I worked with Tripadvisor for a small portion of my Miami trip to share different Miami Experiences. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
One of the most popular travel destinations in the entire country, Miami is a welcome respite for vacationers, party goers, adventurers, couples, and friends in search of sun, sea, and endless entertainment. There are honestly so many things to do in Miami, it’s hard to know where to begin!
On my first trip to Miami, I knew I desperately wanted two things: beach time, and salsa dancing. While Miami is famous for those two things, and I successfully had my fill of both, what I quickly learned was just how much more Miami has to offer. From museums and entire neighborhoods filled with murals, to iconic architecture and endless late-night attractions no matter what mood you’re after, you’ll find enough to make your head spin.
In fact, after spending 5 days in Miami myself, I basically made a laundry list of more fun things to do in Miami that I’ll have to do the next time I’m in town. If you’re after the best Miami attractions, read on for my list of the very best 15 things to do in Miami!
RELATED: Where to Stay in Miami Beach – The Balfour Hotel
15+ Of the Very Best Things to Do in Miami
1. Explore Ocean Drive in South Beach on Foot or By Bike
Odds are if you’ve ever pictured Miami Beach in your head, you’ve pictured the pastel–colored facades of Ocean Drive. Stretching 15 blocks and flanked on either side by spectacular art deco buildings and endless rows of palm trees, Ocean Drive is an iconic Miami landmark and one best explored on foot. Or, if you prefer to ride, there are tons of public CitiBike bike rental stands all over South Beach!
Walking around Ocean Drive, it’s almost impossible to consider that just over 100 years ago, this entire area was unnavigable swampland and sandbars. Since Miami Beach was largely developed around the 1920s when the Art Deco movement was the predominant architectural style of the day, all the buildings along Ocean Drive sport a cohesive Art Deco look that’s been featured in endless movies and TV shows throughout the years.
2. Take a Tour of Miami’s Historic Art Deco District
Despite being one of the great Art Deco capitals of the world, the buildings in Miami Beach almost didn’t make it. In the 80s, when Miami Beach wasn’t as en vogue as in previous decades, Ocean Drive largely became an afterthought. That is, until a city-wide renaissance began working to restore the famous Art Deco structures we see standing today.
To learn more about the Art Deco movement, and its renaissance, in Miami, take an Art Deco walking tour. Tours are 2 hours and cost $35. Additionally, all proceeds benefit the preservation of Miami Beach’s architectural, cultural, social, and environmental identity.
Book your Art Deco Walking Tour tickets using this link.
3. Stroll Down Espanola Way
Miami Beach’s Historic Spanish Village, more commonly known as Espanola Way, was born in the 1920s and fashioned after the lively Mediterranean promenades of Spain and France. While Espanola Way began as a meetingplace for the wealthy and a late-night scene for rumba dancers and party goers, it fell into a dark era in the 70s and 80s much like the rest of Miami Beach.
Fortunately, Espanola Way was restored in the 80s and quickly caught the eye of Hollywood. Shortly after, this famous pedestrian-only pathway made its on-screen debut in Miami Vice, Chains of Gold, The Birdcage, and others.
Thanks to its rediscovered fame, today, Espanola Way remains a must-see for visitors looking for fun things to do in Miami. Stroll down the promenade and you’ll find everything from marketplaces and galleries, to restaurants and coffee shops, with so much picturesque Euro-bohemian charm in between. Be sure to grab a mojito from Havana 1957 while you’re here!
4. Spend a Lazy Afternoon on the Beach
The white sand beaches of Miami are seriously something else. And, with eight miles of coastline, no Miami vacation would be complete without a day on the beach!
Generally speaking, there are four regions of Miami Beach: South Pointe, South Beach, Mid Beach, and North Beach.
South Beach is the most famous region along the coast, and you’ll often find the most lively vibe here. Mid Beach is a bit more sophisticated, as it’s located in front of some of Miami’s most luxe hotels and resorts. South Pointe and North Beach are more local and family-friendly.
If you’re planning to stay at a hotel in Miami Beach, your hotel might offer beach chair rentals as a part of the resort fee you pay during your stay. Otherwise, you can expect to pay around $15 – $35 for the entire day.
5. Snap a Photo in Front of a South Beach Lifeguard Tower
You can’t miss the colorful lifeguard towers of Miami Beach!
Along the coastline, between South Pointe Beach and 86th Street, you’ll find 36 colorful lifeguard towers in unique geometric shapes inspired by the famous Art Deco movement that characterizes the city. Designed by architect William Lane, these lifeguard towers are meant to be an embodiment of Miami’s colorful culture, eclectic energy, and enduring spirit.
They make a fantastic photo opp contrasted against the endless white sands and blue waves. Just keep in mind that they are still active lifeguard towers. There will be lifeguards on duty during the day!
6. Take a Boat Ride or Rent a Jet Ski
From Biscayne Bay, to the man-made islands dotted with millionaire homes, to the Port of Miami, there’s so much to see out on the water. While you can catch a glimpse as you’re driving down the causeways between Miami Beach and mainland Miami, the best way to experience Miami to the fullest is by boat (or jetski).
Take a guided boat tour to see everything from celebrity mansions to the famous Miami skyline. For a more adventurous experience, rent a jetski and cruise through Biscayne Bay at your own pace. Or, if you’re looking for something more luxe, you can rent out everything from private boats to private yachts. The sky’s the limit!
Here are Some Options for Getting Out on the Water in Miami:
- Private Yacht Tour of Biscayne Bay
- Private 2-Hour Boat Tour of Biscayne Bay with Champagne
- Customizable Full-Day Boat Tour of Miami
- Private Sailing Adventure in Biscayne Bay
- 4-Hour Pontoon Boar Rental
- 1-Hour Jetski Rental
7. Visit the Colorful Wynwood Neighborhood
If you’ve been doing a lot of Miami research, you might’ve already come across Wynwood as a recommendation for things to do in Miami. And I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I consider Wynwood one of the best things to do in downtown Miami (well, it’s a little north of downtown. But not far!).
In the early 2000s, the first art gallery moved into Wynwood. As more and more galleries popped up, commercial development began to boom in the area too. Fast-forward to today, Wynwood is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods and arts districts in the entire country. There are more than 70 galleries and museums in the neighborhood, and the entire area is covered in murals – many of which are from some of the most famous street artists in the world.
To my surprise, I learned that more than 50% of the artists represented on the walls of Wynwood are female artists. Maybe it’s the fact that Wynwood is almost entirely ‘fair game’ for street artists. You can come and express yourself in broad daylight, safely, without any sneaking around with spray paint hidden in your backpack. Whatever the reason, I was loving it.
There are so many things to do in Wynwood Miami, you could easily explore on your own (don’t miss Wynwood Walls Museum). Or, if you want to learn more about the murals and the history of the neighborhood, take a guided art tour. This is the guided art walk I went on. But, you can also opt for a golf cart tour of Wynwood instead if you prefer not to walk!
And, be sure to stay for dinner and drinks. Wynwood is a vibrant arts and entertainment district with some of the best restaurants and bars in town. For food, I loved Crudos Fusion Art and the World Famous House of Mac. For drinks, there are endless bars and breweries within walking distance. Dante’s HiFi, Savage Labs, Wynwood Brewing, and Spanglish are just some great spots to pop in for a bev or two.
8. Sample Cuban Food on a Walking Tour of Little Havana
If the beating heart of Cuba was outside of Cuba itself, it’s here, in Miami’s Little Havana. Calle Ocho, the main street that runs through Little Havana, is one of the most famous streets in the entire country. Here, you’ll find the largest concentration of Cubans in Miami, along with tons of restaurants and local businesses passed down for generations within Cuban families.
In Little Havana, there is so much to experience in such a compact neighborhood that it could be easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. I recommend taking a walking tour of Little Havana so you can take in all the sights, smells, and flavors of Cuba while hearing the stories and history behind how this neighborhood came to be. You can book your Little Havana tour using this link.
9. Walk Down the Cuban Memorial Boulevard
Just off Calle Ocho, you’ll find an entire four-block boulevard dedicated to Cuba’s long-standing fight for freedom. Spend some time exploring this boulevard to learn more about the sacrifices Cubans have made for their beloved country, including the tragic Bay of Pigs Invasion, memorialized by the Eternal Torch of Brigade 2506 monument you’ll find here.
While Little Havana is beloved for its mesmerizing live music, its delicious food, and its hot dance floors, a visit to this historic neighborhood would not be complete without a walk down Cuban Memorial Boulevard.
10. Try Your Hand at Salsa Dancing
I consider salsa dancing to be one of the most fun and romantic things to do in Miami, by far! Whether you go on your own, or with your friends or significant other, salsa dancing is an amazing way to meet new people and learn how to dance with a partner.
Why is salsa dancing so prevalent in Miami? Well, Miami is a majority-Latino city, with more than 60% of the local population being of Latino descent. Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Mexicans, and Guatemalans make up just some of diverse Latino influence throughout this city.
Salsa dancing originated in Cuba, but is a wildly popular dance and musical style across Latin America.
Some Popular Places to Go Salsa Dancing in Miami Include:
- Salsa Mia, South Beach
- Ball & Chain, Little Havana
- Havana 1957, South Beach (specifically, the one located on Ocean Drive)
- Mango’s Tropical Cafe, South Beach
11. Seek Out Live Latin Music Throughout Miami
Whether you like dancing or not, listening to live Latin music in Miami is a must. Tons of restaurants, bars, and clubs throughout the city have live performances on a regular basis. So, it won’t be hard to incorporate a show into your Miami itinerary.
Here are Some Well-Known Live Music Spots in Miami:
- CubaOcho, Little Havana
- Old’s Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina
- Mango’s Tropical Cafe
- Ball & Chain
- Hoy Como Ayer
- Cafe La Trova
12. Sample the Flavors of Miami at the Time Out Market
There are Time Out Markets in a handful of major cities all over the world. These markets are curated to showcase the best flavors of the city under one roof, and no two Time Out Markets in the world are the same.
As you enter Miami’s Time Out Market, located in Miami Beach, you’ll find more than a dozen different food and dessert vendors spread across a 17,500-square foot industrial food hall, along with communal tables for enjoying your meal, and a central bar offering delicious cocktails. On the weekends, you might even find a DJ in house, making Time Out a perfect first stop to fuel up before a big night out.
13. Catch a Show at the Tower Theater Miami
Tower Theater, located on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, is one of Miami’s oldest and most treasured landmarks. First opening its doors in 1926, this building was one of the finest theaters in all of the south, and dazzled both English- and Spanish-speaking audiences for nearly six decades before shuttering its doors in 1984.
At the turn of the century, Miami saw a massive push to reinstate and reopen places of historical significance, and Tower Theater began welcoming moviegoers once more. Today, the nearly 100 year-old landmark is the home of the Miami Film Festival, a social gathering and exhibition space, a performance venue, and a movie theater.
You can find showtimes for movie screenings here. Be sure to keep an eye out for other performances that might be happening during your trip, too. Depending on what’s showing, this could be a super cute thing to do in Miami for couples in need of a date night! My boyfriend and I saw a Candlelight Concerts tribute to Hans Zimmer at Tower Theater during our Miami visit, and it was absolutely magical.
14. Take a Day Trip to the Everglades
Can you do a day trip to the Everglades from Miami? Absolutely. In fact, you can get to the Everglades in just 45 minutes from most of Miami and Miami Beach. And it’s so worth it. The Everglades were mesmerizing and easily one of my favorite things to do in Miami.
The Everglades is the largest wetland ecosystem in the US, and makes up the southernmost tip of Florida (excluding the Keys). It is an International Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Wetland of International Importance, and a large chunk of it is also a US National Park.
Home to crocodiles, alligators, turtles, panthers, and several species of birds, the Everglades is a fascinating ecosystem and actually much more beautiful in person than I could’ve anticipated. Yes, I was one of the people that thought the Everglades was swampy and stagnant before I finally got to see it for myself!
In reality, the Everglades is a slow-moving river, not a swamp. And, the best way to see the Everglades is by touring it via an airboat. These boats look apocalyptic to me, like they were built for survival rather than for leisurely exploration. But either way – they’re really fun and get really loud when you go fast!
If you’re short on time, a half-day Everglades Holiday Park tour like this one is a great choice and includes round-trip transportation from Miami and Miami Beach. Otherwise, there’s tons of full-day Everglades tours (including some led by local biologists and naturalists, like this one) you can pick from that go further into the area and possibly even into the National Park.
15. Visit Biscayne National Park
Miami is actually home base for not one, but two national parks! Biscayne National Park is one of the few US national parks that is mainly navigable by boat, as the entire protected area is approximately 95% water. Here, you’ll find unparalleled snorkeling, marine life, shipwrecks, and keys to explore, making Biscayne National Park ideal for those seeking adventurous things to do in Miami.
Some Things to Do in Biscayne National Park Include:
- Camping at Elliott Key or Boca Chita Key
- Snorkel through the Maritime Heritage Trail, an underwater ‘trail’ filled with shipwrecks from centuries past
- Stop by the Dante Fascell Visitor Center to learn more about the park’s history and wildlife
- Go kayaking in Jones Lagoon or Hurricane Creek
- Visit the Coral Castle in the nearby city of Homestead
There you have it! Of the 15+ of the very best things to do in Miami, Florida that made this list, which are you most excited to do?