Miami is one of South Florida’s premier vacation destinations, with beaches, great weather, history, culture, sports, and entertainment. Downtown Miami, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach, is a modern metropolis and cultural treasure trove. From the museums to the streets of Little Havana, you can always find plenty of things to do. Across the bay, Miami Beach, with it’s Art Deco District, fantastic stretch of beachfront, and fun vibe, is a must-see in the area. Outside the city, but nearby, is Everglades National Park, known for its unique ecosystem and wildlife.
1. Miami Beach
Located on a barrier island and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, Miami Beach is a mix of quiet neighborhoods, lively entertainment-focused areas, and long stretches of soft-sand beaches. For visitors, South Beach and the Art Deco Historic District, with pastel buildings from the 1930s and early 1940s sporting classic neon signs, is one of the main highlights. An expensive tourist district, this area features numerous beachfront restaurants, shops, hotels, and plenty of sunbathing opportunities. The most popular street in this area is Ocean Drive, a section of road located along the oceanfront and home to some beautiful Art Deco buildings. One block inland, running parallel with Ocean Drive, is Collins Avenue. Collins Avenue is actually State Road A1A and is the main oceanfront street in Miami Beach, joining numerous neighborhoods. If you are looking to stay in this area, see our selection of recommended luxury, mid-range, and budget hotels.
2. Art Deco Historic District
Even if you have no interest in the beach, the Art Deco Historic District is worth a trip out to Miami Beach. This architectural style, popular in the 1930s and 40s, dominates the trendy South Beach neighborhood. These uniquely designed buildings, in a range of pastel colors and displaying large neon signs, were built following a devastating hurricane that struck in 1926. Many are hotels and restaurants, most of which have been beautifully restored. Along some of the main streets, awnings on the lower level of these buildings provide shade for outdoor dining areas. Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue are the two main streets through the area.
If you are interested in staying in one of these historic gems, many of the Art Deco buildings still function as hotels and have much more character than modern hotels. Some good options are the luxury Delano South Beach or National Hotel Miami Beach, or the more moderately priced Hotel Breakwater South Beach.
3. South Beach
Located at the southern end of Miami Beach is a glorious stretch of sand known as South Beach. This wide section of beach fronts the ocean in the neighborhood of the same name. Often packed in summer, this is the most popular beach in Miami and one of the top beaches in Florida. It’s a place to see and be seen, but also a place to swim and enjoy the shallow waters, escape the heat, and soak up the sun. A paved walk lines the beach, and in behind is Ocean Drive, where motorists cruise slowly by and take in the sights.
4. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
This National Historic Landmark, set on 28 acres, was the luxurious winter home of 20th-century industrialist, James Deering. Built in 1916, the mansion features 34 rooms arranged around a central courtyard. It took more than 1,100 workers and craftsmen to complete the Vizcaya project, many of whom were brought over from Europe to ensure authenticity in design. The Italian Renaissance-style villa is filled with an impressive collection of European furniture and decorative arts from the 15th to 19th centuries.
The grounds and gardens contain beautiful Italian and French fountains, pools, and sculptures. A breakwater at the base of the steps leading into Biscayne Bay is an ornately carved barge, featuring female figures.
Address: 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida
5. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park, just a short drive from Miami, protects one of Florida’s most unique natural features. These swamplands, covering about 1.5 million acres, are home to alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and all kinds of birds. This whole area is essentially a shallow river flowing out to the ocean. Within the park is an informative Visitors Center, as well as walking trails and boardwalks for wildlife viewing. One of the most enjoyable ways for tourists to experience the Everglades is on an airboat tour. These high-speed boat trips take visitors out into the marshes and streams to see alligators and other wildlife. There are several operators in the area, but outside the park, that offer tours of the Everglades.
A convenient and fun way to see the park is on a Miami Everglades Airboat Adventure with Transport. This half-day tour provides transport from your hotel to the park, includes a 30-minute airboat ride, a live alligator show at the Everglades Alligator Farm, and transport back to your hotel.
One of the most popular walking trails in the park is the Anhinga Trail, which leaves from the Royal Palm Visitor Center. This trail is less than a mile long but leads through terrain where visitors are likely to see alligators and other animals. This trail is wheelchair accessible and non-strenuous.