The City of Miami is an ideal starting point to explore Florida and the region due to its many direct flights from Germany, the numerous hotels in all price ranges, the miles of fine sandy beach, the large cruise port and the many sights. We have been to Miami 3 times so far and have listed our top 10 most popular sights & activities for you here. Of course, there is so much more to see in the city! But if you haven’t been to Miami yet, maybe this helps as a little orientation what you can discover and experience in the city 🙂
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Our top 10 sights & attractions in Miami
Whether you’re in Miami for a short time or a little longer, there are great attractions and plenty to do in the city. Even though we haven’t seen everything by far, we would like to present you our personal Top 10 of the most famous sights & activities in and around Miami.
By the way, a wonderful, free mode of transportation for exploring Miami & Miami Beach is the Miami Trolley as well as the Miami Beach Trolley. We used the Miami Beach Trolley ourselves, as it stopped right at our Eden Roc Hotel. The trolley connects the entire beach, zigzagging along four different routes that stretch from South Pointe Park to 88th Street – seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. with a frequency of about 30 minutes. The Miami Trolley serves all the well-known neighborhoods, such as Little Havana, Little Haiti, Biscayne or Wynwood.
The beautiful beach of Miami Beach
The mile long beach of South Beach which is located directly on Ocean Drive, is the most famous and popular beach of Miami & Miami Beach. During the official opening hours between 5am and 10pm, countless tourists and bath-hungry visitors flock to this picturesque setting. And this is not surprising, because the beach is snow-white, very wide, the sand is soft, the entrance to the water shallow and the sea glistens turquoise blue. What more do you want? ❤
The colorful lifeguard houses on the beach
What we really liked about the beach in Miami Beach are the many colorful lifeguard houses that you find every few meters. These houses shines in the brightest colors and are certainly THE photo motif of the city. Each of the more than 30 Lifeguard Towers has a different design, and only a few years ago some of the old houses were replaced by new models. So even if you already know the Lifeguard Towers, it is worth to visit them again, because there is always something new to discover 🙂
We couldn’t get enough of the cottages and would have loved to walk the entire beach to see every single cottage, but unfortunately we didn’t have that much time. We liked the southernmost Lifeguard Tower best, which is in the design of a red and white lighthouse.
➥ More pictures of Lifeguard houses can be found here: Miami Beach & the Ocean Drive in the Art Deco District.
Ocean Drive & Art Deco Quarter
Ocean Drive is the most famous and important street in Miami Beach. The street begins at South Pointe south of 1st Street and runs north to 15th Street. The street is mainly known for its many Art Deco style hotels, as it is located in the heart of the Art Deco district with over 900 well-preserved historic buildings. This makes it the world’s largest contiguous area of houses in this architectural style after Napier, a city in New Zealand. Most of the houses were built in the 1930s and 1940s and only the support of citizens’ initiatives prevented them from being demolished in the meantime. In 1979, the Art Deco District, located between Atlantic Ocean, 5th Street, Alton Road and Collins Canal, was designated a U.S. Historic District.
We found it really cool that part of Ocean Drive is now closed to car traffic (at least during the day) – that wasn’t the case during our last visit a few years ago. So you can stroll along there quite relaxed without having to take into account cars.
Among the most famous hotels on Ocean Drive is the Colony Hotel built in 1939. But we saw many more beautiful hotels and buildings that we really liked. Especially cool was the white and yellow vintage car permanently parked in front of the Avalon Hotel – a great photo motif that fits really well into the ambience of Ocean Drive. We walked along Ocean Drive once completely from north to south, took many photos, watched people and went into one or the other store. Back we went through Lummus Park, which stretches between Ocean Drive and the Atlantic Ocean.
➥ More pictures of Ocean Drive can be found here: Miami Beach & the Ocean Drive in the Art Deco District.
Jet skiing in Biscayne Bay
A very special experience is to ride a jet ski in Biscayne Bay. After a short briefing, we were off: In front of the impressive Miami skyline, we drove through Biscayne Bay at full throttle and had a lot of fun. While driving by, you can also take a look at the millionaire villas of Star Island, which are located directly on the water. This is definitely an experience that has stayed with us for a long time.
➥ GetYourGuide: Here you can find offers for jet ski & boat tours in Miami
Miami Children’s Museum
At the Miami Children’s Museum children learn interesting facts about various topics such as art, culture, communication, fitness, etc. in a playful and interactive way. We found the Kidscape Village particularly cool, where there is, for example, a replica bank and a Publix supermarket – so our little mouse was able to go shopping there properly first and take things off the shelves by herself. The museum is really nicely designed, there are many different stations where the kids can get active and learn all kinds of interesting facts.
➥ GetYourGuide: Go City “All-Inclusive” Pass for Miami with 25+ Attractions
The Wynwood Art District is a part of the hip Wynwood neighborhood that includes several galleries, lots of colorful outdoor graffiti, and private art collections. At the center of the Art District are the Wynwood Walls – former warehouses that have since been converted into an outdoor museum. Here you can find a wide variety of graffiti and large-scale installations by world-renowned street artists. Admission to the Wynwood Walls used to be free, but unfortunately that is no longer the case. After the Corona pandemic, the decision was made to charge an entrance fee of $12 per person in the future.
Both the Wynwood Walls and the entire Wynwood Art District are a great place for street art lovers. And we also really liked it here. So keep your eyes open and your camera ready: There are countless photo motifs to discover here!
➥ Many more photos and our complete trip report can be found here: Street Art & Colorful Murals in the Wynwood Art District
Zoo Miami is the largest zoo in Florida and the fifth largest in the United States. We have been here before many years ago and now we were really looking forward to explore the zoo together with our daughter. Parking on the grounds of the zoo is free. The entrance fee is 22.95 USD per person (+ 7% sales tax). We have discovered a very cool promotion on the official website of the zoo, which exists since 01.09.2022: Here, a limited number of free admission tickets are given away every day at 8 am local time. It’s worth a try, maybe you’ll get lucky 🙂
The history of the zoo can be traced back to 1948, when it began operations with an area of 48 hectares and a few stranded circus animals. Today, Zoo Miami encompasses nearly 750 acres, 4 miles of walking trails and is home to more than 3,000 animals representing over 500 different species. Of these, more than 130 species are threatened in the wild, and many are classified as endangered or threatened with extinction. The paths in the zoo are all nice and wide and the enclosures of the animals are partly huge and very natural, which we found very nice. The enclosures are designed so that there are many natural boundaries (such as water ditches), so there are no distracting lattice fences or glass to interfere with the view of the animals.
As the only subtropical zoo in the continental U.S., South Florida’s unique climate allows it to house a variety of animals from Asia, Australia, Africa as well as the Americas that cannot be found in any other zoo in the country. The zoo’s animals are grouped according to their geographical areas, with species that coexist peacefully in the wild also living together in the zoo.
Our absolute highlight at Zoo Miami was feeding the giraffes, which is offered daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a wooden platform in the Africa area. This activity has also met with great interest among other visitors, so that a really long queue has formed here. Nevertheless, in the end it went relatively quickly. To feed the giraffes, 4 lettuce leaves are offered for 5 USD or 16 lettuce leaves for 12 USD. With our lettuce leaves in hand, we then stood really close in front of a large giraffe, which ate them with relish. A great experience – especially for our little daughter, who also fed a giraffe herself. ❤
To get an overview of the grounds, you can download a free map of the zoo here.
Jungle Island Miami
Jungle Island is a zoological park located in the heart of Miami, between Downtown Miami and South Beach on Watson Island. The zoo opened in 1936 as “Parrot Jungle” – a wildlife park designed as a nature trail where birds could “fly free.”
We had the opportunity to explore Jungle Island as part of an“Up Close VIP Tour”, which brought us very close to various animals and also taught us a lot about the history of the park. This allowed us to get up close to and even feed wrap-around bears, flamingos, lemurs and Aldabra giant tortoises. But the highlight of the VIP tour was certainly the encounter with a sloth and that we were allowed to hold both a baby monkey and a small kangaroo baby in our arms. That was already a very special experience for us!
➥ Our complete trip report is available here: Jungle Island – An Up Close VIP Tour at the Miami Zoo
Villa Vizcaya is a castle-like building in the style of an Italian Renaissance villa and is located in the northern Coconut Grove area, just 10 miles from Miami Beach. The villa was built in 1914 as a winter residence for industrialist James Deering. The construction took 2 years, cost 22 million USD and there were more than 1,000 workers involved in the construction of the villa. The main house comprises 54 rooms, 34 of which are now open to the public – either with a guided tour or completely individually with an audio guide.
What we liked best was the tour of the 40,000 m² garden of Villa Vizcaya. The overall landscape design is reminiscent of gardens from seventeenth and eighteenth century Italy and France. Everything is beautifully maintained and in top condition.
➥ Our complete travel report is available here: Villa Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Coconut Grove
Airboat tour in the Everglades
If you are in the south of Florida, an airboat tour through the Everglades is not to be missed! We have done several airboat tours: one along the Tamiami Trail and another a little further south in Everglades National Park. Both are quick and easy to reach from Miami. Some of the various vendors along the Tamiami Trail are located right on the western outskirts of Miami, less than 20 minutes from the airport.
A little further south on the way to Key West is the Everglades Alligator Farm, South Florida’s oldest alligator farm. In addition to countless alligators, the famous Air Boat tours are also offered here. Our tour took about 20 to 25 minutes in total. At the beginning we drove leisurely through the swamps to see some of the flora & fauna; after a few minutes the boat became faster and faster and virtually flew over the swamps.
But no matter which airboat tour you choose: a trip with the propeller boats through the swamplands of the Everglades is a really great experience with a lot to discover.
➥ Our complete trip report is available here: An Airboat Tour in South Florida