Things to do in Miami

Miami Museums

Warm breezes, swaying palm trees, and a vibrant art scene await you in Miami, the home of some of the best museums in the world.

No matter how old you are, there's nothing like driving down Collins Avenue in a convertible, the wind whipping through your hair as you take in the sights: art deco hotels, glowing neon signs, and ocean waters as far as the eye can see.

Palm trees, sunshine, sandy beaches, and our shows in Miami make the city one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

Despite its reputation as a party hub, the city has more to offer than nightclubs and rooftop bars. If you're looking for family-friendly things to do in Miami, the options are virtually endless. Start your trip right by visiting one of these Miami museums.

Art and Design Museums

Artists have long been inspired by the art deco in Miami and the sun-drenched beaches. The city also plays host to Art Basel, one of the largest international art fairs in the world.

With so many artists living and working in South Beach, Miami has one of the best art scenes in the world. Immerse yourself in color with a visit to one of these renowned art and design museums.

1. The Bass

The Bass is all about contemporary art, with no paintings from the 1300s or sculptures from ancient Greece. The Bass houses only contemporary works chosen for how they embody Miami's spirit.

While you're there, make sure you see Miami Mountain, a sculpture made from five boulders painted in fluorescent colors. Artist Ugo Rondinone drew inspiration from the rock formations found in the Badlands of South Dakota.

If you live in Miami, sign up for a museum membership. You'll receive invitation-only access to weekend brunches featuring art talks led by curators.

Members also get to attend Night at the Museum, a themed event that allows attendees to don their finest fashions and show off their best dance moves.

Photographer: Andre Tan

2. Museum of Art and Design

Located in Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College, the Museum of Art and Design has been delighting visitors since 2005. Every exhibition reimagines Miami in some way with futuristic sculptures and out-of-the-box installations.

Curators also honor Miami’s diversity by offering new perspectives on Hispanic history, making MOAD the perfect place to explore your family's heritage.

MOAD also participates in two programs designed to increase access to the arts. Museums for All grants free admission to anyone receiving SNAP benefits, while the Golden Ticket Program for seniors offers complimentary museum access to Miami-Dade County residents aged 62 and older.

3. Lowe Art Museum

Visit Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami for a crash course in 5,000 years of art history. The permanent collection features objects from every time period and region of the world, from paintings by European impressionists to pottery from ancient China.

We highly recommend the Art of the Native Americas collection, which features woven cloths, statues of the Virgin Mary, and an authentic teepee with smoke flaps.

While you're in the gallery, look for the totem pole designed by Calvin Hunt, Tom Hunt, and Mervyn Child. It stands 10 feet high and has a wingspan of 3 feet, making it the focal point of the space.

If you love European art, check out the paintings by Victor Vasarely, the French-Hungarian artist who led the Op art movement.

Op artists use shapes to create optical illusions, so Vasarely's colorful paintings pop against the stark background of the museum's walls — we especially like Planetary Folklore Participations #1, a riot of shapes and colors.

4. Rubell Museum

At the Rubell Museum, creativity knows no bounds. Dynamic, boundary-breaking exhibitions include everything from paintings to multimedia installations. Here, visitors are immersed in the world of art and design.

The permanent collection includes more than 7,000 works by Sonia Boyce, Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and other notable artists. Don't miss DOB in the Strange Forest, a mixed-media sculpture by Takashi Murakami.

Whimsical resin mushrooms make you feel as if you're about to have a picnic in the forest. If you're a Basquiat fan, don't leave the Rubell without seeing Bird on Money, a 1981 painting honoring musician Charlie Parker.

Basquiat's distinctive style combines street art with vibrant colors and bold brushstrokes, resulting in a work of art that's completely open to interpretation. What does it all mean? Only your imagination can tell you.

Science and Children's Museums

Whether you're traveling with teens or toddlers, it's important to keep young travel companions engaged. These museums in Miami, Florida, have plenty of hands-on exhibits to promote the spirit of discovery.

5. Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Unleash your inner marine biologist at Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. This spot is home to an aquarium with three levels of undersea excitement.

The Vista has a 500,000-gallon tank filled with fish, hammerhead sharks, and devil rays. There's also a Florida Bay exhibit that puts you in close contact with a slippery stingray.

Descend to the next level to see fish zipping through delicate coral reefs as predators lurk in the shadows. The final level, known as The Deep, features real-time satellite imagery to help you understand how Florida's Gulf Stream connects to other ocean currents.

Frost Science also has a planetarium, making it the perfect place to take a journey to the center of the universe. Using six projectors and a screen with more than 16 million colors, science educators tell you everything you want to know about your favorite galaxies.

Photographer: Sieuwert Otterloo

6. Miami Children's Museum

When you think of Miami, snow and ice probably aren't the first things to come to mind, but that can change with one trip to Miami Children's Museum. The Winter Wonderland exhibit has a sock skating rink, giving local children the opportunity to skate even when it's sunny and warm.

While you're here, make sure you walk through the 6 ft. piggy bank, sponsored by Bank of America. The interactive exhibit teaches little ones about making change and the importance of saving money, helping them build good financial habits from an early age.

Finish off your visit with a trip through the Castle of Dreams, a two-story sandcastle decorated with colored glass. Be prepared to hear children shouting with joy as they ride down the slide from the second level.

Unique and Niche Museums

Most museums have paintings and sculptures, but if you're in the mood for something truly unique, Miami has you covered. These Miami, Florida, museums go beyond the ordinary to give you an unforgettable experience.

7. Museum of Graffiti

Graffiti artists use walls as their canvases, transforming even the most boring spaces into extraordinary works of art. The Museum of Graffiti showcases their talents, immersing visitors in a world of highly stylized graphics.

Displays change regularly so you may see comic-inspired graffiti, old-school Polaroids, or something completely different during your visit. If you live in Miami, the Museum of Graffiti offers multiple classes to help you get in touch with your inner Banksy.

For adults, Spray It Loud classes provide an introduction to graffiti art, making them ideal for a first date or an afternoon with your best friends. The museum also brings in local artists to lead weekend graffiti classes for kids.

8. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Technically, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a Miami art museum. But its setting makes it unique. Instead of entering a stuffy commercial building, you'll enter a waterfront estate built in 1916. You'll get a taste of what life was like for the heir to the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune.

Unlike a traditional art museum, the Vizcaya has 32 rooms filled with original artwork, furniture, and decorative items. The Vizcaya also has 10 acres of gardens, making it one of the most popular destinations for Miami's nature enthusiasts.

Depending on when you visit, you may see lily pads gracing the surface of a pond, prickly cacti towering above carefully selected ground cover, or rare orchids showing off their beauty.

If you live nearby, check the museum's website for a list of classes and special events. You can learn about everything from orchid care to home composting. The Vizcaya also has a farmers market and regular wellness classes, making it an important community resource.

Photographer: Michelle Raponi

9. Coral Gables Museum

Coral Gables Museum is all about architecture, urban planning, and other aspects of the built environment. You won't see a Van Gogh painting or a Rodin sculpture when you visit, but you'll get to see how architects, arborists, urban planners, and other community members shaped the future of Coral Gables.

The museum also pays tribute to some artists who made Coral Gables what it is today — a tropical paradise filled with European-style bistros, trendy art galleries, and ivy-covered mansions.

Cultural and Historical Museums

Miami has some of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, making it a great place to immerse yourself in Cuban culture or learn more about Judaism. Visit one of these Miami museums to make your visit more educational.

10. The Wolfsonian-FIU

Tucked away in Miami's Art Deco District, The Wolfsonian at Florida International University explores the connection between the past and the present. We can't get enough of the Geneva Window, a stained-glass composition by Harry Clarke.

In 1926, Ireland commissioned Clarke to create a work celebrating its newfound independence from Great Britain. The result was a mosaic of rich colors designed to evoke feelings of pride and nostalgia.

The government of the Irish Free State wasn't exactly thrilled with the inclusion of Protestant writers, alcohol, and nudity, but their loss is our gain.

The Wolfsonian regularly brings in exhibits focused on important events in American history. You may learn more about the Dust Bowl, the Harlem Renaissance, or one of the hundreds of other events that shaped life as we know it.

11. HistoryMiami Museum

Are you dying to learn more about how Miami came to be? Visit History Miami Museum, a cultural gem dedicated to preserving the city's history. The museum has five core exhibitions, so every visitor gets to learn more about the people and animals that make South Florida so special.

Start your visit with Tropical Dreams, which takes you through 10,000 years of migration and natural development. You'll learn about the earliest arrivals to the region and discover how they interacted with bison, horses, and caribou.

Next, head to the Folklife Gallery to attend a cultural program or listen to performances by local musicians. The gallery serves as a place for community members to gather and learn more about how their ancestors lived.

Don't leave without viewing Miami, The Magic City. This photography exhibit shows how Miami transformed from a pioneer town into the bustling city you know and love.

12. Museum of Illusions Miami

You won't believe your eyes when you visit the Museum of Illusions in Miami, and that's by design. The museum has more than 40 three-dimensional illusions designed to trick your mind. You'll think you're battling monsters, sailing through the air on a flying carpet, or riding a motorcycle.

Are you daring enough to walk over a lava-filled river? Visit the Museum of Illusions Miami to test your mettle.

While you're here, check out Smash It! Designed to replace bad vibes with good ones, Smash It! gives you a chance to write your worries on a blank plate and then toss it at the bull's-eye.

Your problems may not disappear, but it sure is satisfying to hear those stressful thoughts shatter into a million pieces.

13. Haitian Heritage Museum

Visit the Haitian Heritage Museum to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Haiti, a Caribbean nation known for its flavorful food and resilient people. Millions of Haitians have migrated to South Florida over the years, creating a Little Haiti right in the heart of Miami.

This museum celebrates their enterprising spirit by blending traditional folklore with all the trappings of modern development. Exhibits change frequently, so make it a point to stop by whenever you're in town.

You might see a collection of photos one month and a series of paintings depicting life in the Caribbean the next.

14. Jewish Museum of Florida

As part of Florida International University, the Jewish Museum of Florida tells the story of more than 250 years of Jewish history in Miami and other areas of South Florida.

The museum takes up two buildings, both originally used as synagogues, making them the ideal setting for exhibits honoring Jewish artists, authors, and historians.

Best of all, the collection includes more than 100,000 objects, so you can visit again and again without seeing the same thing twice.

In the past, the museum has displayed paintings, photographs, sculptures by Jewish artists, and artifacts selected to help visitors understand how Miami became a popular place to practice the Jewish faith.

15. American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora

The Cuban diaspora has had a major impact on Miami's development, especially in art, architecture, and food. You can hardly go a block or two without passing a restaurant that serves a Cuban sandwich or a dish of well-seasoned rice and black beans.

The American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora honors these contributions with paintings, sculptures, and live performances designed to expose visitors to multiple elements of Cuban culture.

Visit the museum to learn how members of the Cuban diaspora use their hopeful spirits to overcome obstacles and create rich lives.

Photographer: Dimitri Dim

Embracing Miami's Museum Marvels: A Cultural Journey Awaits

Beaches and live music in Miami may attract the most attention, but there are plenty of things to do if you don't feel like sunbathing or dipping your toes in the ocean. Whether you're in town for a few days or planning to spend a lifetime here, these Miami museums are the perfect place to spend some time.

We have a lot in common with Miami. Just when you think you've got us all figured out, our performers will shock you with their aerial artistry, daring acrobatics, and captivating storytelling.

Come to one of our shows in Miami for the experience of a lifetime. You'll be laughing and gasping in delight — and you'll leave wondering just how we pulled it all off.

Photographer: Michelle Raponi

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