Downtown Miami pulsates with activity as commercial, cultural and leisure pursuits come together in the fastest growing area in Miami. Innovative skyscrapers line the sky and make up Miami's iconic skyline. Historic shopping arcades and storefronts packed with merchandise evoke Miami's origins as a trading town.
Downtown Miami department stores and emporiums offer big city shopping with a cosmopolitan flair, while the area's diversity inspires dining delights in a variety of culinary styles. And of course, there are the amazing views from everywhere in Downtown.
Downtown Miami's collection of skyscrapers shares a view of Biscayne Bay that's worth a million bucks. Ride the free elevated Metromover through downtown and stop off at Bayside Marketplace for lunch and shopping. Make time to visit one of the downtown museums such as History Miami or the Pérez Art Museum.
The Downtown Miami Area is made up of several parts; the Brickell area, an international banking hub as well as a metropolitan residential community of tall buildings, hip bars and restaurants, and an internationally diverse group of residents; Omni, a blend of residential, commercial and hotels including the magnificent Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts; Park West, the Museum Park area; and the Miami Jewelry District.
Visiting The Freedom Tower is akin to visiting a Miami time capsule. Located at 600 Biscayne Boulevard, the Mediterranean style tower is part of Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus. Built on the west side of Biscayne Boulevard, the Tower faces the American Airlines Arena as well as Bayside Marketplace . Throughout its rich history, The Freedom Tower has had many tenants and has narrowly escaped destruction multiple times. Now housing the Miami Dade College Museum & Galleries of Art + Design, it serves as a memorial to Cuban political refugees as well as an educational and cultural center. The Freedom Tower was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 2008. Today, the Tower hosts major art exhibitions, showcasing works from Da Vinci, Goya, Dali and much more.
The Freedom Tower, then known as the Miami News Tower, was completed in 1925 and was modeled after the Giralda tower in Seville, Spain. Designed by New York architectural firm Shultze and Weaver, it was originally built as the headquarters for The Miami News. From 1925 to 1928 it was the tallest building in Florida.
An evening newspaper, The Miami News was in circulation in South Florida since Miami was incorporated as a city in 1896. The Miami News Tower housed the publication's entire staff as well as their printing facility. The company moved into a new office in the late 1950s, leaving their 1920s Mediterranean style skyscraper for a new building on the Miami River.
In 1962 the Tower became an impromptu processing center for Cubans escaping Fidel Castro's regime. The first four floors of the Tower were transformed into the Cuban Assistance Center to welcome and process Cuban refugees, with simple lettering in the front of the building: "The Freedom Tower."
Also known as the "Ellis Island of the South" for its role as a beacon of a new life of liberty, the Cuban Assistance Center provided necessities such as processing basic medical and dental services and aid in finding relatives in the United States. Teams of doctors, translators and volunteers, many of them Cuban themselves, filled the Tower to help the masses of Cuban refugees arriving in Miami.
Between 1962 and 1974 more than 450,000 Cuban refugees passed through The Freedom Tower's doors, and many of them credit their successful assimilation of American life to the help and warm welcome they received at The Freedom Tower. When the Cuban Assistance Center closed in 1974, it left the fate of the Ellis Island of the South up in the air.
Between 1974 and 1997 The Freedom Tower changed hands multiple times, but history came full circle when Jorge Mas Canosa, Cuban founder of MasTec and of the Cuban American National Foundation, bought the Mediterranean tower in 1997. He restored the tower and converted it into a monument for Cubans who fled Castro's regime for a better life. The refurbished space was home to the offices of the Cuban American National Foundation, as well as a museum, library and meeting hall.
The Mas Canosa family sold The Freedom Tower in 2004, and in 2005 it was donated to Miami Dade College. The space is still a memorial to Cuban refugees, as well as an educational and cultural center showcasing several art exhibits per year.
The Freedom Tower became the flagship venue of Miami Dade College's Museum & Galleries of Art + Design, which has more than 15,000 feet of exhibition space in its network of galleries throughout South Florida. World-class exhibitions featuring works of art from Salvadore Dali, Francisco Goya and Leonardo da Vinci have all been hosted by The Freedom Tower.
The Freedom Tower is easily accessible by public transportation, by bus or on the Omni Loop of the Metromover , with a stop on the same block. The surrounding area is the heart of the City of Miami. The Miami Heat play in the American Airlines Arena right across the street, which also hosts world-class music concerts and tours. Bayside Marketplace is also across the street, an open-air waterfront mall filled with restaurants as well as a marina, and just south of that is Bayfront Park. To the north of The Freedom Tower is the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts as well as Bicentennial Park, the future home of Museum Park. The recently revamped area has several new restaurants, including Miami Dade College Culinary Institute's crown jewel, Norman Van Aken's Tuyo .
Since 1925, the Mediterranean style tower has worn many hats: the headquarters for Miami's first newspaper, the symbol of a new life for refugees without a home and most recently a space for the community to come together and honor the love, creativity and passion of artists who have inspired us. The Freedom Tower's usage throughout its history is an inspiration, and its evolution as a facility reflects Miami's growth and personality throughout the years.
Home of the Miami HEAT and a wide variety of internationally renowned entertainment acts, AmericanAirlines Arena is an iconic fixture located on the Downtown Miami waterfront.
Situated on bustling Biscayne Boulevard, the arena is located in the heart of a thriving metropolis and easily accessible by surrounding neighborhoods like Brickell, Wynwood, the Design District, South Beach and Coconut Grove. The busy urban area has plenty of restaurants, bars, hotels and other cultural venues.
What started as a handful of artistic spaces only a decade ago has exploded into more than 30 thriving arts and culture organizations and more than 60 artist studios in Downtown Miami alone. And the community momentum shows no signs of slowing down.
Art is everywhere in Miami—from the walls that line the Miami Riverwalk to impressive historical sculptures standing in Bayfront Park . Downtown Miami is home to a wide range of art in unexpected places, including pedestrian walkways, inside hotels and even showcased in several Metrorail and Metromover Stations.
Let's take a closer look at the dynamic offerings Downtown Miami has in the form of unique art and cultural experiences.
Situated directly on Biscayne Bay and housed in a state-of-the-art campus designed by world-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) features 200,000 sprawling square feet of artistic wonder. It's a playground for adults and kids alike. Think experiential art, up-close-and-personal exhibits, forays into film and education, and a shaded outdoor veranda with hanging gardens and panoramic water views. PAMM is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is open late on Thursdays, until 9 p.m.
Joining PAMM in what's known as Museum Park, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016 in its new home in Downtown. Expect interactive exhibits and exciting learning adventures as the museum showcases basic concepts in science and technology. The current location in Coconut Grove is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Located nearby, the Miami Children's Museum is situated on Watson Island, just off of the MacArthur Causeway, leading out to Miami Beach. A perfect way to spend the day and entertain the kids, the facility includes 14 galleries, classrooms, an auditorium and permanent exhibits like a cruise ship, giant sandcastle, 900-gallon marine tank, music studio and more. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Situated in the heart of Downtown, HistoryMiami is located on historic Flagler Street and preserves exhibitions showcasing Miami's rich history. For a unique and educational take on Miami's past, book one of the many city tour options (walk, bike, boat or coach) and learn from a distinguished historical scholar. Additionally, HistoryMiami is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 12 noon to 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
Nestled inside the historic Freedom Tower in Downtown, the MDC Museum of Art + Design showcases visual art and design. Attend one of the many year round events, including lectures, symposiums and art exhibitions. Group tours are available during gallery hours (Wednesday through Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
For a look at stunning art collections maintained by private and non-profit organizations, visit:
• The Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFA) at 1018 N. Miami Avenue
• Aluna Art Foundation at 172 W. Flagler Street
• The Artisan Lounge at 500 N.E. 1st Avenue
• Miami Center for Architecture & Design (MCAD) at 100 N.E. 1st Avenue
• National YoungArts Foundation at 2100 Biscayne Boulevard
• BasFisher Invitational at DWNTWN Art House at 100 N.E. 11th Street
• Artopia Art Center at 1723 N.E. 2nd Avenue
• Avant Gallery at 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way
• CU-1 Gallery at 117 N.E. 1st Avenue
• Lou La Vie Gallery at 1444 Biscayne Boulevard
• Nina Torres Fine Art at 1800 N. Bayshore Drive
• Primary Projects at 151 N.E. 7th Street
Dress up for an afternoon at the theater, ballet, opera or take in a live music show. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is a state-of-the-art performing arts center located in the heart of Downtown. The center is comprised of the 2,400-seat Ziff Ballet Opera House, an intimate Carnival Studio Theater, 2,200-seat Knight Concert Hall and spacious Thompson Plaza designed for outdoor performances. The Adrienne Arsht Center hosts greats like the Cleveland Orchestra , Miami City Ballet , the Florida Grand Opera and New World Symphony .
Nearby, the Olympia Theater at Gusman Center offers a majestic escape into a historic venue featuring ornate decor and gold balconies. It's the crown jewel of the South Florida art and entertainment facilities. Dating back to 1926, the theater has hosted such greats as the Vaudeville stars, Elvis Presley and Etta James.
The modern day Mecca for major entertainment events is AmericanAirlines Arena , located on the edge of Biscayne Bay. Not only is the arena home to the Miami HEAT NBA basketball team, it also hosts some of the biggest musical headliners in the world—from Gloria Estefan to Juan Gabriel and Miley Cyrus to Madonna.
Check out these happy hour hot spots, delicious dining locales and nightlife venues in Downtown. Downtown is the heart of Miami—the center of the Magic City. And with a wealth of options for bar-hopping, dining out and dancing the night away, we're sure you'll experience an exciting night out in the big city. The neighborhood's metropolitan vibe is palpable and the Downtown skyscrapers stretch stories upon stories into the horizon, providing a scenic backdrop next to Biscayne Bay. Bars, lounges, clubs and restaurants are a blend of tourists and locals. Many opt to walk from place to place, or hop aboard the free Metromover for a quick loop around Downtown.
In Miami, many happy hours last from 4 or 5 in the afternoon until 8 p.m., offering a great window of opportunity to score drinks and light bites on the cheap.
Mary Brickell Village tends to be the center of the action because of the large local population that live and work in the neighborhood. Expect half priced drinks during weekly happy hour specials and slashed prices on appetizers.
You'll find upscale chain restaurants and bars with killer happy hours like:
For more of a laid-back, locals' hangout, check out Blackbird Ordinary, a tavern famous for both its handcrafted cocktails during happy hour and late-night live music scene.
And Edge Steak & Bar at the Four Seasons has a popular happy hour crowd, offering lip-smacking good food options from celebrity chef Aaron Brooks.
For a happening locals' scene plus one of the best views in the city, Area 31 at the EPIC Hotel has a rooftop happy hour that's second to none, especially on Fridays, when a DJ is spinning beats.
At the Mandarin Oriental's M-Bar you can order signature drinks like the Lychee Saketini with a side of dim sum to go with it – all while overlooking the iconic Miami skyline.
The opportunities for an unforgettable dining experience in Downtown are endless. It just depends on what kind of food you're craving. Here's a sampling:
• American: American Social, 15th & Vine Kitchen and Bar , Wolfgang's Steakhouse , Tuyo , Chophouse 305 , Biscayne Tavern , Area 31 , Edge Steak & Bar
• Asian: Zuma , AZUL , Doraku , Sushi Maki
• French: db Bistro Moderne , La Provence
• Italian: Il Gabbiano , Perricone's Marketplace & Café , Cipriani Downtown Miami , Soya & Pomodoro , La Loggia Restaurant
• Latin: Cantina La Veinte (Mexican), Havana 1957 (Cuban), Perfecto (Spanish), COYA (Peruvian), PM Buenos Aires Fish & Steakhouse (Argentinean), Toro Toro (Latin American)
Dine with one of the best Downtown views of the water at the Pérez Art Museum Miami's Verde restaurant. Usually a great lunch spot (open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday), the eatery is open for dinner until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
Ready to party the night away? Downtown is a great place to listen to live bands and the hottest DJs.
For the ultimate rooftop nightclub experience and jaw-dropping views of the city, make reservations at FIFTY Miami Ultra Lounge , perched atop the Viceroy hotel on the 50th floor.
Mekka Nightclub and Club Space are where the all-night revelers go to dance until the wee hours of the morning. A Miami nightclub and cabaret, E11EVEN calls itself a “24/7 ultraclub” because it never closes.
Both Blackbird Ordinary and American Social are favorite hotspots among locals, hipsters and anyone looking for craft cocktails and a fun time. Grand Central Miami , is a bi-level warehouse-like space that brings in cult indie bands and local favorites.
Lilt Lounge at the EPIC Hotel offers a fine selection of live jazz bands late night.
And of course, Downtown is famous for its nonstop event schedule. AmericanAirlines Arena and Adrienne Arsht Center offer NBA basketball games, professional ballet performances, headliner musical acts and Broadway tours. And they also promote diverse programming just about every night of the week. Be sure to check the schedule and see who's in town while you're visiting, it could be anyone from Madonna to the Mexican rock band, Maná.
The Bombay Sapphire Lounge on the ground floor of the historic Carnival Tower, is an Art Deco landmark and the perfect place to grab a cocktail before the curtain rises or after the final bows.
Located next to Bayside Marketplace and situated directly on the calm waters of Biscayne Bay, Bayfront Park hosts a number of events throughout the year, including everything from intimate reggae performances to mega music festivals like ULTRA.
Just as Downtown Miami's skyline continues to evolve with the addition of massive commercial construction projects, so do the opportunities to shop at both existing and brand new retail locations.
You won't find a traditional indoor mall experience. Instead you'll discover a historic urban core with curbside shopping on Flagler Street, a variety of individual boutiques nestled inside Mary Brickell Village and an open-air shopping center and marina at Bayside Marketplace.
And there's more shopping and retail outlets scheduled to open with the addition of Brickell City Centre and Miami Worldcenter, in the next few years.
Flagler Street is the main artery of Downtown and offers a diverse assortment of storefronts. There you'll find both a Cuban department store and a traditional American department store, both offering a strong dose of Florida history.
Founded in Havana in 1885, La Época , a Cuban department store, moved to Downtown Miami in 1965. The three-floor location sets the tone for historic Flagler Street and offers apparel brands, footwear, luggage and accessories.
Dating back to 1898, Macy's used to be Burdines, a classic Florida department store known as “The Florida Store.” Today you can shop for the items the Macy's brand is known for—men's and women's clothing, gifts and home goods.
Visit Rick's Menswear , an independent store where you can find guayaberas, a traditional Cuban garment, as well as men's suits, sport coats jeans and more.
Downtown is famous for several popular jewelry retailers, most notably The Seybold Building and Kirk Jewelers . Kirk Jewelers is a five-generation family jewelry business that offers wedding rings, high-end watches and other uniquely designed pieces. Inside the Seybold Building, you'll find a number of jewelry retailers and wholesalers for new purchases, repairs and opportunities to sell or trade your own jewelry.
Located in the heart of Downtown's Brickell neighborhood, Mary Brickell Village is a shopping and entertainment alcove nestled amongst skyscrapers and luxury residential buildings. From funky scarves to exotic jewelry, elegant floral arrangements to stylish clothes you'll find it in the up-and-coming Mary Brickell Village.
Anchored by a Publix super market, the outdoor shopping center features a variety of restaurants, as well as jewelry stores, a flower shop, shoe store and a barber shop. Head to Blush Boutique for the latest trends in Miami fashion. Blush Boutique first opened its doors in 1999 in Miami and has expanded to include five stores in South Miami, Palmetto Bay, Miami Beach, Pinecrest and Brickell.
Bayside Marketplace is an open-air marina and shopping center where you can browse local vendor kiosks, shop traditional retailers and enjoy the panoramic water views of Biscayne Bay. Stores include favorites like Bath & Body Works, Brookstone, Champs Sports, Disney Store, Gap, GUESS, Victoria's Secret and Wet Seal. Plus many other specialty shops where you can buy sunglasses, cigars, clothing and accessories.
Downtown Miami will have even more shopping to offer as new developments undergo construction over the next few years. Brickell City Centre is a $1.05 billion mixed-use complex built on nine acres along South Miami Avenue between Sixth and Eighth Streets and will include 500,000 square feet of shopping and dining, plus a hotel and condos. Planned for construction in the heart of the action near AmericanAirlines Arena , The Mall at Miami Worldcenter is slated to include 765,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment.
For more information on current specials offers, events, news and more be sure to check out DowntownMiami.com a resource for all things Downtown and a great way to stay in the loop or find ideas for fun activities in Downtown.
Mark your calendar for Shop Miami Month, happening each year during the month of February. Look for special offers and visit ShopMiamiMonth.com for more details.