Whether you’re a sun worshipper, super shopper or culture vulture, Miami’s diverse neighborhoods are awash in attractions.
The formerly boring business district has upped its appeal for visitors with chic hotels, eateries and museums. Get around via the free, elevated Metromover transport system, catch a concert or opera at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, and a game or show at AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the NBA’s Miami Heat. Bayside Marketplace has shops, free shows and the less than year-old Official Miami Walk of Fame (Andy Garcia and Jamie Foxx have stars there). Bayside also is a base for sightseeing boats and attracts those who board luxury liners in PortMiami, the busiest cruise port in the world.
Once a rundown part of Miami Beach, SoBe is home to the renowned Art Deco District of restored hotels and vintage apartment buildings. It’s a people-watching paradise, with models awaiting their close-ups on wide stretches of sand and fashionistas browsing for cutting-edge styles at boutiques in the Lincoln Road pedestrian-only zone. Sit in SoundScape Park and view a concert or movie broadcast free on an outer wall of the striking New World Center, glimpse celebs at the Delano, SLS and other hot hotels. Watch the parade of humanity on the seaside drag, Ocean Drive, home to the Italian-style palazzo at whose gate designer Gianni Versace was gunned down. You can dine there or soak up the Ocean Drive scene from an outdoor table at the News Cafe, open 24 hours. Attempt a merengue or mambo at tourist-friendly Mango’s Tropical Cafe, where entertainers hop on the bar to show off their moves.
Among standouts: the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA); Bass Museum of Art; Jewish Museum of Florida; HistoryMiami. Some are free; many offer no-admission-charge days. Downtown’s new Museum Park houses the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Soak up views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline from a seat in the park.
Savor the flavors of Cuba in a neighborhood that’s home to Cuban immigrants. You’ll see colorful murals, art galleries, men playing dominoes and a Walkway of the Stars honoring Cuba-born singer Gloria Estefan, late salsa goddess Celia Cruz and other Latin luminaries. Don’t leave without experiencing the caffeine kick of Cuban coffee and a pressed ham-roast pork-pickle-cheese-and-mustard sandwich at an eatery on Calle Ocho (8th Street). The Versailles Restaurant has a takeout window called “la ventanita” that’s always buzzing. Or chill out at Azucar Ice Cream Company with a scoop of guava or dulce de leche flavors.
Everglades National Park
If you want to take a gander at gators, rent a car or book an airboat tour package from outfitters who’ll pick you up in Miami for the less-then-two-hour trip (Everglades Tours is one of many options). The park is the largest subtropical wilderness area in the USA and a Unesco World Heritage site to boot. Keep eyes peeled for slithering creatures surfacing in the black water and for wading birds including blue herons. Try to Stop at Robert Is Here Fruit Stand in Florida City for a key lime milkshake.