12 Most Important Things to do in Miami, Florida

June 14, 2016

When it comes to Miami, Florida, there are endless things to do. You’ve got the beach, the nightlife, the shopping, the culture, and that’s just some of the best parts of Miami. The city is also known for their festivals, their beautiful homes, their Cuban food, and even their flowers.

There is so much to enjoy in this highly desirable area that it’s hard to know where to start. When you’re new to the area, the best thing you can do is start with these 12 things that are the most important Miami destinations. Once you’ve finished this list, you can finally call yourself a true Miamian and start to feel like a local. Take a look at the 12 most important things you have to do while in Miami.

1. The Food

What better way to immerse yourself into a new place than to try the food? Gather your friends and start sampling the local cuisine. What flavors are special to Miami? First you’ll want to try the Cuban flavors such Cuban sandwiches or the Abuela Maria dessert at Azucar Ice Cream Company featuring vanilla ice cream, crumbled Maria cookies, cream cheese, and chunks of guava.

Then, you’ll want to try croquettes before trying Caribbean and the South American cuisine. Transport yourself through the cuisine or Peru at the Coya restaurant where you can get authentic ceviche with a Pisco Sour. Try the flavors of Columbia at elCielo, a 10-15 course menu featuring the art, culture, and geography of Colombia.

2. The Art Deco

Next, check out Ocean Drive where you’ll enjoy the Art Deco District. You’ll find over 800 buildings that go back to the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Most people go to Ocean Drive just north of 5th Street, head to the Welcome Center, and get the self-guided audio tour to get the best possible tour of these awesome structures.

3. South Beach

South Beach

Next, it’s time to see one of the best parts of the city: South Beach. While it’s a huge tourist destination, it’s a must-see for those new to the area. You’ll find tons of people hanging by the pool in swimsuits or rollerblading down Ocean Drive, but it’s a beautiful beach area that most only dream of visiting.

Stop by local shops like Café Nikki for croissants, Nikki Beach Club for champagne brunch, or Joe’s Stone Crab for dinner. You’ll likely see a reality star, people at all-night clubs, designer boutiques, and people flooding the World Erotic Art Museum. It’s one of the craziest areas of Miami that you have to experience.

4. The Design District

One exciting area of Miami that you’ll love to visit is the Design District. It has transformed into the jub of the best art, fashion, and architecture. Formerly called Decorator’s Row, Design District features popular galleries and showrooms like Holly Hunt, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Locust Projects. Check out Pablo Picasso works at Opera Gallery and then go shopping at the Palm Court complex, a multi-level, open-air shopping center where luxury labels are found.

5. The Mall

When you’re in the shopping mood, the Lincoln Road Mall should be your next stop. It was designed in the 50’s by the famous Morris Lapidus and used to be known as the “5th Avenue of the South.” Stop by Lincoln for the best stores and boutiques.

You’ll want to eat at Balans where you’ll simultaneously be people-watching. Stop by a sidewalk coffee shop and check out cultural venues like Britto Centra. The art gallery such as Romero Britto’s gallery is a popular stop, as well as the Colony Theatre. Get a great new outfit at Alchemist and a gift for a friend at the Babalu Miami.

6. Transport yourself to Europe

If you want to feel like you’re in Europe right in Miami, you have to visit Coconut Grove at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. It’s designed like an Italian Renaissance villa and it’s full of European antiques and decorative works dating as far back as the 16th century.

7. Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne

If you prefer the beach vibe, you’ll want to try a visit to “the Key” which is actually Key Biscayne. It’s one of the most pristine beaches and it’s technically the northernmost key of the Florida Keys. You won’t find tourists and attractions; this beach is for the local that wants to cycle, enjoy the views, and take the family to a waterpark. Try Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park for swimming on the island.

8. Festivals

When a festival comes to town, you must go. You’ll find celebrations like the Carnaval Miami with Latin jazz and beauty pageants. Enjoy Calle Ocho at the end of the celebration where 23 blocks of Miami’s Little Havana transforms into a street party. Be sure to check out the Ultra music festival in downtown Miami too.

9. Venetian Pool

Take the family to go swimming in Venice, except right in Miami! The Venetian Pool is a mock-Italian villa from the 20’s that features beautiful waterfalls and loggias.

10. Flowers

Enjoy the natural beauty of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden or the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. These two stops offer a look at beautiful plants, flowers waterfalls, and more. Try yoga at lunchtime at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

11. Brews

Where can you go for a local brew? Check out The Butcher Shop, a beer garden and restaurant, or try the Wynwood Brewing Company, the city’s first craft brewery.

12. Nightlife

Miami Nightlife

Of course there is no better way to experience Miami than to join in on the nightlife. Check out Came, the Art Deco movie theater that was renovated into a DJ’s favorite party scene. Basement, an underground lounge, is an amazing place to ice skate, bowl, and dance. Check out LIV if you want to see a celebrity.

Related: How to Enjoy South Beach as a Family

When it comes to experiencing Miami for the first time, these are the top 12 stops you must do before you can truly call yourself a Miamian!

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