The Ultimate Guide to Miami in a Weekend
Having grown up in Miami, people always ask me what are the top Miami attractions they should see when they come to visit for a weekend. Obviously everyone has different interests, but there are a few favorite places I always suggest. I also make sure they understand just how big Miami really is and that they will have to think about transportation and traffic.
Getting Around Miami
Once you’ve arrived in Miami and stored your luggage, how will you get around? One option is to rent a car. Make sure to do your research; the rentals at the airport are often more expensive. Also, keep in mind that parking in and around Miami can be expensive and traffic can be pretty rough; Miami drivers are notoriously bad.
Another option would be to take advantage of the extensive public transportation network in Miami, much of which is free. There are buses, trolleys, and even an elevated Metromover train in downtown Miami.
A third option would be using a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft. These are convenient because you don’t have to worry about parking and they leave you in front of your destination. Combined with public transportation, I think this is the best option for getting around Miami.
The Natural Side of Miami
Miami has world-famous beaches, but besides working on your tan on South Beach, I also suggest visiting some other outdoor attractions. You’ll get some fresh air and see some local wildlife.
- Everglades National Park – Over 1 million acres of wetlands made up of mangroves, marshes, and pine flatwoods. Take an airboat tour to see some of the many species that live there like the Florida Alligator.
- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park – Located on the southern end of the island of Key Biscayne, this park is home to the Cape Florida Lighthouse. It also has a beach, bike trails, and hiking trails.
- Virginia Key Beach Park – Beautiful park minutes from downtown Miami. From here you can kayak with manatees or go mountain biking on extensive and elaborate bike trails.
- Miami Beach Botanical Garden – This hidden gem in the middle of busy Miami Beach is gorgeously landscaped with native plants and admission is always free.
Art and Culture in Miami
Miami truly is a melting pot of people and cultures. From historic homes to modern art museums, you can easily get to know the history of the city and what makes it so special.
- HistoryMiami Museum – The largest museum in South Florida, housing artifacts, photographs, maps, and even architectural drawings that show the growth and history of Miami.
- Vizcaya Museum & Gardens – The former home of James Deering. Built in 1916, it has 32 decorated rooms and 10 acres of beautifully manicured gardens.
- Biltmore Hotel – A luxurious hotel, built in 1926. They offer tours every Sunday, where they go over the history and architecture of the iconic hotel.
- Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science – This impressive six-floor museum has a planetarium, aquarium, and other fun exhibits.
- Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) – A modern and contemporary art museum showcasing international art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Free on the first Thursday and second Saturday of the month.
- Calle Ocho – Located in the Little Havana neighborhood, Calle Ocho (Eighth Street in Spanish) is a great place to learn about Cuban culture. Take a walking tour through the area and indulge in Cuban coffee, bakeries, and cigars.
Family Fun in Miami
If you’re traveling to Miami with kids, or you’re a kid at heart, these attractions are perfect!
- Zoo Miami – The oldest and largest zoological garden in Florida, the zoo has 3,000 animals representing over 500 different species.
- Jungle Island – Formerly known as Parrot Jungle, this eco-adventure park has animal encounters, playgrounds, rock climbing, wildlife shows, a petting barn, and more!
- Miami Children’s Museum – This award-winning museum is one of the largest children’s museums in the United States. It creates interactive learning experiences by putting together art, culture, and the local community.
- Monkey Jungle – Originally created to study endangered monkeys, the park now has over 300 primates. Here, the humans are in cages and the monkeys run free!
- Miami Seaquarium – Opened in 1955, it’s one of the country’s first marine-life parks. They offer a variety of shows and also focus on conservation and education.
Catch a Game in Miami
Are you a sports fan? Miami has sporting events happening year-round, all over the city.
- Hard Rock Stadium – Newly renovated, the stadium is the home of the Miami Dolphins, Miami Hurricanes, and the Miami Open.
- AmericanAirlines Arena – Home to the Miami Heat.
- Marlins Park – Home to the Miami Marlins.
- BB&T Center – Technically not in Miami, but close enough to go see the Florida Panthers.
- Golf Courses – If you’d like to golf during your visit, there are a number of Miami golf courses.
Shopping in Miami
Miami is a shopaholic’s dream! You can find quirky souvenirs as well as high-end items for your home. You’ll find the trendiest name brands as well as locally made items. There’s something for everyone!
- Miami Design District – Sleek and modern, this neighborhood has upscale interior design stores, art galleries, luxury fashion and jewelry boutiques, and trendy cafes.
- Wynwood – A bit grungier and known for its street art, the bohemian shops here have artisanal items, many made by local designers.
- Dolphin Mall – Miami’s largest outlet mall offers great deals on all popular brands and stores.
- Bayside Marketplace – An open-air shopping mall alongside Biscayne Bay. There is often live music playing in their stage area.
- Lincoln Road Shopping District – Located just a few minutes from the beach, this popular pedestrian-only promenade has stores, restaurants, and bars. Street performers are fun to watch as well.
With over 23 million visitors a year, Miami is a popular vacation destination. Whether you’re flying in for the weekend or adding a few days to your cruise, you’re sure to find fun and exciting things to do in Miami.