit, because it’s time to hit the beach! Grab a drink from the nearby bars as you watch the sun set beyond the horizon. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of some of your favourite actors, as the pristine sands of South Beach are known to have been graced by famous models and glamorous celebs looking to chill out!
Address: Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Opening Hours: No closing hours
12. Spend a relaxing afternoon in Bayfront Park
For a relaxing morning, pack your picnic basket and head over to Bayfront Park, where the sprawling landscapes make for a unique al fresco dining experience. Complete with scenic biking trails, bring your family along on a day out by taking in the stunning natural wonders that Miami has to offer.
Address: 301 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
Opening Hours: 7 am - 10 pm
Website: Bayfront Park
13. Admire the stunning Freedom Tower
The light that illuminates this historical emblem is a sight that cannot be missed when you’re in Miami. In 1962 to 1974, the tower was used to host Cuban refugees and till this day, remains a symbol of faith and acceptance that is proving to be even more important in this time, where hate crimes and racial slurs seem to have caused a division in a country known for its diversity.
Address: 600 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
Opening Hours: 12 pm to 5 pm, closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Website: Freedom Tower
14. Exploring the Design District
Craving a little luxury in your life? Pay a visit to the Miami Design District, where minimalistic art forms decorate the neighbourhood with their grace. You can even indulge in some light shopping with a large selection of high-end fashion brands, or pick up a new couch for your living room with the many designer labels specialising in architecture and furniture.
Miami Design District
Address: 3841 NE 2nd Avenue Suite 400 Miami, FL 33137
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday 11 am – 8 pm, Sunday 12 pm – 6 pm
Website: Design District
15. Take a look around the quirky Wynwood District
Aside from housing the infamous naked Donald Trump statue, the Wynwood District is famous for its spirited street art that adds a pop of colour to the rustic buildings. Perfect for art geeks, indulge in a day of gallery hopping with a wide array of over 70 antique shops, galleries, and picturesque bars for you to choose from.
Address: Downtown Miami
Opening Hours: Varies from store to store
Website: Wynwood District
The magic is all around you!
Don’t be enticed to stay in by the comforts of your new hotel room — head out for a breather, because magic is in the air! With so much to see and do in Miami, can you really be staying in bed all day? Put on your sturdiest shoes and start exploring!
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