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15 Cool Things to Do in Miami Besides Miami Beach

City Guide January 18, 2024

 

 

Miami is a vibrant city known for more than just its iconic South Beach and its stretches of white sand. Beyond the sun-soaked shores, the city is rich with diverse attractions, from the historic art deco buildings that paint a picture of a glamorous past to the lively streets of Calle Ocho, brimming with cultural vibrancy.

Cool things to do and activities in Miami go far beyond the sandy beaches. Whether you’re a local or a visitor in the United States, Miami offers experiences waiting to be discovered, each adding its unique color to the city's dynamic tapestry.

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1. Explore the Art Deco District

The Art Deco District in Miami Beach is a visual feast of 20th-century architecture. Embark on a guided tour organized by the Miami Design Preservation League to truly appreciate this area, which boasts the world's largest collection of Art Deco buildings. The tours often include insightful commentary on the history and unique features of the buildings, including their pastel-colored facades and distinctive geometric designs.

This journey through the heart of Miami Beach is a treat for architecture enthusiasts and a vivid step back into the glamour of the 1930s and 1940s.

 

2. Visit Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove, one of Miami's oldest and most enchanting neighborhoods, offers a laid-back, bohemian atmosphere. Wander through its lush streets with charming cafes, boutiques, and art galleries. The neighborhood is also home to several art museums and historic sites, including the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, an Italian Renaissance-style villa and gardens overlooking Biscayne Bay. Coconut Grove's relaxed vibe makes it an ideal spot for leisurely exploration, people-watching, and immersing yourself in Miami's local art scene.

 

3. Key Biscayne Adventures

Just a short drive from downtown Miami, Key Biscayne is a tranquil oasis offering pristine beaches and scenic natural beauty. The area's crown jewel is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, home to the historic Cape Florida Lighthouse. Visitors can enjoy various activities like swimming, hiking, biking, and picnicking.

The park's beaches are less crowded than those in Miami Beach, providing a peaceful retreat. Nature enthusiasts will love exploring the diverse flora and fauna, and the park's hiking trails offer stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay.

 

4. Taste Miami’s Culinary Delights

Miami's culinary landscape is deeply influenced by its Cuban heritage, and no visit is complete without tasting its iconic Cuban cuisine. Head to Little Havana, particularly along Calle Ocho, to find authentic Cuban restaurants serving classic dishes like Cuban sandwiches, ropa vieja, and arroz con pollo. These eateries often feature lively atmospheres with music and dancing, encapsulating the vibrant spirit of Cuban culture. Additionally, Little Havana hosts cultural festivals and live music events, offering a vibrant blend of culinary delights and cultural experiences.

 

5. Shopping at Bayside Marketplace

Bayside Marketplace, located along the picturesque Biscayne Bay, is more than just a shopping center. It's an experience. This bustling marketplace features shops ranging from local boutiques to well-known international brands. Apart from shopping, Bayside offers a variety of dining options, where you can enjoy everything from gourmet meals to quick bites, often with a view of the bay.

 

6. Discover Fort Lauderdale

A short drive from Miami, Fort Lauderdale presents a different side of South Florida. Renowned for its picturesque waterways and canals, this city offers a variety of water-based activities like boat tours and gondola rides, providing a unique perspective of the city known as the "Venice of America." On land, Fort Lauderdale is home to beautiful beaches, art museums, and a vibrant nightlife scene. The city's beachfront promenade is perfect for a stroll, and the historic Las Olas Boulevard offers chic boutiques, art galleries, and fine dining.

 

 

7. Key West Day Trip

Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States, is a must-visit for those exploring beyond Miami. This charming island city is famed for its laid-back ambiance, historical sites like the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and the majestic Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.

Key West is also celebrated for its breathtaking sunsets, best enjoyed from Mallory Square, where daily sunset celebrations bring together tourists and locals for performances and festivities. The vibrant Duval Street offers lively bars, quaint shops, and local eateries, encapsulating the eclectic spirit of Key West.

 

8. Golfing in South Florida

Golf enthusiasts will find South Florida to be a dream destination. The region has many golf courses, from prestigious country clubs to public courses suitable for all skill levels. These courses are well-maintained and set against stunning backdrops of tropical landscapes, including lush palm trees and serene water features.

Playing a round of golf in South Florida is as much about enjoying the sport as it is about experiencing the natural beauty and tranquility of the region. Whether polishing your skills or enjoying a leisurely game, the golfing experience here is exceptional.

 

9. Arts and Culture

Miami's art scene is as diverse as the city, boasting internationally renowned art museums and galleries. These institutions showcase various artworks, from cutting-edge contemporary pieces to significant historic collections. Notable venues like the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) offer exhibitions featuring internationally recognized artists and emerging local talent.

The city's Design District and the annual Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the premier art shows in the world, further cement Miami's status as a global art hub. Exploring these spaces provides a deep insight into the artistic heartbeat of Miami and the cultural influences that shape it.

 

10. Enjoy the Greenery

While Miami's beaches are legendary, the city's green spaces are equally impressive. Numerous state parks and nature reserves in and around Miami offer a variety of outdoor activities. Oleta River State Park, the largest urban park in Florida, provides opportunities for kayaking, biking, and exploring native mangrove forests.

The Everglades National Park, a short drive from Miami, is an ecological treasure offering unique wildlife-watching opportunities, including alligators and various bird species. These parks provide a serene escape from the city's hustle and bustle and are ideal for nature enthusiasts looking to hike, bike, or relax amidst lush Florida landscapes.

 

11. Discover Wynwood’s Street Art

Dive into the heart of Miami's contemporary art scene in the Wynwood neighborhood. Famous for its vibrant street art, including the iconic Wynwood Walls, this area offers a dynamic blend of art galleries, outdoor murals, and unique shops, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts and photographers alike.

 

 

12. Enjoy a Round at Topgolf

Head to Topgolf in Miami Gardens for a fun and unique golfing experience. This venue offers high-tech driving ranges suitable for serious and casual golfers. With great food and drinks, it's a perfect spot for an entertaining evening or afternoon.

 

13. Kayaking in the Everglades

Embark on a kayaking adventure in the Everglades National Park. This experience allows you to explore the park’s unique wildlife and ecosystems up close. Suitable for all skill levels, kayaking here offers a serene and unforgettable encounter with nature.

 

14. Taste the Local Brews

Explore Miami's thriving craft beer scene. Spend a day visiting local breweries, tasting unique brews, and possibly taking a behind-the-scenes tour. It's a great way to experience the local culture and meet the creators of your favorite beers.

 

15. Explore the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Downtown Miami is a hub for science enthusiasts. Its advanced planetarium and interactive exhibits make it perfect for families and anyone interested in science, technology, and the natural world.

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