Looking for Things to do in South Beach Miami?
Located on the Southeastern coast of Florida, South Beach is well known for its movie scene and architecture, attracting a large portion of the ten million tourists that visit the Greater Miami Area each year. South Beach is a melting pot of cultures, flavors, and activities, with as many restaurants and bars to satisfy your vacation needs, while also having plenty of sandy beaches for relaxation.
Miami Beach is also famously known for its proximity to other countries, such as The Bahamas and Cuba, and its Port with many cruise lines, such as Disney, Norwegian and Carnival.
Believe it or not, South Beach started in the early 1900s as rich farmland, mainly for coconut farming due to the perfect climate in the area. Not long after this, the Collins Ave bridge was constructed, connecting the mainland to the Bay, and starting the booming development of the SoBe (South Beach) area.
By the 1960s, development of the Art Deco and SoBe’s increasing reputation resulted in the decline of South Beach as a ‘Retirement Village’. Simultaneously, South Beach was well known for its narcotics scene, displayed in the Miami Vice televisions series. Now, South Beach is known for its vibrant nightlife, hotels, boutiques, and restaurants, becoming a prime tourist attraction to people from all over the world.
Ready to explore what South Beach has to offer? Check out these 18 things to do in Miami, and you are sure to be in for a treat!
18 Best Things to do in South Beach Miami
Tours, Sightseeing, and Boat rides
One of the things you must do when visiting Miami is a City Bus Tour. Bus Tours can take you to see sights in a variety of places in or near South Beach such as downtown Miami and the Everglades.
Many of the Bus Tours offer Double Decker options, which allows you to get some Florida sun, all while enjoying the sights that Miami has to offer. Another option for tours is the Duck Tour, South Beach. This tour is perfect if you’re wanting to get a tour of both the land and sea, as this tour uses a Hydra-Terra Amphibious Bus to drive on land and give fascinating tours of Biscayne Bay.
If you are looking for a good deal on these excursions, be sure to check out Groupon! They frequently have deals on these activities, and sometimes even offer package to spice up your tour.
Speed boat tours are a great way to add a bit of thrill to your views of the Miami skyline. There are many options to choose from and the average speed boat tour lasts about 45 minutes. The Speedboat Sightseeing tour provided by Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures takes guests on a ride though the Miami surf, passing Star and Fisher Island, while also catching a glimpse of the yachts and mansions along the shore.
Another popular option at this location is the Hurricane Speedboat Tour, where these guests will enjoy a Miami Vice Style tour, with tricks, spins and turns.
This tour even allows passengers to see the Miami US Coast Guard. If you want to have a more romantic experience, then the Miami Boat Cruises may have the perfect option for you. These cruises are about 90 minutes long and are offered during both the daytime and at night.
During the day, passengers can see the Venetian Islands and Millionaire Homes, while the night tour allows guests to enjoy a beautiful nighttime view of the cityscape and nearby Mansions.
Starting as low as $30 per person, join an Airboat Safari of Florida’s Everglades National Park for an exciting tour of Florida’s most dense ecosystem.
These Airboat tour feature narrated and guided tours of the swamp ecosystem, and you can even see animals such as allegators on the tour. There are many options for Airboat tours of the Everglades; depending on what you would like to learn about during your tour, there is surely an option perfect for a couple’s date or a vacation for the family!
See more: Best Everglades Airboat Tours
4. Miami South Beach Art Deco Historic District
Located right on South Beach’s Ocean Drive, the Miami Art Deco Historic District is one of the most picturesque locations in Miami, which features beautiful pops of color and neoclassical skyscrapers. These buildings were designed in the style of the 1920s and 1930s, and the district includes over 800 buildings in the local area.
The Art Deco offers walking tours of the district through the Welcome Center, which is led by the Miami Design Preservation League. The League has goals of protecting and preserving the arts, culture, environment, and architecture in Miami Beach and the local area.
The Art Deco has both permanent and temporary exhibitions; the permanent exhibitions include the Art Deco itself, the Mediterranean Revival, and the Miami Modern (MiMo). The temporary exhibitions run for about a month, and most resent installments include the history of Auto Racing in South Florida, 400+ Years of LGBTQ Love, and Women’s Right to Vote. Be sure to check out their website when planning your visit to learn what special exhibitions may be available!
Want to see the Miami and South Beach skyline from the air? Experience a private plane or helicopter tour in the Miami sky where you can get an exclusive tour of the luxurious mansions, islands, cruise ships, beaches, and more.
Tours take off from the Miami Executive airport, which is about a 40-minute drive from South Beach. A few of the other Miami locations that you will likely see on this tour include Biscayne Bay, Downtown Miami, Vizcaya Museum & Garden and Coconut Grove.
Tours include a professional pilot that can do live narration of the area, providing a bit of entertainment while in the air. Tours vary in time depending on the method of travel as well as the time of day, so be sure to weigh all your options for the best air tour of South Beach!
See more: hidden gems in Miami
6. Ocean Drive
Other than the South Beach Art Deco Historic District, Ocean Drive is one of South Beach’s major thoroughfares. This beachfront strip is Miami’s epicenter for cafés, restaurants, art, bars, and venues open all through the night.
Ocean Drive has a plethora of restaurants that offer Brunch with bottomless deals, including Palace, and LGBTQ+ restaurant and bar known for its drag show. Just in July of 2020, cars were banned on Ocean Drive, increasing pedestrian traffic and seating. Ocean drives stretches from Lummus Park off 15th street and runs south parallel to the Atlantic Ocean and ends at 1st Street near South Pointe Park. If you’re feeling a bit luxurious during your stay, then the Gianni Versace mansion can provide some of the best service with beautiful ambiance, rooftop lounge, and a gold-clad pool.
The night life is always thriving in Miami, and Ocean Drive isn’t short of activities. Check out Niki Beach for a club scene, and Mango’s Tropical Café for Salsa dancing through the night.
7. Collins Avenue
Collins Avenue, also known as State Road A1A, is one of South Beach’s shopping and hotel hubs, and is another major thoroughfare in South Florida.
This street also runs parallel to the beach and ocean, making this a great location for you to have access to both the water and browsing for the best souvenirs just steps from your hotel. Shop for trendy accessories and explore the Miami Fashion scene by stopping by one of the many boutiques along the street.
One of the very popular Collins Ave hotels is the Ritz-Carlton, with architecture like the Art Deco Historic District. Collins Avenue is commonly known as Millionaires Row due to the luxury hotels dotting the street, and many exclusive real estate properties.
8. Española Way
Española Way was one of the first commercial development projects in Miami Beach with goals to serve as a colony for the local artists. Beach Originally, it was modeled after Mediterranean villages such as France and Spain, and after a 2017 renovation, the street became a pedestrian only street.
Today, Española Way still serves as a location to gather, create, and celebrate Hispanic culture for both visitors and locals. With 19 restaurants to dine at, each having their own set of drinks and ambiance, there is nothing short of Spanish style cuisine, as well as multiple venues for flamenco and salsa dancing.
If you are looking for a more relaxing way to spend your day, but still want physical activity, Yoga is offered frequently at various locations on Española way. Lastly, be sure to stop by shops along Española way for unique services and collectables, including hand-rolled cigars.
Activities, Shopping, and Excursions
9. The Beach!
What would a trip to South Beach be without a day in the Florida sun? South Beach has a handful of beaches for both residents and visitors to enjoy, but their most popular beaches by far are South Pointe Park, Lummus Park, and the beaches north of Lincoln Road.
South Pointe Park is at the most southern tip of South Beach, that features beautiful views of Port Miami (and the many cruise ships!), Fisher Island, and Biscayne Bay. South Pointe Park is the perfect beach for the family with paved walking trails, playgrounds, and splash play areas for the kids to enjoy. Heading a bit north, starting at 5th street is Lummus Beach, right along Ocean Drive.
This beach is typically what’s shown on movies and TV shows, as it runs along the strip where the Art Deco District is located. Going further north towards Collins Avenue, we have the beaches of Lincoln Road. These beaches are heavily populated with hotels, allowing these residents and guests to enjoy a more private beach experience.
See more: best dog beaches in Miami
While handing out on the beach, it’s not uncommon to see others soaring through the air on a parasail. This is a great activity if you are looking for a thrill in combination with sight-seeing.
During this 1-hour sail, you can soar high in the sky for around 5-10 min and catch sights of the beautiful Miami skyline and incredible views of Coconut Grove. Don’t be afraid to look down because through the turquoise water, you can see turtles, dolphins, and other sea life racing though the waves.
Other than parasailing, guests also get to enjoy a boat excursion on Miami Watersport’s Coast Guard Certified powerboat. Another common excursion is getting a Jet Ski rental; with a large area for riding in South Miami, Miami Watersports allows their guests to enjoy the water to their hearts desire. With competitive pricing and plenty of safety training, be sure to check out Miami Watersports for a thrilling beach day experience.
Another popular scene from the movies in South Beach is the group Segway tours, with multiple venues offering tours along the beachline. Tours vary from one to two hours, and each venue offers adequate training to use the Segway.
Depending on the venue, guests go off in groups as little as six guests to as many as ten, so be sure to check with your venue to accompany the size of your group. Depending on your tour, you may see stunning views of the Lincoln Road promade, or zoom past the colorful architecture of the Art Deco District.
Additionally, your tour guide will provide you and your group with history and facts about the architecture and events that led to Miami growing into the city it is today. Additionally, some locations offer nighttime tours, where you can see the night life and beautiful lights of the Miami Beach strip.
The Lincoln Road Mall is located at the heart of South Beach, and includes many shops, pop up food trucks, restaurants, and plenty of Happy Hours to satiate your thirst. The mall itself features over 140 stores selling a variety of merchandise such as jewelry, shoes, and beauty/health.
Some of the best food in Miami is served on Lincoln Road at the TimeOut Market, featuring 21 restaurant and drink stalls in a cafeteria style. Love a movie night? Bring out a chair or a blanket and catch a free film at the Soundscape Park, a 7,000 sq ft. projection wall showing movies about once a week.
If you happen to be on Lincoln Road on a Sunday, you will catch the weekly farmers market, featuring locally sources fruits, vegetables, flowers, backed goods, and more. Additionally, the Lincoln Road Antique Market takes place from October to May; look out for dates post in early fall!
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Getting to see the beautiful sandy beaches and refreshing water is essential while in South Beach, and snorkeling is a great way to see the sea life in Miami. The South Beach Diving Center has recently relocated to Key Biscayne under the new name ‘Divers Paradise’, which is just 20 minutes from South Beach.
Guests can participate in a three-hour trip and can view the shallow wrecks and reefs that are just off the shore of Key Biscayne. If you will be living in the area for a while, Divers Paradise offers many diver classes, which can even train you to become a rescue/emergency response diver.
Other training that they offer includes Ice Diving and Search and Recovery diving; check out their website to learn what ways you can train underwater. This location also offers scuba diving for certified and non-certified divers, so be sure to mention your experience level when booking your trip for the best experience.
See more: Best snorkeling in Miami
Museums and Outdoor
14. The Bass
The Bass is a contemporary art museum located on Collins Avenue in South Beach, Miami. The museum features permanent, long term, and short-term displays, including indoor and outdoor exhibits.
Some of the recent exhibitions include The Willfulness of Objects, a display of recycles objects to express human nature, history, and the surrounding (Miami) area, and the Charo Oquet, which is a call on Afro-Caribbean religion and traditions that furthers understand symbols and their significance in current society.
The Bass is also known for the many services and activities that they provide to their community members, such as creativity and art camps for kids, as well as community programs on art literacies and workshops for the family. This museum is thus a very family friendly activity and is rather affordable for groups.
The Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a free admission garden and nursery, as well as a botanical boutique to support local artisans. The Garden Center has a display of native plants, succulents, various flowing vines, and some exotic plants all available for purchase.
The Botanical Gardens also hosts several events for all age groups, ranging from yoga and medication to art classes for kids (for free!). The Garden is also heavily focused on conservation, education, and has rotating art exhibits for guests to enjoy. One of the best free things to do in Miami for sure.
16. ARTECHOUSE Miami
ARTECHOUSE Miami opened in 2018 and challenges the idea of what is considered a traditional museum. This new take on art and museums presents new experiences through digital art and using new technology in all their exhibitions to do so.
Located on Collins Ave near Lummus Park, this museum combines science, art, and technology in order share new ideas with the world. The most recent exhibit was entitled Renewal 2121, which uses this technology to present our society 100 years in the future; this interactive experience shows how industrialization may look in the future.
Because of the nature of ARTEHOUSE, guests can interact with all exhibitions, regardless of what the exhibit is, providing a more immersive experience. Tickets for ARTECHOUSE are $24 during the weekday, and $25 on the weekends; be sure to book your tickets for your visit in advance, you don’t want to miss out on this experience!
The Museum of Illusions is located on Lincoln Road, just around the corner from Time Out Market Miami. The Museum of Illusions is considered one of the most fun museums in Miami due to its interactive 3D illusions. There are over 40 picturesque illusions in the museum for memorable photos, ranging from flying on a magic carpet, to walking on the edge of a skyscraper.
The museum offers a variety of packages depending on if you would like a VIP experience, which includes a private photographer and free pictures, or if you want to do the interactive Smash It! exhibit. Smash It! allows guests too write on and break plates as a relaxation practice; this could be great stress relief while on you Miami vacation!
It is important to note that the museum does have a wait time for walk-in customers especially on weekends; if you would like to skip this line then a VIP package is the way to go.
About 40 years ago, a group of Holocaust survivors decided to build a permanent memorial in Miami for the six million Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust.
The memorial features a Jerusalem stone and black granite building, sculptures of people, a water reflective pool and sculpture of love in the middle of the circling Memorial Wall. The museum is completely outdoor; be sure to bring your hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and water for the best experience!
South Beach has many activities to choose from, and many things to learn and discover about the history of the area. South Beach also has a proximity to other major South Florida cities, such as Fort Lauderdale just an hour north, and the Florida Keys, three hours south. South Beach is a great location for a vacation or a staycation, and hopefully these activities will make your visit worth the stay!