Things to Do in Miami
The 17-acre South Pointe Park, also known locally as just South Pointe, offers expansive views of popular sights like Downtown Miami, Fisher Island and Biscayne Bay, all the way out to the Atlantic. Originally used in the early 1980s to house a police unit, horse stables and the Port of Miami’s Harbor Pilots, the area has undergone major changes since then. Now a thriving park, the site includes 20-foot wide walkways lined with Florida Limestone and an ocean-themed playground area for children. There are numerous amenities, including a restaurant and a separate dog park, and at night, the promenade is lit up by neon light towers that provide stylish functionality.
Watch for cruise ships sailing past and check out the park’s contemporary art sculptures. The beautifully maintained grounds have become a popular spot for film crews and photo shoots, so keep watch for any celebrity sightings.
The Holocaust Memorial, formally known as the Holocaust Memorial of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, is a labor of love by a small group of Holocaust survivors who came together in 1984 to develop a permanent memorial in the city. The group established a private nonprofit organization and decided on Miami as a location given the high concentration of Holocaust survivors settled in the city.
One of the most important elements of Miami’s Holocaust Memorial is the Sculpture of Love and Anguish, a giant bronze representation of an outstretched arm, rising from the earth and stretching to the heavens. The entire area is made up of vignettes of family members trying to help each other in a final act of love.
Since 1962 this 2.6-acre urban oasis has provided locals and travelers with easy access to some of the most diverse plant life on earth. Visitors can wander the well-kept grounds where lush green lawns with glittering fountains and stone paths lead the way to impressive atriums filled with colorful blossoms.
Wetlands and mangroves, orchids and bromeliads are just some of the standing exhibits on offer at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. The stunning Japanese Garden with its classic red lacquered bridge and placid ponds is one of the main attractions of this destination, while an expansive edible garden and placid water lily ponds are among other highlights that draw tens of thousands of travelers here each year.
All across America are wealthy suburbs, where the houses are big and new and designed to resemble European abodes. But Coral Gables, called the City Beautiful, was the first. For in the posh neighborhood, you’ll see Italianate villas, Mediterranean mansion, mini-Alhambras, and cookie-cutter Cordobas, shaded and lovely under lving walls of banyan grove and ficus copse.
After you’ve spent some time driving around looking at all the beautiful homes, head up Granada Boulevard to Anastasia Avenue to marvel at the palatial landmark Biltmore Hotel. Then zip up the diagonal Desoto Boulevard, past the gurgling stone fountain of DeSoto Plaza to the perfectly sculpted landscaping, waterfalls, palm groves, and shaded pavilions of Venetian Pool. For a little respite, head east past wedding-cake houses and an organic pavilion of banyan branches to Miracle Mile, a sparkling stretch of the Gables’ finest shopping outlets.
One of Miami’s most delicious and vibrant attractions is Mango’s Tropical Cafe. Offering a quintessential dose of Miami flavor, this two-story nightclub boasts some of the city’s best live entertainment, especially as their shows display Miami’s melting pot culture. The decor has an outdoor beach vibe, with palm trees and tropical artwork, while the menu consists of simple yet tasty dishes like steak, burgers, and mahi mahi. The real draw to Mango’s, however, is the loud and lively entertainment, showcasing talented men and women in vibrant costumes dancing tango, salsa, reggae, congo, mariachi and even pulling out some Michael Jackson moves. Pair the experience with a mojito, caipirinha or Caribbean rum cocktail to really get to know the culture of the dances.
Conveniently, Mango’s Tropical Cafe is located across from Miami Beach. Just like at Miami Beach, you can expect beautiful people at the nightclub and restaurant and a party that seems to never end.
The Port of Miami is one of the busiest embarkation and disembarkation points in the cruising world, so get there a day or two early to minimize stress and see a bit of the city before you set sail. Known for its Art Deco architecture, glamorous South Beach and Cuban influences, Miami is a fast-paced city with endless urban adventures, but if it’s all a bit too much for you, escape the bustle for a shore excursion to the Florida Keys, an Everglades airboat tour or a helicopter ride up in the clouds.
The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, founded in 1963, specializes in global art, primarily from the Renaissance period on. The museum is located in the 1930s Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center and includes traveling exhibitions from national and international collections to contribute to the cultural activities available in the area. A large expansion took place between 1998 and 2002, more than doubling its size from 15,000 to 35,000 square feet, and more expansions are planned. There is a year-round calendar of contemporary exhibitions, artists’ projects, educational programs, lectures, workshops and concerts at the museum. Don’t miss the Art History Lab, a spot that mixes different works of art from various eras in art history to create visual and thematic relationships between them. Pieces are displayed in a “salon style” format as well, so visitors can perhaps also consider the connections between art created in different countries at different points in time.
For those wondering where to go in Miami, head to Washington Avenue. One of the main avenues of South Beach, it’s lined with shops, parks, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, designer labels, hotels and interesting architecture. Start your exploration of Washington Avenue at the Temple Emanu-El, a synagogue noted for its marble design and Byzantine and Moorish architecture. Continue taking in beauty at South Pointe Park, one of Miami Beach’s most scenic stretches. The park features 17 acres (6.9 hectares) of waterfront green space, a paved jogging path, and views of Downtown Miami, Fisher Island, Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
No stroll down Washington Avenue would be complete without some retail therapy, especially as it’s here as well as the parallel Collins Avenue where you’ll find designer brands like Armani, Barneys New York, True Religion, Diesel and Dash. Washington Avenue is also home to Lincoln Road Mall, a pedestrian-only promenade with attractions and stores.
Located in Miami’s Art Deco District, The World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) was founded in 2005 and is the only museum of its kind in the United States – exclusively filled with erotic art. The collection includes over 4,000 works of international art, dating back as far as 300 BC. The 12,000-square-foot museum is the world’s largest public collection of erotic art and was founded by Naomi Wilzig, an American art collector and writer. There are pieces from noted artists on display, including Rembrandt, Rodin, Picasso and Dali, while modern pieces include everything from countless sex toys in various shapes to dominatrix Barbie dolls. If you’re surprised to see Rembrandt’s name on the list of noted artists, you’ll soon learn about his erotic works here. “Rembrandt’s Erotic Secrets” is an exhibit of 20 etchings, several of which are now permanently housed in the museum.
More Things to Do in Miami
The New World Center sits in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood and is a top venue for music education and performance. Designed by Frank Gehry, the concert hall is home to the New World Symphony and includes state-of-the-art technical capabilities. Yasushisa Toyota designed New World Center’s acoustics, working with Gehry previously on the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Opened in 2011, the venue hosts the New World Symphony’s performances from September to May, including percussion concert series, small ensemble shows, a chamber music series, full-orchestra concerts and other special-themed recitals and events. The center features a main performance hall, a pavilion, a rooftop garden, an atrium, a lounge and an ensemble room. Don’t miss the rooftop gardens, which host many private parties and receptions, and not only feature expansive views of the surrounding South Beach area but also look down into the New World Center Atrium, which is captivating on its own.
Located in Homestead, Florida, the Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts NASCAR, IndyCar and several other series of racing events. With a design representing the vibrant nearby Miami Beach Art Deco district, the speedway opened to a sold-out NASCAR crowd in 1995. The track contains several lakes, the largest of which is 18 acres and even stocked with rare peacock bass. The lake is deep enough to submerge an entire six-story building.
The speedway has continued to gain in popularity and garner the attention of motorsports enthusiasts around the globe. The track made history in 2008 when it became the first venue ever to host all of North America’s major motorsports championships: IndyCar, Grand-Am and Firestone Indy Lights Series, NASCAR’s Spring Cup, and the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.
Cape Florida, officially known as Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, is home to a historic lighthouse dating back to 1825 and serves as a popular place for visitors to relax, sunbathe, swim and picnic. Although the lighthouse was reconstructed in 1847, it remains the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County, and this stretch of sandy beach runs for over a mile, over which other activities such as fishing, kayaking and bike riding take place.
It’s hard to imagine that the tranquil area was once the site of significant bloodshed in the 18th century, when marauding pirates and Native Americans used the area as their hunting grounds. One of the most notorious pirates was Black Caesar, who terrorized the region until he was caught and hanged in 1718.
The Coral Castle Museum in Miami, Florida, is a castle and stone garden surrounded in mystery. It was built from 1923 to 1951 by Edward Leedskalnin, who was originally from Latvia and stood at just over five feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds. Despite his small size, he worked alone to build his castle during a time before modern construction equipment. His creations were carved out of more than 1,100 tons of coral rock, and he worked at night so no one saw how he built it—people began to say he had supernatural powers. All Ed would ever say was that he knew “the secret of the pyramids.” His secrets died with him.
Today you can explore Coral Castle with the help of an audio guide, available in English, Spanish, German or French, or on a tour with a knowledgeable guide. You will see many features of the museum, such as a nine-ton gate that moves with just a touch of the finger, a Polaris telescope and functioning rocking chairs, all are made entirely of stone.
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