Things to do in Miami

Miami Landmarks

Blazing sunshine and sandy beaches — Miami has it all, plus museums and other interesting landmarks as far as the eye can see.

Miami's beach scene is second to none, but swimming and sunbathing aren't the only things to do while you're in town.

The city also has dozens of museums, gourmet restaurants, high-end boutiques, and performing arts spaces — where you can view our Miami shows — making it the ideal destination for everyone from empty nesters to singletons looking for a good time.

If you're looking for things to do in Miami, don't miss these landmarks.

Historical Landmarks

The Miami we know and love is a bustling city filled with shopping centers, restaurants, nightclubs, and museums. But 10,000 years ago, it was a blank slate, making it the perfect place for Paleo-Indians to settle. Spanish colonists arrived in the 1500s, bringing their traditions with them.

As the city grew, it became home to Seminole Indians, migrants from the Caribbean, and enslaved persons searching for freedom. Follow in their footsteps with a visit to one of these historical landmarks.

1. Coral Castle

Say goodbye to granite and hello to coral with a trip to Coral Castle. Founder Edward Leedskalnin worked in near-complete darkness to carve more than 1,100 pounds of coral rocks into awe-inspiring sculptures. Just think of him as a mad scientist who preferred coral to radioactive substances.

While you're here, sit in a stone rocking chair, set your sights on a coral-crusted telescope, or marvel at the 9-ton gate made from coral rock. It took Leedskalnin almost 30 years to finish Coral Castle, so there's no need to rush through the exhibits.

You could wander aimlessly through the attraction, but why do that when you could walk around with a knowledgeable guide instead? Staff members are always on hand to give you the 411 on Leedskalnin and his love affair with coral stone.

Photographer: Michelle Raponi

2. The Barnacle Historic State Park

The Barnacle Historic State Park transports you to a simpler time — when Ralph Middleton Munroe was shaking up the sailing world with his innovative yacht designs. Munroe was one of the first people to call Coconut Grove home and took great care to preserve the natural environment.

Birders flock (pun intended) to the park to look for woodpeckers, doves, nightjars, and other species. The National Historic Landmark sits on Biscayne Bay, so it's common to see pelicans swooping from the sky to pick up a little lunch or dinner.

Don't leave without taking a guided tour of the Munroe House Museum, a treasure trove of photographs, original artwork, and other artifacts from Munroe's heyday. You can also see replicas of two sailboats from the late 1800s: Flying Proa and Egret.

Cultural Landmarks

The Tequesta Indians knew Biscayne Bay was special. When they arrived in the region, they immediately settled near the coast, using it as a source of fresh fish and seafood.

Since then, millions of people have moved to Miami in search of a better life, including Cuban refugees fleeing Fidel Castro's regime.

Every person who immigrated to Miami brought a little piece of their hometown with them, creating a rich tapestry of language, music, and art. Visit these Miami landmarks to learn more about their experiences.

3. Little Havana

When you spend the day in Little Havana, it's easy to believe you're wandering the streets of Cuba. Vibrant colors, upbeat music, and mouthwatering aromas await as you start your tour on Calle Ocho — that's Southwest 8th Street.

We wouldn't want you wandering around on an empty stomach, so stop at Sala'o Cuban Restaurant & Bar for authentic dishes made to order. Get started with an order of tostones rellenos — fried plantains stuffed with melty cheese and sprinkled with herbs — for the table.

For the next course, try ropa vieja, a dish made with tender beef, olives, tomatoes, and a symphony of spices. If you prefer something a little lighter, we recommend the filete de salmon (salmon filet).

Now it's time to walk off everything you just ate. As you make your way through Little Havana, keep an eye out for locals playing dominoes in Máximo Gómez Park (aka Domino Park).

If you have a little extra time, stop by Teatro Avante or the Miami Hispanic Cultural Arts Center to see if you can get tickets for a performance. Ever-present salsa music creates a festive atmosphere, making Little Havana a can't-miss destination.

Photographer: naomi tamar

4. Wynwood Walls

You don't need to set foot inside a museum to see inspiring works of art. Just head to Wynwood Walls, a Miami landmark known for colorful murals and out-of-the-box sculptures.

Thanks to its 35,000 square feet of walls, the outdoor exhibit is one of the best places to see working artists in their natural habitat. Wynwood Walls is also close to Midtown Miami, Miami Beach, and the city's Design District, making it a convenient stop on any traveler's itinerary.

New artists are always bringing their talent to Miami, but Wynwood Walls features works by Farid Rueda, Hebru Brantley, Peter Tunney, and other notable names. Don't miss the Peter Tunney Experience, a series of murals designed to lift your spirits and make you think about the world in a new way.

Tunney adorns his work with messages like "CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE EVERYTHING" and "DON'T PANIC," giving visitors much-needed encouragement.

5. The Bass

Art enthusiasts rejoice! Miami is also home to The Bass, a contemporary art museum filled with paintings, sculptures, costumes, photographs, and mixed-media pieces. Curators select objects based on their ability to help visitors connect with the contemporary art scene.

Originally located in the former Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center, The Bass now sits on Collins Avenue, an art deco paradise that runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. Once you've had your fill of South Beach, head to the museum to view the current display.

Although The Bass focuses on contemporary art, the original owners were lucky enough to own some paintings by the Old Masters. Occasionally, museum curators display these paintings in context with more modern works, giving visitors the opportunity to see how art has evolved over the years.

If you're interested in finding out more about Miami's evolution over the years, explore these Miami museums.

Architectural Landmarks

Francis Burrall Hoffman, Paul Chalfin, Lawrence Murray Dixon, and other famous architects shaped the Miami skyline with their creativity. When you visit these landmarks, be sure to take in every little architectural detail — they’re a wonderful thing to do with kids in Miami.

6. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Designed by Francis Burrall Hoffman and Paul Chalfin, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was originally used as a residence by James Deering, the heir to the International Harvester empire.

It sits right on Biscayne Bay, making it look as if the Deering estate is situated off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Villa Vizcaya also has 10 acres of formal European gardens, making it the ideal place for locals to relax.

A tour of the main house gives you a chance to see how the other half lived. The second floor has a neoclassical sitting room filled with interesting objects, including a terracotta sculpture from France and a five-panel decorative screen created by Robert Winthrop Chanler.

If you visit in the afternoon, listen for the sound of organ music filtering through the mansion. This historic landmark is home to the Welte Philharmonic pipe organ, an organ procured by Deering for $25,000 in 1916 — the equivalent of more than $700,000 today.

Photographer: Michelle Raponi

7. Miami Art Deco District

The Art Deco style debuted in Paris but quickly spread to the United States, prompting architects, fashion designers, and artists to incorporate its elements into their work. Stepped facades, smooth walls, and decorative panels are just a few defining characteristics of this architectural style.

Art deco designs also made liberal use of chevrons, zigzags, and other geometric forms. Miami's Art Deco District has some of the most well-preserved examples of Art Deco architecture in the country, making it a popular destination for tourists.

To get to the Art Deco District, head toward Ocean Avenue, Washington Avenue, or Collins Avenue. The best examples of Art Deco buildings are nestled between 5th Street and 23rd Street along these main thoroughfares.

Once you arrive, look for the geometric lines and soothing pastels of Villa Casa Casuarina, the Colony Hotel, the Beacon South Beach, the Delano South Beach, or the Clevelander South Beach.

If you want to learn more about the architectural style, sign up for an Art Deco walking tour led by an experienced guide.

8. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts does look a bit like Max from Flight of the Navigator. But instead of a spaceship voiced by Pee-wee Herman, it's one of the most interesting Miami landmarks in the neighborhood.

Designed by Pelli Clarke & Partners, the performing arts center combines sparkling glass, white granite, and metal into a breathtaking example of modern architecture. The architects used large glass panels for the entrances, allowing plenty of natural sunlight to enter the space during the day.

Once night falls, you'll be dazzled by the 40-foot acoustic dome adorned with twinkling lights. The Arsht Center hosts national touring acts, local musicians, and community theater groups, making it a wonderful gathering place for visitors and Miami residents alike.

Natural Landmarks

Miami has no shortage of museums, restaurants, and boutiques, but sometimes you just want to get away from it all. Visit one of these natural landmarks for an unforgettable experience in a peaceful setting.

9. Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is a top landmark in Miami, drawing around 1 million visitors every year. Sure, you could stick with the usual boating and fishing, but we highly recommend slough slogging while you're here.

Also called off-trail hiking, slough slogging involves hiking through swampy areas of the park. As you traipse through the wet grass, you may get a glimpse of a snake or a baby alligator.

If you're not quite that daring, take a guided tour through the park — we highly recommend doing it by boat. You can also hike on one of the park's trails, set up a geocaching adventure, camp in the wilderness, or fish for snapper.

Before you leave, participate in at least one ranger-led activity. Experienced park rangers have inside information that can make your visit even more special. If you prefer splashing around to hiking and boating, check out some water parks in Miami.

10. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Stop by the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to see bold blooms in every color of the rainbow. The Fairchild isn't a dinky garden behind someone's home; it's a vast collection of plants arranged in themed exhibits.

It's also home to Butterfly Garden Miami, a conservatory filled with hundreds of butterflies. If you stand still, there's a good chance at least one butterfly will land on your arm and do a little dance to celebrate your newfound friendship.

Before you leave, meander through the Tropical Flowering Tree Arboretum, a 12-acre stretch of land featuring hundreds of species.

Next to the arboretum is the crown jewel of The Fairchild, a pergola draped with flowering vines. Composed of wood and stone, the structure extends more than 700 feet, making it the perfect backdrop for your photos.

Photographer: Hector Falcon

Recreational and Modern Landmarks

We already mentioned a contemporary art museum, but Miami has dozens of modern landmarks. If you're looking for unique things to do in Miami, add these landmarks to your itinerary.

11. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

Head to Pérez Art Museum Miami, better known as PAMM, to take in some of the best examples of international art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The permanent collection has hundreds of objects, but we're wild about Federico Herrero's untitled painting from 2018.

At first glance, it looks like a random assortment of shapes and colors, but that's by design. Instead of telling you what to see, Herrero is asking you to create your own interpretation.

We're also big fans of Marassa Twins by Kathia St. Hilaire, which incorporates symbols from Haitian Vodou to represent the experiences of the African diaspora. Sweeping brushstrokes create a sense of movement, making it feel like you're about to enter the scene and interact with the children.

12. Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Treat your inner child to a day of fun at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, an aquarium, a planetarium, and a science museum all in one.

If aquatic life is your jam, head to the aquarium to watch hammerhead sharks, fish, and other sea creatures swim lazily around a 50,000-gallon tank.

If you've always wanted to be an astronaut, start with the planetarium instead. You'll get to travel to space courtesy of an advanced visual system that gives you 360-degree views of everything on the screen above you.

Frost Science also has exhibits dedicated to feathered dinosaurs, groundbreaking scientific research, and meLab, a journey through the human body. If you live in Miami, surprise your kids with a trip to one of the camps at Frost Science.

Unique Landmarks

Some Miami landmarks defy classification. They're more than just museums, cultural attractions, or architectural wonders. Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach is one of them.

13. Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach

In the 1980s, a group of Holocaust survivors wanted to honor the 6 million Jewish people who died at the hands of Nazi soldiers and their collaborators.

They commissioned Kenneth Treister to create Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, a collection of outdoor spaces where survivors and their family members can go to remember those who perished. At the center of the memorial, a bronze statue depicts the hand of an Auschwitz prisoner surrounded by other victims.

Photographer: Silvia Funes

Continuing Your Journey Through Miami's Landmarks

We told you Miami is about more than just sunning yourself on the beach and sipping cocktails at the hottest nightclub. It's a modern city buzzing with historical, cultural, and recreational landmarks. Even the pickiest traveler can find something to love about this tropical environment.

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