Miami is one of South Florida's premier vacation destinations, with beaches, great weather, history, culture, sports, and entertainment. Downtown Miami, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach, is a modern metropolis and cultural treasure trove. From the museums to the streets of Little Havana, you can always find plenty of things to do. Across the bay, Miami Beach, with its Art Deco District, fantastic stretch of beachfront, and fun vibe, is a must-see in the area. Nearby, Everglades National Park is one of several popular day trip destinations from Miami.
ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT IN Miami
1. Miami Beach
Located on a barrier island and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, Miami Beach is a mix of quiet neighborhoods, lively entertainment-focused areas, and long stretches of soft-sand beaches.
For visitors, South Beach and the Art Deco Historic District, with pastel buildings from the 1930s and early 1940s sporting classic neon signs, is one of the main highlights. An expensive tourist district, this area features numerous beachfront restaurants, shops, hotels, and plenty of sunbathing opportunities.
2. Art Deco Historic District
Even if you have no interest in the beach, the Art Deco Historic District is worth a trip out to Miami Beach. This architectural style, popular in the 1930s and 40s, dominates the trendy South Beach neighborhood.
These uniquely designed buildings, in a range of pastel colors and displaying large neon signs, were built following a devastating hurricane that struck in 1926. Many are hotels and restaurants, most of which have been beautifully restored. Along some of the main streets, awnings on the lower level of these buildings provide shade for outdoor dining areas.
3. South Beach
Located at the southern end of Miami Beach is a glorious stretch of sand known as South Beach. This wide section of beach fronts the ocean in the neighborhood of the same name. Often packed in summer, this is the most popular beach in Miami and one of the top beaches in Florida.
It's a place to see and be seen, but also a place to swim and enjoy the shallow waters, escape the heat, and soak up the sun. A paved walk lines the beach, and in behind is Ocean Drive, where motorists cruise slowly by and take in the sights.
4. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
This National Historic Landmark, set on 28 acres, was the luxurious winter home of 20th-century industrialist, James Deering. Built in 1916, the mansion features 34 rooms arranged around a central courtyard.
It took more than 1,100 workers and craftsmen to complete the Vizcaya project, many of whom were brought over from Europe to ensure authenticity in design.
The Italian Renaissance-style villa is filled with an impressive collection of European furniture and decorative arts from the 15th to 19th centuries.
The grounds and gardens contain beautiful Italian and French fountains, pools, and sculptures. A breakwater at the base of the steps leading into Biscayne Bay is an ornately carved barge, featuring female figures.
5. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park, just a short drive from Miami, protects one of Florida's most unique natural features. These swamplands, covering about 1.5 million acres, are home to alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and birds. This whole area is essentially a shallow river flowing out to the ocean.
Within the park is an informative Visitors Center, as well as walking trails and boardwalks for wildlife viewing. One of the most popular walking trails in the park is the Anhinga Trail, which leaves from the Royal Palm Visitor Center. This trail is less than a mile long but leads through terrain where visitors are likely to see alligators and other animals. This trail is wheelchair accessible and non-strenuous.
6. Bayside Marketplace
Bayside Marketplace is a large outdoor-style mall with more than 150 specialty and tourist shops, numerous cafes and restaurants, and daily live entertainment. Visitors will find some well-known chain stores, as well as many unique, one-of-a-kind places. The marketplace draws locals as well as tourists.
As may be evident in the name, the mall is located along Miami's waterfront, looking out over docks and boats. Many people come here simply to soak up the atmosphere.
7. Little Havana and Calle Ocho
Little Havana, the Cuban district of Miami, isn't known for its wealth of tourist attractions but more for its distinctive cultural scene. Restaurants and specialty food shops line the streets, and Latin music drifts through the air. Locals socialize in the open spaces.
Murals grace the walls of buildings, showing important Cuban figures and scenes of daily life. Calle Ocho is the main thoroughfare running through the district and home to much of the activity, but Little Havana spreads well beyond, into the surrounding streets and avenues. For people-watching, the area offers a great deal of entertainment. And of course, this is the place to come for Cuban cuisine.
8. Bayfront Park
Bayfront Park, on the east side of Biscayne Boulevard, is a 32-acre green space, adjacent to the Bayside Marketplace. The park has several interesting monuments and sculptures. One of the unique features is the electronically controlled Pepper Fountain.
Other highlights include the Challenger Memorial, commemorating the crew of the Challenger spacecraft; the Light Tower, an amphitheater used for musical performances of all kinds; and a children's playground. Locals often come here just to run or walk on the paved trails.
9. Zoo Miami
Zoo Miami houses more than 3,000 wild animals, including 40 endangered species. Unlike many traditional zoos, animals here are grouped with other species they would normally co-exist with peacefully in the wild, and kept in settings similar to their natural habitats.
One of the most enjoyable experiences at the zoo is feeding the giraffes. Kids will be amazed as these gentle giants reach down with their long necks to pluck a treat from their hands.
10. Jungle Island
Jungle Island is a bird sanctuary, wildlife habitat, and botanical garden. Parrots and other exotic birds fly about in tropical forest settings, some of which take part in daily shows.
Larger animals, including tigers, baboons, alligators, tortoises, monkeys, and orangutans are also a big part of the attraction. The gardens contain around 2,000 varieties of exotic plants, including heliconias, bananas, orchids, and bromeliads.