Miami is one of South Florida’s premier vacation destinations, with beaches, great weather, history, culture, sports, and entertainment. Downtown Miami, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach, is a modern metropolis and cultural treasure trove. From the museums to the streets of Little Havana, you can always find plenty of things to do.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Miami Beach is between March and May when the sun shines with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s during the day. Aside from the gorgeous weather, a spring visit allows you to sidestep the peak winter rates.
Top Places to Visit in Miami
1. Miami Beach
Located on a barrier island and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, Miami Beach is a mix of quiet neighborhoods, lively entertainment-focused areas, and long stretches of soft-sand beaches. For visitors, South Beach and the Art Deco Historic District, with pastel buildings from the 1930s and early 1940s sporting classic neon signs, is one of the main highlights. An expensive tourist district, this area features numerous beachfront restaurants, shops, hotels, and plenty of sunbathing opportunities. The most popular street in this area is Ocean Drive, a section of road located along the oceanfront and home to some beautiful Art Deco buildings. One block inland, running parallel with Ocean Drive, is Collins Avenue.
2. South Beach
Located at the southern end of Miami Beach is a glorious stretch of sand known as South Beach. This wide section of beach fronts the ocean in the neighborhood of the same name. Often packed in summer, this is the most popular beach in Miami and one of the top beaches in Florida. It’s a place to see and be seen, but also a place to swim and enjoy the shallow waters, escape the heat, and soak up the sun. A paved walk lines the beach, and in behind is Ocean Drive, where motorists cruise slowly by and take in the sights.
3. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
This National Historic Landmark, set on 28 acres, was the luxurious winter home of 20th-century industrialist, James Deering. Built in 1916, the mansion features 34 rooms arranged around a central courtyard. It took more than 1,100 workers and craftsmen to complete the Vizcaya project, many of whom were brought over from Europe to ensure authenticity in design. The Italian Renaissance-style villa is filled with an impressive collection of European furniture and decorative arts from the 15th to 19th centuries. The grounds and gardens contain beautiful Italian and French fountains, pools, and sculptures. A breakwater at the base of the steps leading into Biscayne Bay is an ornately carved barge, featuring female figures.
4. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park, just a short drive from Miami, protects one of Florida’s most unique natural features. These swamplands, covering about 1.5 million acres, are home to alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and all kinds of birds. This whole area is essentially a shallow river flowing out to the ocean. Within the park is an informative Visitors Center, as well as walking trails and boardwalks for wildlife viewing. One of the most enjoyable ways for tourists to experience the Everglades is on an airboat tour. These high-speed boat trips take visitors out into the marshes and streams to see alligators and other wildlife. There are several operators in the area, but outside the park, that offer tours of the Everglades.
5. Zoo Miami
Zoo Miami houses more than 3,000 wild animals, including 40 endangered species. Unlike many traditional zoos, animals here are grouped with other species they would normally co-exist with peacefully in the wild, and kept in settings similar to their natural habitats. This is the only zoo in the continental United States located in a subtropical climate. More than 1,000 species of trees and plants can also be found on the grounds, including a large collection of orchids. Children will find plenty of entertainment options. If they are bored with the animals, they can head over to the play areas and enjoy some splashing around at the water-themed play area.
6. Jungle Island
Jungle Island is a bird sanctuary, wildlife habitat, and botanical garden. Parrots and other exotic birds fly about in tropical forest settings, some of which take part in daily shows. Larger animals, including tigers, baboons, alligators, tortoises, monkeys, and orangutans are also a big part of the attraction. The gardens contain around 2,000 varieties of exotic plants, including heliconias, bananas, orchids, and bromeliads.
7. Bayside Marketplace
Bayside Marketplace is a large outdoor-style mall with more than 150 specialty and tourist shops, numerous cafes and restaurants, and daily live entertainment. Visitors will find some well-known chain stores, as well as many unique, one-of-a-kind places. The marketplace draws locals as well as tourists. As may be evident in the name, the mall is located along Miami’s waterfront, looking out over docks and boats. Many people come here simply to soak up the atmosphere. Tour boats leave from here, visiting locations around Biscayne Bay. There is also a water taxi service to Miami Beach and downtown hotels located in the area.