Explore Miami and its many attractions. Visit a historic mansion, take a trip to the zoo or catch an airboat ride through the Everglades.
Did you know that Miami is home to one of the oldest buildings in the Western Hemisphere? Or that Miami boasts one of the most impressive collections of Art Deco architecture in the country? What about the fact that you can swim in a giant fresh water spring at a coral rock quarry? These facts might surprise you, but Miami is full of historically significant structures and attractions. In fact, if you're looking to dive deep into the eclectic history of Miami, then its unique architecture, geography and historic parks are great places to start.
Reportedly the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere, the Ancient Spanish Monastery is a hidden historical gem located in North Miami Beach. The structure hasn't always been in Florida. Originally built in Segovia, Spain in 1141, Cistercian monks occupied the building for nearly 700 years. After a social revolution in the 1830s, the Monastery's Cloisters were seized, sold and converted into a granary and stable.
In 1925, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the monastery's outbuildings, dismantled them stone by stone in Spain, packed the pieces in more than 11,000 wooden crates, and shipped them to the United States. Almost 30 years later, Miami developers took on the painstaking project of reassembling the monastery in the place where it stands today — and there's nothing else quite like it.
Miami Beach is also home to the famous Art Deco Historic District , where you'll find the largest collection in the world of Art Deco architecture. Structures featuring white façades, neon lights and sleek designs line one of America's most exciting streets: Ocean Drive. There, you'll discover some of the most iconic and most photographed boutique hotels. Including the ones you've seen in movies like Scarface and Bad Boys .
Head over to Collins Avenue where you'll find the Delano and The Raleigh, two South Beach hotspots that have drawn the Hollywood elite for decades. Walking tours presented by the Design Preservation League depart from the Art Deco Welcome Center daily.
Nearby on Meridian Avenue, the Holocaust Memorial is a stunning tribute to the six million Jewish victims of Nazi terrorism before and during World War II. The memorial gardens and sculpture was designed by highly acclaimed architect Kenneth Treister.
Just across Biscayne Bay, Coconut Grove is home to the gorgeous Vizcaya Museum & Gardens , a National Historic Landmark that was once the winter home of agricultural industrialist, James Deering. Nestled on 10 acres of shoreline and located directly on the water, the mansion has been beautifully restored to its Gilded Age heritage. European antiques and art adorn the main house and lush tropical gardens surround the property. After a tour, enjoy lunch at the Vizcaya Cafe and Shop.
Located a few miles away, the Barnacle Historic State Park is another charming historic home to visit. Not quite as extravagant as Vizcaya, but featuring equally impressive water views, the home was built by Coconut Grove pioneer Ralph Munroe in 1891. Now a Florida State Park, the Barnacle hosts a number of special events throughout the year, including old-fashioned dances and family picnics.
Not far from Coconut Grove, the Coral Gables Merrick House is the restored boyhood home of George E. Merrick, the founder of the City of Coral Gables. Inside the 1920s home, you'll find a tribute to the real estate developer who built one of the first planned communities in the country, with its streets lined with massive banyan trees and luxurious estate homes — it's no wonder that Coral Gables is known as The City Beautiful.
Also located in Coral Gables, the Venetian Pool is a historic landmark and swimming pool carved out of coral rock with scenic waterfalls and stone bridges. It's the perfect place to stop and cool down with a dip in the pool before you set off on your next historic adventure.
Take a trip south on Old Dixie Highway and you'll run into the charming Cauley Square Historic Village . Step back in time and visit the Village Chalet Restaurant and the Tea Room, filled with delicate china, crystal and lace. Stroll along the lovely landscaped pathways and tour specialty antique shops and boutiques.
For a more outdoorsy experience, tour the Deering Estate at Cutler with its 444 acres of natural preserve on Biscayne Bay. Rent a canoe for the day and go on a guided nature walk where you'll encounter butterflies and other indigenous wildlife. Take a tour of the two historic houses on the property — the Stone House and Richmond Cottage.
Get ready for another adventure, and head out west to the Everglades to experience the dynamic culture and history of the Miccosukee Tribe at the Miccosukee Indian Village & Boat Ride . Tribe members perform live alligator demonstrations, teach beadwork and basket weaving classes, as well as lead scenic airboat tours through the Everglades.
A modern day world marvel, it's worth the journey down south to the Coral Castle Museum in Homestead. As a tribute to his long lost love, a tiny Latvian immigrant who only weighed 100 pounds, moved and sculpted more than 1,000 tons of coral rock for nearly 30 years, until the project was completed in 1951. The feat has baffled scientists and engineered for years.
Insider Tip : The GoMiamiCard is a multi-attraction pass that gets you access to certain Miami tours and museums, as well as discounts on shopping and dining. Visit attractions like the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens and Coral Castle Museum for free with the card.
With a vast array of museums, Miami has plenty of educational activities for the whole family. Whether you're into art, history or science, have just a few hours or a few days, Miami has the perfect museum to provide you and your family with insight, engagement and inspiration. From the Children's Museum to HistoryMiami, there's plenty to see, do and learn at Miami's best museums. Here's where to go and what to do while you're there.
One of the largest private, regional history museums in the southeast U.S. and part of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program, HistoryMiami in Downtown entertains and educated with more than 13,000 artifacts dating back to pre-Columbian times. Immerse yourself in the permanent and temporary exhibits, ranging from immigration to tourism to development and technological advancement in South Florida. Be sure to make a stop at the Visitors Research Center, to take in some one million photographs, drawings and documents.
Once a police and fire station, the Coral Gables Museum , located in Coral Gables, is a restored 3,000-square-foot gallery and 5,000-square-foot public plaza that centers around permanent and traveling art and design exhibits, lectures and concerts. Renovated and reopened in 2011, the museum also offers guided Saturday morning walking tours so you can get to know even more of the city.
The building itself, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a stunning 1936 Art Deco masterpiece with 77 stained glass windows, a Moorish copper dome, Art Deco chandeliers and marble bimah. Inside, explore more than 250 years of Jewish history at the Jewish Museum of Florida , as well as its permanent exhibit MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida. Through audio-visual presentations, films, photos, documents and artifacts, discover how the Jewish people have maintained their history, tradition and culture.
For the history buff, make your way to Vizcaya in Coconut Grove. The European-style estate was built in the early 20th century and has a spot on the U.S. National Historic Landmark list. With 34 rooms, more than 2,500 works of art and 10 stunning acres of gardens, which include 25 acres of endangered growth forests and 2,000 orchids, you'll feel like you've escaped to a beautiful castle in Europe. Tour the fountains, garden-lined walkways and statues, all also enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II.
Want to storm the castle? Do so at the Coral Castle Museum in Homestead. One of Miami's greatest mysteries, Edward Leedskalnin used more than 1,100 tons of coral rock over the course of 30 years 1923-1951) to created a the castle without using any modern conveniences to do so. How? It's a mystery he took to the grave.
Opening in 2016 and snatching headlines across Miami, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum of Science will set a new standard in museums at Museum Park. The $300 million new facility will feature a planetarium, an Innovation Center, the Exploration Center (where's there's even talks of exhibits with space shuttles) and the Living Core. That last one is worth the trip alone, considering it will feature sharks, as well as wildlife, habitats and an aquarium. Think of it as connecting five ecosystems that feature South Florida's indigenous flora and fauna. Keep this when on the agenda for when it opens.
For the little ones—and the little ones at heart—head to the Miami Children's Museum . Located midway between downtown Miami and Miami Beach on Biscayne Bay along the MacArthur Causeway, the Miami Children's Museum is filled with activities that emphasizing art, culture, community, communication, imagination and creativity. Miami Children's Museum is home to a two-story sandcastle of dreams, a 30-foot rock climbing wall, a life-sized cruise ship and an outdoor playground.
Have a thing for the Little Engine that Could? The Gold Coast Rail Museum , is a must-see for train enthusiast and collectors. With more than 40 passenger cars, freight cars, locomotives and antique railway equipment, it's something you'll want to hop aboard. Ride one the many historic railway cars (offered most weekends), view "Ferdinand Magellan," the private railroad car built for President Franklin Roosevelt and explore the vast array of model trains. There's even Thomas the Tank Engine tables for the little ones.
If your heart goes vroom vroom when you see classic cars, put it into drive and head straight to the Miami Auto Museum at The Dezer Collection , located in North Miami. This two-building auto museum features 1,200 vintage to classic automobiles including the "Time Machine" from Back to the Future, Batmobiles, as well as a collection of James Bond automobiles, motorcycles, submarines, airplanes, helicopters and gadgets. In addition to the American automobiles, there are a number of foreign cars and an amazing display of Hollywood memorabilia.
Ready for take off? You will be upon visiting Wings Over Miami Museum , a tribute to veterans, aviators and aircraft history. See the evolution of flight at the museum's location in Kendall, as well as restored and maintained military and classic aircrafts, some of which even take off into the wild blue yonder on weekends. Be the pilot of your own aircraft after a visit to the gift shop, which features model kits, videos and clothing for adults and children.
Insider Tip : Make the most of your museum excursion with the GoMiamiCard . See more for less by choosing a one, two, three or five day card and save up to 55 percent off of full retail admission. Gain access to 34 amazing attractions, including Jungle Island, Hop On Hop Off Bus Pass and Everglades tour. The card can even be delivered instantly to your smart phone.
Enjoy Miami's natural beauty at a state or national park or discover native species of plants and animals at a local garden.
Everglades National Park is a 1.5-million-acre U.S. National Park created to protect the fragile ecosystems in the southern section of the Lake Okeechobee watershed. The interconnected network of wetlands provides valuable habitat for native, imperiled species of plants and animals, and is critical to the health of the environment in South Florida. The park offers a wide range of activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and camping.
Biscayne National Park is the largest marine park in the U.S. National Park System and is recognized for its abundance of underwater resources, including southern Biscayne Bay and its outer coral reefs. The park is ideal for visitors looking for a unique snorkeling or diving adventure. The park's marine ecosystems can also be explored by kayak, canoe, or boat, all of which are available to rent at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center.
The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016, and everyone can take part in the celebration. Miami offers access to four parks, so it's the perfect home base for exploring these natural wonders. Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park are located in Homestead, in South Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade Transit operates free trolley service connecting downtown Homestead to both parks every weekend from November to May.
Big Cypress National Preserve is located just 45 miles west of Miami, while Dry Tortugas National Park is a few hundred miles to the southwest. It is only accessible by ferry boat or seaplane service from Key West.
Visit nps.gov/2016 to learn more about these parks and special centennial events taking place throughout the year
Biscayne Nature Center at Crandon Park is an educational facility and exhibition space dedicated to providing environmental education and promoting environmental stewardship. The center is nestled in the north end of Crandon Park on Key Biscayne surrounded by coastal dunes, beaches, and tropical hammocks. Its proximity to these habitats makes Biscayne Nature Center the perfect place for hands-on learning. The center offers field trips and family outings guided by a naturalist and features exhibits, workshops, and events.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens is named after plant pioneer Dr. David Fairchild, who introduced species like mangos, dates, nectarine and cotton to the United States. Dr. Fairchild continued his life's work well into retirement by successfully curating the one-of-a-kind botanic garden that exists today. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the gardens or seek out the displays and exhibits around the park. Their International, Mango, and Orchid Festivals draw crowds annually.
Located in Miami Beach's city center, Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a welcome oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle. The recently renovated garden is comprised of native plant species and water features that create a serene ambiance. Its beauty and central location makes the garden a popular destination for events, such as public workshops, seminars, and other educational programming. It's also the perfect place to take a break during Art Basel and enjoy lunch outside at the pop-up café.
Pinecrest Gardens is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as a botanical garden in the suburban village of Pinecrest. Since its inception, it has grown beyond its botanical gardens, butterfly exhibit, and petting zoo to include a Splash ‘N' Play water playground and a 500-seat outdoor amphitheater that regularly hosts artistic performances. The gardens are also regularly used to host workshops and meetings for local gardening and horticulture organizations.
The Barnacle Historic State Park is situated in the heart of Coconut Grove. The property, which was once the former home of Coconut Grove pioneer and renowned yacht designer, Ralph Munroe, features lush tropical vegetation and incomparable views of Biscayne Bay. Stop by for a tour of the Barnacle House and Boathouse or take a self-guided walk around the property. We also recommend checking out their calendar for upcoming concerts and events.
A Miami staple in the Redland District is the southernmost winery in the Continental United States, Schnebly Redlands Winery and Brewery . The winery is well known for its unique handcrafted tropical wines that are made with fruits like lychee, avocado, and mango instead of grapes. Enjoy a wine tasting or unwind with a tour of their winery and brewery.
While in Miami's Redland District, don't forget to stop at Fruit and Spice Park and take a guided tour of the property. There are over 500 species of fruits, herbs, vegetables, nuts, and spices growing throughout its 39 acres, including 150 varieties of mango. During the tour and in the park store, visitors are given the opportunity to taste a small selection of these species.
Insider Tip : If you plan on visiting some of these Miami attractions and others, consider the Go Miami Card . It allows access to 34 area attractions at a discounted price. The pre-paid, all-access pass comes in one, two, three or five day increments over a two-week period with savings up to 55 percent, so go ahead, indulge in the great outdoors and discover Miami's nature, parks, gardens and more.
There's more to Miami than meets the eye. If you scratch beneath the surface, you will find a world of entertainment and adventure waiting to get your adrenaline pumping.
Located in Miami's Wynwood Arts District, Lock and Load is a state-of-the-art shooting range offering the opportunity to fire automatic firearms in a safe environment and under the direct supervision of trained professionals. The 14,000 square-foot facility features 24 air-conditioned lanes to accommodate walk-ins, members, VIP guests, and offers spaces for group events such as corporate meetings and birthdays. The trained firearms professionals work with each visitor to ensure that even the most novice of shooters know how to safely operate the firearms.
Ocean Force Adventures Boat Tour is a great way to discover Miami by water. The tours leave daily from the Miami Beach Marina for personalized and private boat tours to popular sightseeing locales like Star Island, historic Stiltsville or President Nixon's Winter White House. Upon request, their six-passenger high-performance Zodiac Rigid Inflatable Boat can whisk you away to unique, remote locations such as Boca Chita Key where you can unwind under swaying palms or snorkel among the tropical fish that surround the island. Reservations are recommended.
Thriller Miami Speedboat Tours delivers adrenaline-charged sightseeing tours aboard a 42-foot power catamaran. The vessel travels at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour near must-see Miami landmarks like star-studded Fisher Island and the neon skyline of Ocean Drive in South Beach. With multiple departures per day from Bayside Marketplace, Thriller Miami Speedboat Tours provides ample opportunities to enjoy an exhilarating tour of Miami from the water.
Miami Exotic Auto Racing offers the opportunity to drive the car of your dreams at a professional raceway. Armed with personalized coaching from the staff at Miami Exotic Auto Racing, you will be able push yourself and their fleet of exotic vehicles to the limit on the Homestead Miami Speedway . Available car options include Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Audis and Porsches. Racing packages include insurance and training and are priced based on the number of cars and laps that you drive. Additional package options include in-car videos and a ride-along experience with professional drivers.
Redline Xperience offers a unique approach to exotic track racing by providing individuals and groups access to two international racing champions and a team of professional in-car instructors. The experience is interactive – you are encouraged to select your car, choose your track, and schedule your session. Available car options include the Audi R8, Nissan GTR, Ferrari F430, and the Lamborghini Gallardo. Track options include the Homestead Miami Speedway and the Palm Beach International Speedway.
K1 Speed brings the thrill of go-kart racing to Miami with an indoor, professionally designed track and electric karts. The K1 Speed facility is located approximately 10 miles from Miami International Airport and is open seven days a week. Here, visitors can experience head-to-head racing at speeds up to 45 miles-per-hour in a controlled, safe environment. Racing packages are available by reservation or walk-in and include helmets, balaclavas, and instructions on how to operate the go-karts.
GameTime is a video game arcade located in The Shops at Sunset Place that offers games, attractions, ride-simulators and entertainment for all ages. Refreshments can be enjoyed at the onsite restaurant and sports bar. GameTime offers a variety of game card pricing options, which can be combined with meals at a discounted cost.
Calling all thrill seekers and adventure junkies! Not only does Miami have miles and miles of white sand beaches and stunning aquamarine water to explore at your leisure, the Magic City also has a number of boat tours and water parks that will satisfy your need for speed and take you off the beaten path.
Hop in a 55-foot neon-colored power catamaran and ride the waves at speeds topping 50 miles per hour. Thriller Miami offers exciting speedboat tours of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. From the water you'll be able to check out the gorgeous mansions on Key Biscayne, Fisher Island and Star Island -- where you might even see a few celebrity homes, too.
Want to see Miami like the locals do? Ocean Force Adventures Boat Tour offers a sightseeing adventure that caters to smaller groups and explores both popular landmarks and secluded locales that only the insiders know about. Take a seat in the six-passenger high-performance Zodiac RIB boat and get ready to explore nearly 40 miles of Miami coastline, including Stiltsville — Prohibition-era shacks on stilts that sit in the middle of Biscayne Bay's shallow seagrass beds near Key Biscayne.
Here's your chance to get up close and personal with wildlife like alligators and snakes roaming free in the Everglades — you might want to keep all your fingers and toes inside the boat for this tour, but don't forget to bring your camera. Step outside your comfort zone and take a boat ride on Miami's wild side. Coopertown Airboat Rides & Restaurant offers guided airboat tours and features an on-site restaurant serving exotic delicacies like frog legs and gator tail.
Grab an inner tube and wind your way around the Buccaneer River Ride at Grapeland Water Park . Located near the airport, this family-friendly water park features four sparkling pools, multiple slick water slides and a splash and play area for younger children. Or head to Jungle Island's private beach, a.k.a. Parrot Cove, where you'll also find the Rainforest Riptide. This on-the-water obstacle course is open seasonally and features ocean trampolines, slides, cliffs and swings. It's the perfect way to spend the day soaking up the Miami sunshine and staying cool by the water.
If a more scenic sightseeing experience is your speed, then sit back and relax for a narrated tour along the coast on a yacht. Island Queen Cruises offers tours of “Millionaire's Row” — spectacular homes of some of Miami's rich and famous residents. You'll have the option of hanging out on the upper-deck with the fresh ocean breezes and vistas that go for miles, or sitting below in the air-conditioned lower salon with giant windows and panoramic views.
The GoMiamiCard is a multi-attraction pass that gets you access to certain Miami tours and museums as well as discounts on shopping and dining. Visit places like the Miami Seaquarium and Jungle Island , for free with the card.
Miami offers plenty of incredible wildlife attractions guaranteed to entertain the whole family and bring out the animal in you.
Near the main entrance of Everglades National Park, you'll find Everglades Alligator Farm , home to a 14-foot alligator named “Grandpa” and upwards of 2,000 of his alligator friends. Aside from seeing more alligators than you can count, visitors can glide through the Everglades on guided airboat tours, watch hourly snake & wildlife shows, and view alligator feedings. Plus, there are plenty of fantastic vacation photo opportunities with baby alligators and snakes.
If you're looking for a private airboat tour, then Everglades Safari Park is for you. Alligators, turtles, deer, wild hogs, raccoons, and crocodiles can often be found at this Miami wildlife attraction. At Everglades Safari Park, you can travel the Jungle Trail, watch the alligator show, and take in the Everglades in all its glory from the observation platform.
In South Miami-Dade, you'll find Monkey Jungle where 30 species of primates, including gibbons, guenons, and spider monkeys live freely on a 30 acre reserve. Spending a day in this jungle, “Where Humans Are Caged & Monkeys Run Wild,” guarantees great ape sightings, wild monkey swimming presentations, orangutan training sessions and constant entertainment by crab-eating java monkeys diving for their meals. Monkey Jungle also offers Rainforest Adventure Tours in the only semi-natural rainforest in North America.
The Miami Seaquarium , located on Biscayne Bay, is the longest operating oceanarium in the United States. Meet South Florida marine-life stars Salty the sea lion, Lolita the killer whale, Flipper the dolphin and Calypso the baby dolphin during their eight animal shows daily. The Miami Seaquarium is also home to sea turtles, manatees, stingrays, tropical birds and other wildlife. The tropical fish aquariums, the shark channel, Salty's Pirate Playground, and Sharky's Sky Trail are not to be missed.
Become one with marine animals through personal interaction programs at Dolphin Harbor at Miami Seaquarium . Give training signals, shake hands, and kiss a friendly dolphins during the Dolphin Encounter. Jump in for the Dolphin Odyssey where you will also feed, swim with the dolphin, and get a dorsal pull ride. Immerse yourself in the Reef Encounter, an underwater walking journey through the 300,000-gallon tropical reef filled with sea turtles, sting rays, tropical fish, and other sea creatures. The Seal Swim attraction allows you to train, swim with, hug, and kiss your adorable new seal friend. Prefer variety? Go for the VIP Tour where a guide will introduce you to an iguana, macaw, manatee, stingray, sea turtles, and even a sea lion or dolphin.
At Zoo Miami , visit 2,000 mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles along three miles of walkway. Exciting featured animals include tigers, elephants, zebras, bears, lions, gorillas and chimpanzees. Feed flamingos, pelicans, giraffes, and rhinos. Catch the Cheetah Training Session and the Meet the Zookeeper talks. For your own little “animals,” hit the Wacky Barn, Wildlife Carousel, Humpy's Camel Rides, playgrounds, and water-play areas. To tackle it all in one day, rent a Safari Cycle and bike through or hop on the Safari Tram Tour or Monorail.
Step ten feet into Jungle Island and the fun begins when your picture is taken with a parrot on your shoulder (or head) or with a baby alligator in your arms. Located between Downtown Miami and South Beach, this wildlife attraction allows you to get within feet of orangutans, reptiles, kangaroos, giant tortoises, penguins, tigers, black panthers, lynx, leopards, and cougars. With the kids, catch three wildly entertaining shows daily, run on the playground, and meet animals in the Petting Barn.