50 Things to Do in Miami Beach
By Robert Cocanougher
As soon as you cross the bridge to Miami Beach, you’ll realize very quickly that there’s a lot to see and do. In order to keep you from being overwhelmed and help you plan your trip, we’ve assembled a list of 50 of our favorite things to do in Miami Beach. From well known tourist hot spots to local hideouts; nightlife that’ll spike your adrenaline to museums and artwork that will astound and humble you, and of course plenty to eat (and drink) in between those activities, these are the top things to do in Miami Beach.
Nightlife, Bars and Clubs
1. Sip on one of the finest handcrafted cocktails in town at Radio Bar, a hipster’s paradise of indie music, pricey bourbon, and seasonal craft cocktails. You enter through the back door, past a radio tower, and into a lamp-lit billiard room and comfy chairs. Alongside their signature drinks, they also feature a snack bar and an indulgent grilled cheese menu.
2. Attend one of the weekly wine tastings and try fine pinot noirs and champagnes from all over the world at WD 555. This wine bar and restaurant has a sleek, industrial ambience that is perfect for sitting back with a glass of your own, or partying it up on their patio with a local DJ every Wednesday night.
3. Get served by top-notch bartenders and waitresses who also pull double duty as singers, comedians, dancer and musicians at the cozy, French-style Cabaret South Beach. In true Cabaret style, you’ll get the chance to see and hear a bit of everything, from jazz to pop and ballet to Latin. Even the drinks are named after famous songs and stars.
4. Refresh with some frozen daiquiris from Wet Willies. This retro restaurant serves their drinks straight from a dispenser. They encourage you to make your own mix of flavors but be careful, they’re spiked out the wazoo with rum, vodka, and even grain alcohol if you so desire.
5. Start the party early with mimosas and drag queens at The Palace’s famous drag show brunch. Or go on a bender with the best drag queens in town. A place for anyone and everyone to go party, The Palace is all about throwing back the drinks and letting go.
6. Have an eye-opening Irish coffee or Bloody Mary at Mac's Club Deuce, billed as Miami’s oldest bar and quirkiest dive. Playboy, Anthony Bourdain, and plenty of others have sung their praises about this local legend. This rustic classic opens their doors at 8 a.m. every day of the week, and doesn’t stop the celebrations until the next morning at 5 a.m. If you love dives with good vibes, you have to visit the Deuce.
7. Dance the night away with the beautiful people at the ultra-modern, high-energy Liv nightclub inside the Fontainebleau Hotel and Nightlife Complex. Inside, you can find four full service bars, and if you’re feeling fancy you can reserve a banquet spot or a private skybox. This is where the stars come for both their shows and the after party, so keep your eye out for stars on the stage and off it.
8. Social Sway and swoon to the sounds of live jazz at Jazid, nestled along the Washington Avenue strip, it encourages you to get up and dance, or sit down in their cozily furnished lounges and just jive to the music. Featuring live music every night of the week, Jazid plays everything from jazz, to reggae, to rock and roll and more. It’s a great break from the pulsing dance music of most other clubs in Miami.
9. Groove out to some reggae at Purdy Lounge, a low-key dance club with some of Miami’s best DJs spinning Caribbean music as well as old-school hip-hop. Or drop by for their well-known “Chocolate Sundays,” which feature a blender of music genres, cheap drinks, and the weekly Drunken Spelling Bee.
10. Rent your own private karaoke room, or just take over the mic at the bar and belt out the hits at Sing Sing Karaoke. With more than 120,000 songs in 13 languages and more being added every month, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Room rentals come with drink service, and karaoke tickets come with most orders at the bar, because nothing will convince you that you’re a star like a bottle and a microphone.
11. Smoke a hookah while overlooking Collins Avenue from D’vine Hookah Lounge, a first of its kind for Miami Beach. This hookah bar features over 65 flavors to try while you relax in their plush and modern lounge. More than that, they offer a full service bar and a menu of exotic foods that will make the experience just D’vine.
Things to Do in Miami Beach: Art/Entertainment
1. Take a tour of the Historic Art Deco District by foot or bike and see over 800 stunning architectural landmarks from the 1920s and beyond. You can walk yourself through the history or you can take a narrated tour and hear the interesting stories behind the first contemporary neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.
2. Attend an outdoor audiovisual “wallcast” while listening to the New World Symphony at New World Center. Here, the classic sounds of a full orchestra are combined with cutting edge audio and visual technologies in the New World Center’s SoundScape Park to give you a concert experience like no other. Wallcast concerts are totally free, so just make sure you bring something to sit on in the park so you can relax and enjoy the music.
3. Check out a concert or comedy show at The Fillmore at Jackie Gleason Theater, a historic landmark that has had stars fill up its stage since the 50’s. Renovated in 2007, it retains a classic feel while managing to accommodate all types of performances to ensure that the best artists can still come and give you the performance you want to see.
4. Bring your wild side and sense of humor (and possibly a date) to the World Erotic Art Museum, filled with paintings by famous artists, sculptures, pop culture props and other fun miscellany. More than just a collection of inappropriate materials designed to make you uncomfortable, this museum features genuine artwork ranging thousands of years ago and from all corners of the world. The WEAM offers something that you can both learn from and laugh at.
5. Buy a one-of-a-kind print or sculpture, or buy a brightly designed tote bag, dish or puzzle bearing the artwork of Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto. Inspired by Matisse and Picasso, this cheery artist uses vibrant colors that exude happiness in reflection of his optimistic view of the world. His main store can be found in the Miami International airport, but his artwork can be bought in art stores all around Miami Beach.
6. Grab a coffee and snack and watch only the best indie flicks at the HQ of the Miami Beach Film Society: the Miami Beach Cinematheque & Gallery. Part of the Art Deco District, this cinema features a screening room, an art gallery, a bookstore, and a café to service all of your hipster needs.
7. Support the arts and check out a mind-bending exhibit at the ArtCenter/South Florida which features over 1,000 visual artists, both budding and established. With a focus on community and innovation, both the resident and the visiting artists are sure to astound you with their achievements in modern art.
Miami Beach Restaurants
1. Crack open some fresh claws at Joe's Stone Crab. They’ve been around for over 100 years now, starting out before Miami Beach was a city. They were also the first to serve the delicacy that is the Florida Stone Crab, and they’ve been the best at cooking them ever since. If crab isn’t your thing though, they’ve got a bit of something for everyone – from their renowned fried chicken to their famous key lime pie. You’ll likely have to wait for a table but it’ll be worth it.
2. Pretend you’re at the famous Brazilian Carnivale at Mango's Tropical Café. Sit down for dinner and a show featuring reggae music, salsa dancing, and Caribbean-inspired cuisine. On a special night, you might catch some belly dancing or an ultra-modern hip hop show. If you want, they’ll even teach you to salsa.
3. Order a croque monsieurand a salad with house specialty vinaigrette at La Sandwicherie, a small sandwich bar that packs a punch with its genuine tasting French food and its fresh smoothies. Some regard this dive as the best sandwich shop in all of Florida.
4. Try some of the world’s most unconventional hot dogs at La Perrada de Edgar. This place more hot dog options than you can (or possibly ever wanted to) imagine, offering both topping and combos hat are truly exotic and unexpected. If you really want to go all out, order the Super Edgar topped with cheese, shrimp, crab, potato sticks and a special sauce. A plain old wiener will forever after be a bore.
5. Brush up on your French by reading through an issue of Le Monde or flip through a Brazilian fashion magazine at the News Café. This cozy coffee shop features a bar with an exciting variety of mojitos among other things, and their store holds news publications from all over the world. They’re open 24/7, so you can keep up to date with your news at all times of the day.
6. Share some authentic seafood paella and tapas and admire the eclectic Spanish décor and wall paraphernalia at Tapas y Tintos on Espanola Way. If you plan accordingly, you could catch a Flamenco dance party after dinner, or take a seat at the bar and try out their pride and joy: the gin and tonic, of which they have 72 different possible combinations.
7. Cool down with some kosher key lime sorbet or rich cappuccino chip ice cream, made fresh daily with premium juices, candies, chocolate, butterfat and other creative ingredients at The Frieze. This small ice cream shop is the ideal place for friendly fun, and is nestled in the most artistic district of Miami Beach, making it the perfect spot to stop on your stroll around town.
8. Feast on stewed goat, spicy conch ceviche and grouper in lime sauce at Tap Tap, a modest but deliciously authentic Haitian food restaurant. They’ll even deliver their cuisine right to your door, as long as you’re staying within three miles of the restaurant.
9. Power up with a fresh and healthy smoothie, packed with organic ingredients like kale, chia seeds, cacao, coconut yogurt, hemp powder and other antioxidant-laden goods at one of two Jugofresh locations. The even feature various mixes of granola and fruit along with their version of twinkies – packed to the rim with superfoods of course.
10. Indulge in a decadent raspberry chocolate mousse cake or streusel apple pie from Icebox Café, a restaurant in South Beach known for using fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms in South Florida. The salads are quite memorable as well.
11. Get an assortment of gourmet burgers stacked high with premium ingredients, and pair that with a one (or more) of 75 different beers at the aptly named Burger & Beer Joint. They also serve steak, salads, and adult milkshakes.
12. Have the Sunday brunch of your life at Nikki Beach. Their flagship location in South Beach features a fresh crepe and Belgian waffle station, farm fresh eggs, sushi and more, all in a beautiful beach club setting. So dress up, rent a longue chair, and drink fine champagne on the beach.
Things to Do in Miami Beach: Parks and Beaches
1. Rent some chairs and mingle with the singles at South Beach’s 12th Street Beach, the most popular gay beach in Miami populated mostly by men, a few women, and curious tourists looking to do some people watching. Just look for the rainbow flags posted at the lifeguard stations.
2. Strip down and experience one of the only clothing-optional and most all-accepting beaches in the United States, the famous Haulover Beach. Commonly listed as one of the best nude beaches in the world, this 99 acre beach features multiple tennis courts, a golf course, and multiple hotels within walking distance, so there’s plenty to do while you’re in the nude.
3. Take A1A halfway between Miami Beach and Miami to Jungle Island, a small zoo open since 1936 that offers a slice of rainforest-like setting amid the city life. The park contains a wide variety of rare and exotic birds, as well as much more grounded plants and animals. After visiting the park, you can hang out in the private Parrot Cove Beach, all for the price of admission.
4. Watch the Dalmatians frolic among the dachshunds at Pine Tree Park or Flamingo Bark Park, the largest two of six “bark parks” designated by the city. Perfect if you have a restless dog on your hands that just has to be unleashed, or if you just want to watch the pups play.
5. Gather your thoughts among the blooming exotic trees and Japanese-style landscaping with a red bridge and stone lanterns at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Participate in a yoga session or meditation in these gardens meant to encourage an appreciation of both nature and culture.
6. Go jogging on the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk stretches for 40 blocks. You may just come across a street performer or two. If you get tired, stop off at any number of cafes or restaurants that lay within walking distance of the boardwalk.
Things to Do in Miami Beach: Shopping
1. Stop by the quirky gift shop (think finger puppets of world leaders and First Lady paper dolls) at The Wolfsonian, a seven story museum that focuses on the power of design in the persuasiveness of art. If you want to see and learn about everything they have to offer, take one of their free guided tours, held every Friday evening, and go through their best permanent and temporary exhibits.
2. Pick up one-of-a-kind antique Miami memorabilia at the Lincoln Road Antique and Collectible Market. Held every other Sunday from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, this market draws over 100 vendors selling every vintage item you can imagine, and quite the crowd to boot.
3. Spend a quiet afternoon at Books & Books, an independent bookstore with everything from classic hardcovers to poetry to specialty magazines. Right down the bustling Lincoln Road, it’s the perfect place to stop no matter what you’re doing in Miami Beach. You can buy any number of books and magazines, written overseas or right here in Miami, then read your purchases at the outdoor café.
4. Spend a day indulging in the works of high end designers and fashionistas at the open-air Bal Harbour Shops, which offer everything from Chanel handbags to Bulgari jewels to Alexander McQueen clothing. While you’re there, you can send your palette on vacation to France at Le Zoo, or to Japan for some creatively crafted sushi, and stop into one of the many cafes to refuel on espresso and the international news of the day.
Miami Beach Hotels and Spas
1. Relax and unwind in an artistically designed studio room at the Mondrian hotel, designed to be a modern reimagining of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Located on the water minutes from downtown Miami and multiple art districts, it’s perfect for going out and exploring or spending the day poolside and enjoying the aesthetic atmosphere. End your days here by grabbing a drink and watching the sun set over the bay in their Sunset Lounge.
2. Pay a visit to the SLS Hotel, the tallest art deco building in South Beach, restored and revamped from its original 1939 state into a towering, glittery palace with gorgeous bars and restaurants. You can spend a day at the resort, where old French luxury is met with a modern playful energy, and feast on anything from masterfully crafted sushi to local Latin cuisine. At night, visit Hyde Beach, a premier nightlife destination at the SLS.
3. Splurge on an oceanfront view room at Eden Roc. Along with offering poolside cabanas at their four pools, Eden Roc offers a number of resort activities; everything from jet skiing to nature trails to a world class spa that you don’t even have to stay at the hotel to relax in.
4. If staying at a resort isn’t quite your style (or budget), go out and make some new friends at the Miami Beach Hostel. Offering dorm style, apartment, and private rooms all with a retro feel, this hostel sits only a block from the beach and offers live music in the lounge and free meals. Make sure to reserve your room in advance, especially if you plan on going with a group.
5. The Standard spa offers everything you could imagine in spa treatment, from soothing Hamam baths to Finnish Saunas and group baths styled after the Roman and Greek baths of antiquity. If you need any form of restoration – from skincare to mindfulness – The Standard has the cure for what ails you.
6. After a long night of partying, bring a group of friends to Russian & Turkish Baths and hang out in the aromatherapy steam room, ocean water Jacuzzi or a traditional Russian Shvitz, in which you sit in a sauna-like room and splash ice cold water on your head to improve blood flow and clear your mind. This labyrinth of a spa offers therapy for your body and mind, as well as a gym, tennis court, and Olympic size pool.
Miscellaneous Things to Do in Miami Beach
1. Experience sunset at the beautiful Holocaust Memorial. The memorial is a large arm, outstretched to the sky with over 100 smaller figures clinging to it and each other. In a city with one of the largest populations of Holocaust Survivors, since 1990 this memorial has served as a reminder of the suffering that occurred in Nazi concentration camps and hosts a number of community and educational events.
2. Go ice skating year-round at the Scott Rakow Youth Center, which welcomes children of all ages. Featuring a 12,885-square-foot rink and a pro shop that provides skates, pads, leg warmers, gloves, and more, they’ve got everything you need for an afternoon of skating. You can take ice skating lessons, or if you’re already a semi-pro you can participate in their figure skating or ice hockey programs.
3. If you want to stroll through the luxurious, then take a walk through SoFi, the enclave South of Fifth Street and South Pointe Park known for its hip, international elite residents and multi-million-dollar penthouse suites. Eyeball the most vibrant Miami Beach houses and condos, or get a true taste of luxury at any number of high end restaurant along the way. If you’re going to run into a celebrity in Miami Beach, it will probably happen here.
4. If you’re looking for a way to take in all the sights of Miami Beach, then climb aboard a Miami Beach Duck Tour. In a vehicle that’ll take you by land and sea, this tour delivers multiple excursions that offer spectacular views the local architecture, the homes of the rich and famous, and some history lessons on the city narrated by entertaining tour guides who all have backgrounds in comedy and performance. The tours are wheelchair-friendly, so everyone can join in and see the sights.