Miami is a city with multiple personalities, with each neighborhood offering something that appeals to a different kind of traveler. The hard part isn’t finding something to do; it’s choosing between activities that vary from beaches and boats to world-class museums and street art murals. You can’t miss South Beach’s famous shores and swanky nightclubs, but for a more complete experience, venture off the beaten path to some of the other Miami attractions that may even be a secret to some of the locals.
Must-See Miami Attractions
To help narrow down the seemingly endless list of Miami attractions, here are eight must-see spots.
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The one-time warehouse district of Wynwood is now Miami’s creative hub, home to over 80,000 square feet of street art-covered walls. Over 50 artists from 16 different countries (including big names like Invader and Faith 47) have made their mark on the neighborhood’s vibrant walls, putting Wynwood on par with some of the best street art cities around the globe (think Berlin and Vienna). Start where the project all began, the original Wynwood Walls, which comprises six buildings from 25th to 26th Streets. Pause for lunch within the walls at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, or grab a superfood-packed smoothie at local fave Jugofresh. On the second Saturday of the month, galleries and restaurants open their doors for a block party-style evening dubbed Art Walk.
Lincoln Road Mall
Lincoln Road was an artist hangout back in the 1980s, and while its studios and galleries have been replaced by shops and restaurants, it’s still one of the most popular pedestrian stretches in South Beach—and one of the most enticing Miami attractions. Designed in the 1950s by legendary architect Morris Lapidus, who nicknamed it the “Fifth Avenue of the South,” you’ll find remnants of its past in the form of landmarks like the Art Deco-style Colony Theatre. On Sundays, the strip transforms into the Lincoln Road Farmers’ Market, where local vendors display fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and homemade goodies like jams and jellies. Grab a coffee from the cafe at Books & Books and stroll through the stands before taking a seat at a streetside cafe like Balans. It’s also worth swinging by Lincoln Road around sunset for a drink on the rooftop terrace at Juvia, perched on the penthouse of the modernist Herzog & de Meuron-designed parking garage.
Take a seat in the gilded, European opera house-inspired Faena Theater for an interactive dinner show experience that’s quickly become one of the top Miami attractions. The 150-seat theater looks like something out of 1950s Miami, with decadent gold leaf and red velvet decor. Pao’s chef Paul Qui whips up a whimsical three-course meal while performers entertain diners pre-show. Then it’s time to sit back with a glass of bubbly and get ready for the main act, with past shows like “Sensatia” known to get all five of your senses involved through culinary arts, acrobatic performances, and perfumery. Think Moulin Rouge meets Cirque du Soleil.
El Tucan Cabaret and Nightclub
Will Smith and Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima are among the celeb set who frequent Miami’s modern-day cabaret, El Tucan. On Fridays and Saturdays, the nightclub transforms into something out of Hollywood’s golden era, with a Latin-fueled dinner and show curated by a Grammy award-winning pianist. After the vignette-style evening of burlesque, aerialists, dancers, and drag artists, international DJs take the stage to spin Afro-Latin and Parisian pop late into the night.
South Beach lives up to every bit of its over-the-top reputation as one the most famous Miami attractions. This iconic area’s neon signs, flashy nightclubs, and Art Deco design have been iconized in movies and postcards, with bars like Fontainebleau’s Bleau once attracting the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Now South Beach’s bottle service-style nightclubs are popular hangouts for celebs like Paris Hilton and the Kardashians, with top-notch DJs like Calvin Harris regularly on the roster. Running from South Pointe Park to 23rd Street, South Beach features everything from picture-perfect white-sand beaches and celebrity chef-led restaurants to boutique shopping and dining in the historic Spanish village along Espanola Way.
For a taste of Miami’s Cuban spirit, head to Little Havana. Most of the neighborhood’s restaurants, bakeries, and ventanitas (walk-up windows serving Cuban coffee and small bites like empanadas) are huddled around Calle Ocho. Two must-buys: cigars and Cuban food. Watch the pros rolling Cuban cigars at shops like El Titan de Bronze, which also serves as a neighborhood hangout. Don’t know where to start your Cuban food crawl? Let a local lead the way with Little Havana Tours. On these walking tours you can sample some of the best cafecitos (Cuban coffee) and ropa vieja (pulled stewed beef) Little Havana has to offer. If you happen to be visiting the last Friday of the month, you’ll catch Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays, with art exhibits, music, and dancing in the streets.
Miami Design District
Buildings from the 1920s merge with more modern designs in the 25-acre Miami Design District, the former warehouse-heavy neighborhood that now acts as the city’s Rodeo Drive. The pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with flagships from brands like Christian Louboutin and Hermes, as well as upscale eateries from internationally acclaimed chefs Joel Robuchon and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Start with a coffee and pastry from Crumb on Parchment before a day of window shopping and gallery hopping, popping in to admire the exhibits at one of the newer Miami points of interest: the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
Miami is in the midst of a museum moment, with large-scale openings of science centers like the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Spend the day in Downtown Miami’s waterfront Museum Park, home to Frost Science’s four buildings, which include a three-level aquarium devoted to South Florida’s diverse ecosystems as well as a 67-foot domed planetarium, with 3D projectors that really bring its space-themed shows to life. On the first and third Fridays of the month, the planetarium takes on a 70s twist with laser shows playing to the beats of Lady Gaga and Pink Floyd.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Miami Travel Guide
- 8 Best Cheap Hotels in Miami
- 9 Best Miami Beachfront Hotels
- 7 Best Hotels in Miami
- 9 Fun Things to Do in Miami
- 9 Best Beaches in Miami
- 10 Best Restaurants in Miami
- The Best Cheap Eats in Miami
- Where to Find the Best Cuban Food in Miami
- What to Wear in Miami
- What to Pack for Miami
—Original reporting by Lane Nieset
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