August 2019: When we think “downtown,” we think walkable and diverse with a healthy dose of edge. Miami’s Downtown continues making strides toward that breezy ideal, and we’re just trying to keep up. Among our new additions, every solid downtown needs a stylish and reliable indie coffee shop for that much needed caffeine fix between activities, and ALL DAY definitely fits the bill. If art’s your thing, the PAMM is great and all, but you’ll do well to keep Mana Contemporary—a massive multidisciplinary arts enclave housed in an old mall—on your radar to stay ahead of the curve. Check our update to find out what else is new and exciting in Downtown Miami.
There hasn’t always been a ton of things to do in Downtown Miami. But, like so much in the neighborhood, that has changed. Sure, you could hit up one of the best Downtown Miami clubs or chow down at one of these awesome Downtown Miami restaurants. But there’s more than just food and drink in the growing neighborhood. Today, you’ll find Downtown full of some really great museums and places to chill out or soak in some incredible views. Downtown doesn’t yet have the rep of Miami neighborhoods such as South Beach or Wynwood but that’s all the more reason to spend a day exploring it. Plus, it’s one of the most navigable areas of this city thanks to the (free!) Metromover.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Downtown Miami
Things to do in Downtown Miami
What is it? The best modern and contemporary art museum in Miami and, arguably, all of South Florida. Even a simple stroll around the stunning building (designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron) is a visual blast.
Why go? PAMM’s curation of the museum’s 200,000 square-feet is excellent, so you can bet you’re in for a world-class experience. On top of that, the onsite restaurant, Verde, will help you spend an entire afternoon on the gorgeous waterfront property.
What is it? The most iconic landmark in Downtown Miami. It’s often referred to as the “Ellis Island of the South,” thanks to the role it played in Cuban immigration.
Why go? Not only is the historic building worth a look from the outside (it changes colors at night every now and then, too), but inside you’ll find worthy exhibits on Cuban exiles and the Cuban diaspora.
What is it? A new wave coffee shop whose Downtown location sandwiched between Fooq’s and The Corner is telling—it serves beer, though it’s not quite a bar, and features a curated list of formidable breakfast sandwiches and light lunch fare, but we wouldn’t just call it a restaurant.
Why go? Cold brew is the main attraction at this hipster-heavy spot written up by the likes of Vogue and New York Times, but java junkies will love ALL DAY’s extensive list of coffee options, featuring different origins and brewing methods.
What is it? A big public park on the edge of Biscayne Bay. In addition to being a perfectly pleasant place to chill out and read a book, Bayfront often hosts concerts at its amphitheater, music festivals and other outdoor events.
Why go? There’s not a ton of green space in Downtown Miami—and there’s nothing as pretty as Bayfront, especially during a sunset.
What is it? Some of Miami’s brightest on-the-cutting-edge creatives make their home at Mana Contemporary, a sprawling, super-cool contemporary arts center housed inside an old, retrofitted mall in Downtown.
Why go? The rag-tag multidisciplinary complex also known as 777 Mall brings together the likes of local avant-garde filmmakers Borscht Corporation, independent publishers Dale Zine and legendary drag queen Queef Latina’s “Queef Enterprises” sewing studio, giving them access to host monthly open-to-the-public cultural programming that makes Miami feel like a true emerging arts hub.
What is it? Our state-of-the-art new science museum, complete with a massive aquarium and ultra high-tech planetarium. Head to the top floor for a spectacular view of Miami.
Why go? Very few Miami attractions are equally as fun for kids and adults. This is not the case at Frost Science, where a mixture of interactive exhibits, wildlife and science demonstrations and even boozy trivia nights ensure the entire family is going to be engaged.
What is it? A sleek cocktail bar that makes its home on the ground floor of hip new residential building X Miami. Separated from the lobby behind a veil of heavy, dark curtains, the dimly lit rectangular bar gives off an intimate vibe with a strong food and drink selection.
Why go? The concept comes from bartender Will Thompson and ex-Momofuku and Per Se chef Carey Hynes. Order up a plate of pasta, oysters or beef short rib and ask your friendly bartender for a recommendation.
What is it? A fascinating museum dedicated to the weird, colorful and sometimes controversial history of Miami. The name kind of says it all, huh?
Why go? Because we can give you the coveted 100 percent Time Out guarantee that you will learn something new about the city of Miami. And you’ll be able to Miami-splain to all your friends at the next happy hour.
What is it? The best restaurant in the Downtown area. Expect a hip, casual atmosphere and seriously tasty plates.
Why go? Like Persian and Mediterranean food? Then this is the spot for you. Nowhere in Miami does it better than Fooq’s. You’d also be wise to snag pre- or post-dinner drinks next door at the Corner.
What is it? This spectacular $500 million César Pelli creation opened in 2006 and is home to the Florida Grand Opera and the Miami City Ballet, and occasionally hosts the New World Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra.
Why go? Major touring Broadway shows, stand up comedy acts, musicals, world music and children’s shows regularly feature here. Plus, the striking postmodern architecture alone makes it worth a visit.
What is it? A laid-back Downtown club that hosts nightly live jazz in its dark and cozy cellar.
Why go? For the charming Art Deco nostalgia meets gritty NYC vibes. Bring a date or take along a whole group of friends, order up some charcuterie and cheese and keep the wine flowing with plenty of reasonable bottles to choose from.
What is it? The second-largest jewelry building in the United States, believe it or not. Whether you’re seriously looking or just want to browse, you’re welcome inside to a peek at some very, very expensive rocks.
Why go? For the ‘Gram? Recreate that Pretty Woman scene and watch the likes pour in, baby!
What is it? The clubbiest club in all of Miami. If a strip club, EDM, Drake and the concept of bottle service all had a baby, E11even would be the result.
Why go? Because you have to go to at least one club while you’re in Miami. And E11even will deliver a small dash of just about every nightlife concept in the 305. You will, however, pay quite a lot of money for it all.
What is it? A historic atmospheric theater originally built in 1926. The gorgeous building still operates as a performance venue today and has seen acts like Kraftwerk and Neutral Milk Hotel over the last few years.
Why go? In a city where every building seems like it was built yesterday, the Olympia is a gorgeous relic of a more elegant time. It’s honestly a bit hard to focus on the stage without glancing up at the beautiful ceiling every 30 seconds.
What is it? A rooftop bar and lounge atop the historic Langford Hotel. Enjoy a breezy view, a cocktail and a vibe that’s a tad more Manhattan than Miami.
Why go? Because it’s a rooftop! In case you haven’t gathered, we really love those in Miami. Plus, the Langford’s lobby and elevators will give you serious Mad Men vibes.
What is it? The home arena of our beloved Miami Heat. It’s also where all the massive music stars have their concerts when in town.
Why go? Whether it’s for a Heat game or a concert, you’ll have a good time at the AAA. Just don’t try to park. We heartily recommend taking a ride-share app or the Metromover.