10 Top-Rated Day Trips from Miami, FL
While there are no end of fun things to keep you busy in Miami, Florida's second-largest city does make for a great base for day trips to explore the southernmost tip of the "Sunshine State."
From here, you're an easy drive away from other smaller resort towns in Florida. These include ritzy West Palm Beach, just over an hour due north and a lovely drive along the Atlantic shoreline, and the equally posh Naples, two hours due west on the Gulf of Mexico.
And, for those wanting to get away from the beach crowds, Miami is a hop, skip, and a jump to the famous Florida Everglades. This important natural resource covers an area of over 1.5 million acres of wetland and is home to a diverse variety of wildlife.
Miami also sits above another must-visit area: the Florida Keys. An easy drive around Biscayne Bay will take you on one of the most memorable roads anywhere: the Overseas Highway. This stunning 113-mile route starts more or less in Key Largo and follows the gently curving keys all the way to Key West, a tourist destination that is as famous for its tropical climate as it is for its liberal attitudes and lifestyles.
You'll find the best places to visit near the city with our list of the top day trips from Miami, Florida.
1. Explore Everglades National Park
Until you drive through it, or better still, explore it via an airboat ride or kayak, it's pretty difficult to comprehend the scale of Everglades National Park. Covering an area of more than 800 square miles, the park, like most of Florida, is completely flat, making it even trickier to grasp its size.
Just an hour's drive from downtown Miami, here you'll experience one of the country's most important and fragile habitats, and the country's largest subtropical wilderness. Consisting almost entirely of swampland and marshes, which in turn serve as the state's reservoir, here wildlife enthusiasts are drawn for the chance to spot animal species such as egrets, manatees, alligators, and crocodiles, as well as rarer beasts including Florida panthers.
Any everglade adventure should start with a visit to one of the park's visitor centers, with the main one being the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center in Homestead. In addition to fascinating details of the park's unique ecosystem, including its flora and fauna, you can enjoy fun walks along a number of easy boardwalks set up for animal viewing, along with longer walking trails.
One of the top things to do in the Everglades, however, is to take a high-speed airboat tour. These thrilling vessels can whisk you deep into the wilderness. One of the best such tours for those traveling from Miami is the Florida Everglades Airboat Tour and Wild Florida Admission with Optional Lunch. This fun, family-friendly adventure includes an airboat ride, the services of a professional guide, a nature demonstration, and admission to the Wild Florida Airboats and Wildlife Park.
Address: Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, 40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, Florida
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Everglades National Park
Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Florida
2. Beautiful Biscayne National Park
One of the top day trips from Miami for outdoor enthusiasts is to Biscayne National Park. It's located a fun boat ride away from downtown Miami, and although it's only accessible by water, it's close enough that you can view the city from here.
The park covers an area of over 173,000 acres and is home to a series of small islands that protect important mangrove forests and coral reefs. It also harbors diverse species of wildlife, including turtles and pelicans, along with larger creatures like dolphins in Biscayne Bay Lagoon itself.
The park is also a popular spot for divers, drawn by the excellent opportunities along the Maritime Heritage Trail. This underwater adventure involves a number of excellent dive sites around old shipwrecks.
For landlubbers, walking trails can be enjoyed that lead to sites like Boca Chita Lighthouse on Boca Chita Key, built in the 1930s and popular for its spectacular views. Other highlights include the Dante Fascell Visitor Center gallery and museum, which offers a variety of programs, including guided eco-tours and art workshops, and the historic, picturesque Jones family home.
Also of interest are the raised homes in Stiltsville, which were built on stilts over the water. Other fun things to do include camping on and hiking around the park's largest island, Elliott Key.
3. Key West: A Tropical Island Paradise
The drive along the Overseas Highway to Key West, a journey of some 113 miles, is definitely worth the 3.5 hours it takes. Much of this epic drive is on spectacular stretches of bridges, a breathtaking journey that only makes the time spent in the final destination all the more memorable.
There are of course a variety of other great ways to get from Miami to Key West, including by boat or by plane, or as part of an organized tour of this popular destination. But if you do drive, a word of advice: While it's possible to find parking near famous Duval Street, where much of the entertainment and touristy activities occur, it can be hit and miss.
If possible, plan on parking in any one of the larger parking areas outside Key West proper and make use of the frequent shuttle buses. Alternatively, splash out and rent one of the fun electric buggies you'll see zipping about the downtown core.
Start your Key West adventure by exploring the quirky delights of Duval Street and grab a bite at one of the many restaurants and food shacks along this famous stretch of road. A favorite is Frenchie's Café on United Street, just off the south end of Duval and not far from the famous Southernmost Point marker. This authentic French bakery and café does the best breakfasts and pastries.
Other fun things to do in Key West include visiting Ernest Hemingway's former home, now a great museum; the Key West Aquarium; the excellent Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory; or possibly even spending time at one of the many great beaches close by.
Best of all, it's possible to catch each of these top points of interest on foot. Walking around Key West has the added benefit of enabling you to explore the colorful Caribbean-inspired architecture that dominates Key West. Finally, be sure to make your way to Mallory Square in time to catch the sunset. Here, you'll find the always entertaining street performers on hand to celebrate the occasion, something that's done here 365 days a year.
For those wanting to experience Key West while letting someone else do the driving, consider joining an organized Miami to Key West Day Trip. In addition to being able to enjoy the scenery along the way, including the famous Seven Mile Bridge, you'll benefit from hotel pickup and transportation aboard an air-conditioned bus with tour guide and commentary, plus a variety of fun optional activities available as upgrades. These include parasailing, a glass-bottom boat tour, or snorkeling. You'll also get plenty of free time (five hours all told) to explore Duval Street on your own.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Key West
4. Ritzy Palm Beach & the Palm Beaches Area
Though it takes a little longer if you take the A1A scenic route and linger awhile at any of the viewpoints along the way, expect to allocate an hour's driving to get to Palm Beach. Set due north of Miami, this fun day trip includes plenty of gawking at the ultra-luxury vacation homes of American millionaires and billionaires.
The beaches here are superb, stretching for miles along the Atlantic. Lined with great resorts and hotels as well as an excellent promenade, there's plenty of space to stretch out and claim a spot for yourself.
After getting your fill of the seafront and attractions, such as Ragtops Motorcars or exploring the nearby Jonathan Dickinson State Park and Hobe Sound National Wildlife Preserve, it's time to explore the great shopping and entertainment available here. For a taste of real opulence, head to Worth Avenue. This ritzy enclave consists of boutique shops, art galleries, excellent restaurants, and yes, and even luxury yacht showrooms.
Be sure to also spend time exploring West Palm Beach. Fun things to do at night in West Palm beach include exploring CityPlace, a vast tourist attraction that is home to great entertainment opportunities, including live music, great dining, and plenty of places to shop. There are also plenty of great West Palm Beach hotels to stay in, too.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Palm Beach
5. Enjoy a Cruise to Bimini in The Bahamas
For those prepared to spend a full day or possibly even an overnight stay on a tropical island, an expedition to Bimini is a superb option. One of the top places to visit in the Bahamas, the Bimini islands are just 50 miles off Miami and are closer than the Bahamian capital of Nassau.
Best of all, they can be reached in just under two hours aboard a high-speed Bimini ferry from Miami. It's a delightful journey that's certainly affordable and allows for a full-day's exploration and is well worth it for the fun that awaits when you arrive at the docks at Resorts World Bimini.
Highlights of a visit to Bimini include getting in some deep sea fishing, something the islands have earned a reputation for among sport fishermen, drawn here from afar for international tournaments. Other fun things to do include joining a guided snorkeling adventure or honing your diving skills, with the chance to observe sea life such as dolphins up close.
Another interesting attraction is the Bimini Sharklab. This fascinating marine biology facility provides public access through guided tours. Admission is via a donation, but be sure to call or connect in advance to ensure availability.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in the Bahamas
6. Visit Key Largo
Another extremely popular diving spot, Key Largo is just over an hour's drive south of Miami at the north end of the Florida Keys. The big draw for divers here are the extremely shallow waters and the abundance of coral reefs to explore, many within easy reach of the shore, with some Key Largo resorts having direct access to prime diving spots and offering diving instruction packages.
One of the top points of interest for serious divers is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Along with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, it offers numerous old wrecks and plentiful sea life to experience. These locations are also good for snorkelers, too.
If you're making a day of it, take a picnic lunch and spend some time on dry land enjoying the pleasant beaches, as well as the visitor center with its interesting displays related to area fish habitats. For those who prefer keeping dry, glass-bottom boat tours are also available from Key Largo.
7. Marathon and the Middle Keys
Whether you travel a little farther south during your Key Largo day trip or squeeze in a visit on your way to Key west, Marathon in the Middle Keys is worth a stop. In fact, it'd be easy spending the best part of a day exploring its top wildlife-related attractions: the Dolphin Research Center, the Turtle Hospital, and Aquarium Encounters.
The Dolphin Research Center is probably the facility you'll want to spend the most time at as there's so much to see here. In addition to its importance as a rehabilitation center for injured Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, the center does a superb job of educating the public about these incredible creatures through informative talks, and question-and-answer sessions. Best of all, you can partake in unique opportunities to interact with them through feedings and even swim sessions.
And while the dolphins are encouraged to put on displays of their agility, their trainers are quick to point out that they do so voluntarily for a reward, making no two visits quite the same. A number of sea lions are also housed here, along with a great stingray touch tank, and times for displays and feedings are posted clearly, so you can plan your stay.
Founded in 1986, the fascinating Turtle Hospital has saved well over 1,500 turtles and is well worth a visit. In addition to learning more about the care and rehabilitation programs, guided tours take you behind the scenes to the hospital with the chance to feed some of its patients.
Afterwards, head over to the nearby Aquarium Encounters attraction for a chance to experience a variety of activities, including feeding and snorkeling tours. Marathon is also a popular sport fishing center, so consider booking an excursion while here. If possible, pay a visit to Bahia Honda State Park for its spectacular natural beaches.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Marathon
8. Head to Naples
Like Palm Beach on the Atlantic side of Florida, the Gulf Coast town of Naples has made a name for itself as a center of luxury lifestyles. An easy two-hour drive through the Everglades from Miami, its beaches, though, are certainly less busy, but equally attractive.
Top things to do on the many excellent beaches in Naples include sunbathing, swimming, paddleboarding, sea kayaking, or simply walking along the golden sands. A variety of parks with ample parking provide change facilities, picnic areas, and, in some cases, pleasant gardens to explore, and the town also boasts a nice pier.
The real fun, though, is dressing up a little as night falls and heading to fancy 5th Avenue. The town's downtown strip, 5th Avenue is a delight to explore as the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico. You'll find many fine designer clothing stores, boutique shops, art and home décor galleries, and plenty of excellent alfresco dining options.
Also worth a visit if there's time in your day is Marco Island. Just 30 minutes' drive south of Naples, Marco Island is known for its superb beaches, withf perfect sand that's extremely wide in parts, making it a great place to relax awhile without the crowds. You'll also find many excellent hotels and resorts on Marco Island that offer great vacation packages.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Naples, Florida
9. Fort Lauderdale
Located just 23 miles to the north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale makes a pleasant day trip from always busy Miami. Part of the attraction here is the unique network of waterways and canals that dissect the town, which can be explored simply by hopping aboard one of the water taxis that regularly ply the waters, moving people from place to place; it's a particularly fun experience at nighttime.
The city's beaches, though, are the big draw. There are numerous beaches to explore and enjoy in and around Fort Lauderdale, including the main beach with its wonderful promenade. And, having shed its one-time reputation as a place for college students to congregate during Spring Break, you're now more likely to bump into families and retirees as you wander the lengthy boardwalk.
You can certainly walk a long way, breaking up the journey with a stroll along the surf line or a sit-down on the sand. Also fun to explore on foot is the trendy Las Olas area. This attractive neighborhood is known for its art galleries, museums, boutique shops, and galleries.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Fort Lauderdale
10. Take a Drive to Boca Raton
Located a 50-minute drive north of Miami, the attractive coastal community of Boca Raton is another great day trip from Miami you should consider.
In addition to its long stretches of white-sand beaches, Boca Raton boasts numerous other great reasons to visit, including enjoying some high-end shopping in Mizner Park, dining out on fresh seafood, or visiting cultural attractions such as the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
Prefer your fun outdoors? Then you'll want to visit Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, a 20-acre park set aside for the enjoyment and appreciation of the region's flora and fauna. Here you'll have the chance to observe a diverse array of creatures from turtles to iguanas and even sharks in their natural habitat. In addition to walking its trails, you'll want to take out one of their kayaks for a little exploration of the lush mangroves found here.
Red Reef Park is another Boca Raton green space to explore. Spread across 67 acres overlooking the Atlantic, fun things to do here include swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing at the park's large public beach, or even enjoying the nearby nine-hole golf course. There's also a long boardwalk to enjoy with some great views over the beach and ocean.
If you find you end up liking Boca Raton so much you'd like to extend your stay, you're in luck. In addition to its superb beaches, Boca Raton is also home to some of the best places to stay in Florida for those seeking a fun spur-of-the-moment beach getaway.