Miami! What can we say? Miami, Florida has long been the prime spot for tourists wanting to take in the ocean setting and long days on the beach. The city, itself, has earned a reputation for glitter and unusual attractions.
What Makes Miami Special?
Miami is one of the most laid-back atmospheres you’re going to find in the United States. Here, you can ride your bike up and down busy streets in nothing but your bathing suit, enjoy a Cuban latte, or simply take a look up and be amazed by the area’s wild parrot populations.
It’s a touch of the unreal in the land of the all-too-real and if you’re looking for an escape from the mundane and boring parts of your every day life, then where else would you rather be?
The city, though, is full of attractions and it can be hard to know which ones are most worth your time when you’re visiting. Below, we will outline some of our favorites, why they are special, and who they are most geared toward.
Whether you are bringing your kids, your lover, or just yourself, we promise there’s a Miami attraction that will be just what you’re looking for.
Top 10 Must-See Miami Attractions
If you’re planning a trip to Miami in the near future, you might be overwhelmed by the options for places to see and things to do.
Below, we have outlined some of our favorite Miami hot spots to make the decisions a little easier:
Who doesn’t enjoy an aquarium? These attractions are always fun for the kids in your travel party and, even as an adult, the thought of being able to enjoy sea-life at one’s own pace and in such a beautiful atmosphere is delightful.
The Miami Seaquarium is the home to thousands of varieties of aquatic life and hosts a plethora of beautiful ways to view it! They also offer invaluable knowledge and insight into wildlife rescue and marine animal care at their Conservation post.
The aquarium has world-class exhibits featuring Manatees, Sea turtles, Penguins, Rays and more! Right after you have explored the entirety of this amazing place, you start to feel connected to all things under the sea. You will be inspired to leave the world a cleaner and better place!
Here, you can also enjoy swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Harbor! This will make the whole Miami trip worth it, all on its own. There is such much to experience here, like their touch pools, seal swims, Penguin Encounter, Sea Trek Reef Encounter, Trainer for a day and even Salty's Pirate Playground for children.
Cauley Square Historic Railroad Village is a glimpse of Old South Florida at its best. You can spend the day shopping or casually strolling through the shaded garden paths. Closely located near tropical gardens, it boasts plants and flowers, birds, fountains, sculptures, and a labyrinth of specialty shops.
The square has a village Chalet that is tucked in the gardens and features a bar designed in 1920's style which serves beer and wine and also has live music every Friday and Saturday.
Cauley Square has shops, restaurants, gardens, and all kinds of entertainment to keep you happy and make you glad you chose this often-overlooked Miami attraction!
Miami Stone Circle
In 1998, a perfect circle was discovered with 24 irregular cut basins located in the water's edge. Some experts believe the basins depict the images of sea turtles, sharks, shrimp and other marine animals. Founded near the mouth of The Miami River in what could be remnants of an ancient culture, the circle is believed to be a relic of a bygone era.
Some experts believe it is the product of the Tequesta tribe. Others think it might date back even further. This glimpse into Miami’s secret past is just one feature that makes this site great!
Deering Estate Salt Marshes & Burial Grunds
Visitors are welcome to stroll through the stunningly beautiful grounds, explore the houses and just enjoy themselves. From canoe tours to butterfly walks and guided nature hikes, the Deering Estate has diverse activities for the whole family to enjoy.
The Estate offers daily tours of the historic houses – the Stone House and Richmond Cottage, as well as tours of the lush natural areas where fossil bones have been found dating as far back at 50,000-100,000 years.
Paleo Indians, Tequestas, Seminoles, Afro-Bahamians, and Anglo-Americans have at different times, lived on the land encompassed by the Estate. Today's visitors can journey through native habitats to visit the Tequesta midden, the Cutler Burial Mound, and walk an ancient Tequesta trail.
The Deering Estate's naturalists and guides educate us about humans interacting with the surrounding native habitats through time and showcase artifacts ranging from the end of the ice age to those used by Tequesta Indians who thrived in the region for hundreds of years before the Spanish colonial era.
Jungle Island is one of the most popular attractions in the city of Miami! It's located on Watson Island and was formerly known as Parrot Jungle and even had Winston Churchill visit in 1946.
The Jungle is only minutes from South Beach and Downtown Miami.
Parrot Jungle Gardens, as it was originally called, was opened by Austrian immigrant Franz Scherr in 1936. The Depression cut short his construction career and he wound up in Pinecrest, Florida, where he opened a feed store and kept several live parrots on display. The birds became a local attraction and Scherr realized that tourists would pay to see them.
According to Grace DuMond, widow of Joseph DuMond, the founder of then-nearby Monkey Jungle, Scherr was a pest, always making suggestions to Joe. "'Why don't you do this and how about trying that?'" she recalled. "Finally, Joe just told him to go start his own jungle, and he did."
Coral Castle Museum Tours
The Coral Castle Museum in Miami, Florida, is a castle and stone garden surrounded in mystery. It was built from 1923 to 1951 by Edward Leedskalnin, who was originally from Latvia and stood at just over five feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds.
Despite his small size, he worked alone to build his castle during a time before modern construction equipment. His creations were carved out of more than 1,100 tons of coral rock, and he worked at night, so no one saw how he built it—people began to say he had supernatural powers.
All Ed would ever say was that he knew “the secret of the pyramids.” His secrets died with him.
Today, you can explore Coral Castle with the help of an audio guide, available in English, Spanish, German or French, or on a tour with a knowledgeable in-person guide. You will see many features of the museum, such as a nine-ton gate that moves with just a touch of the finger, a Polaris telescope and functioning rocking chairs, all of which are made entirely of stone.
If you had visited Coral Castle in the 1940’s you would have been greeted enthusiastically by a man weighing a mere 100 pounds and standing just over 5 feet tall. He would have asked you for ten cents admission and introduced you to his fantasy world.
Today, though, you will have to settle for remembering his legacy as you take in this miraculous work of art!
The Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum
Striving to provide experiences through art and to collect and exhibit and interpret art across all cultures, this museum serves to advance FIU's stature as a top of the line research university.
This is one of the largest academic art museums in South Florida.
The museum started as a small space in FIU's Prima casa building in 1978. As the collections and programming grew they needed more space. The museum opened in 2008 and has been a favorite Miami attraction for lovers of art ever since.
One of the things you will want to do in Florida at some point in your life is run past the gators at Shark Valley! Shark Valley is a geological depression at the head of the Shark River Slough in far western Miami-Dade County, Florida. It is currently part of Everglades National Park.
The Shark Valley area is home to a diverse number of animals and plants. The many species change with the seasons throughout the year. As a result, every journey through the Everglades offers a different experience for attendees.
There's a 15-mile loop inside Everglades National park and running past the sharks at Shark Valley is one of Miami thrill-seeking enthusiasts’ favorite things to do!
Crack the Code Escape Room
There are a number of escape rooms throughout the city of Miami, but Crack the Code is definitely one of the best. Escape rooms are perfect for Adventure seekers, Bachelor/Bachelorette parties, birthdays, friends and family outings and graduations or whatever other occasion you could think of!
What is an escape room? Escape rooms are interactive real-life escape games in which you must solve the puzzles in order to escape. Your time is limited, so hurry and find clues to solve the puzzle and gain your freedom!
Designed by John Eberson in his famed atmospheric style, the theater opened in Miami, Florida in 1926. Showcasing some of History's most famous acts and celebrities such as Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Luciano Pavarotti and Etta James, The Olympia Theater is rich in history and color.
This theatre was originally erected as a home for silent movies. Since then, it has grown into an art and cultural attraction all on its own.
You definitely don’t want to miss the simulated night sky ceiling, which boasts replications of real atmospheric stars as well as pop culture stars such as Elvis Presley and BB King who have performed right there within the theater’s very walls.
As They Say in Miami, “Stingray Shuffle Along…”
If you’re doing the “stingray shuffle” in Miami, you’re hurrying to get in on something good before the opportunity passes and you wind up making a mistake and stepping on a slippery, stinging doormat.
Now that you are looking to visit Miami in the near future, and you know that there are a number of Miami attractions ranging from the posh and luxurious to the downright bizarre - it’s time to start booking your trip.
Each of the Miami attractions featured in this article are well worth your time and consideration. Please give them all some real thought before you pass them over in pursuit of something else. You’ll be sorry if you miss them.
In this article, we outlined several of our favorite Miami attractions in the hopes that you, too, will feel inspired to visit them and take in all that they have to offer.