Sure, you could spend an entire Miami vacation just relaxing on the beach, people-watching, and sipping cold drinks.
But there’s so much to explore in the Magic City, you also could build an almost limitless list of fun things to do in Miami. In fact, you may have trouble narrowing it all down to a manageable itinerary of absolute must-sees — whether you’re visiting on your own, as a couple, or with friends or family.
You could have an amazing time just focusing on bucket-list items, like going to Little Havana or strolling the Miami Beach Boardwalk. Or you might use your time to take in Miami’s renowned architecture or to go shopping or history hunting.
The best answer may well be to mix it up and sample the sunny outdoors, the arts, plus some of the great food and nightlife. So here is a curated list of seasoned travelers’ tips and picks for the top things to do in Miami, Florida. Get ready for an amazing adventure.
Best Times to Go to Miami
Springtime is probably the best time to visit Miami — if you don’t mind the crowds — followed closely by December through February. The weather is typically warm, but you’ll avoid the heat and humidity.
You may find there’s a festival or two you’ll want to base your visit around. If you travel in March, for example, you can enjoy Carnaval Miami events, like the Calle Ocho Music Festival or Art on the Drive. And in December, the Art Basel international art fair comes to town.
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Bad Times to Go to Miami
There really isn’t a wrong time to go to Miami. The beach is always there, after all. But if heat, humidity, rain, and the potential for hurricanes aren’t your thing, you may want to avoid summer travel to Miami or planning a vacation for the summer or early fall.
Average Cost of a Miami Vacation
The cost of a vacation in Miami can vary significantly, depending on how long you stay, when and where you stay, and how you get there. (And, of course, you might lower the price tag by using credit card miles or cash back.)
Travel sites generally put the average cost of a weeklong trip at about $1,200 to $2,450 for an individual and $2,300 to $4,600 for a couple. (If you’re traveling with your kids or traveling with pets, the cost could be significantly more.)
Here are just a few of the costs you may want to consider when budgeting for your trip (and when you’re figuring out how to make the most of your credit card rewards):
Roundtrip airfare to Miami can average from $200 to $600 or more, based on where you’re flying from and when you’re traveling. (Don’t forget to look at how credit card travel insurance works, just in case your flight is canceled, your luggage gets lost, or some other mishap occurs.) Driving could end up costing about the same, or even more, if you have to stop at a hotel for a night or two.
If you’re willing to stay at a budget hotel or a hotel or rental that’s outside the more popular areas of the city, you may be able to save some serious money in this category. Otherwise, you can expect to pay about $150 to $700 or more (much more) per night for a mid-range to luxury hotel on your Miami trip.
Though much of Miami is walkable, to conveniently get around to everything you want to see, you may want to rent a car. A mid-size SUV could cost about $21 to $66 per day, and a convertible can be about $65 per day.
The average spend per person for food in Miami can range from $30 to $100 per day. But your food bill may go up or down (just like at home) based on how often you dine out, the restaurants you choose, and whether you drink tap water or an excellent bottle of wine. A couple of street tacos or a fast-food meal, for example, could cost less than $10, while a meal in a nice restaurant like Joe’s Stone Crab might be $100 or more per person.
There are many free things to do in Miami, and admission to most museums and other attractions generally costs $25 or less for an adult.
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10 Fun Must-Dos in Miami
There’s so much to do in and around Miami, it could be a challenge to squeeze it all into one week—or even two or three weeks. But if you go in with a plan having pre-selected some must-see destinations, you can improve the chances that you’ll get to your fair share of fun activities.
To help get you started, here’s a list of 10 cool things to do in Miami, compiled from dozens of travel sites, blogs, and “best of” lists, plus advice from savvy travelers.
1. Check Out the South Beach Scene
You’ve seen it in movies. You’ve read about it in books. When most people think about Miami, they probably picture the iconic South Beach area. There’s plenty there to explore, from the beautiful, expansive beach to the Art Deco buildings, trendy boutiques, and top-rated bars and restaurants. And the free South Beach Trolley loops around the neighborhood from 8 am to 11 pm seven days a week. It’s a popular area, so expect to find crowds, especially when the weather is at its best.
2. Take a Tour of Little Havana
You can book a bus tour or walking tour of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood to get the full story on its food and cultural diversity. Or you can settle in with a mojito at one of the excellent restaurants there, then wander over to watch a dominos or chess match at Domino Park at the corner of Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) and 15th Avenue.
3. Check Out the Wynwood Arts District
Another top thing to do in Miami: You can take in the street art for free in the super-cool Wynwood Arts District. Then, for more cutting-edge art, buy a ticket to see the Wynwood Walls outdoor museum. Artists from around the world have covered the museum’s abandoned warehouse walls with graffiti and street art. The district is also home to several art galleries, a variety of well-reviewed restaurants, and chic, high-end shopping. thewynwoodwalls.com/
4. Do Some Time-Traveling at HistoryMiami
HistoryMiami is celebrating 80 years of providing access to archives and artifacts that bring South Florida’s stories to life. You can visit the museum’s permanent and rotating exhibitions to get a true feel for the area’s history and heritage, and its evolution. historymiami.org
5. Linger at the Lush Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
If you’re a fan of flowers, butterflies, and all things green, a trip to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a must. Its horticultural collections include tropical fruit trees, orchids, palms, and Florida native plants; and while you’re there, you can wander over to the Wings of the Tropics exhibit to see hundreds of spectacular butterflies fluttering about. The museum hosts several family-friendly festivals and other events throughout the year, including the mouth-watering Bacon & BBQ Classic in June. fairchildgarden.org/
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6. Miami Beach Boardwalk
The scenic Miami Beach Boardwalk (sometimes referred to as the South Beach Boardwalk) is a favorite with tourists and locals alike. The pathway starts at the southern point of South Beach and stretches seven miles along the ocean to the Surfside border in North Beach. Or you can venture off the boardwalk onto Lincoln Road and explore the popular shopping district there.
You also may want to build a visit to New World Center into your itinerary and take in a movie or concert from the lawn of SoundScape Park. miamibeachboardwalk.com and nws.edu/events-tickets/wallcast-concerts-and-park-events
7. Go Birding in Barnacle Historic State Park
If you’re ready for something a little outside the city, you might want to take a drive over to Coconut Grove and visit The Barnacle Historic State Park. The park’s location and landscaping attract herons, pelicans, kingfishers, and other shorebirds. While there, you also can take a guided tour of the Munroe House Museum, located on the shore of Biscayne Bay, to get an idea of what life was like for pioneer and sailor Ralph Middleton Munroe in the late-1800s. Picnics are allowed on the lawn, and events are scheduled throughout the year at the museum and park. floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/barnacle-historic-state-park
8. Enjoy Miami’s Exhilarating Nightlife
Miami has a little bit of everything when you’re ready to head out at night, from comedy, improv, and karaoke clubs to nightclubs with rooftop lounges, live music, and dancing, to neighborhood pubs where you can sample a microbrew and watch the ballgame on a big screen. Keep in mind that if you’re heading to a nightclub, there will likely be a dress code that just says no to flip-flops, ball caps, tank tops, and shorts.
9. Tour the Art Deco District
If you’re an architecture buff or just like to look at cool old buildings, you may want to spend some time in Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District. You can take a guided or self-guided walking tour of the district’s lovingly restored buildings. Then learn more about Miami Beach’s Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and Miami Modern design styles at the Art Deco Museum and Welcome Center. miamiandbeaches.com/things-to-do/history-and-heritage/art-deco-historic-district
10. Take a Walk on the Wild Side at the Shark Valley Loop
The 15.4-mile Shark Valley Loop Trail is one of the highlights of the vast Everglades National Park and worth the trip if you’re up for a bit of a drive. (It’s about 30 miles west of the city.) You can hike or bike the trail to get a close-up look at Florida’s wild side, or you can take a two-hour guided tram tour from the Shark Valley Visitors Center. nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/shark-valley-tamiami.htm
Now that you know some of the best things to do in Miami, consider these insider tips that might help improve your trip, including:
A Little Bit About Location
To make your trip to Miami more manageable, you may want to keep your sightseeing priorities in mind when choosing your accommodations. You’ll likely save money on hotels or rentals outside the city or farther from the beach. However, traffic in the area can be challenging, and you could spend a large part of your visit just trying to get to the attractions you hope to see. If your homebase is closer in, you can take advantage of the walkability in many popular tourist areas.
Make the Most of the Fresh Seafood
If you love seafood, you’ll love dining in Miami, where you can get your favorite fish sandwich, fish tacos, scallops, shrimp, stone crab claws, clams, and lobster just about anywhere and at any time of day.
Your choices will range from cutting-edge food trucks to elegant eateries, with menu items at all price points. For a special night out, consider Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach, which is famous for both its food and the service. Joe’s is best known for its stone crab claws and another Florida favorite: Key lime pie.
Plan How You’ll Pay
It can be a good idea to bring cash, your debit card, and a couple of different credit cards to pay for various things during your trip to Miami. You also may want to bring at least one travel credit card so you can get rewarded for qualifying purchases.
Miami is a super-popular destination for a variety of very good reasons: Great weather, gorgeous beaches, amazing architecture and attractions, as well as terrific food and drink. If you decide to travel there, there are plenty of incredible sights to see, or you can have fun just lounging by the sea or a pool. That’s part of what makes Miami such a great destination for solo voyagers, couples, friends, and families to visit.
Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.
Is it helpful to know some Spanish when vacationing in Miami?
You won’t need to take a language course to get around Miami successfully, but knowing a few popular phrases could be useful, including hola (hello), gracias (thank you), ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?), and ¿Dónde está? (Where is it?).
What are the best things to do in Miami Beach on a rainy day?
Although much of Miami is built around South Florida’s beautiful weather, there are also plenty of museums and galleries to visit if it’s raining or too hot and humid.
What are some things to do in Miami for couples?
Walking the beaches and enjoying the nightlife in Miami are about as romantic as it gets. A visit to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (vizcaya.org/) will provide lush grounds and gardens to explore and plenty of photo opportunities too.
Photo credit: iStock/Gian Lorenzo Ferretti Photography
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