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Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Photograph: Courtesy Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

The best things to do in Miami to get out and explore right now

Hop from attraction to museum to nature preserve when you set off to explore the best things to do in Miami

By Virginia Gil
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July 2020: Summer in the Magic City is traditionally lazy, rainy and quiet. But not this year. The streets aren’t empty because the snowbirds flew home nor are we lounging around our houses more because it’s raining. It’s July and most aspects of regular life are still on hold while we navigate this strange, ambiguous phase of lockdown. Fortunately, there are still ways to get out and explore the city safely. Some of the best things to do in Miami (beyond going to the beach) have reopened with new guidelines in place. From Miami museums and outdoor attractions to iconic restaurants and streets, our favorite spots in the 305 are carefully welcoming back guests. If you’re holding off on any IRL exploring, we get it. Peep this list for inspo and check back often as we’ll continue to update with new openings. As always, wear a mask, social distance whenever possible and follow the regulations set forth by the venues.

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

Frost Science
Frost Science
Photograph: Courtesy Frost Science

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.

Vizcaya Gardens
Vizcaya Gardens
Photograph: Robin Hill

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.

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

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: In lieu of its annual mango festival in July, the garden celebrates the tropical fruit all month long with its Mango Days of Summer, featuring local food collabs—think a sour from Lincoln Beard’s and ice cream by Sweet Melody—themed programming and more.

Lincoln Road Mall
Lincoln Road Mall
Photograph: Wei Shi

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 coffee shops, lounges and cultural venues—such as the Colony Theatre—and 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

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Deering Estate
Deering Estate
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Ricardo Porven

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.

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

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. 

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Jungle Island
Jungle Island
Photograph: Courtesy Jungle Island/ArrogantWatcher

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. 

The Everglades
The Everglades
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Riccardo Maria Mantero

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.

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Miami Design District
Miami Design District
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ruth Hara

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 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
Versailles
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Wally Gobetz

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. While only takeout and delivery are available right now, the entire menu can be ordered to-go.

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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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