Explore off-the-beaten path and discover Miami’s top hidden gems
World-renowned for being a melting pot of cultures, religions, and nationalities, the City of Miami is an important cultural, economic, and financial hub in the United States. It is the third most populous metropolis on the East Coast, with a large Cuban population (approximately 35%). It’s no wonder why almost 40% of its residents speak Spanish as a second or first language.
Located in southeastern Florida, Miami is a popular vacation spot famous for its diverse and unique food-and-art scene and plenty of entertainment options. Home to restaurants from all corners of the world, Miami offers international and local cuisine for a decent price pretty much anywhere in the city.
With over 800 parks, golf courses, and long stretches of soft-sand beaches, Miami is the type of city that has something to offer everyone, including a full spectrum of recreational water sports such as paddle boarding, jet-skiing, parasailing, or even flying with a super-charged jetpack.
- Miami Beach: Connected by bridges to mainland Miami, this island city features wide stretches of beautiful sandy beaches that face the waves of the North Atlantic. Miami Beach is known for its plethora of legendary fine dining and nightlife venues.
- South Beach: This high-end tourist district features numerous beachfront restaurants, shops, and hotels. Ocean Drive is the most popular street on South Beach, home to some of Miami’s most beautiful Art Deco buildings, it’s a section of road located along the oceanfront.
- Key Biscayne: A small Florida town located over the Rickenbacker Causeway beyond Miami Beach, this small community is filled with lovely beaches and lies between 2 large parks—Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, known for its sheltered beaches, mangroves and tropical forest.
- Everglades National Park: This park stretches for 1.5 million acres and is one of Florida's most unique natural sites, home to alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and birds. Only a brief drive from Miami, this area is essentially a shallow river flowing out to the Atlantic Ocean.
- Calle Ocho: This vibrant and popular street in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood is frequented by both locals and tourists. This street is the center of Cuban life, culture, and cuisine. You can enjoy live music, get after-dinner drinks, and go dancing in one of the many trendy local bars.
- Bayside Marketplace: This large open-air structure contains more than 150 specialty shops, cafes, and restaurants. This 2-story marketplace, located in Downtown Miami south of the American Airlines arena and north of Bayfront Park, also hosts daily live performances.
- Zoo Miami: Also known as The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens, this sub-tropical zoo groups animals in settings similar to their natural habitats so they can coexist with other species as they would normally in the wild. It is the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida, home to more than 3,000 wild animals, including 40 endangered species.
Here is a list of Miami’s top hidden gems worth checking out:
- The District of Wynwood: One of the most happening Miami neighborhoods, Wynwood is known for its many colorful murals, craft breweries, funky art galleries, and trendy boutiques, bistros, and late-night bars. Wynwood is also the birthplace of Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum that displays colorful street art by some of the world’s best-known street artists.
- The Coral Castle: This man-made limestone structure resulted from one man's 28 years of carving, using his own home-made tools. Created by Edward Leedskalnin, this now-museum is made up of more than 1,000 tons of the sedimentary rock. Its most famous structure, a giant stone gate, opens effortlessly with the touch of a finger.
- Freedom Tower: This skyscraper is one of the most striking buildings in Miami and one of the oldest skyscrapers in the southeastern United States. Though it previously served as the headquarters of the Miami Daily News, it is currently used as a contemporary art museum and a central office to different disciplines for Miami Dade College.
- Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science: This museum is divided into four areas: the aquarium, the planetarium, and the North and West wings, which feature both permanent and temporary exhibits that help explain the world we live in.
- Homestead Speedway’s Miami Exotic Auto Racing: This motor racing track is located about 45–50 minutes from Miami Homestead, Florida. Here, you can ride some of the world's most luxurious and high-powered car models, such as Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari GT, or an Audi R8.
- Jungle Island: Located between downtown Miami and South Beach, this eco-adventure park on Watson Island is a bird sanctuary, wildlife habitat, and botanical garden, home to some of the world’s rarest and most exotic animals. Here, visitors are taken through immersive, real-life jungle experiences centered on adventure, animals, and discovery.
When to visit
Though Miami is visited mainly during summer and spring, it is a sought-after destination all year long for its tropical climate. With pleasant temperatures pretty much year-round, there are plenty of sunbathing opportunities throughout the year and you can almost always go for a swim.
If you happen to visit during the coldest winter months (December and January), you may catch a chilly day. However, it will still be great weather for boating and other water-based activities.
How to get around
As Miami is a sprawling metropolis, it’s best to explore it by car. Though public transportation is reliable and can get you from one point to the next, driving a car is a much more efficient mode of transportation in Miami as it allows you to explore on your own schedule.
That being said, if you wish to spend your day seeing Miami’s most popular sights but would prefer to avoid Miami traffic, you can book a hop-on-hop-off air-con bus tour. This is one of the most convenient and inexpensive ways to explore most of Miami’s main sights in one day.
Reaching the airport
There are plenty of ways to reach Miami International Airport from Downtown Miami. Whether you want to take public transportation, an airport shuttle service, or rent a car, the airport is approximately 7 miles (11 km) from Miami’s cultural epicenter.
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