Miami has rightfully earned a reputation as a party hot spot, drawing everyone from celebrities to spring breakers. But when it comes to fun things to do in Miami, this concept takes on multiple meanings. Miami isn’t lacking in late-night parties, but the city is also home to historic neighborhoods, stunning architecture, and mangrove-filled islands begging to be explored.
Fun Things to Do in Miami
To enjoy the best of both city and shore, add these nine things to do in Miami to your vacation itinerary.
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Miami’s beaches may get all the love, but its flat calm waters and mangrove-covered islands make for excellent ecosystems to explore. Kayaking and canoeing are two of the many fun things to do in Everglades National Park, home to 99 miles of wilderness waterways prime for all levels of paddlers. From September to May, The Deering Estate leads morning and moonlit canoeing tours across Biscayne Bay to the seven-acre mangrove island and bird rookery appropriately named Chicken Key. While the island’s mangrove forests and sand dunes are one draw (with campfires and s’mores served during evening tours), the paddle out is equally as exciting as you canoe alongside manatees and sea turtles.
Miami is a prime year-round locale for anglers looking to cast their reel in the Atlantic. From land, you can throw a line from a number of spots, including Haulover Inlet Jetty and South Pointe Park Pier, both popular places for catching snapper and Spanish mackerel. If you’re after sport fish like marlin, sailfish, and tuna, head out to sea on a half- or full-day guided boat charter led by experts like Top Gun Fishing Charters.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
You don’t need to head south to Belize in order to find beautiful coral reefs. The third-largest barrier reef system in the world, the Florida Reef, happens to lie just offshore, stretching 360 miles from the St. Lucie Inlet north of Miami down to Key West and Dry Tortugas National Park. Snorkel along the mangrove coastline and outer reefs of Half Moon and Emerald in Biscayne National Park, or spend a day swimming with sea life in Key Largo at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the U.S. It’s home to dive sites like the Christ of the Abyss statue and WWII-era shipwrecks.
Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery
Wine tasting may not rank high on your list of things to do in Miami, but Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery has become something of a local secret, and its grape-less wines have developed a loyal following. Mango, lychee, guava, and passion fruit are just a few of the tropical-flavored wines you can taste at the southernmost winery in the U.S. Head out to the Redland area during the weekend for a wine tasting and tour of the estate, where you’ll come across everything from waterfalls and koi ponds to thatched-roof chickee huts. On Friday evenings, the taproom changes themes from country music hall to Southern-style barbecue, while bottomless mimosa (or beer-mosa) Sunday brunch is a staple at the winery’s farm-to-table-focused restaurant, Red Lander.
A blend of Miami’s heritage from the West Indies, West Africa, and the American South, historic Overtown (once known as the “Harlem of the South”) is a community built by black men in the late 1800s. The historic neighborhood earned its modern-day name thanks to the local and visiting artists who would head “over town” to their hotels or events in other parts of the city. After falling into disrepair, Overtown is slowly getting back on its feet and drawing both locals and visitors to its landmarks, such as the 1913 movie and vaudeville Lyric Theater, the only building that still stands from Miami’s “Little Broadway.” Another major draw: Jackson Soul Food, a family-run restaurant that’s even enticed the likes of the late Nat King Cole and sports star LeBron James.
New World Symphony
The New World Symphony’s campus is one of the landmark buildings in South Beach—and the only one in Florida designed by award-winning architect Frank Gehry. If you’re trying to figure out what to do in Miami, dress up and catch one of the orchestra concerts. Or opt for a more casual outing, sprawling out in the grass for one of the free concerts or movies projected on the side of the building in SoundScape Park.
Art Deco Tour
Miami is known for its Art Deco Historic District, which popped up during a building boom following the 1929 stock market crash. Get schooled on this distinctive style of architecture on a 90-minute walking tour highlighting the city’s Art Deco, Mediterranean, and Miami Modern buildings. If you’d rather take a DIY tour, grab a map from the Art Deco Welcome Center and cruise around the district on a DecoBike, which you can rent with the swipe of a credit card at one of the 100-plus kiosks around town.
Shopaholics can definitely get their fix at Miami’s many malls, which range from the traditional indoor type like Dadeland and Aventura Malls to upscale, open-air shopping centers like Merrick Park and Bal Harbour—both destinations in themselves. The three-story Bal Harbour Shops, Florida’s first high-fashion shopping center, opened in 1965 on the site of former World War II army barracks and looks more like a scene from Southeast Asia than tropical South Florida. Peaceful koi ponds line the center of the courtyard, surrounded by haute brands like Chanel and Harry Winston. Not only are the shops (and their beautifully curated window displays) worth the visit, so are the restaurants, from the French brasserie-themed Le Zoo to iron chef-inspired Makoto.
Miami’s most glamorous resorts not only offer private beachfront access, but are also home to the city’s most lavish spas, which locals deem one of the top things to do in Miami. Most spas offer complimentary use of their amenities when you book a treatment, so plan on indulging in a full day of detoxing in steam rooms and relaxing poolside in between massage sessions. One of the top picks in the city: Fontainebleau’s Lapis Spa, known for its signature thermal treatments and “Water Journey,” a hydro playground with mineral pools, a rain tunnel, a jet bath, and a eucalyptus infusion steam room.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Miami Travel Guide
- 7 Best Hotels in Miami
- 8 Best Cheap Hotels in Miami
- 9 Best Miami Beachfront Hotels
- 8 Must-See Miami Attractions
- 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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