At the epicentre of Miami’s heady mix of sun, sea and glamour is South Beach, home to a stunning stretch of sand, exclusive boutiques, hip nightspots and world class eateries helmed by celebrity chefs. Also lending the area plenty of appeal is the well-preserved art deco architecture that line Ocean Drive and a smattering of acclaimed cultural venues including several museums and galleries, not to mention the acclaimed Art Basel fair that takes place here each year.
It’s perfectly possible – and not a little tempting – to come to Miami and spend your entire time reclined on its pristine sandy shore. But for those keen to explore the city and perhaps venture beyond the time-honoured tourist spots, there are endless opportunities awaiting you. If you’d like to add some off-the-radar sights and attractions to your Miami itinerary, we’ve picked out 20 unique things to see and do here.
Immerse yourself in a world of erotica
Perhaps not the most family-friendly of attractions, if you’re in South Beach without any kids then the World Erotic Art Museum certainly makes for a quirky few hours of risqué exploration and discovery. Packed full of historical artifacts and information about ancient sexual practices, as well as the role of sex across cultures, the museum is a veritable temple of all things erotica.
LOCATION 1205 Washington Avenue HOURS Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm Fri-Sun 11am-12am
Take a wander around a historic district
Miami’s Historic District is unquestionably one of South Beach’s jewels in the crown. Every year the Art Deco District Welcome Center attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year, all keen to explore this fascinating neighbourhood. Boasting a remarkable concentration of over 800 Art Deco buildings all within one square mile, the area can be explored on foot during an official Welcome Center self-guided walking tour.
LOCATION 1001 Ocean Drive
Admire the very best in modern art
Miami South Beach has a sprinkling of exceptional cultural venues and among the very best is The Bass. Founded in 1964, the museum is home to a wide assortment of contemporary art collections – both permanent and temporary – all offering a unique insight into today’s modern art trends. There’s also an array of colourful public art displays that can be enjoyed on the museum lawn.
LOCATION 2100 Collins Avenue HOURS Weds-Sun 10am-5pm Closed Mon-Tues
Let your hair down at an upscale nightspot
You’ll be hard pressed to find an entertainment spot in Miami with quite the attention to detail as Barsecco. The swanky restaurant and lounge dazzles patrons with its breezy canopied terrace, where eclectic seating, draping vines and reclaimed barn wood combine to create a stylish and sensual atmosphere. The venue oozes chic contemporary luxury, with lush interiors and low lighting, while a drinks menu featuring a range of exotic cocktails, along with beers, spirits, wines and champagnes, add to the appeal. The culinary options are no less enticing, and the top class music will keep your toes tapping late into the night.
LOCATION 1421 South Miami Avenue HOURS Mon-Tues 4pm-2am Weds 4pm-3am Thurs-Sat 4pm-4am Sun 11.45am-2am
Get a true taste of Miami
Miami has a hugely diverse culinary scene and dedicated foodies visiting the city can join a mouth-watering tour that invites them to savour some of the best dishes and delicacies it has to offer. Miami Culinary Tours are a well-established company that runs small-group tours throughout the city, including the South Beach area, offering the chance to sample bites from renowned chefs and discover artisanal creations at off-the-beaten-track eateries. Guides are intimately acquainted with the neighbourhoods you’ll get to explore, from their casual dining spots to pop-up ethnic street food to the very best in haute cuisine. Private tours are also available.
Let the kids loose in a fun-packed country park
Combining all the amenities of a park with easy access to the famous sandy shore of South Beach, South Pointe Park is a hugely popular recreation spot that throngs with visitors all-year-round. Within the 17-acre county park you’ll find a kids’ playground with water features, a pier for fishing, restaurants, and a 20-foot-wide walkway popular with joggers, bikers, rollerbladers, or anyone taking a leisurely a stroll. The park also plays host to a several summer festivals and other outdoor events.
Pick up some local booze at a craft beer market
Miami has a vibrant craft beer scene and at the vanguard of this burgeoning local industry is Boxelder Craft Beer Market, an independent, family-owned bottle shop and taproom in the heart of the Wynwood district, a short drive west of South Beach. Offering a huge selection of American craft and Belgian beers, as well as plenty of other provisions, Boxelder also plays host to a regular programme of events, including food and beer tastings, guest speakers, and more.
LOCATION 2817 Northwest 2nd Avenue HOURS Fri-Sat 1pm-2am Sun 1pm-10pm Mon 4pm-11pm Tues-Thurs 1pm-12am
Listen to top class DJs on a fun-packed night out
Another hugely popular nightlife venue in South Beach is Kill Your Idol, which opened in 2012 with the aim of providing a much-needed alternative to the tourist traps of South Beach – and it has certainly done that. From the life-sized Bruce Lee statue that sits as the bar’s eye-catching focal point to the superb DJs that perform here, the superb music bar will give you a night to remember.
LOCATION 222 Española Way HOURS Mon-Sun 8pm-5am
Explore your bookish side
Book shops have a unique atmosphere and in Miami the best emporium for literary types is Books & Books. The store opened its second branch on Lincoln Road Mall in the heart of South Beach in 1989, housed within the historic Sterling Building, embracing its acclaimed love of art, design, fashion and architecture through a richly diverse collection of books, along with large magazine collection featuring both international publications and locally published periodicals.
LOCATION 2608, 927 Lincoln Rd HOURS 10am-11pm Sun-Thurs Fri-Sat 10am-12am
Enjoy South Beach with the wind in your hair
Cycling is a hugely popular pursuit in South Beach, with visitors and locals alike keen to enjoy the idyllic views while feeling the wind in their hair – and getting some exercise to boot. Happily, Miami runs an award-winning bike sharing and rental system – called the Citi Bike program – which is available in South Beach and several other locations across the city and allows visitors to simply ‘grab and go’ once they’ve downloaded a free app. Every bike is solar-powered, sturdy and durable and is locked into a network of docking stations which are accessible 24/7. Bikes can be then dropped off at any station at any time.
Put pedal to the metal with a beer in hand
Pedal Pub are a leader in the experiential tourism industry, providing pilot-driven pedal tours in Miami. They have partnered with the world-renowned bike manufacturer Fietscafe, the original party bike, to ensure every bike is of the highest quality and meets the highest safety standards for the benefit of all riders. Pedal Pub offers community members and tourists alike the chance to create authentic and meaningful memories through a positive, team-building experience, socialising with friends, partaking in a light workout and touring neighburhoods and cities in an exciting, unique way.
A quick drive west of South Beach is Jungle Island, a magical tropical-themed attraction that’s home to a wide array of exotic animals including lemurs from Madagascar, the world’s only tame cassowary, parrots, a pair of twin orangutans, and plenty more. Regular shows are held here too, and there’s also a children’s play area to let the kids unwind, along with a thrilling skydiving experience, a zip-line and an Escape Room.
LOCATION 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail HOURS Sun-Thurs 10am-10pm Fri-Sat 10am-11pm