Hot, charming Miami, Florida hosts many identities: a retiree haven, celebrity playground, snowbird refuge, foreigner stop-off, and tourist spot. They're also suggestive of the melting-pot society that has developed to...
Miami is a city at Florida’s southeastern top. Its Cuban influence displayed in the cigar shops and cafes that line Calle Ocho in Little Havana. Their charming neighborhood recognized for its colorful art deco buildings, white sand, Surfside hotels, and trendsetting nightclubs. As any true local knows, the best things to do in Miami stretch beyond lounging on the sand—though spending some time on the excellent Miami beaches is fundamental to life in the 305. Of course, Miami is famed for its Art Deco architecture, and it’s not unexpected that the U.S. host city of Art Basel Miami Beach and home to colorful Wynwood has an active cultural scene. In between sunbathing, swimming, and sipping cocktails (or craft beer), check off these essential Miami experiences.
Best fun places to visit in Miami Florida
What is it? Miami’s number one attraction is a surreal Italian Renaissance-style villa in the core of lush, laid-back Coconut Grove. Its sprawling bayfront terrace, meticulously landscaped gardens, and, well, the house itself, make up a sum of 43 acres. Why go? Vizcaya makes for the most attractive photo backdrop in the city (ask the quinceañeras and brides roaming about) and its unique collection of European antiques and decorative works from the 16th to 19th eras is genuinely breathtaking.
What is it? Spanning across a wide 250,000 square feet, the original Frost Science (an upgrade from its earlier Coconut Grove location) occupies four buildings—the Aquarium, the Frost Planetarium, and the North and West Wings—features year-round exhibits and is a pleasure for curious minds of all ages. Why go? Frost Science is as state-of-the-art as it gets, highlighting interactive possibilities, a 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream aquarium that houses all kinds of sea creatures and a planetarium dome that entertains biweekly laser light shows.
What is it? Today’s Ball & Chain is a pleasure of a 1930s hotspot that once held the same space and welcomed jazz superstars such as Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Chet Baker to its stage. Why go? For beginners, there’s free salsa dancing education on Tuesday night, live jazz on weekday evenings and lots of more free programming that takes place on the funny pineapple stage out back. And let’s not neglect the mojitos—they’re lovely spectacular.
What is it? This self-proclaimed “most famous Cuban restaurant in the world” is arguably more popular than its palatial namesake in France. The Little Havana institution is the unofficial meeting place for the city’s Cuban community, who crowd the cafe window 24/7 sipping on Cuban coffee. Why go? Toasted Cuban sandwiches, piping-hot Cuban coffee served in thimble-sized cups, authentic Cuban pastelitos (Spanish dish) made the same way for 40-plus years, yummy Arroz con pollo…shall we go on?
What is it? Owner Suzy Batlle’s pleasant Little Havana ice cream shop, churning out delightful “Cuban” flavors inspired by her beloved childhood combinations—guava and cream cheese, café con leche and more. To see it, look for the enormous ice cream cone on Calle Ocho. Why go? Azucar’s inspired several a copycat but its flavors, all original, fresh and made in-house, are inimitable, especially the popular Abuela María with vanilla ice cream, Maria crackers, guava, and cream cheese. Don’t miss the cheeky tees by the register emblazoned with popular Cuban idioms.
What is it? Miami’s first craft brewery set off a citywide increase, prompting several more brew houses to open nearby in Wynwood and away. But a tour to this modest warehouse with a small taproom and lone food truck in the outskirts of the colorful community is still a must. Why go? Wynwood Brewing’s flavor-packed blonde ale, La Rubia (which is Spanish for, you guessed it, the blonde), is crispy and refreshing. It’s accessible at most retailers, but there’s nothing like sampling it right from the source.