The best Miami attractions for all kinds of sightseers

Take a break from the beach and discover the best Miami attractions, including historic sites, cultural centers and more
Miami Beach Botanical Garden, big foot
Photograph: Danxoneil
By Time Out Miami contributors |
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Not all Miami vacations are built around sun, sand and nightclubs. Those interested in taking a break from the South Beach scene and nightlife ruckus will find all sorts of fun things to do at the best Miami attractions—and we’re not talking about the best Miami beaches. Venture off the city’s busy strip and you’ll discover grand estates worth exploring, impactful memorials and cultural centers and fascinating Miami museums the whole family will appreciate, among numerous other things to do in Miami. Ready to sightsee? The best Miami attractions have something for every type of curious traveler.  

Best Miami attractions

1
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Photograph: Bill Sumner
Things to do, Event spaces

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

icon-location-pin Coconut Grove

Over 100 years ago, Chicago magnate James Deering built the waterfront mansion as his winter estate but today, the grande dame of Miami real estate is the idyllic backdrop of (expensive) weddings and quinceañera photoshoots. When it’s not being used for celebrations, the palatial estate and its manicured gardens is ripe for exploring.

2
Miami Seaquarium
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Cultural centers

Miami Seaquarium

For decades, children of all ages have learned all about Florida’s array of sea creatures through visits to this Key Biscayne attraction. It’s where you’ll catch the dolphin show jolly sea lions flapping about and the park’s most famous resident, Lolita, the killer whale. Bonus points: Flipper was filmed at the Seaquarium.

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3
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Museums and attractions, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Things to do

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

icon-location-pin Miami

Pretty gardens are hard to come by in scorching-hot Miami, so we’re extra grateful for places like Fairchild, whose diligent groundskeepers and volunteers keep it looking fresh and verdant year-round. Take a morning or afternoon stroll through these stunning surroundings and escape the South Beach bustle. Not one for greenery? Visit during the annual chocolate festival—a delicious event dedicated to all things cocoa.

4
Miami Beach Botanical Garden, big foot
© Danxoneil on Flickr
Things to do

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

icon-location-pin South Beach

A small but charming oasis in bustling Miami Beach, the botanical garden offers 2.6 acres of lush greenery. Kill some time in between stops or snap a quick Instagram with a pineapple in the edible garden. Guided tours are available Saturdays at 11am.

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5
Deering Estate
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Ricardo Porven
Things to do

Deering Estate

icon-location-pin Palmetto Bay

Far less flashy than brother James’s Vizcaya, Charles Deering’s waterfront estate is a hit with nature lovers—mangroves, salt marshes and an Indian burial ground make up its 400-plus acres. Mark your calendars for the annual seafood festival (stone crabs!) and regular music programming.

6
Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Patrick Emerson
Things to do, Cultural centers

Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach

icon-location-pin South Beach

South Florida has one of the highest populations of Holocaust survivors in America, which led to the creation of the haunting Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial in 1984. The jarring sculpture, which depicts a massive bronze hand bursting from the earth, is a powerful and necessary sight to behold.

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7
Venetian Pool
Photograph: Shutterstock/Marco Borghini
Things to do

Venetian Pool

icon-location-pin Coral Gables

We know, we know. Can a public pool really be worth it? Normally, we say no—but the historic Venetian Pool, first designed in 1924 by Coral Gables mastermind George Merrick, remains a fanciful Mediterranean postcard with waterfalls, a grotto and plenty of room to swim.

8
Classic car
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Exhibitions

Miami Auto Museum

icon-location-pin North Miami

Michael Dezer founded the museum in part because he needed a place to display his rad collection of vehicles: the Batmobile, one of James Bond’s Aston Martins and more. The auto-erotic shrine is compartmentalized into Hollywood and Classics collections, along with military vehicles, bicycles and motorcycles.

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9
The Kampong, Sights and attractions, Things to do, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy The Kampong/Daderot
Things to do

The Kampong

icon-location-pin Coconut Grove

Kampong is home to nearly 600 trees and more than 200,000 varieties of plants and crops. A portion of the grounds sustained considerable damage during Hurricane Irma in 2017 but valiant recovery efforts have all but completely restored the tropical oasis (including erecting its famous 50-ton baobab tree from Tanzania, which founder David Fairchild planted himself in 1928). Reservations are required to visit the nine-acre property so we recommend planning your day here in advance.

10
Zoo Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Zoo Miami/Ron Magill
Things to do

Zoo Miami

icon-location-pin Miami

From reptiles and amphibians to primates, the cageless zoo is home to hundreds of species. Little ones to think of? Kids will love the carousel rides and splash zones (especially during the hot summer months) while parents look forward to pedaling around the park in Safari Cycle bikes, which fit up to five family members.

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11
Wat Buddharangsi
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Naty K.
Things to do, Cultural centers

Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple

icon-location-pin Redlands

Bet you didn't think you'd find a tranquil spot like this in Miami? Home to and run entirely by monks, all are welcome at the gilded Buddhist temple in Homestead. Kick off your shoes and join them in daily prayer or walk the tranquil grounds for a moment of personal meditation. A cultural landmark for Miami’s Thai community, the wat works closely with the Thai-American organization to host holiday festivals throughout the year.

12
Ancient Spanish Monastery, Museums and attractions, Miami
Things to do

Ancient Spanish Monastery

icon-location-pin North Miami Beach

This Romanesque structure is an anomalous oasis in a noisy area. Things to look out for include a life-size statue of the Spanish king Alfonso VII (the monastery was originally constructed to commemorate one of his victories over the Moors) and a couple of attractive stained-glass windows. The monastery is a favorite spot for weddings–so much so that it’s often closed to the public, especially on weekends; call in advance before setting out.

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13
Cape Florida Lighthouse
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Bill Dickinson
Things to do

Cape Florida Lighthouse

icon-location-pin Key Biscayne

Once you’re through swimming and soaking up the sun off the coast of Key Biscayne, walk over to its southern tip to find South Florida’s oldest lighthouse—which guided sailors to safety throughout the 19th century. Your admission to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park includes a guided tour and access to the top.

14
Coral Castle Museum, Museums and attractions, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Coral Castle Museum
Things to do

Coral Castle Museum

icon-location-pin Leisure City

On your way to Homestead or the keys? Do yourself a favor and stop by the Coral Castle, a bizarre but captivating outdoor sculpture garden that was apparently the work of just one man—Ed Leedskalnin, who channeled a broken heart into hulking works of coral.

Grab a quick—and cheap!—bite while you sightsee

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