With its warm, clear waters and white sands, Miami Beach has perhaps some of the best urban beaches in the United States. Located just over the bridge from the city of Miami, it is also known for its vibrant neighborhoods, fine dining, pulsing nightlife, and architectural claim to fame: the area boasts the largest concentration of art deco buildings in the world. The Basics Though the beaches themselves draw huge crowds of sun-worshippers, there is so much more to appreciate about Miami Beach. If you’re seeking pastel buildings, vintage neon signs, and a bustling scene, head to South Beach—particularly the Art Deco District and Ocean Drive.
Away from the beach, you’ll find a mix of restaurants, parks, shopping, and the quieter, historic Espanola Way. See the sights on a walking tour, a bus tour, or a boat tour that gets you out on the water—private tours and group tours are available. Pedicabs also take visitors on leisurely sightseeing tours around the area. Things to Know Before You Go Much of Miami Beach is pedestrian friendly, but you can cover more ground by car, or by taking a city sightseeing bus tour or boat tour. The most crowded beaches run from about 5th Street to 21st Street in the South Beach area. Families with kids should head north of 21st Street, especially to the beaches at 53rd Street or 73rd Street, or to Matheson Hammock Park or South Pointe Park. How to Get There Miami Beach is located on a barrier island between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
The bay separates Miami Beach from the city of Miami, but it is accessible by road. Miami tours often include pickup and drop-off in downtown Miami or Miami Beach. When to Get There South Florida has a warm climate—and lots of visitors—year-round. Miami Beach is most popular from January to May, so expect the heaviest crowds then. Hurricane season, which often sees tropical rains, is from June to November. Exploring Beyond Miami Beach After sunning and reveling in Miami Beach, take some time to explore the surrounding area. Just a jaunt away are the iconic parts and eclectic areas of Miami—Little Havana, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, downtown Miami—all of which you can check out on a Miami city tour by neighborhood. Other popular excursions from Miami Beach include day trips to the wild Everglades and beautiful Key West.
Address: Miami Beach 33139, USA
Biscayne National Park, 95 percent of which lies underwater, is one of the top scuba diving areas in the United States. Divers and snorkelers flock here to experience Biscayne Bay’s extensive reef system. Above water, you can explore the Florida park’s small mainland mangrove shoreline and keys by boat. The Basics As nearly all of Biscayne National Park’s 181,500 acres (73,450 hectares) are mostly underwater, the best way to truly experience it is with snorkel or scuba gear. Beneath the surface, the park’s underwater world explodes with multicolored life, from vibrant angelfish and parrotfish to swaying sea fans and multishaded labyrinths of coral. Reef cruises and glass-bottom boat tours typically depart from Convoy Point and pass through Caesar Creek to see the more than 50 shipwrecks within the park’s boundaries.
Mangrove Shore is a nice option for those on a tight schedule and no boat access—simply stroll around Convoy Point and enjoy a picnic. Of the park’s 44 islands, only a few are open to visitors: Elliot Key has picnicking, camping, and hiking among mangrove forests; tiny Adams Key has picnicking; and Boca Chita Key has a lighthouse, picnicking, and camping. Things to Know Before You Go There is no fee to access the park. Boca Chita Key and Elliot Key are open year-round for boat-in camping on a first-come, first-served basis. Most snorkel and scuba tours include the use of equipment, but you can bring your own if you like. Nature lovers can combine a stop here with visits to nearby Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. How to Get There The park is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Miami via the Ronald Reagan Turnpike. information, stop at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, at the park’s main entrance, which has maps, ranger programs, and a great introductory film overview of the park. When to Get There Key Biscayne is open year-round, and the water portion of the park is always open. The best time to visit the park’s islands is during Florida’s dry season, December to March. For underwater visibility and calm water, summer is best, but be prepared for the occasional afternoon thunderstorm and hungry mosquitoes during this time. Biscayne Bay Wildlife Tourists visiting the national park’s coral reefs and aquamarine waters will come in contact with more than 325 types of fish, shrimp, crabs, spiny lobsters, and even sea turtles. On land and in the mangrove forests, look for the rare peregrine falcon and bald eagle. Barnacles, fish, and other sea creatures also bunch around the trees’ half-submerged roots.
Address: 9700 SW 328 Street, Homestead 33033, USA Hours: Convoy Point, the park's headquarters and visitor center, is open daily 7am - 5:30pm.
The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is open 9am - 5pm. Underwater areas open 24 hours a day
Jungle Island combines the beauty of Miami’s tropical landscape with a jungle full of extraordinary animals from around the globe. Building upon its rich 75-year history, today’s Jungle Island is a contemporary theme park, featuring extremely rare twin orangutans, over 300 vibrant birds, including the world’s only trained Cassowary, and new amenities: SuperFlight, Escape Rooms and Adventure Bay, an outdoor zone with a zipline, rock climbing walls and more. The 18-acre park is an iconic destination for events and adventure. From behind-the-scenes VIP tours to unforgettable interactions with some of the world’s most fascinating animals, Jungle Island offers guests a variety of real-life jungle experiences.
Practical Info Jungle Island sits on the north side of MacArthur Causeway, which connects downtown Miami with South Beach. To get here, take I-95 to I-395 east (MacArthur Causeway). Make a right on Parrot Jungle Trail, which is the first exit after the bridge. If you have kids, consider combining a visit to Jungle Island with the Miami Children's Museum, which is located nearby.
Address: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Watson Island, Miami 33132, USA Hours: Mon - Sun: 10am - 5pm Admission: Adults: US$52.95, Children (3-10yrs): US$39.95
Vibrant Cuban culture permeates every aspect of the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida—you’ll find it in the colorful murals, the monuments to heroes past and present, the residents facing off in the domino park as they discuss politics, and in the cigar rollers at work amidst the ever-present aroma of Cuban coffee.
The Basics The neighborhood’s colorful spirit unfolds on Calle Ocho, Little Havana’s bustling main street, reminiscent of Cuba. On this block between SW 15th and 17th avenues, the Miami Arts District contains a string of studios and galleries that showcase some of the best Latin American art in the country. Nearby, travelers will find the Bay of Pigs Museum & Library, which enshrines the crew of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, and on the two blocks at SW 13th Street, south of Calle Ocho, are monuments of Cuban patriots and freedom fighters. Many tour options combine a visit to Little Havana with tours of other popular spots in Miami and the surrounding area: South Beach and its art deco architecture, Miami Beach, the Everglades, Coconut Grove, or the art galleries in nearby Wynwood. Walking tours and bike tours are easy ways to see the area, while bus tours can be a welcome respite from Miami's summer heat. Half-day Little Havana tours take in the neighborhood's sights, while full-day options also visit other Miami highlights. Things to Know Before You Go Little Havana houses some of Miami's most popular live music spots. Stop by Ball & Chain, Bar Nancy, or Hoy Como Ayer for a show.
Make sure to grab doughnuts at Velvet Creme, Miami’s oldest doughnut shop, and ice cream at Azucar. There's a lot to explore—plan to spend at least three hours here. How To Get to There The Miami River separates Little Havana from downtown Miami on the northeast border. Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street) is the neighborhood’s epicenter, running between NW 22nd Avenue and SW 10th Avenue.
You can get to Little Havana via the Metromover train or by bus. If you’re coming by car, take I-95 to NW 7th Street. When to Get There Daily life is always pulsating to the beat of Cuban music in Little Havana. A daytime visit lets travelers see the neighborhood’s charming, banal side; the nightlife that erupts after dark is worth a visit in itself. What to Eat in Little Havana One of the best ways to experience a culture is through its food, and Cuban culture in Miami’s Little Havana is no exception. On a Little Havana food tour, you can taste Cuban specialties such as guava pastries, chicken plantain cups, and flan ice cream while learning about Cuban traditions, history, and culinary practices from a local tour guide. Address: SW 8th Street, between Cuban Memorial Boulevard and SW 18 Avenue, Miami, USA
Bayside Marketplace, a vibrant waterfront mall in downtown Miami—and the city’s most-visited attraction—sits above Biscayne Bay and features many shopping, dining, and entertainment options. The open-air market has more than 100 shops ranging from apparel to bath products to electronics, and often live performers are on hand to keep shoppers entertained. The Basics Feel warm tropical breezes as you step out of the shops and onto the promenade at this two-story complex of retailers. Bayside Marketplace features both local and national brands, as well as items—including souvenirs—for all budgets. In addition, boat tours, bike tours, water taxis, and fishing charters leave from here: It’s a great place to board a bay cruise or boat ride on the bay.
Things to Know Before You Go In the evenings and on weekends, the market’s atmosphere often gets energetic with dancing and live music. Vehicle parking, handicapped parking, and stroller parking are all available. Aside from many restaurants, there is a food court serving more fast, casual dining options. How to Get There Bayside Marketplace is located right on the water on Biscayne Boulevard. There is plenty of paid parking available, and many routes arrive on Miami Beach and South Florida public transportation and Metrorail. It is about a 15-minute walk (less than one mile/1.6 kilometers) from the heart of downtown Miami.
When to Get There The marketplace is open daily from 10am. Closing hours, and individual restaurant and shop hours, vary—all are available on the Bayside Marketplace website. See Miami from the Water After exploring Miami by land, see a different side of the city by heading out onto the water. Sightseeing tours of Biscayne Bay allow for uninterrupted views of the Miami skyline, its many landmarks, and even some celebrity homes. Check out the Port of Miami, Fisher Island, Star Island, and the Venetian Islands while enjoying a relaxing cruise.
Address: 401 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
All across America are wealthy suburbs, where the houses are big and new and designed to resemble European abodes. But Coral Gables, called the City Beautiful, was the first. For in the posh neighborhood, you’ll see Italianate villas, Mediterranean mansion, mini-Alhambras, and cookie-cutter Cordobas, shaded and lovely under lving walls of banyan grove and ficus copse. After you’ve spent some time driving around looking at all the beautiful homes, head up Granada Boulevard to Anastasia Avenue to marvel at the palatial landmark Biltmore Hotel. Then zip up the diagonal Desoto Boulevard, past the gurgling stone fountain of DeSoto Plaza to the perfectly sculpted landscaping, waterfalls, palm groves, and shaded pavilions of Venetian Pool.
For a little respite, head east past wedding-cake houses and an organic pavilion of banyan branches to Miracle Mile, a sparkling stretch of the Gables’ finest shopping outlets. To the south is the University of Miami, where the gorgeous grounds and its student body inject a nice dose of punky youth into this aristocratic neighborhood. Art lovers should stop at the Lowe Art Museum to see the stunning collection of pre-Columbia and Mesoamerican art.
The museum also has a lovely collection of Renaissance and Baroque art. Practical Info Coral Gables is located southwest of downtown Miami and borders Coconut Grove and Little Havana. The City Beautiful is packed with dining establishments and gourmet shops, along many international retailers. You can easily spend an entire day here sightseeing, shopping, and eating. Though you can get here by public transportation, you’ll get the most of your visit by car, as you can easily see more sites. Address: Miami, USA
Miami offers diversions that go beyond its famous sun and sand. Stroll through the Art Deco District, climb aboard a speedboat for a fast-paced tour, or cycle through Little Havana to get a taste of Miami’s Cuban food—all in 24 hours. Here are a few ways to spend one day in Miami. Morning: Welcome to Miami Start your day in Miami by getting the lay of the land. Choose among several tours that allow you to maximize time in the city, such as a hop-on hop-off with more than 40 stops throughout Miami or a Segway tour that zips through South Beach and its Art Deco District. Visitors who are interested in Miami beyond South Beach may want to check out a food tour by bike, which takes you on a scenic cycle through a Cuban neighborhood complete with Cuban snacks. Learn about Miami’s history and cultural influences from your guide. Afternoon: Miami by Sea and by Air Get a new perspective on Miami with an afternoon tour by boat or plane. Adventurous travelers can sign up for a parasailing excursion in Biscayne Bay or a speedboat sightseeing tour of Miami. Another option for an adrenaline-inducing ride is a seaplane tour of Miami, which takes off and lands in the waters of Key Biscayne and offers views over South Beach, Coconut Grove, and Star Island. Sightseeing cruises offer a more relaxed option to see Miami by water; keep an eye out for dolphins. Night: Eat, Drink, and Dance Experience Miami’s renowned nightlife with a mojito and salsa-themed tour. Spend a night in South Beach sipping cocktails and learning how to salsa with music provided by a live band. To catch the sunset from a different perspective, sign up for an airplane tour at dusk. A twilight tour over Biscayne Bay offers panoramic views and countless photo opportunities. Visitors interested in Miami’s diverse food scene might opt for a food and walking tour. Sample bites from several Latin American cultures on a guided evening stroll.