Top choice in Downtown Miami

South Florida – a land of escaped slaves, guerrilla Native Americans, gangsters, land grabbers, pirates, tourists, drug dealers and alligators – has a special history, and it takes a special kind of museum to capture that narrative. This highly recommended place, located in the Miami-Dade Cultural Center, does just that, weaving together the stories of the region’s successive waves of population, from Native Americans to Nicaraguans.

The collection is spread between two buildings. Start off in the permanent collection, which has interactive exhibits showing life among the Seminoles, early Florida industries like sponge diving, and wealth made from 'wreckers' (those who salvaged treasure lost on the reefs). More recent-era exhibits touch on the history of Jewish and African American communities in South Beach, Cuban refugees (with a rustic homemade boat that managed to survive the treacherous crossing to Florida) and cultural expression in public spaces (highlighting traditions such as street art, parades, protests, vehicle customizing and religious practices).

Get off the Metromover at the Government Center stop.