South Beach Miami, Florida – a place for dream vacations! Vacations typically start at the beach, but South Beach Miami has so much more to offer. The top things to do in Miami Beach include the Art Deco District, Lummus Park, Ocean Drive, Espanola Way and historic places are just some of the things to do in Miami. Known as a place for the rich and famous, the South Beach or SoBe lifestyle is exciting and glamorous. Very trendy, this urban locale is one of the hottest spots to visit the world over. An active nightlife, beach bodies, classic cars and ocean-side dining are just a few of the things calling your name to visit South Beach Miami.
Imagine waking to a sunny morning and enjoying a coffee and light breakfast overlooking Lummus Park and the beach beyond it. Picture yourself strolling the beach, toes in the water and sun on your back. That evening you enjoy dinner at one of the many South Beach Art Deco restaurants along Ocean Drive. Your day ends with a nightcap at a local club listening to live Latin American music and maybe getting your groove on. Your boutique hotel is just blocks away and you are mesmerized by the neon lights and the music emanating from the clubs along the way as you walk back to your room. If you enjoy a more active pace, you won’t be disappointed. There are many exciting things to do in Miami Beach Florida.
Try out your athletic abilities with paddle boarding, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, diving or any number of water sports. Take in a museum – there are many to choose from such as science, art, collections, and history. Rent a bike and ride the South Beach Art Deco Trail (See our interactive South Beach Map for all our top things too do in Miami Beach listed). The SoBe lifestyle is fun and glamorous. South Beach Miami is a hangout for celebs, the rich and famous. From vintage hotels to modern high rises, there is a niche for you in magnificent Miami’s South Beach Florida!
Miami Beach Florida: The Famous Beach
Miami Beach Florida, one of the most famous beaches in the world. Stunning beaches along the eastern edge of Florida, the gateway to Latin America, the home of the rich and famous. Miami has known history dating back to the days of Columbus and even earlier. It is the hub of Latino culture. It is the world’s best display of an Art Deco neighborhood. It is a place of nature, science and technology. Miami Beach is not only perched on the edge of the ocean, it is a cutting edge city when it comes to design, art, music, multicultural relations, business, and pleasure. There are many adventurous things to do in Miami Beach.
Miami Beach Boardwalk: Walk, Jog Or Bike
The Miami Beach Boardwalk extends about 4 miles from 46th Street on the north to 5th Street on the south. The boardwalk is open to walking and jogging. Bicycles are allowed on the boardwalk south of 21st Street. Between 46th Street and 23rd Street the path is not paved. South of 23rd Street the path is paved and ideal for a walk or bike ride.
As you step out on to the Miami Beach boardwalk the first thing you will notice after sand and water is the colorful South Beach Art Deco lifeguard huts. (See our interactive South Beach Map for the location of the South Beach Art Deco lifeguard huts). One of the things to do in Miami Beach is to make a photo collection of each beach hut you find. Each hut is painted in its own theme; they are practically works of art in themselves.
You will also see South Beach Miami dotted with cabanas that are available to rent. This is a great way to stake out a place on the beach for you and your family. The cabana will give you shade when you need it, a shelter from the wind and serve as a great place to take a nap.
On the city side you will note the architecture of the buildings from high rise apartments and condos to historic South Beach Art Deco hotels, restaurants and establishments.
Of the many things to do in Miami Beach, biking has become a favorite. Biking around South Beach Miami is easy due to Citi Bike Miami. There are approximately 100 stations and over 1,000 bikes available to rent throughout the city. You can rent by the hour or the day. The bikes are sturdy and have a basket on front to carry any items you have collected during your trip through things to do in Miami Beach. Since there are so many stations placed around Miami Beach Florida, you can literally ride the city and see what you want to see without having to worry about parking – plus you will get a bit of exercise!
Find the start location of the Miami Beach Broadwalk on our South Beach Map of the things to do in Miami Beach. You will find a Bike rental station just around the corner.
Along the boardwalk you will find a myriad of things to do in Miami Beach. There is truly something for everyone in Miami Beach Florida. From the boardwalk you can access water sport activities on the beach side such as kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, surfing, and diving. On the city side you will find tasty cuisine, fanciful boutiques, stunning art galleries and quiet coffee shops mixed with a variety of cultures and international flair. The boardwalk is a central feature and a jumping off point for a variety of things to do in Miami.
Ocean Drive: Iconic Art Deco Avenue
Enjoy a slow drive down popular Ocean Drive in a hot car. Ocean Drive is similar to the boardwalk only this one is for cars. It is especially fun if you can rent a convertible and ride with the top down. Wave at the beach goers and tourists as they move between shops, bars and restaurants. Keep your eyes open for celebrities. Remember, Miami Beach Florida is a city of the rich and famous! As you cruise the strip you will notice plenty of things to do in Miami Beach.
For instance, the famed fashion designer Versace had a 1930s Mediterranean home on Ocean Drive. It is now a boutique hotel called The Villa Casa Casuarina. Another famous location is the Colony Hotel. It is a 1935 South Beach Art Deco Hotel with many connections to the film industry. Popular television show “Dexter” and movie “Scarface” were filmed on Ocean Drive. Other popular television shows set in Miami are Miami Vice and CSI: Miami.
Ocean Drive is in the heart of the South Beach Art Deco District where you will see hundreds of buildings that were designed and constructed during the Art Deco era of the mid-1930s.
Other famous stops along Ocean Drive include Mango’s Tropical Cafe that specialized in Caribbean cuisine and live music and dancing. If you like cabaret and drag shows, The Palace is the place for you. Nighttime activities offer a different perspective of South Beach Miami and yet the list of things to do in Miami Beach is still extensive.
South Beach Art Deco: Colors, Lights, Action
The South Beach Art Deco scene is out of this world! In fact, it is the largest in the world with an estimated 900 Art Deco buildings restored in the South Beach Art Deco District. The characteristic clean lines, symmetric, geometric, brightly colored and neon-lighted buildings will definitely catch your eye. The buildings are unique and will stand out day or night.
First introduced in Paris in about 1925, the Art Deco style quickly found its way to Miami Beach Florida. The South Beach Art Deco district has the distinction of being the first 20th century neighborhood recognized by the National Registry of Historic Places. The Miami Design Preservation League can be thanks for its tireless work in saving the district from demolition. The district covers an area between 5th Street and 23rd Street. The western border is Washington Avenue and the eastern border is the Miami Beach.
The South Beach Art Deco District had a lot of attraction back 50 years ago; today it is one of the leading things to do in Miami Beach. The attraction it had for the stars of yesteryear is still the attraction it holds today. There are several well-known spots in the South Beach Art Deco district that are of interest. The Celino South Beach Hotel on 6th Street was a popular hangout for movie stars Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and Rita Hayworth. The Clevelander Hotel on 23rd Street is a well-known party spot. The National Hotel has a 2-story lobby and the longest swimming pool in Miami Beach Florida. At 205 feet long it is quite a large pool. And Delano South Beach was once the tallest building in South Beach Miami. Currently it is a present day hangout for celebrities and socialites. The Lincoln Road Mall is an outdoor pedestrian mall with restaurants, shops and boutiques each bearing a signature Art Deco theme.
You can find all the art deco hotels and attractions listed here on our interactive Map of South Beach.
South Beach Classic Cars: Rev Up Your Engines
Classic cars in South Beach are as everyday as a drink of water. Car enthusiasts, restorers and collectors cruise Ocean Drive trying to garner a whistle and a shout out about their car. Brightly colored, polished paint and a lot of chrome, these cars represent both icons of the past and icons of today. Convertibles and muscle cars are part of the mix. If you own one of these types of cars, bring it to South Beach Miami and cruise Ocean Drive with the rest – it’s one of things to do in Miami Beach!
The Miami Auto Museum located at Biscayne Bay Boulevard and 146th Street is home to the most extraordinary car collection in the world. The American Classics Gallery has every vintage type of car you stock originals, custom hot rods, the best of Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge and even Studebaker, Nash, Kaiser and Packard. The defined curves, geometric fins, flashy colors and shiny chrome will leave your mind spinning at the value of this collection.
The Hollywood Gallery has the most famous cars in Hollywood history including the likes of Herbie the Love Bug, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Flintstones, Fast & Furious, Knight Rider, and The A-Team. The collection includes convertibles, pick-up trucks, vans, Jeeps, VW bugs, 2-doors, 4-doors, carts, motorcycles and many others.
Within the Hollywood Gallery is two separate collections. Can you say, “Bond, James Bond”? Yes, a complete James Bond exhibit devoted to the famed 007 movies. The collection has at least one vehicle from each of the Bond movies and in many cases multiple examples. Add to that all the little tech gadgets Bond fans are so fond of – watches, pens, shoes and more. There is also an extensive Batman Exhibit complete with a Batmobile and other Bat toys.
If you are a car buff and select this as one of the things to do in Miami Beach, set aside enough time so you can see each and every vehicle. The colors and shine are enticing!
Espanola Way: European Revival in Miami Beach Florida
Espanola Way is a Spanish-styled village set in the middle of Miami Beach Florida. This South Beach Miami has a wide and varied history. At its inception in the 1920’s, it was meant to be a destination for the rich and famous. A place for society to come and dine and dance until the sun came up. By the 1930’s a new wave of visitors set up shop. It was the likes of Al Capone and other gangsters who used local establishments for gambling. This type of influence brought in the rough and rugged. Over the next several decades the sun began to set on Espanola Way. Its buildings were run down, neglected and abandoned. There wasn’t much left of the dream that was meant for this part of Miami.
In the 1980s, folks like Linda Polansky and Barbara Capitman joined forces along with others with a mission to save Miami and restore and revive the neighborhoods building by building, block by block. Eventually others took notice such as the creatives of the television show Miami Vice. With their help the group began to restore Espanola way and the Clay Hotel, once Capone’s gambling parlor, was going to be the crown jewel. Miami Vice shot many episodes on Espanola Way including the first and the last. Today Clay Hotel, which sits at the corner of Washington Avenue and Espanola Way welcomes visitors to the neighborhood. The Clay Hotel is situated two blocks from Miami Beach and has a private section of beach with chairs and towels reserved for its guests. Other amenities include discounts at local restaurants. Other boutique hotels include El Paseo Hotel and Casa Victoria Orchid, Barcelona Studios and South Beach Executive Apartments.
Now thirty years later, this neighborhood has been fully restored to its original dream. A visit to Espanola Way is one of many things to do in Miami Beach. On weekends the street opens up much like an open air market. Shops open their doors, street vendors find a spot along the way to sell their wares, art galleries and museums are sharing the culture and heritage with the neighborhood. This section of road has a bohemian village feel that is very warm and inviting.
Espanola Way is located at #8 on our Map of things to do in Miami Beach.
Collins Avenue: A Cross Section of South Beach Miami
In 1913, John S. Collins built the first bridge that connected Miami Beach Florida to mainland Florida across Biscayne Bay. Collins Avenue runs parallel with the Atlantic Ocean and shares a name on specific sections with Ocean Drive and Florida Hwy. A1A. It is just over 13 miles long.
There are so many options of things to do along Collins Avenue it is difficult to describe them all. Near the water there is parasailing, jet skiing, and aqua jets. If you are looking for wheels, there are bicycles, carts, go cars, scooters, roller blades and Segways to rent. For more organized tours there are double-decker buses and Duck boat tours.
On the corners of Collins and Washington Avenues at 10th Street is the Wolfsonian. No, it is not a museum about wolves; rather it is a museum founded by Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. This is a museum sponsored by the Florida International University. Its collections strive to preserve history during the Industrial Revolution, 1850-1950. The exhibits cover a wide range of themes such as Colonialism, Modernism, War & Political Propaganda, and the World’s Fairs. The exhibits include art, handiwork, tools, artifacts, furniture, glass, ceramics, rare books and textiles.
Collins Avenue has many spas and massage parlors; ideal after a bike ride around the city. You can also visit the Jackie Gleason Theater of Performing Arts. Visit the Holocaust Memorial.
All along the way you will find restaurants, night clubs, and bars for your enjoyment. Try something new! Go for something international or fresh seafood. Enjoy the music and vibe at the various clubs. This is Miami Beach Florida – so enjoy!
Travel Guide: Finding Your Way Around Miami Beach Florida
We have provided you with a bit of history about South Beach Miami and have highlighted attractions, accommodations and things to do in Miami Beach Florida. Here are some logistics.
As in any big city, parking is premium and sometimes hard to come by. In Miami Beach, one of the best places to park is the 7th Street Parking Garage. There is also metered parking on the side streets; get there early to find your spot.
If you fly into Miami International Airport and do not plan on renting a car, there is a bus service to Miami Beach or the Metrorail for just $2.35. Once there you can easily get to your hotel by calling a cab, or maybe just walking.
There are public restrooms at the north end and south end of Lummus Park. Plus, most restaurants and service- type businesses have public restrooms.
South Beach – Make Your Dreams Come True
So there you have it; a complete rundown of things to do in Miami Beach. From the beach to cultural interactions, from historical museums to art galleries, from pedestrian shopping malls to ethnic diners, the SoBe life is enticing whether you are here for one week or for a lifetime.
The beautiful architecture of the South Beach Art Deco designs on Ocean Drive and the Mediterranean Revival on Espanola Way are ready for you to explore and enjoy.
Be a people watcher, or better yet, be someone people watch as you drive your flashy, classic car down historic Ocean Drive. South Beach Miami is an ideal place to watch people and activity all around you.
Get a cabana on the beach and enjoy the sand, surf and sky from sun rise to sun set. Rent a bike and cycle around the city. There are hundreds of bike stations to pick up a bike at one spot and turn it in at another spot. Makes it easy to get around the city.
Once you have seen Miami Beach Florida, you can venture out on a day trip island hopping the Bahamas. Check out the trip plans at Bahamas Air Tours.
For more specifics on travel in Miami and South Beach, check out our USA Travel Guide.
Things to do in Miami Beach Map