The Twenty Best Things to Do in Miami
by Sean McCaughan | October 31, 2018
1. Visit Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.
This incredible historic house on the shores of Biscayne Bay combines architecture, art, and elaborate landscape design into a subtropical fantasyland. Built approximately one hundred years ago by International Harvester vice president James Deering as a winter home that evoked a fantastical Italian villa, Vizcaya is one of the most important historical and cultural sites in Miami.
2. Go on a cruise.
Miami is the cruise capital of the world, and PortMiami is the busiest cruise port in the world. The biggest and newest cruise ships dock in Miami, traveling to the caribbean and beyond, making Miami one of the best places in the world to take a cruise from.
3. Go to an art museum.
Miami has an incredible selection of public art museums, from the Bass Museum and the ICA Miami, to the Perez Art Museum Miami. The city is also known for its wide range of privately-created art museums built by prominent collectors who wish to share their art collections with the public. The Rubell Collection, the Margulies Collection, and the De La Cruz Collection are just a few of those worth a visit.
4. Party it up during Art Basel.
Every year the glitterati of the international art world descend upon Miami for a whirlwind of art exhibitions, parties, and musical performances over the first week in December. Attending the art fairs, from the main Art Basel Miami Beach show at the Miami Beach Convention Center, to the many satellite fairs, is one way to experience Miami Art Week, but another is to snag an RSVP or sneak into some of the many incredible parties that happen during the week. The art and booze soaked events are Miami decadence at its height.
5. See a concert at Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s Palm Court Performance Series.
The weekly Palm Court Performance Series in the Miami District that has run for the last few years during the fall and winter seasons always brings out incredible live musical acts, from full orchestras to jazz bands. Organized by musical legends Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who own a restaurant in the district, the performances are very popular with locals. If you’re lucky you might even run into Emilio and Gloria themselves.
6. Go to happy hour at Sugar, on the roof of the East Hotel.
The views of Brickell are killer, the rooftop ‘forest-like’ ambience is spectacular, and the asian-inspired food and drinks are really unique. There’s one drink which is made in a pineapple. But it helps to have a reservation. The bar is very popular with Brickell’s finance crowd.
7. Stay at the Biltmore Hotel.
Miami has more than its fair share of great hotels. There’s the Fontainebleau, the Vagabond, the Standard, and the Betsy, among many others. However, one of the most unique hotel experiences in Miami is unquestionably the Biltmore. The grand dame is a mediterranean revival masterpiece. If you’re really in for the full experience and have some cash to splash, stay in the Everglades Suite, which is unofficially known as the ‘Al Capone Suite,’ because legend has it that Capone himself used it as a hideout. Unfortunately that’s more legend than fact, but the two-level suite is still an iconic piece of Miami history.
8. Take the boat out to the Haulover Sandbar.
If you’ve got a boat, take it out to Haulover Sandbar in the middle of Biscayne Bay on a Sunday afternoon. The shallow, crystal clear waters are a big attraction for weekend boaters, from kayakers to multimillionaires in really big yachts. The sandbar is lively but not too crowded, and exploring one of the nearby islands is always fun. The whole experience is a big party on the water.
9. Spend the afternoon at the Venetian Pool.
There are pools, there are great pools, and then there’s the Venetian Pool, which is absolutely beyond compare. Built out of a former rock quarry used to build many of the historic homes in Coral Gables, the huge pool is refilled every day with fresh spring water. There is a two-story-tall waterfall, a cave, and an island. Lush vegetation and a venetian-themed pool building with a cafe complete the picture.
10. Get a classic Cuban lunch.
One of the most authentic ‘Miami’ experiences out there is is a Cuban lunch. Check out one of Miami’s many iconic Cuban eateries like Versailles, Enriqueta’s Sandwich shop, or La Carreta, and eat inside or at the ‘ventanita’ window, where old time Cubans get their cafecitos. Order a Cuban sandwich, a media noche, a croqueta, a frita, or a pastelito, and wash it down with a collada or cortadito.
11. Go clubbing until the sun comes up.
Miami is a party town, so hit up the clubs. There’s LIV, Rockwell, Story, the Doheny Room, Basement, and E11EVEN. Or dance waaaaaay past dawn at Club Space.
12. Walk Lincoln Road.
Locals like to complain about Lincoln Road, but it’s still some of the best people watching there is. Plus, there’s frequently live music, and you can often catch a broadcast of the New World Symphony or a movie at the Soundscape Park just to the north.
13. Brush up on your reading at the Miami International Book Fair.
The Miami International Book Fair is one of the biggest and most prominent book fairs in the country, bringing in a long roster of internationally-renowned authors every November who give dozens of book talks over an entire week. Then take in the street fair over the weekend, where hundreds of vendors sell new, used, and antique books.
14. Explore the mysteries of Coral Castle.
Coral Castle, in the Redlands, is one of the strangest places in South Florida. A veritable castle made out of oolitic limestone rock that was built by one man, who somehow moved massive boulders by himself, it’s still a mystery how this place was built. Take a day trip down there, and ponder how he did it.
15. Pick your own fruit and vegetables on Krome Avenue.
While you’re in the Redlands, on your way home from Coral Castle, swing by one of Krome Avenue’s You-Pick-Ems, where you pick your own fresh fruits and vegetables right off the plant. Check out Robert is Here, or Knaus Berry Farm and its famous Amish-made cinnamon rolls.
16. Have lunch at Joe’s Take Away.
Joe’s Stone Crab is one of Miami’s most iconic places to eat. However, the restaurant itself is massive, constantly packed, and perhaps a little underwhelming. Next door is Joe’s Take Away, where you can get all the same dishes in a much more relaxed atmosphere. Plus their fried chicken is to die for.
17. Explore the murals of Wynwood.
Despite the tourists, Wynwood is still one of the most unique neighborhoods in Miami. The former warehouse district is known around the world for its collection of murals and wall art. Plus all the stores, restaurants, and hot spots mean there’s always something interesting to do, eat, or drink while you’re looking at art. And even though many of the art galleries that used to line Wynwood’s streets have left, there are still plenty to check out while you’re there.
18. Sneak into a hotel pool.
Ah, the simple pleasures of going hotel pool hopping in Miami Beach. Sure, you may have to sneak past a pushy hotel front desk clerk or two, but Miami has some incredible hotel pools to try out. Particularly noteworthy destinations include the pools at the Fontainebleau, the Delano, the Faena, and the Shore Club.
19. Go dancing, bowling, and ice skating at Basement at the Edition.
‘Basement,’ the hotspot at the Edition Hotel, is the only nightclub in Miami that comes with a bowling alley and an ice skating rink. Yes an ice skating rink.
20. And of course, last but not least, go to the beach.
This is Miami after all.
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