Looking for the Best Things to do in downtown Miami, FL?
Miami is more than just another tourist destination: it’s an adventure into culture, nature, and history. Located in Southeast Florida, Miami is home to nearly half-a-million people and attracts over 20 million visitors each year. With such a large and diverse population, there is a myriad of activities to experience in the city.
You don’t want to miss the authentic Miami, so here’s a list of the top 19 things to do in the Magic City.
19 Best Things to do in downtown Miami, FL
Outdoor Adventure and Nature
1. Explore the Neptune Memorial Reef
Located just a few miles off the coast of Miami’s Key Biscayne, the Neptune Memorial Reef functions as both an underwater cemetery and a marine life sanctuary. Since Neptune Memorial Reef lies only 40 feet below the surface, boaters, snorkelers, and novice scuba divers can explore this Atlantis-like cemetery. The graveyard is currently 600,000 square feet and contains an array of columns and statues. Once it is completed, it will stretch for 16 acres and will be the largest man-made coral reef in the world.
Though this cemetery is the final resting place for over 1,000 people, it bursts with aquatic life. Over 50 different species of fish live among the tombs, including bar jacks, blue-headed wrasse, tomtates, pufferfish, and parrot fish.
The specially designed columns and statues support sponges, sea-urchins, and nearly 200 varieties of coral. The cemetery is home to a sea turtle nicknamed Crush, and two rough tail stingrays frequent the area. Check Neptune Memorial Reef’s website for information about boat and diving tours of the cemetery.
- See more: Best snorkeling in Miami
2. Discover Miami with Island Queen Cruises and Tours
Island Queen Cruises and Tours allows you to tour the Magic City by land, sea, and air. Island Queen’s Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour is both a fun and convenient way to explore Miami’s most noteworthy neighborhoods. Hop on the bus and take it to your chosen destination, then catch the next tour bus when you’re ready to move on to a different section of Miami.
If you’d like to glimpse the luxurious homes of celebrities and experience breathtaking views of Miami’s skyline, take the Millionaire’s Row Cruise on one of Island Queen’s yachts.
Zoom high above the Miami region on Island Queen’s helicopter tour. The helicopter tour gives you a unique perspective of the city, the Atlantic Ocean, and the surrounding landscapes. Rent one of Island Queen’s water crafts—from luxury yachts to small boats—and discover Miami in your own way.
3. Meet Sharks with Miami Shark Tours
Whether you’re an experienced diver or hate getting wet, Miami Shark Tours offers excursions that are suitable for all ages and ability levels. Become personally acquainted with Miami’s local shark population on the Shark Viewing Tour. Interact with lemon sharks, hammerheads, and tiger sharks from the comfort of a boat. Watch as sharks compete for bait beside the boat, and wrangle one with a hookless line that is safe for both human and shark.
If you have some experience diving and would like to get up close and personal with the sharks, try one of Miami Shark Tours’ cage adventures or free-diving excursions. On these trips, you will get within inches of hammerheads, bull sharks, dusky sharks, nurse sharks, and a variety of reef shark species. A dive professional accompanies the guests to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.
One of the best things to do in Downtown Miami FL for sure.
4. Nature at The Kampong
Just a twenty-minute drive from the heart of Miami, The Kampong is home to unique plants and flowers. The Kampong was established in 1984 by Dr. David Fairchild, a renowned botanist. The Kampong is filled with an exotic array of fruiting trees, including candle fruit, peanut butter fruit, coco plums, and over 40 types of mangos.
The garden’s unusual collection contains specimens that hail from as far away as Southeast Asia, and includes a 50-ton Baobab tree, royal palms, and a 357-foot-wide giant banyan fig. If you would like to wander the garden’s 10 acres at your leisure, pick up an informational map and head out on a self-guided tour.
You can also register for a guided tour of The Kampong with Dr. David Fairchild. Remember to stay hydrated— water bottle refilling stations are located throughout the Kampong. Check The Kampong’s website for upcoming plant sales and summer movie nights in the garden.
5. Relax on one of Miami’s Beaches
With over a dozen beaches within the city limits, Miami is a beach bum’s dream. South Beach is Miami’s most famous beach and is located near the city’s downtown. This iconic beach is known for its pristine water, a backdrop of sleek high-rises, celebrity visitors, and nightlife. South Beach is also an ideal spot for surfers, and fishermen can catch a variety of fish off the South Park Point Pier.
While South Beach is known for its parties, Crandon Park Beach offers visitors a chance to escape the crowds and experience the area’s natural coastal ecosystems. Located on Key Biscayne, Crandon Park Beach is dotted with palm groves, mangrove forests, and dense hammocks. If you kayak off the beach, look for herons, pelicans, and gulls. When you’re not exploring the area’s natural beauty, check out the nearby golf course and tennis courts.
6. Swim with Dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium
The Miami Seaquarium, located in the heart of the city, has been offering interactive experiences with marine life since 1955. Families can become acquainted with a dolphin without having to enter the water in the Seaquarium’s Meet a Dolphin experience.
Pet and feed the dolphin while learning about the Seaquarium’s conservation efforts and interesting dolphin facts. The Royal Swim allows visitors to experience the thrill of a dorsal tow ride and a foot push by two dolphins.
If you’d like to befriend a harbor seal, don’t miss the Seal Swim experience. During the Seal Swim, you’ll have the chance to help train seals and hug one too. The Shark and Ray interaction allows you to meet nurse sharks and cownose rays in a natural mangrove forest.
Don a dive helmet and embark on the Sea Trek Reef Encounter. No dive experience is required to explore the Seaquarium’s reef which is home to a variety of sea creatures, including tropical fish, stingrays, and eels.
Art and Local History
7. Get Lost in the Van Gogh Immersive Experience
Located in the Olympia Theater, Miami’s Van Gogh Immersive Experience allows visitors to enter into masterpieces of the 19th century. In this interactive experience, cutting-edge technology brings Van Gogh’s most famous works to life. The 75-minute production begins in a 20,000-square-foot room featuring dynamic visual projections of Van Gogh’s paintings.
VR technology allows you to enter into Van Gogh’s world—watch the real-life stories behind the Starry Night over the Rhone and other noteworthy works unfold before your eyes. If the Immersive Experience inspires you to follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps, you are free to create your own art and project it on the walls around you. The Van Gogh Immersive Experience won USA Today’s award for the best production of its kind, and secured a place on CNN’s list of best immersive experiences.
8. Wander through the Ancient Spanish Monastery
Though Florida is the last place you’d expect to find a 12th-century cloister, the Miami region is the adopted home of the ancient Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. Now known as the Ancient Spanish Monastery, the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux was built by Cistercian monks in Spain around 1133 A.D. In 1925, William Randolph Hearst bought the building, deconstructed it, and shipped the former monastery to the United States.
Since Hearst’s financial issues prevented him from reconstructing the building, the dismantled Monastery of St. Bernard sat in a New York City warehouse for nearly 30 years. In 1956, two entrepreneurs bought the Monastery and puzzled it back together again in Miami. Today, the Ancient Spanish Monastery is the oldest building in the Western hemisphere and is open to visitors.
Explore the Monastery’s labyrinth of passages, reflect in its hidden garden, and view its collection of medieval-era statues and stained glass. It’s easy to get lost among the Monastery’s graceful stone arches, ornate pillars, and peaceful chapels. Check out the nearby gift store for a unique souvenir, and stop by the museum to see an array of additional artifacts, including Crusade-era armor and medieval hymnariums.
9. Learn at the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
Whether you’re a science fanatic, technology nerd, or history buff, the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science has something for everyone. Situated in downtown Miami, the 250,000-square-foot Museum contains an aquarium, the Frost Planetarium, and prehistoric fossils.
The aquarium spans 4 levels and allows visitors to interact with a variety of local ecosystems, from the Gulfstream to the Everglades, and from mangrove forests to the deep ocean.
The 500,000-gallon Royal Caribbean Vista offers guests views of hammerheads, devil rays, stingrays, and coral reefs. After experiencing Florida’s aquatic wildlife, take a trip through space in the Frost Planetarium. The Planetarium’s 67-foot-wide screen and million-dollar visual system allow you to take a tour of the universe without having to leave your seat.
Learn about the mysteries of science and awe-inspiring discoveries in the “Power of Science Exhibit.” Take a tour through prehistory in the “Mammoths: Ice Age Giants” display, or learn about the development of animal flight in the “Feathers to the Stars” exhibit.
10. Encounter Old Florida in The Barnacle Historic State Park
If you need a break from the crowds, stop by The Barnacle Historic State Park. Located on the banks of Biscayne Bay in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood, The Barnacle Historic State Park offers visitors a glimpse of Old Florida.
Ralph Middleton Munroe owned the property in the 19th century and preserved the massive oak trees and dense hammocks that remain within the park today. Munroe’s house, The Barnacle, is now the Munroe House Museum and is open to visitors Sunday through Wednesday.
The Museum contains many of the house’s original furnishings and features antique photographs of the Miami region. The park also features two replicas of Ralph Munroe’s boats, the Egret and the Flying Proa. Enjoy a relaxing picnic in the park with a quiet view of the bay, or take a walk on one of Barnacle Bay’s wooded trails.
The Park is an excellent place for birding—look out for kingfishers, herons, and nighthawks. The Park hosts productions by Shakespeare Miami and features a kid-friendly ghost tour in October. Don’t forget to check out The Barnacle’s gift shop!
11. Search for Souvenirs at Stone Age Antiques
Wander through Miami’s unique and colorful past in Stone Age Antiques. This family-run store is located in the downtown region of Miami and is chock-full of all the random odds and ends which make up the city’s history. If you love oddity and history, you’ll enjoy spending a rainy day searching through Stone Age’s dusty collection.
Get lost down narrow passages crowded with everything from 18th-century Spanish warship canons to traditional African masks, from vintage scuba equipment to dog sleds. Due to Miami’s close connection to the sea, Stone Age has a plethora of nautical antiques, including old ship wheels, lanterns, and boats.
Though film companies routinely rely on the store for authentic props, anyone looking for a local souvenir can certainly find one at Stone Age Antiques.
12. Experience Miami’s Culture in Wynwood
In the hip Wynwood region of Miami, vibrant murals line the streets and decorate the exteriors of fun breweries and restaurants. The Wynwood Walls, a collection of 35 murals created by renowned artists, is the focal point of the Wynwood area. Visitors must purchase a ticket ahead of time to view these eclectic paintings. If you’d like to create your own street art, take a spray-painting course in the GGA art gallery in the Wynwood area.
During the course, you will learn painting techniques from talented street artists so you can make your own art. There are more than 70 galleries in Wynwood, making the area a must-see for art lovers.
If you get hungry, there are plenty of unique restaurants and bars in the area. Stop by the Spanglish Craft Cocktail Bar and Kitchen and enjoy their Caribbean Dumplings, Octopus Croquetas, or Snapper a la Plancha. Relax with one of their signature cocktails, like their Espresso Martini, the Bamboo Shadow, or the Sunshine State Garibaldi.
13. History at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Take a day to explore the history and natural beauty of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Built in 1914 along the picturesque Biscayne Bay, the Vizcaya House was the winter residence of the wealthy businessman, James Deering.
Each room in the house was designed to complement Deering’s extensive collection of art and artifacts, which spans from the 1st century A.D to the 20th century. The estate mingles traditional Italian architecture with the unique Floridian environment. The house is built in the Northern Italian Style and is surrounded by both local and exotic varieties of orchids, roses, and other plant species.
The Vizcaya Gardens also contain 7 champion trees that are the largest specimens of their kind in Florida and the United States. Statues sculpted by famous artists, from Barigioni to Calder, dot the Gardens. Visitors can also explore the nearby Historic Vizcaya Village and farmer’s market at no cost.
Shopping and Dining
14. Enjoy an Evening at The Wharf
Situated along the Miami River, The Wharf is an open-air venue that hosts an array of vendors and events. With over 30,000-square-foot of entertainment space and one-of-a-kind views of the Miami skyline, The Wharf is an exciting place to shop, eat, or celebrate.
The Wharf is known as a party hotspot and features live music, food trucks, and outdoor bars. The Wharf was voted the number 1 place to experience nightlife in South Florida and it definitely comes alive when the sun goes down.
Whether you want to celebrate with a drink, try unique foods, or just relax, the Wharf has something for everyone. Have fun competing against your friends at anything from arcade games to dominoes during Game Night At the Wharf.
The Wharf’s Full Moon Party features fire-performers, fortune tellers, and affordable drinks. During Wharf’s three-day long festival, Wharf Around the World, you can try a variety of ethnic cuisines and send your tastebuds on a global adventure, from Asia to the Caribbean. If you’ve spent the day on the water, dockage is available at the Wharf.
15. Indulge Your Pizza Craving at The Big Cheese Miami
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly restaurant that’s both easy on the stomach and the wallet, stop by Big Cheese Miami. This family-owned restaurant serves delicious Italian food in a casual setting.
Big Cheese Miami won the New Times Readers’ Poll for “The Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant in Miami,” and has won South Florida Parenting Magazine’s “Best Pizza” award five times running. Located in the southern region of the city, the Big Cheese is a Miami staple and has served favorites like the Plain Cheese Pizza, The Deluxe, and The Vegetarian for over 25 years.
You can dress up the classics with a range of toppings, including mussels, jalapenos, bacon, and grilled chicken. They also offer unique pizzas like the Big Cheese Hawaiian (sweet duck sauce, coconut shavings, and pineapple) and the Miami Slice (sweet baked ham, pineapple, and cinnamon.) The Big Cheese doesn’t just serve pizza. Try their fried oysters, Buffalo wings, and a variety of Italian-themed dishes like baked eggplant parmesan, stuffed eggplant, and veal parmesan.
16. Have Tea at the Little Hen
Hidden in the midtown region of the city, The Little Hen combines the refinement of an English teahouse with a Miami flair. The design of the Little Hen is reminiscent of a traditional British teahouse, but its menu is anything but predictable.
Indulge in the Little Hen’s Afternoon Tea, complete with finger sandwiches and scones, or mix it up with a plate of Street Tacos or Crab Cake.
For breakfast, the Little Hen offers its signature Rose Petal Pancakes, a variety of French Toast flavors, and Belgian Waffles. Brimming with sweet-smelling roses and hung with purple wisteria, the Little Hen’s garden is a lovely place to relax with friends. The Little Hen encourages its guests to dress formally as every meal at the restaurant is a special occasion.
17. Rooftop Fun at Rosa Sky
Enjoy panoramic views of the city at Rosa Sky, one of Miami’s most exciting restaurants and bars. The Rosa Sky is located on the 22nd floor of the AC and Element Hotel in the heart of the city. Get a table in Rosa Sky’s rooftop seating area and taste delicious food, have a drink, and relax with friends, all while surrounded by Miami’s vibrant lights.
Satisfy your hunger with the Chilled Shrimp, Cuban “Cigars,” or Salmon Tacos. Though the food is delicious, the views and the drinks are the main attraction at Rosa Sky.
Get the party started with one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails, the Rosa Sky, the Tulum Trip, and the Golden Hour. Their rosés hail from across the world—sip the Italian Mateus Douro or try the “Rock Angel” from Provence, France.
Their other wines and beers are just as diverse, with the Sauvignon Blanc hailing from New Zealand, the Red Blend crafted in California, and the Lost City imported from India. Enjoy a drink while listening to live music played by Miami’s best local artists and DJs.
18. Spend a Day at the Bayside Marketplace
Experience the local culture and hunt for souvenirs at Miami’s Bayside Marketplace. The Bayside Marketplace’s over 70 boutiques and 30 eateries are tucked along Biscayne Bay near downtown Miami. For your fashionable little one, peruse Le Bowtique’s vibrant collection of handmade hair bows.
Gifts from the Sea offers an array of souvenirs from nautical-themed wall art to seashell wind chimes. If you’ve never tried traditional Argentinian barbeque, then have a meal at The Knife.
This all-you-can-eat restaurant offers an affordable, all-inclusive lunch and dinner menu. Dig into their Chorizo Hecho en Casa (Home-made Sausage,) Colita de Duadril (Rump Sirloin,) and, for dessert, the Cheesecake de Fresa (Strawberry Cheesecake.) Relax with their Classic Mojito Pitcher, Don Julio Silver, or their Bourbon Rye 95. If you’d like to experience breathtaking views of the city, take a ride on the over 180-foot tall Sky View or charter a boat tour from one of Bayside’s marinas.
19. Unwind at the Peacock Garden
Situated in the historic Coconut Grove region of Miami, The Peacock Garden Resto Bar and Grill is a romantic oasis in the city. The Peacock Garden offers a variety of seafood platters, roasts, cocktails, and wines all at an affordable price. Try the Stone Crab Claws, the Crispy Brie, or the Grilled Oysters.
Relax with one of the Peacock Garden’s signature cocktails, including the Basil Sangria, the Hibiscus Martini, and the Coconut Groves’ Old Fashioned, or select a refreshing drink from their wine list.
If you’d like to dine outdoors, the Peacock Garden’s lush vegetation and sumptuous flowers will make you forget that you’re in the urban core of the city. One of the best hidden gems in Miami.
The Peacock’s lovely garden seating has been acclaimed by Forbes Magazine, the Miami Food Pug, and other publications, as one of the most romantic dining spaces in the city. The restaurant partners with the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the Million Orchid Project to plant native species of orchids in the garden.
With so much to do, it’s easy to see why Miami is a great place to visit. This list just scratches the surface of all the activities in Miami. So why aren’t you already packing? Come visit Miami soon!