Miami is most known for being a hub of Latin American culture with a 24/7 party atmosphere, and that’s not wrong. But as one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country, the city clearly has even more to offer every sort of traveler. 

So how do you choose where to spend your time and money in Miami? Yes, there are nightclubs and bars a-plenty. But there are also world-class museums, literary events, all kinds of sports, theater and more Latin cuisine than you ever even knew existed. No matter your interests, these are the best things to do in the Magic City.

1. Order a cafecito from a ventanita

Cuban coffee is king in Miami, and there’s no better way to enjoy some than by ordering it from a ventanita – that is, a cafe window. Ventanitas serve not only as convenient coffee and snack spots, but also as spaces to have conversations and catch up on news and life. Versailles is a popular spot both for locals and tourists alike, but drive around Miami enough, and you’ll likely encounter several of these on-the-go coffee spots.

Continue your Miami coffee tour at these amazing cafes

Local Tip: Learn about the different types of coffee drinks ahead of time. Cafe con leche is akin to a sweet hot latte. A colada is more like several shots of sugary supercharged espresso served in a styrofoam cup, and it's meant to be shared. 

Crandon Park Beach located in Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida, USA
Crandon Park Beach is located in Key Biscayne © Romrodphoto/Shutterstock

2. Make time for a beach day

You can’t visit Miami without dipping your toes in the warm Atlantic waters at least once. The best family-friendly beaches are Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park – both great for barbecuing, biking and swimming. For more action and prime people-watching, stretch out on South Beach. Mid-beach all the way through Bal Harbour tends to have less public access, meaning slightly fewer crowds. If you hate tan lines and don’t blush easily, Haulover Beach (featuring the city’s only nude beach) might pique your interest. 

Local Tip: If you can’t stand the heat and humidity but still love to hear the waves, walk onto the sand anywhere from South to North Beach after dark and spend some quiet beach time under the stars.

Visit more of our favorite beaches in Miami

3. Actually, hop on a boat while you’re at it

There’s no shortage of boats to ride on in Miami, but you’ll want to choose the right experience for you. Many boat tours can be found in and around Bayside Marketplace (a tourist-friendly shopping and dining hotspot in Downtown Miami). These tend to vary from a general 1-2 hour “party boat” experience that takes you into Biscayne Bay with music and drinks, to millionaire mansion sightseeing tours, to sightseeing speedboat tours for those who enjoy a faster pace. There are other options, like private boat tours of Stiltsville and Biscayne National Park (parts of Miami that are only accessible by boat), as well as small sailing experiences out of Coconut Grove.

Local Tip: Already have experience driving a boat? You can easily rent one by the hour for a more intimate boating experience. 

Wynwood Art District in Miami preparing for Art Basel
Enjoy colorful street art in Miami's Wynwood District © Torresigner/Getty Images

4. Immerse yourself in the Wynwood art scene

What was once a few blocks of struggling art galleries has become a gentrified mass of high rises, restaurants, bars, and well, a lot more art. You can still visit some of the long-standing cultural institutions and galleries in the area like the Margulies Collection and the Wynwood Walls, as well as the Bakehouse Art Complex. More importantly, you can still find plenty of art by simply walking around the neighborhood – murals and graffiti have long been a staple here. And of course, don’t forget to bring your camera. The photo ops are endless.

Local Tip: If you can deal with the crowds and traffic, visit during the first week of December for Art Basel – an international art show with multiple satellite events, many of which take place in and around Wynwood. It’s a great time for seeing new art (and even getting to watch street artists at work).

5. Venture out to any of Miami’s other top-notch art museums

No matter where you are in the 305, you’re bound to find an art museum nearby. North Miami is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA NoMi), whose collection includes works by artists like Keith Haring and Anna Gaskell. The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach is one of the city’s oldest art museums, open since 1964. Both Florida International University and the University of Miami house their own art museums – the Frost in Sweetwater and the Lowe in Coral Gables, respectively. And if you want to see a truly impressive collection of Latin American art, make time for the Perez Art Museum.

Local Tip: Many museums feature free days at least once a month. Check their websites for info and plan accordingly.

People paddle in kayaks in the Everglades, as mist rises around them
Miami is a great jumping-off point for exploring the Everglades © Douglas Rissing / Getty Images

6. Explore everything the Everglades has to offer

The largest subtropical wilderness in the country, the Everglades is a magical place home to gators, crocs, turtles, frogs, snakes and dozens upon dozens of species of birds from cranes, ducks and geese, to anhingas, spoonbills and more. There are several entrances to Everglades National Park that feature nature centers, hiking trails and ranger-led experiences. You can also venture to businesses like Everglades Safari Park (not affiliated with the national park), where you can ride in an airboat along the river of grass.

There are several entrances to Everglades National Park that feature nature centers, hiking trails and ranger-led experiences, with the closest entrance to greater Miami being via the Shark Valley Visitor Center.

Local Tip: Pack plenty of bug spray and sunscreen for your visit. While beautiful, the environment of the Everglades can be rough on anyone.

Add these Everglades experiences to your itinerary

7. Cheer on the Heat, Fish, or Fins

The Magic City’s got plenty going on when it comes to sports, though locals generally root hardest for the Miami Heat, our three-time NBA champs. You can catch them live at the Kaseya Center in the heart of Downtown Miami. If baseball is more your speed, tickets to see the Marlins are generally affordable for games at LoanDepot Park in Little Havana (fun fact: it’s one of the few baseball stadiums in the country with a retractable roof). And finally, football fans can root for the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium up in Miami Gardens (and if college football is more to your liking, the University of Miami’s Hurricanes play up there as well).

Local Tip: If tickets aren’t available, do as the locals do and head to the closest Flanigan’s to watch any and all games while enjoying beer and wings alongside other fans.

8. Walk (and dance) along Calle Ocho

The most famous street in Miami is undoubtedly Calle Ocho – in fact, it even has a festival named after it. While attending this annual block party is recommended at least once, you can still enjoy plenty of Cuban culture if you walk along the stretch of Calle Ocho that cuts through Little Havana. Pop into Los Pinarenos Fruteria for some guarapo (sugar cane juice), watch the elders playing dominos at Maximo Gomez Park, snap photos of the Cuban Walk of Fame and take in some more culture at the CubaOcho Museum. And of course, don’t forget to stop by Ball and Chain for drinks and dancing (they occasionally host salsa lessons as well)!

Planning Tip: First time in the area? Book a tour like this one to get some insider knowledge of the history of the area and get some tasty treats along the way.

Keep planning your trip to Miami:

Figure out the best time to visit
Plan a quick getaway with this ultimate weekend itinerary
Uncover Miami's best neighborhoods
Learn how to get around like a local

This article was first published June 2021 and updated April 2024

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View of a morning on the beach in South Beach, Florida


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