Heading to Miami for a week? There’s no dearth of options in the area. However if you’re like me, a bit sun/beach averse, you may be more interested in exploring neighborhoods and getting a feel for what the area is really like.
My husband and I just spent a lovely week down there soaking up the sun and visiting with friends and family. While we had a full week of fun, there’s definitely more to do, so we hope to go back.
Parking can be a bit of a hassle so this itinerary is mostly for those on foot. You can rent a car, but rideshare apps are plentiful and cheap and easy to use.
Day 1: Downtown and Bayside
The downtown area in Miami was a bit underwhelming, but there are a few key spots to check out in that neighboorhood. We’ll be working our way south today.
Start your day at Margaret Pace Park, a popular spot for locals (and their pups) with sports courts and water views. There’s the Pura Vida cafe across the street that, while I haven’t eaten there, looks good and would be a convenient place to grab coffee or some breakfast.
Continue to Bayside Marketplace for lunch where you can choose from a plethora of dining options and midrange shopping and souvenirs if you so desire.
From there, keep on heading south to Brickell, an ‘up-and-coming’ area that has been built up in recent years. The Brickell City Centre shopping mall has designer stores in a lovely open air setting. But save your pennies for dinner at one of the newer restaurants in the area or at River Oyster Bar, an upscale but still somehow casual seafood restaurant.
Afterwards, grab a drink at the nearby Blackbird Ordinary bar, which is open til 5am every day (a bit of a shock for us New Yorkers who thought our 4pm close was late).
Day 2: Local Flavor
While you’re there, be sure to pop into Verde next door – a new ‘zero-waste’ sustainable market, where you can find unpackaged soaps, loose tea, spices, reusable containers, essential oils and more.
A favored tourist location is the Wynwood Walls, a brightly colored walkway through painted walls by artists around the world, littered with galleries and even a branded gift shop. The neighborhood has a bit of shopping and plenty of restaurants. We liked Coyo Tacos which had a bit of a line but was pretty tasty, and also the 1-800-Lucky food hall with Asian selections, which had no line when we went (a bit off hours perhaps).
In the evening, head to Calle Ocho in Little Havana. Bonus points if you time it with the Viernes Culturales event every third Friday of the month, but not required. While I’m still not exactly sure what the event was, there were a few booths on the street and some live music, which was fun, and the galleries and gift shops were mostly open late.
We had dessert before dinner at Azucar, the famed Cuban ice cream joint, and then got Thai food at the trendy Lung Yai Thai Tapas, where we waited over an hour for semi-decent Thai. Note – portions are smaller than we were used to, and you could only order once. Miami’s got nothing on NYC Thai food, #sorrynotsorry. There were plenty of tourist-focused Cuban joints and also Mexican food that could also be had in the area.
One famed Cuban restaurant, claiming to be THE MOST FAMOUS is Versailles, is further west along Calle Ocho, where you can get strong coffee and reasonably priced food.
Day 3: Coconut Grove & Gardens
Before it gets too hot midday, head to one of Miami’s many beautiful gardens. We spent a lovely morning at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens (but Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and the Miami Beach Botanical Garden are on my list!). Fairchild’s incredible Butterfly exhibit is not to be missed; nearby is also a cafe with lite fare for lunch. Fairchild is also home to the American Orchid Society and the Million Orchid Project, where they aim to reintroduce native orchids to South Miami. They also host an orchid show in March!
If you opt not to eat at the gardens, see if you can get a table at Green Street Cafe in Coconut Grove and then wander the quaint streets of the downtown area. We were there during the Coconut Grove Art show, causing a lot of traffic and closed streets, but if we should visit again I’d like to check out the galleries in the neighborhood.
Day 4: Beach Day!
I’ve been running you ragged so today’s the day to get some beach time in. I’m not one to weigh in here, so here are some beach resources.
- Time Out – Best Miami Beaches
- City of Hollywood, FL, – Hollywood Beach
- Hollywood is about an hour north of Miami, a cute area stuck in the 50s. Take a walk or rent a bike to ride on the “Broadwalk” where you can find a multitude of restaurants, ice cream shops, and peoplewatching aplenty. You can also walk along Hollywood Boulevard or see if there’s an event going on at ArtsPark in Young Circle.
- Coral Gable’s Venetian Pool – if you don’t like beaches but still want some time in the water
Day 5: South Beach
Like Art Deco? The only acceptable answer is YES! Take a tour of South Beach’s Art Deco Historic District (a few tours listed on the Art Deco Welcome Center’s website). Grab lunch or shop at some well-known chains along Lincoln Road. Afterwards, see if there’s something going on at Soundscape Park (free movies on Wednesdays!)
Day 6: Neighborhood Exploration
Today you may want to have a car – drive through the beautiful streets of the secluded Morningside neighborhood and bring a picnic to the almost hidden Morningside Park. There you can also rent some equipment to try Stand Up Paddleboarding, Kayaking, Canoeing and take a tour on the water.
Afterwards, walk through the Shops at Midtown for any errands at the chain stores, but head to the Design District for more upscale retail. Get appetizers or a full meal at the beautifully designed outdoor restaurant Mandolin Aegean Bistro.
Day 7: Choose Your Own Adventure
If the past 6 days haven’t been enough, there are plenty of excursions, museums, and activities to do in the area.
- Check out a farmer’s market
- Catch a baseball game at the Marlin’s Stadium
- Peep the wildlife at Zoo Miami
- Double Decker Bus Tours
- See a show at the Arsht Center or Ziff Ballet Opera House
- Take a day trip to the Everglades
- Drive up to Fort Lauderdale for another day of hitting the shops, restaurants and beachfront
- Check out the art scene at one of the many seasonal art shows such as the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Art Wynwood, or the popular Art Basel show in Miami Beach
What would you like to do in Miami, or what would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.