20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Miami

Jul 22, 2021

With a history that spans much of the 20th century, Miami has experienced its share of ups and downs. Not only does it have one of the most important port cities of the Caribbean, but Miami is the capital of Latin America and home to major tourist destinations, such as the lush, tropical beaches and busy, bustling city centers. The architecture is a collection of styles that originated in both the United States and Europe, ranging from Art Deco to Spanish Colonial to postmodern, and it's evident that the city is a true melting pot of both cultures.

There are a huge number of museums and art galleries, and the city's nightlife offers a party-loving atmosphere that continues throughout the summer months. The sports scene is pretty impressive too, and what's really unique is that the city's sports teams are so popular that nearly everyone knows at least one player or team by name. And did we mention the climate? Miami's average temperature in January is 75°F, and about 82°F in July.

With that being said, there's so much to see and do in Miami, the best way to start planning your trip would be to read this list of the top attractions in Miami.

South Beach

Photo of South Beach
South Beach: en.wikipedia.org

South Beach is located along the shoreline of Florida's Atlantic coast. Also known as SoBe, South Beach is known for its laid-back beach communities, fashionable nightlife, and lively night clubs. South Beach is known as the 'Venice of America' because of its beachfront canals and waterways. South Beach is popular for its youthful and free-spirited vibe and draws tourists from all over the world. Things to do in Miami include visiting South Beach's different beach clubs and bars, the architecture at the Art Deco District, Ocean Drive, the Fountain of Youth Aquatic Park and the Wynwood Art District, which offers a variety of art galleries and studios. The colorful neighborhood of Ocean Drive was built in the late 1920's by German-born architect Henry J. Hodes, known as the "father of Modernism" in Miami. South Beach is home to the best night clubs in Miami, including 2 am2 and Nice Guy Eddie's, where guests can listen to live music 24-hours a day. Other exciting places to visit are the Zoo Miami in South Miami, which is home to a number of exotic animals; and the spectacular, fantastical, castle-like, one-hundred acre-plus paradise that is Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a lavish estate built by Chicago's most prominent family, the Dade family, for which the city of Miami is named.

Art Deco Historic District

Photo of Miami Beach Architectural District
Miami Beach Architectural District: en.wikipedia.org

The Art Deco Historic District in Miami is a great place to discover the World of Art Deco. The area features over 200 Mediterranean style buildings, many of which were designed and built in the early 1930's by architects of that style and its evolution, as well as the many stylish hotels, restaurants, art galleries, and shops that thrived in the area at that time. Today, art deco buildings are being restored and adapted for use in many ways - from corporate and office space to condos and even hotels. The district stretches for more than 2 miles along South Beach from 5th to 7th Street and Ocean to Washington Avenues, with its finest concentration of deco in the area in the section between 17th and 23rd streets. Buildings here include the Renaissance-style Hotel Astor (now the Renaissance Miami Beach); The Deauville, the historic Casino de Paris; the Miami Beach Tower; the Williams, the Miami Beach Bath Club; the Hotel Biscayne; the Brander, the Miami Beach Golf Club; the Stock Exchange; the Regal, the Stock Exchange Hotel; the Maison 16, the Driscoll Hotel; the Miami Beach Athletic Club; and the Fontainebleau. Famous people who lived here include Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra.

Miami Seaquarium

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Miami Seaquarium: en.wikipedia.org

The Miami Seaquarium was once the only game in town in Miami, attracting thousands of visitors per year who paid to swim with dolphins and sea lions at the aquariums' famous "free-swimming" dolphin tank. Today, not much remains of this once large operation, as the Seaquarium closed in 2007 to undergo a major overhaul that promises to return the facility to its former grandeur. During the Seaquarium's heyday, dolphins were bred in captivity on site. The highlight of the rehabilitation process is the addition of open-air viewing areas where visitors can watch the dolphins play and interact with them.

Venetian Pool

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Venetian Pool: en.wikipedia.org

The pool, which is actually located under the South Pointe tower of the Hard Rock Hotel in Miami Beach, is the largest pool of its kind in the United States and one of the largest on the planet. Conceived as a giant indoor pool, the luxury venue takes full advantage of the two-million-square-foot space it's set in, including two huge dance floors, a hotel spa, and a poolside health club. Attractions include a luxury spa, fully stocked cocktail bar, a wet bar with at least 12 top-shelf liquors and a wide selection of international beers and wines, plus a kids' water park and a Mediterranean-style Mediterranean-inspired restaurant.

Downtown Miami

South Florida, nicknamed the "Sunshine State" for all its glory, is quite a different place from the rest of the U.S. Here, the large melting pot of cultural influences from around the world plays out over and over again in the streets and in the living rooms, hotel rooms and kitchenettes of the many more than five million people who live here. There's not a lot to do here, but walking through Miami's streets gives one an appreciation of how hot this city is. On any given day, you can catch a glimpse of large crowds gathered on the streets for music festivals and block parties. Still, this is not the place for outdoor activities in Miami.

Ocean Drive

Photo of Ocean Drive (South Beach)
Ocean Drive (South Beach): en.wikipedia.org

One of America's great architectural masterpieces, Ocean Drive is a fabulous stretch of tree-lined, pavement-fringed seaside boulevard, stretching from the shores of Miami Beach to the golden sands of South Beach. The "world famous super freeway," it is not actually a freeway at all but a wide boulevard lined with palm trees and surrounded by a succession of luxury hotels. The roadway stretches for four miles (7 kilometers) with a variety of architectural styles, including Beaux-Arts and Art Deco buildings. The most expensive of these is the Fontainebleau Hotel, which is worth a visit if only for its unique interior. Check out the decadent movie-set decor inside, including the sweeping staircase from the 1980 film "Flashdance" and the Parisian restaurant, with its gilt and lush decor. The stretch of Ocean Drive is also lined with some of America's best nightclubs, and attracts a wealthy clientele of tourists, celebrities, and celebrities-to-be.

Key Biscayne

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Key Biscayne: en.wikipedia.org

Key Biscayne is a peaceful residential neighborhood, a nice escape from the city. Tucked away on the south coast of Florida and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, you will find a natural wonderland. During the day, the sun reflects off the ocean and illuminates a beautiful contrast between the bright and lush green of Key Biscayne's pine trees and hard surfaces. Within the city limits of Miami, Key Biscayne is home to two hospitals, an international airport, a wide variety of entertainment centers, three shopping malls, and an amusement park.

Everglades National Park

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Everglades National Park: en.wikipedia.org

Hiding in the south of Florida is one of the most important ecosystems in the world. The Everglades have trees that start to grow as soon as the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico reaches the area. They are made up of pitcher plants, carnivorous plants that lure their prey with enzymes contained in their stalk. There are 837 species of plants and 324 species of animals. In an effort to preserve the region, some 750 km2 of the park has been designated a protected area, where tourists and visitors are prohibited. A boat tour is an excellent way to get close to the beautiful wildlife as it is a real paradise for water creatures, including alligators, dolphins, turtles, birds, and, of course, manatees.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

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Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: en.wikipedia.org

It's not often you can visit a museum that houses over 300 items of the renowned collection of James and Dolores Martin, who are well-known collectors of American folk art. Not only does the extensive collection contain traditional handcrafts and dolls of the American Indians, there's a large collection of old America cars and airplanes, as well as numerous contemporary pieces from a collection created by artists such as Phillip Johnston and Margaret Bourke-White. There is a 'cast collection' that was once housed in Villa Vizcaya. For the last forty years it has been home to hundreds of years of the Spanish explorer's family history. The handsome house itself is architecturally designed to appear authentic, with outdoor space so elegantly done, and several of the furnishings were donated by the Martin family. The rest of the collection has been curated and arranged according to themes, including Native American arts and crafts and dolls, American craft objects and folk art. There's an intriguing collection of Americana that includes such objects as aircraft from the 1950s, models of American products from the 1930s and an oil rig from the first half of the 20th century. The James and Dolores Martin design and illustration collection has been divided into individual galleries. The courtyard, themed gardens and educational programs all make Vizcaya a family attraction.

Little Havana

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Little Havana: en.wikipedia.org

Little Havana, originally a farming village of 40 farmers from Spain who came to the newly developed Cuban countryside after the revolution in 1959, has grown into a small, modern city. It is bordered by one of the most expensive real estate areas in the country, and is now home to more than 75,000 residents, about 40 percent of whom are Cuban. With Spanish, French, and Central American immigrants, Little Havana has a melting pot of cultures. Despite all the Spanish language signage on the streets, shops, and restaurants, Little Havana isn't Cuba, and life is a bit different than in Havana. For instance, the local McDonald's offers meals in Spanish, not Cuban Spanish, and they're offering free Wi-Fi, which is unusual in Cuba. You'll find Cuban music playing on most of the stereos, but for the most part you'll hear a wide variety of other music, from the Spanish popular music to the French house to the American rap. With a large number of Cuban immigrants, Little Havana has gained fame as an entertainment and tourist destination, especially with the notable Zons restaurant. The Zons was the first Cuban restaurant in Miami to offer American cuisine, and is credited with starting the Miami Cuban dining scene. It was designed by Lili Marks, a prominent Cuban artist, and there is a "Zon's Wall of Fame" honoring her art.

Coral Castle

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Coral Castle: en.wikipedia.org

On the southern tip of Miami, the estate of James and Dolores Ward, known as Coral Castle, is both a remarkable architectural marvel and a monument to the American Dream. The main part of the castle is not exactly, well, magical, but it is fun to wander around, especially the garden. They only build the "castles" in the front, so you don't have to travel far to enjoy the tour.

Florida Aquarium

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Florida Aquarium: en.wikipedia.org

Florida Aquarium, Miami offers a fabulous introduction to the world of marine life. Visitors can appreciate an aquatic feast on the 3.2-million-gallon Ocean Voyager indoor tank where they view more than 4,000 aquatic creatures, including white sharks, sea turtles, crocodiles and goliath grouper. Other tanks house a wide range of more familiar aquatic creatures, including stingrays and starfish, while behind the scenes, special encounters are available. From this one tank you can travel through the underwater world, thanks to the advanced acoustical technology that allows you to listen to the fish from above. Other activities at Florida Aquarium include dolphin performances, special exhibits, a Sea Food Restaurant and an Aquanauts Training Adventure, an attraction that simulates what it is like to dive underwater. The main entrance is on Miami's Biscayne Bay, while the Science Aquarium opens on January 12, 2008 and the Great White Shark Encounter opens on January 1, 2009.

Key West

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Key West International Airport: en.wikipedia.org

Just 100 miles south of Cuba, Key West is a chic Caribbean resort with a colorful Cuban ambiance. The island is one of the few American cities located in the Atlantic Ocean, where you'll find a bustling city full of action and bustling tourists. It has a mixture of colorful Caribbean architecture as well as Victorian homes. With more than 15,000 people, Key West has a sunny weather, which makes it an ideal place for tourism. The Old Town is within a stone's throw away from the Coquí Beach, where visitors can relax and enjoy swimming. Travelers can reach the city by car via the Alligator Alley. Also, there are ferries that go from Fort Zachary Taylor Park in Key West to Key West International Airport. The airport also offers flights to Cuba, Canada, and Europe. Key West has more than 50 bars and restaurants serving an array of foods. Typical dishes on the menu are alligator, flaky fish, seafood, and Cuban sandwiches. Some of the best restaurants are Higgs Beach Bar & Grill, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and Caribbean House Cafe. For travelers who love history and culture, Key West offers a number of museums like the Hemingway House, the Gulf Coast Explore Center, the Key West Literary and Historical Museum, the Henry Beston House, the Key West Lighthouse, and the San Carlos Institute.

The Grove

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Coconut Grove: en.wikipedia.org

Built in 1929, this splendid Art Deco style building with a Mediterranean garden is located on South Beach. During the day, The Grove is open as a retail center, with shops and boutiques selling everything from jewelry to live plants. At night, many high-end restaurants open on the first floor, serving food and drinks, and live entertainment is held in the lounge every night of the week. Amenities include a trolley, children's play area, restrooms, cafés, an ATM, newspapers, and, of course, one of the world's most spectacular views.

Downtown Historic District

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Downtown Miami Historic District: en.wikipedia.org

Home to some of the most distinctive architecture in Miami, Downtown Historic District (DHD) is a glorious maze of traditional two- and three-story brick and mortar buildings dating from the 1920s to the 1940s, in close proximity to the Miami River and the city's network of arts and culture institutions. Miami's only city-managed downtown district retains many architectural gems, which were originally built for the wealthy Coral Gables neighborhood before the Magic City's population shifted from the South to the North. Visitors can visit the on-site Miami-Dade Cultural Center, which houses the Jewish Museum of Florida and the Museum of Latin American Art. Downtown Historic District lies in a historic area that was first designated as a city-owned historic district in 1986. Today, it is also recognized as a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places.


Photo of Hollywood, Florida
Hollywood, Florida: en.wikipedia.org

Hollywood, an entertainment capital in the 1930s, now sits between Miami and Palm Beach. Both are hot spots for those who love beach living. Here you can swim in the clear and sunny seas along the American shoreline, find world-class shopping, listen to great live entertainment, take a catamaran cruise, see beautiful sunsets, play golf or tennis, and dine at fabulous restaurants. Miami is the glamour capital of the United States, with many of its attractions located on the Miami Beach and Biscayne Bay beaches. One of the world's premier film and television studios, where, since 1938, over 3,000 movies and TV shows have been filmed, this area is considered one of the most important film locations in the world. The studios attract thousands of tourists annually to this exciting film and television city. Miami is also an international trade hub, the U.S. finance capital, and is home to over 100 film festivals a year.

The Everglades

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Everglades: en.wikipedia.org

Pronounced, just like the name, the Everglades was once a vast swamp that covered a third of Florida. Today, overdevelopment of the region has led to massive loss of habitat and wildlife. Everglades National Park is a stunning and visually overwhelming environment. Lying within the park, the most well-known area is the 22,000-acre Big Cypress Swamp, but the park covers well over 100,000 acres and has many other ecological wonders. The Homestead National Historic Park features an intact 1920s Southern city. Getting here is not as hard as you might think.

Biltmore Hotel

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Miami Biltmore Hotel: en.wikipedia.org

For those of you who like the idea of staying in an international city but still want the comfort of a homey room and abundant Southern food, it's time to venture to Biltmore Hotel. This luxury hotel has been a symbol of American elegance since opening its doors in 1927. Located on the edge of Coral Gables, one of America's most unique and desirable neighborhoods, it enjoys panoramic views of the city and the bay. The 1927 hotel was designed by Florida's famous Tamarind, Frank Lloyd Wright's finest example of American Modernism. Originally, the Biltmore opened as the Royal Palm, but after it was purchased by Marshall Field, the hotel underwent a major renovation in 1925 that created the present structure. The hotel's interior design is an eclectic mix of historic New England and Mediterranean influences, most of which date back to 1926. But perhaps the most outstanding rooms are the bathrooms, which were designed by the Architectural League of New York's Dwight Lee. The hotel is also home to the southern Florida Botanical Gardens, which has more than 5,000 plant species, including 800 orchids. The Biltmore's Bal Harbour Bar, the only hotel bar in the country to be named an official members club of the World Gourmet Society, and its exclusive garden club, are a great place to kick back and relax with a sunset cocktail or glass of wine.

Coral Gables

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Coral Gables, Florida: en.wikipedia.org

Coral Gables was originally conceived by visionary real estate tycoon Herbert Gans. His ambition was to combine beautiful Caribbean architecture with modern technology to create an affluent "treehouse community." Coral Gables is the residential and tourist center of Miami. The City of Coral Gables consists of 29 separate neighborhoods, including Venetian Gables, Village of Merrick Park, and Maasai Gables. It has over 1,200 parks, 42 public golf courses, 43 swimming pools, 24 museums and cultural centers, and a number of beaches. Most of the beaches in Miami are clustered around the three Biscayne Bay bays: Miami Beach, Lummus Park and Ocean Drive.


Photo of Wolfsonian-FIU
Wolfsonian-FIU: en.wikipedia.org

Wolfsonian-FIU is a small museum and research center with the focus on the art, design and industrial history of the Americas. Although the museum itself has little in the way of material objects on display, the book department, known as the Museum Bookstore, offers a number of appealing titles ranging from a colorful history of the USA to design history and an illustrated biographies of famous women. There is also an extensive library, special exhibits and a learning center that is open to the public, especially during festivals and special events.