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Broken Shaker
Photograph: Courtesy Broken Shaker

The best things to do in Miami right now

Hop from museum to attraction to iconic restaurant as you explore the best things to do in Miami

By Virginia Gil
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October 2020: It’s officially fall and while Miami doesn’t change much in the way of seasons, our city has certainly turned a new leaf this time. From museums and gardens to zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, most of Miami’s best attractions have reopened—and the weather’s finally ripe for exploration. Our update of the best things to do in Miami includes family-friendly spots like Jungle Island and Zoo Miami. We’ve also peppered in a few places just for adults, such as the rooftop bar Sugar and the Rubell Museum, a visual feast for lovers of contemporary art.

Locals and tourists can agree that the best things to do in Miami extend beyond lounging on the sand—though it goes without saying that spending some time on the best Miami beaches is fundamental to life in the 305. In the wintertime particularly, Miami is better known for its thriving cultural scene led by events like Art Basel and neighborhoods such as Wynwood, which every year turns over a brand new facade with the spate of fresh murals that debut during Miami Art Week. And lest we miss out on one of the most important aspects of life in the Magic City—eating!—it’s worth mentioning the booming culinary scene and the host of award-winning Miami restaurants that abound, many of whom we’ve invited to join us at Time Out Market Miami. In between sunbathing, swimming and sipping cocktails, check off these essential Miami experiences. By the way, this list is curated, as always, but isn’t ranked—we just couldn’t choose favorites.

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

Best things to do in Miami

Vizcaya Gardens
Vizcaya Gardens
Photograph: Robin Hill

1. Stroll the magnificent Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Things to do Event spaces Coconut Grove

What is it? Miami’s number one attraction is a surreal Italian Renaissance-style villa in the middle of lush, laid-back Coconut Grove. Its meticulously landscaped gardens, sprawling bayfront terrace and, well, the house itself, make up a total of 43 acres.

Why go? Vizcaya makes for the most fetching photo backdrop in the city (just ask the quinceañeras and brides roaming about) and its inimitable collection of European antiques and decorative works from the 16th to 19th centuries is truly breathtaking. Need to up your social game? Vizcaya is home to some of Miami’s most Instagrammable floors and staircases.

Don’t miss: Vizcaya’s event calendar is packed with free activities that are accessible year-round.

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami, Museum
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami, Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science/Ra Haus

2. Tap into your inner nerd at Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Things to do Exhibitions Downtown

What is it? Spanning across a massive 250,000 square feet, the new Frost Science (an upgrade from its previous Coconut Grove location) occupies four buildings—the Aquarium, the Frost Planetarium and the North and West Wings—features year-round exhibits and is a delight for curious minds of all ages.

Why go? Frost Science is as state-of-the-art as it gets, featuring interactive opportunities, a 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream aquarium that houses all sorts of sea creatures and a planetarium dome that hosts biweekly laser light shows.

Don’t miss: “Power of Science” is the first permanent exhibit to launch since the museum first opened. Exploring four scientific frontiers—oceans, the environment, the human body and the cosmos—the interactive experience takes visitors through transformative research being conducted by the University of Miami staff.

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Broken Shaker
Broken Shaker
Photograph: Courtesy Broken Shaker

3. Soak up the tropical vibes at the Broken Shaker

Bars Cocktail bars Miami Beach

What is it? The bar that started it all. Without the Broken Shaker, we’d still be ordering vodka-sodas and flavoring our drinks with cranberry juice.

Why go? For the tropi-cool vibes you can only get hanging poolside at Miami’s OG cocktail bar. We’d usually recommend a punch (they’re seasonal and a boozy bang-for-your-buck) but these are weird times we’re living in and sharing is not caring. Try one of the specials instead.

Don’t miss: The cozy vibes of the homey 27 Restaurant, where longtime chef Jimmy Lebron dabbles in Israeli, Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisines.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Photograph: Courtesy Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

4. Explore the lush grounds at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Things to do Miami

What is it? One of South Florida’s natural jewels, this 83-acre garden, named after renowned botanist and Miami resident David Fairchild, is filled with tropical splendor: a lush rainforest with a stream, sunken garden, dramatic vistas, an enormous vine pergola and a museum of plant exploration.

Why go? It’s about the easiest, most scenic place to socially distance right now. And there are plenty of shady corners that provide respite from the summer heat.

Don’t miss: October is for lovers at Fairchild. Stop by for several Friday date nights with scheduled activities for couples, such as terrarium building and swing dancing.  

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Miami, Lincoln Road Mall, shopping, lincoln road
Miami, Lincoln Road Mall, shopping, lincoln road
Photograph: Time Out/Wei Shi

5. Shop and people watch down Lincoln Road

Shopping Shopping centers Mid-Beach

What is it? Designed by iconic architectural guru Morris Lapidus in the 1950s, Lincoln Road Mall was once dubbed the “Fifth Avenue of the South,” though it’s now commonly referred to as “Lincoln.” Endless sidewalk cafés, lounges and cultural venues—such as the Colony Theatre—stretch along its length from Washington Avenue to Alton Road.

Why go? The Herzog & de Meuron–designed 1111 Lincoln Road is quite possibly the world’s most glamorous parking garage and houses upscale retail on the ground level. But there’s more than several blocks of stores and boutiques to browse and shop for hours.

Don’t miss: The people-watching is second to none, especially now as restaurants open up their patios for outdoor dining

Key Biscayne
Key Biscayne
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Things to do Key Biscayne

What is it? At the tip of serene, secluded Key Biscayne is this 400-acre state park with beach access, picnic tables, bike trails, and watersport rentals.

Why go? A great place for families with accessible parking close to the sand, Bill Baggs is home to South Florida’s only lighthouse. Take the kids and let them climb the 109 steps to the top of the lookout.

Don’t miss: Boater’s Grill is one of Miami’s best-kept secrets. Tucked away at a far corner of the park, the waterfront spot provides free docking for small vessels and serves moderately priced breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Deering Estate, Miami, Florida
Deering Estate, Miami, Florida
Photograph: Courtesy Miami Dade County/Armando Rodriguez

7. Explore the historical and charming Deering Estate

Things to do Palmetto Bay

What is it? Built by James Deering’s similarly well-off brother Charles as his own sophisticated winter estate, the vast property encompasses several buildings, a mangrove boardwalk and a significant archeological discovery. 

Why go? Outdoorsy types will appreciate the guided nature walks and birding opportunities. Plus, the estate boasts a fossil pit of 50,000-year-old animal bones and 10,000-year-old human remains; the latter are Paleo-Indians.

Don’t miss: Talk about a backdrop! Deering Estate opens its doors early on select days for sunrise photography sessions.

The Bass, Miami Beach
The Bass, Miami Beach
Photograph: Courtesy the Bass

8. Flood your IG feed with works from the Bass

Things to do Cultural centers South Beach

What is it? What began in 1964 as a small, private collection of contemporary art is now an internationally recognized institution with hundreds of pieces within its multiple halls. The 1930s Art Deco building also has meeting areas and classrooms for family-friendly programming, though some of that is on hold for now.

Why go? The Bass’s permanent collections, as well as its traveling exhibitions, comprise art people actually want to see—and Instagram (the real reason we go to museums these days, right?). Think large-scale works made up of found objects that probe us and a site-specific work of LED signs that make you feel at home.

Don’t miss: Spend some time on the lawn exploring the museum’s public art, including Jim Drain’s chess table and Ugo Rondinone’s unmissable Miami Mountain.

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Robert is Here, Museums and attractions, Miami
Robert is Here, Museums and attractions, Miami
Photograph: Anna Moehling

9. Visit Miami’s most popular fruit stand at Robert is Here

Shopping Redlands

What is it? A throwback to Florida’s fruit stands of old, Robert is Here started in 1959 when the shop’s namesake, then six, began selling his family’s cucumbers from a roadside table. It has since grown into an emporium of exotic fruit and vegetables—and a huge tourist attraction.

Why go? A lovely farm setting, a bevy of exotic fruit—which you can ask to be whipped into a fresh milk shake—and an adorable petting zoo make this worthy of the trek down (way) south.

Don’t miss: Beyond sourcing nearly every type of fruit available, Robert is Here stocks “Grandma’s Kitchen,” its small general store, with local honey, artisanal bread and other yummy, Miami-made treats. Only drive-through service is available at the moment, everything can be ordered ahead online or via DM and picked up from the car. 

Rubell Museum
Rubell Museum
Photograph: Time Out/Virginia Gil

10. Take in the wonders of the Rubell Museum

Things to do Exhibitions Allapattah

What is it? Don and Mera Rubell’s eponymous museum houses nearly 7,200 works by more than 1,000 contemporary artists. From Basquiat and Warhol to Koons, the whos-who of 20th-century artists is well represented.

Why go? It’s a former warehouse the couple turned into a sprawling exhibition space after outgrowing their Wynwood gallery of more than 26 years. With 53,000 square feet to play with, the Rubells have room to exhibit as well as engage the community via school partnerships and curatorial training programs.

Don’t miss: Dig into elevated tapas at Leku, the onsite Basque restaurant that’s every bit as enchanting as the contemporary art collection you just witnessed.

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Sugar at EAST, Miami
Sugar at EAST, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy EAST

11. Sip a fancy cocktail in the sky at Sugar

Bars Cocktail bars Brickell

What is it? A stunning rooftop bar that sits atop East, Miami, rewarding those who venture up with 360-views of the city and Asian-themed cocktails. It’s a bougie crowd, so dress accordingly.

Why go? While a rooftop bar on the mainland might not instantly seem like an essential thing to do in the city, Sugar is deserving of its spot on the list. At 40 floors, it’s the tallest bar in Miami and its secluded, storybook garden setting is like none other.

Don’t miss: Don’t miss: Sugar’s happy hour in the sky, featuring two-for-one deals on classic cocktails, signature spritzes and every day from 4 to 6pm.

Jungle Island, Miami, Florida
Jungle Island, Miami, Florida
Photograph: Courtesy Jungle Island

12. Go sub-tropical at Jungle Island

Things to do Event spaces Miami

What is it? A lush, tropical oasis boasting waterfront views and hundreds of species of wildlife, plus playgrounds, zip lines and other attractions for kids.

Why go? It may have started out as a place to see a few exotic fowl, but the former Parrot Jungle is now home so much more with 300-plus species of birds, orangutans and other animals. It’s also evolved into a sort of eco-theme park with attractions such as a flight simulator, an escape room and animal encounters.

Don’t miss: Speaking of encounters, it’s worth the splurge for the chance to cradle lemurs, feed and pet sloths and get hands-on caretaking experience. 

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Everglades National Park, Florida, boat tour
Everglades National Park, Florida, boat tour
Photograph: Shutterstock

13. Hop on a boat tour of Everglades National Park

Things to do Walks and tours

What is it? This massive national park spans 1.5 million acres of wetlands. See alligators, cranes, turtles, manatees and even panthers roam their native habitat freely.

Why go? There’s no place in the world like it, and it’s within driving distance of downtown Miami. With three separate entrances, visitors can explore on foot, on a bicycle and via boat.

Don’t miss: Have you ever zipped to marshes on an airboat? It’s the most exhilarating way to see the Everglades, and now’s your chance.

Miami Circle
Miami Circle
Photograph: Shutterstock

14. Contemplate Miami’s indigenous history

What is it: To the unenlightened, this might seem like a patch of grass with some limestone benches but the Miami Circle is actually a national historic landmark smack in the middle of Brickell.

Why go: The archeological dig preserves the history of Miami’s earliest inhabitants, the Tequesta Indians. A local developer discovered the site, which is believed to be somewhere between 1,700 and 2,000 years old.

Don’t miss: Today, it’s a dog-friendly, waterfront park where locals picnic, watch the boats go by and find a peaceful respite from the Brickell commotion.

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Miami Design District
Miami Design District
Photograph: Luis Gomez

15. Surround yourself with beautiful things at the Miami Design District

Shopping Designer Design District

What is it? The former Decorators’ Row has expanded into a hub for vanguard architecture, fashion and art. There are several multilevel, open-air shopping complexes like Palm Court and Paradise Plaza where to shop for luxury fashion labels including Emilio Pucci and Giorgio Armani. 

Why go? If your pockets aren’t deep enough for the shops, there’s always the neighborhood’s growing number of galleries, a slew of public art and free museums, such as the ICA. For a quick bite, Politan Row offers up an array of global eats.

Don’t miss: Old Greg’s Pizza just opened a new pop-up in Paradise Plaza where, if you can’t score a pie, you can most certainly secure a refreshing frozen negroni.

Versailles, cuban, restaurant, miami
Versailles, cuban, restaurant, miami
Photograph: Courtesy Versailles

16. Get real-deal Cuban at Versailles restaurant

Restaurants Cuban West Little Havana

What is it? This self-proclaimed “most famous Cuban restaurant in the world” is arguably more popular than its palatial namesake in France. The Little Havana institution is the unofficial meeting place for the city’s Cuban community, who crowd the cafecito window 24/7 sipping on Cuban coffee.

Why go? Toasted Cuban sandwiches, piping-hot Cuban coffee served in thimble-sized cups, authentic Cuban pastelitos made the exact same way for 40-plus years, yummy arroz con pollo...shall we go on?

Don’t miss: Versaille’s adjacent bakery (it all connects inside) doubles as a charming dessert shop selling mini flans and key lime pies as well as Cuban-inspired ice cream. Get your meal to-go or take advantage of the large tents in the parking lot, offering loads of socially distant outdoor dining.

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Zoo Miami
Zoo Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Zoo Miami/Ron Magill

17. Zoo Miami

Things to do Miami

What is it? The city’s premier wildlife center is home to thousands of animals, from reptiles to mammals to birds. The sprawling facility spans across 750 acres and is the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida.

Why go? Due to the zoo’s sub-tropical temps, species native to Australia, Africa and other warm climates comfortably reside here. Forget a safari—Zoo Miami is where you’ll safely spot zebras, giraffes and lions. 

Don’t miss: Hop on a Safari Cycle (with room for up to six riders) and see it all without tiring yourself out.

More great things to do across the globe

Uluru’s ‘Field of Light’
Photograph: Mark Pickthall, courtesy Field of Light, Uluru, Bruce Munro 2016

The 40 best things to do in the world right now

Things to do

Going out and doing things satisfies our need to explore, to learn and to grow (and then to brag about it on social media). Our hope is that the DO List becomes not just your bucket list, but your inspiration to experience and appreciate the corners of magic in the world.

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