By Lauren Tjaden
Iconic, legendary and always vibrant, Miami Beach offers a smorgasbord of things to do. You can experience blockbuster clubs that include the The Palace, where mimosas and drag queens take center stage at the club’s famous drag show brunch; tour the Historic Art Deco District to see over 800 stunning architectural landmarks from the 1920s; crack open some fresh claws at Joe's Stone Crab, heralded as the best anywhere, anytime; or splurge on offerings from high-end designers at the open-air Bal Harbour Shops, which boast scrumptious must-haves that range from Chanel handbags to Bulgari jewels to Alexander McQueen clothing.
Parks, beaches, museums, hotels and spas all compete for well-deserved attention. To help you find the ones that are right for you, check out some favorite things to do in Miami Beach, divided into these categories:
Nightlife, Bars and Clubs
It’s no secret that the nights in Miami Beach are even more sizzling hot than the days. Here are some favorite haunts and under-the-radar gems.
Every queen needs a palace, and this one’s a dandy. You can start the celebration early with mimosas and drag queens at The Palace’s famous drag show brunch-- an out-of-control spectacle in the best possible way—explore the rooftop bar, indulge in notorious nightlife, or just throw back the drinks and let go.
Sip 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 a slew of other celebrities sing the praises of 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.
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’ll find four full-service bars, and if you want to spoil yourself you can reserve a banquet spot or a private skybox. This is where legends and personalities come for both their shows and the after party, so keep your eye out for stars on the stage and off it.
Utterly unique, this South Beach haven celebrates eccentricities and curiosities –and it invites you to ‘join the menagerie.’ Complete with eclectic art, fanciful flora, and enigmatic characters from every background imaginable, every night is highlighted by blistering beats and lavish bottle service.
Puff on an intricate hookah while Collins Avenue as a backdrop from D’vine Hookah Lounge, a first of its kind for Miami Beach. It features over 65 flavors to try while you kick back 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… well, divine.
And there’s more!
Art and Culture
With colorful galleries, iconic art fairs and perched-on-the-edge-of-your-seat performing arts, Miami Beach is a mecca for art and culture lovers.
Tour Miami Beach’s epic, Historic Art Deco District by foot or bike to wonder over 800 stunning architectural landmarks from the 1920s and beyond. You can walk yourself through the history or take a narrated tour and hear the mesmerizing stories behind the first contemporary neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.
Attend an outdoor audiovisual “wallcast” while listening to the New World Symphony at New World Center’s SoundScape Park, where the classic sounds of a full orchestra are combined with cutting edge audio and visual technologies to provide a free, mind-blowing concert experience. Make sure you bring something to sit on so you can relax and enjoy the music.
Jimi Hendrix! Willie Nelson! The White Stripes! Check out a concert or comedy show at The Fillmore at Jackie Gleason Theater, a historic landmark that’s been showcasing staggering talent since the 50s, including James Brown, Ike & Tina Turner, Otis Redding, Cream, and everyone else who was or is somebody. Renovated in 2007, the quality, variety and sheer number of shows held at the Fillmore is monumental. Yes, you need to go.
Bring your wild side, a sense of humor, and possibly a date to experience the Wilzig Erotic Art Museum, filled with paintings, sculptures, pop culture props and miscellany. More than just a collection of inappropriate materials, this museum features spectacular artwork, some dating back to thousands of years ago and from all corners of the world.
Buy a colorful, one-of-a-kind print, sculpture, tote bag, dish or puzzle wearing the artwork of Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto. Inspired by Matisse and Picasso, this cheery artist uses vibrant colors that exude happiness in a reflection of his optimistic view of the world. You can find his work in his Britto store in Miami International Airport, or in art stores all around Miami Beach.
Grab a coffee and snack and watch only the best indie flicks at the headquarters of the Miami Beach Film Society. 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.
Support the arts and check out sumptuous exhibits at Oolite Arts, which showcases over 1,000 visual artists, both budding and established. Oolite garners high praise as a trailblazer in the South Florida contemporary cultural scene and as a creative learning center.
And there’s more!
Check out more area art and culture from Miami’s visitors services.
Miami Beach Restaurants
A legend for its daring Latin and Caribbean flavors, trendy restaurants anchored by celebrity chefs, and tremendous food festivals, Miami Beach invites you to explore its culinary scene one table at a time.
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, they’ve got a bit of everything, 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.
It’s easy to imagine you’re at the famous Brazilian Carnivale when you sit down for dinner and a show at Mango's Tropical Café. Expect lively 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.
Order a croque monsieur and a salad with house specialty vinaigrette at La Sandwicherie, a small sandwich bar that packs a punch with its authentic French food and fresh smoothies. It’s not fancy, but this dive is regarded by many foodies as the best sandwich shop in all of Florida.
Try some of the world’s most unconventional – and delicious-- hot dogs at La Perrada de Edgar, with toppings and combos that are exotic and unexpected. 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.
Cool down with kosher Key lime sorbet or rich cappuccino chip ice cream, made fresh daily with premium juices, candies, chocolate, butterfat and creative ingredients at The Frieze. This small ice cream shop is nestled in the artistic district of Miami Beach, making it the perfect spot to refuel on your stroll around town.
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 memorable as well.
Dress up, sip fine champagne with your toes in the sand, and enjoy 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 and sushi, all in a beautiful beach club setting.
And there’s more!
Beaches, Parks and Recreation
With all of Miami Beach’s generous offerings, its beaches, stretching across the glistening Atlantic coast, are the undeniable stars of the show. Here are some beaches and parks you won't want to miss.
Rent some chairs and mingle with the singles at South Beach’s 12th Street Beach, sited close to Ocean Drive’s signature Art Deco district. This wide swath of sand is the most popular gay beach in Miami Beach, populated mostly by men, a few women, and curious tourists engaged in people watching. Just look for the rainbow flags posted at the lifeguard stations.
Nothing needs to get between you and the sunshine at famous Haulover Beach, one of the only clothing-optional and most all-accepting beaches in the United States. Renowned 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.
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 more common animals. After visiting the park, you can hang out in private Parrot Cove Beach, all for the price of admission.
Unleash the joy in your best friend at Pine Tree Park or Flamingo Bark Park, the largest two of six “bark parks” (dog parks) designated by the city. Flamingo Bark Park offers agility equipment, drinking fountains, lights, grass, and benches; Pine Tree Park offers drinking fountains and both grassy and mulched areas.
Breathe deep among the blooming exotic trees and Japanese-style landscaping, complete with a striking red bridge and stone lanterns, at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. You can participate in a yoga session or meditate in these gardens, a respite meant to encourage an appreciation of both nature and culture.
And there’s more!
Home to celebrated shopping and dining destinations like Lincoln Road Mall, where you can nosh on local produce from the weekly Farmer’s Market, roll into flavor at one of the sushi restaurants, and shop at designer stores that include the Alchemist, Claudio Milano, and Zadig & Voltaire, Miami Beach delivers almost endless opportunities to search for and scoop up treasures.
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. For an in-depth experience, take one of their free guided tours to explore the intriguing permanent and temporary exhibits.
Browse through one-of-a-kind antique Miami memorabilia, including vintage clothes, designer furniture and must-have jewelry at the Lincoln Road Antique and Collectible Market, billed as ‘the largest Sunday social event in South Florida.’ The ongoing events lure enormous, eclectic crowds of Treasure Hunters from all over the world, making the crowd as fascinating as the merchandise.
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.
And there’s more!
Check out more area shopping options from Miami’s visitors services.
Miami Beach Hotels and Spas
Miami Beach encompasses a stunning variety of restored Art Deco hotels, including The Plymouth, sited in historic Collins Park a mere block from the beach, a lush getaway that features private terraces and French clawfoot tubs; as well as distinctive, sophisticated places to stay like the Palihouse Miami Beach, Greystone Miami Beach and the Cardozo Hotel. Here are some offerings to tempt you.
Pay a visit to the SLS Hotel, the tallest art deco building in South Beach, restored and revamped from its 1939 glory 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, its premier nightlife destination.
Splurge on an oceanfront view room at Eden Roc, a historical wonder that blends nostalgic glamour with plush modern comforts. Unwind at a cabana at one of their three sumptious pools, or enjoy resort activities like jet skiing and nature trails. You don’t even need to be a guest to slip into luxury at their world class spa, a serene playground offering massages, facials and other spoil-you-silly services.
If staying at a resort isn’t your style-- or budget --go out and make some new friends at the Bikini Hostel Cafe & Beer Garden. Centrally located at the core of South Beach, you can ditch the car keys and walk to the nightclubs, restaurants, and beautiful beaches. A pool, ping pong tables and large apartments are among its amenities.
If you need any form of restoration – from skincare to mindfulness – The Standard has the cure for what ails you, promising soothing Hamam baths, Finnish Saunas and group baths. Its spa services marry traditional treatments with holistic ones; choose from facials and massages to astrology and health coaching. The main pool, the heart of the outdoor hydrotherapy playground, boasts an arctic plunge pool and waterfall hot tub.
After a long night of partying, bring a group of friends to Russian & Turkish Baths and rejuvenate in the aromatherapy steam room, ocean water Jacuzzi or a traditional Russian Shvitz, where 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.
And there’s more!
Here are more hotels from Miami’s visitors services.
Miscellaneous Things to Do in Miami Beach
The adventures are just getting started; Miami Beach serves up museums, tours, and even ice-skating. Here are some ideas.
Experience sunset at the quietly 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.
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 and gloves, they’ve got everything you need for an afternoon of skating.
To see how the other half lives, take a stroll through SoFi, the enclave South of Fifth Street and South Pointe Park, known for its hip, elite residents and multi-million-dollar penthouse suites. Eyeball the most vibrant Miami Beach houses and condos, or get a yummy taste of luxury at any number of high-end restaurants along the way. If you’re going to run into a celebrity in Miami Beach, it will probably happen here.
To soak up all the sights of Miami Beach, climb aboard a Miami Beach Duck Tour, with a specially designed tour vehicle that’s equally at home on the land and the water. Pick from multiple excursions that offer spectacular views of 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.
And there’s more!
Check out more things to do from Miami’s visitors services.