18 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Miami, FL

Written by Lana Law
Sep 14, 2020

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Miami is one of South Florida's premier vacation destinations, with beaches, great weather, history, culture, sports, and entertainment. Downtown Miami, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach, is a modern metropolis and cultural treasure trove.

From the museums to the streets of Little Havana, you can always find plenty of things to do. Across the bay, Miami Beach, with its Art Deco District, fantastic stretch of beachfront, and fun vibe, is a must-see in the area. Nearby, Everglades National Park is one of several popular day trip destinations from Miami.

Plan your time and discover the best places to visit with our list of the top tourist attractions in Miami.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Miami Beach

Miami Beach
Miami Beach

Located on a barrier island and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, Miami Beach is a mix of quiet neighborhoods, lively entertainment-focused areas, and long stretches of soft-sand beaches.

For visitors, South Beach and the Art Deco Historic District, with pastel buildings from the 1930s and early 1940s sporting classic neon signs, is one of the main highlights. An expensive tourist district, this area features numerous beachfront restaurants, shops, hotels, and plenty of sunbathing opportunities.

The most popular street in this area is Ocean Drive, a section of road located along the oceanfront and home to some beautiful Art Deco buildings. One block inland, running parallel with Ocean Drive, is Collins Avenue. Collins Avenue is actually State Road A1A and is the main oceanfront street in Miami Beach, joining numerous neighborhoods.

If you are looking to stay in this area, see our selection of recommended luxury, mid-range, and budget hotels.

Miami Beach Map - Tourist Attractions
Miami Beach Map - Attractions (Historical)

2. Art Deco Historic District

Art Deco Historic District
Art Deco Historic District

Even if you have no interest in the beach, the Art Deco Historic District is worth a trip out to Miami Beach. This architectural style, popular in the 1930s and 40s, dominates the trendy South Beach neighborhood.

These uniquely designed buildings, in a range of pastel colors and displaying large neon signs, were built following a devastating hurricane that struck in 1926. Many are hotels and restaurants, most of which have been beautifully restored. Along some of the main streets, awnings on the lower level of these buildings provide shade for outdoor dining areas.

Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue are the two main streets through the area.

If you are interested in staying in one of these historic gems, many of the Art Deco buildings still function as hotels and have much more character than modern hotels. Some good options are the luxury Delano South Beach or National Hotel Miami Beach, or the more moderately priced Hotel Breakwater South Beach.

3. South Beach

South Beach
South Beach

Located at the southern end of Miami Beach is a glorious stretch of sand known as South Beach. This wide section of beach fronts the ocean in the neighborhood of the same name. Often packed in summer, this is the most popular beach in Miami and one of the top beaches in Florida.

It's a place to see and be seen, but also a place to swim and enjoy the shallow waters, escape the heat, and soak up the sun. A paved walk lines the beach, and in behind is Ocean Drive, where motorists cruise slowly by and take in the sights.

4. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

This National Historic Landmark, set on 28 acres, was the luxurious winter home of 20th-century industrialist, James Deering. Built in 1916, the mansion features 34 rooms arranged around a central courtyard.

It took more than 1,100 workers and craftsmen to complete the Vizcaya project, many of whom were brought over from Europe to ensure authenticity in design.

The Italian Renaissance-style villa is filled with an impressive collection of European furniture and decorative arts from the 15th to 19th centuries.

The grounds and gardens contain beautiful Italian and French fountains, pools, and sculptures. A breakwater at the base of the steps leading into Biscayne Bay is an ornately carved barge, featuring female figures.

Address: 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://vizcaya.org

5. Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park, just a short drive from Miami, protects one of Florida's most unique natural features. These swamplands, covering about 1.5 million acres, are home to alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and birds. This whole area is essentially a shallow river flowing out to the ocean.

Within the park is an informative Visitors Center, as well as walking trails and boardwalks for wildlife viewing. One of the most popular walking trails in the park is the Anhinga Trail, which leaves from the Royal Palm Visitor Center. This trail is less than a mile long but leads through terrain where visitors are likely to see alligators and other animals. This trail is wheelchair accessible and non-strenuous.

One of the most enjoyable ways to experience the Everglades is on an airboat tour. These high-speed boat trips take visitors out into the marshes and streams to see alligators and other wildlife. The Miami Everglades Airboat Adventure with Transport half-day tour provides transport from your hotel to the park, includes a 30-minute airboat ride, a live alligator show at the Everglades Alligator Farm, and transport back to your hotel.

6. Bayside Marketplace

Bayside Marketplace
Bayside Marketplace

Bayside Marketplace is a large outdoor-style mall with more than 150 specialty and tourist shops, numerous cafes and restaurants, and daily live entertainment. Visitors will find some well-known chain stores, as well as many unique, one-of-a-kind places. The marketplace draws locals as well as tourists.

As may be evident in the name, the mall is located along Miami's waterfront, looking out over docks and boats. Many people come here simply to soak up the atmosphere.

Tour boats leave from here, visiting locations around Biscayne Bay. There is also a water taxi service to Miami Beach and downtown hotels located in the area.

Address: 401 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://www.baysidemarketplace.com/

7. Little Havana and Calle Ocho

Little Havana and Calle Ocho
Little Havana and Calle Ocho

Little Havana, the Cuban district of Miami, isn't known for its wealth of tourist attractions but more for its distinctive cultural scene. Restaurants and specialty food shops line the streets, and Latin music drifts through the air. Locals socialize in the open spaces.

Murals grace the walls of buildings, showing important Cuban figures and scenes of daily life. Calle Ocho is the main thoroughfare running through the district and home to much of the activity, but Little Havana spreads well beyond, into the surrounding streets and avenues. For people-watching, the area offers a great deal of entertainment. And of course, this is the place to come for Cuban cuisine.

The Calle Ocho Festival, held in March, is a celebration of Cuban culture and the largest of its kind in the world. Over the years this street festival has expanded to include more Latin American cultures and is now a great way to experience Latin American music and Caribbean cuisine.

8. Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park
Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park, on the east side of Biscayne Boulevard, is a 32-acre green space, adjacent to the Bayside Marketplace. The park has several interesting monuments and sculptures. One of the unique features is the electronically controlled Pepper Fountain.

Other highlights include the Challenger Memorial, commemorating the crew of the Challenger spacecraft; the Light Tower, an amphitheater used for musical performances of all kinds; and a children's playground. Locals often come here just to run or walk on the paved trails.

Address: 301 North Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://www.bayfrontparkmiami.com/

9. Zoo Miami

Zoo Miami
Zoo Miami

Zoo Miami houses more than 3,000 wild animals, including 40 endangered species. Unlike many traditional zoos, animals here are grouped with other species they would normally co-exist with peacefully in the wild, and kept in settings similar to their natural habitats.

One of the most enjoyable experiences at the zoo is feeding the giraffes. Kids will be amazed as these gentle giants reach down with their long necks to pluck a treat from their hands.

This is the only zoo in the continental United States located in a subtropical climate. More than 1,000 species of trees and plants can also be found on the grounds, including a large collection of orchids.

Children will find plenty of entertainment options. If they are bored with the animals, they can head over to the play areas and enjoy some splashing around at the water-themed play area.

Address: 1 Zoo Blvd, 12400 SW 152nd Street, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://www.zoomiami.org/

10. Jungle Island

Jungle Island
Jungle Island

Jungle Island is a bird sanctuary, wildlife habitat, and botanical garden. Parrots and other exotic birds fly about in tropical forest settings, some of which take part in daily shows.

Larger animals, including tigers, baboons, alligators, tortoises, monkeys, and orangutans are also a big part of the attraction. The gardens contain around 2,000 varieties of exotic plants, including heliconias, bananas, orchids, and bromeliads.

Animal interactions are a big part of the fun here, choose to cuddle with lemurs, sloths, pink flamingos, or a capybara.

Apart from the animals, other fun things to do include a climbing wall, a treewalk village, and an extensive playground area.

Address: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, Florida

Official site: https://www.jungleisland.com/

11. Deering Estate at Cutler

Deering Estate at Cutler
Deering Estate at Cutler | mainmanwalkin / photo modified

This former home of Charles Deering is a 444-acre estate, protecting globally endangered pine rockland habitat, as well as coastal tropical hardwood rockland hammocks, mangrove forests, salt marshes, and a coastal dune island.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Deering Estate at Cutler is home to the Richmond Cottage, which served as a hotel, as well as historical buildings dating from 1896 to 1922, and an American Indian burial ground dating from 1500.

Charles Deering was an art collector, who, along with his brother James, accumulated a great number of works by the Old Masters. Deering himself also painted, and some of his works are on display here. The Artist Village at the estate has become an important cultural center, featuring art and artists programs.

Address: 16701 SW 72nd Avenue, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://www.deeringestate.org/

12. Wynwood Walls Street Art

Wynwood Walls Street Art
Wynwood Walls Street Art

In the warehouse district of Wynwood, the formerly drab exterior warehouse walls have been transformed into colorful pieces of art. The Wynwood Walls, plastered in street art, or what most people think of as graffiti, have brought new life to this area.

Brought about by Tony Goldman in 2009, the district has attracted big names in the world of street art from across North America and around the world. Since it was started, more than 80,000 square feet of wall space has been graced with paintings in this unique artform.

Wander around on your own or for greater insight into the murals, sign up online for a guided tour.

Official site: http://www.thewynwoodwalls.com

13. Coral Castle

Coral Castle
Coral Castle

The Coral Castle is the result of one man's 28 years of carving, using his own home-made tools. This incredible creation, made of limestone, was built by Edward Leedskalnin between 1923 and 1951. He kept his methods private and would not allow anyone to watch him work, leaving many people to wonder how he did it.

Today, you can tour the property and see the most famous structure, a giant stone gate, which opens effortlessly with the touch of a finger, as well as carvings that include stone tables and chairs, unique figures, and other pieces.

Address: 28655 South Dixie Highway, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://coralcastle.com

14. Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower
Freedom Tower

One of the most striking buildings on Biscayne Boulevard, Freedom Tower displays a "wedding-cake" style. Built in 1925, it is one of the oldest skyscrapers in the southeastern United States, and served for many years as the headquarters of the Miami Daily News.

Its name comes from its role as the immigration-processing center for hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees who arrived in the 1960s. Today, it stands as a tribute to Cuban immigration and is used, in part, as a contemporary art museum.

Address: 600 North Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/american_latino_heritage/Freedom_Tower.html

15. Miami Children's Museum

Miami Children's Museum
Miami Children's Museum | Smart Destinations / photo modified

Always a fun outing for children, the Miami Children's Museum is housed in a colorful and creatively designed facility with more than 56,000 square feet of space. Educational and entertaining exhibits are designed to appeal to children's curiosity and creativity.

Fourteen themed galleries revolve around arts, culture, community, and communication, and four outdoor exhibits allow kids a chance to play and enjoy time outside.

Address: 980 Macarthur Causeway, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://www.miamichildrensmuseum.org/

16. Key Biscayne and Crandon Park

Key Biscayne and Crandon Park
Key Biscayne and Crandon Park

South, beyond Miami Beach and over the Rickenbacker Causeway, is Key Biscayne, a small community with lovely beaches and beautiful parks. Of particular note is Crandon Park with an offshore reef that leaves the shoreline protected from big waves and perfect for swimming.

The park has a Family Amusement Center, making it particularly popular with families, and a Nature Center. There is generally ample parking, good facilities, chair rentals available, and lifeguards on duty.

17. Basketball Games at American Airlines Arena

American Airlines Arena
American Airlines Arena

The American Airlines Arena is the home of the NBA's Miami Heat. It is also the main venue for large concerts and other special events, including top name singers and performers. It can hold more than 19,000 people.

The structure itself, opened in 1999, has been awarded the Leed Green Building Certification for being an energy efficient building. The arena stands out prominently on Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami.

Address: 601 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida

Official site: http://www.aaarena.com/

18. Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

A jellyfish at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
A jellyfish at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Ideal for a rainy day or if you are looking for something to do off the beach, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is jam-packed with interesting things for all ages.

The museum is divided into four areas: The aquarium is all about the ocean, with a focus on South Florida. The planetarium helps bring an understanding of the solar system through interactive displays and shows. In the North and West wings, other permanent and traveling exhibits help to explain the world we live in.

Across all areas, displays are interactive and fun, and the viewing areas in the aquarium are exceptional.

Address: 1101 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida

Official Site: https://www.frostscience.org/

Where to Stay in Miami for Sightseeing

Miami's main tourist area is Miami Beach, with its lovely soft-sand beaches, Art Deco buildings, and vibrant atmosphere. There are all kinds of hotels here, from small, quaint boutique hotels in landmark buildings to the large chain hotels. Most of the hotels have pools and are within easy walking distance of the ocean and a variety of great restaurants.

  • Luxury Hotels: With 600 feet of prime beachfront property and occupying an entire city block on Collins Ave, 1 Hotel South Beach is one of the trendiest luxury properties in town. The hotel has 426 rooms and suites, and many feature expansive views from floor-to-ceiling windows that face the Atlantic Ocean. The decor is maritime themed and makes use of reclaimed driftwood in furnishings. There are four swimming pools on-site, including the largest rooftop pool in South Beach. There are a number of restaurants with a healthy focus, and guests have access to rides in the hotel's Tesla vehicles within a three-mile radius. Pets are also welcome to stay.

    Right on the trendiest section of South Beach, The Setai, Miami Beach is a stunning, Asian-inspired luxury resort that is popular with couples on a romantic getaway. It's an all suite hotel, and these begin studio sized and go all the way up to a four-bedroom penthouse. Expect high-end decor like hand-crafted Duxiana beds and high thread-count, Italian sheets. There are also in-room espresso machines and rainfall showers in large baths. The Setai also boasts a host of amenities, including a posh spa, three swimming pools, and sun-loungers and umbrellas on the beach. There are also multiple restaurants on-site. Try Jaya for Asian-inspired fare and The Ocean Grill for international cuisine.

    Literally in the middle of the Miami skyline with views of the Miami River, Biscayne Bay, and downtown from the balconies attached to every room and suite, the just remodeled Kimpton EPIC Hotel is another top luxury sleep. The decor is urban contemporary, and we love the floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as the comfy beds with quality linens. The Kimpton is known for being super dog-friendly, and there is never a pet deposit to stay. Also noteworthy are two on-site restaurants: Area 31 with outdoor patio seating and Zuma on the ground floor. An on-site spa and fitness center and two swimming pools with cabanas that can be reserved complete the amenities picture.

    In the heart of the Brickell neighborhood in downtown Miami, the Four Seasons Hotel Miami is a popular choice for families seeking a luxury resort stay. The resort even doubles as a Latin American art gallery, hosting a multi-million-dollar collection that is exhibited throughout. Child-focused amenities here include a kids' club with organized activities and a children's section in one of the two rooftop swimming pools. Adults can check out a class at the on-site Equinox fitness center or book a massage at The Spa, both located on the hotel's fourth floor.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: If you want to be near South Beach but can't afford to pay a fortune, then try the boutique Urbanica The Meridian Hotel, which offers a more affordable, luxe experience. The hotel in the hip South of Fifth neighborhood in Miami Beach features minimalist design, with white and beige hues, and is known for its personalized service.

    Another upmarket, mid-range choice is the Marriott Stanton South Beach, which is right on the beach. Set at the southern side of South Beach's Ocean Drive, it is a kid-friendly property but can also work for couples on a budget. There are two swimming pools and a hot tub on-site, as well as a spa with a sauna and a modern gym. There are a few dining options as well, including a good restaurant fronting the sea.

    It is usually more affordable to stay in downtown Miami than Miami Beach, and these days the downtown area around Brickell, where the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton - Miami-Brickell Downtown is located has plenty to keep you occupied. The good-value hotel has a classy vibe and even features its own contemporary art collection. Other perks include a free breakfast and swimming pool.
  • Budget Hotels: Even budget hotels in Miami Beach tend to be pricey unless you're visiting in the super low season. Try the Hotel Shelley for a quality budget sleep in an Art Deco building right on Collins Ave. The rooms have minimalist design and marble baths.

    The Element Miami International Airport is right by the airport, but Miami's airport is not inconveniently located to get around the city. This hotel offers renovated rooms, with small kitchens, and an outdoor pool. The free shuttle is handy for late or early flights.

Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Miami

  • Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour: To see the sights of Miami at your own pace, it doesn't get any easier than a Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour. The three routes hit all the major destinations, including South Beach, Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, and Little Havana, with a total of 40 stops to choose from.
  • Sightseeing, Cruise, and Everglades Tour: If you really want to make the most of your time in Miami, the most comprehensive and convenient way to see and experience the highlights is on a Miami Combo Tour: City Sightseeing, Biscayne Bay Cruise, and Everglades Airboat Ride. This tour checks off everything but the beach, and it's all wrapped up in a one-day tour. The trip includes a narrated coach tour through the city; a cruise on the beautiful, clear waters of Biscayne Bay; and an airboat ride through the Florida Everglades.
  • Visit Key West: Take an organized Key West Day Trip to see the famous bridges that link the Keys, spend an afternoon wandering around Key West, or add on a glass-bottom boat tour, a snorkeling cruise, hop-on-hop-off tour of Key West, or parasailing. This tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off at your Miami hotel, transportation to Key West, and plenty of free time to see the sights.
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