Miami Beach in 3 Days
Attractions, arts, shopping, spas, dining, dancing – the list of things to see and do in Miami Beach is virtually endless. How can visitors possibly fit it all in? A little planning goes a long way to guarantee a great vacation.
DAY 1: GETTING TO KNOW MIAMI BEACH'S ART DECO DISTRICT
Start with a Tour
Start your trip by getting a feel for your surroundings on an Art Deco District Tour. Led by knowledgeable guides from the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL), these walking tours highlight Miami Beach's architectural jewels including traditional Art Deco, Streamline Moderne and Spanish Mediterranean styles. The tour departs from the Art Deco Welcome Center (1001 Ocean Drive) daily at 10:30 a.m. except Thursdays, when it leaves at 6:30 p.m.
Your tour will likely lead you to plenty of areas that you'd like to explore further, and your guide will also offer ideas for the rest of your trip. As you plan your activities, keep in mind that Miami Beach's compact layout makes it the perfect destination for getting around on a bike. Luckily, it's one of only a few cities in the country to offer a bike sharing program. Just pick up a bike at any DecoBike station conveniently located throughout Miami Beach, and return it at any other station when you're finished.
Lunch & Shopping in South Beach
You'll probably work up an appetite on the walking tour, so take a lunch break on Ocean Drive. This world-famous street is lined with sidewalk cafes right across from the beach. Sit back and watch as an eclectic crowd of locals, tourists, beachgoers and unique characters stream past your table.
After lunch, stroll up and down Ocean Drive and duck into any of the one-of-a-kind boutiques that might catch your eye. A block inland, Collins Avenue is an upscale shopping paradise featuring one designer shop after another. One block over, Washington Avenue offers edgier fare, with vintage and club wear shops reflecting its status as a mecca for nightlife and clubbing. Work your way north, and then head inland a couple of blocks to Española Way. This charming pedestrian-only street, tucked between 14th and 15th streets just west of Washington Avenue, features delightful boutiques and cafes set against a backdrop of Spanish Mediterranean architecture.
Heading south on Washington Avenue, you can visit three quite distinct museums. The World Erotic Art Museum (1205 Washington Ave.) features thousands of fascinating, one-of-a-kind historical and contemporary pieces. The Wolfsonian—Florida International University (1001 Washington Ave.) is a fascinating museum highlighting architecture, design and propaganda from the years 1885 to 1945. Stop by the Jewish Museum of Florida (301 Washington Ave.) and browse hundreds of photos and artifacts depicting the Florida Jewish experience since 1763.
Sunsets, Cruise Ships & Delightful Dining
The South of Fifth (SoFi) area of South Beach has a number of fine restaurants, offering delicacies ranging from steaks to stone crabs. At the southern tip of the island, South Pointe Park (1 Washington Ave.) winds along the beach and Government Cut, the entrance to the Port of Miami. It's the perfect spot to watch the big cruise ships glide by as the sun sets behind the Downtown Miami skyline.
South Beach Nightlife and Music
After enjoying a relaxing sunset and dinner, it's time to turn up the volume. Stay up as late as you can, roaming the sizzling nightlife corridors of Ocean Drive, Collins and Washington avenues, and Lincoln Road.
If you'd prefer a more subdued evening, check out the New World Symphony schedule. This world-class orchestra performs at the New World Center (500 17th St.), its spectacular new home designed by Frank Gehry. Some performances are even projected against the building's huge wall facing the adjacent public park, so bring a blanket and enjoy the show. On Wednesday evenings, the City of Miami Beach's Arts in the Parks program presents the SoundScape Cinema Series with free outdoor screenings of popular movies. Attractions, arts, shopping, spas, dining, dancing – the list of things to see and do in Miami Beach is virtually endless. How can visitors possibly fit it all in? A little planning goes a long way to guarantee a great vacation.
DAY 2: SUN & FUN
Hit the Beach
There are so many exciting things to do in Miami Beach you might forget the reasons you visited in the first place: the white-sand beaches and the glorious weather. Make sure to spend some time soaking up the sand, sun and surf. Miami Beach boasts miles of gorgeous beaches. To find them, just head east. If you'd rather get out on the open water, you can choose from boating and sailing charters, dining and sightseeing cruises, deep-sea fishing trips, diving and snorkeling adventures, rowing facilities, and every other form of fun on the water.
Lunch on Lincoln Road
Grab an outdoor seat at one of countless cafes and restaurants offering every type of cuisine imaginable, and watch the parade of locals and visitors from all over the world strolling along this pedestrian-only promenade.
After lunch, take a moment to relax at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden (2000 Convention Center Drive), an oasis of tropical beauty just north of Lincoln Road in the heart of Miami Beach. Visit the inspiring Holocaust Memorial (1933-1945 Meridian Ave.) and pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. Nearby, the Bass Museum of Art (2100 Collins Ave.) features major European paintings, sculpture and textiles, plus temporary contemporary art exhibitions.
MiMo on the Beach
Heading north, you'll find a distinctive architectural style in mid Beach and North Beach. Download a self-walking tour at MimoOnTheBeach.com and explore the four historic Miami Modern (MiMo) architectural districts in the northern end of Miami Beach: the Morris Lapidus/Mid-Twentieth Century District, North Beach Resort District, North Shore National Register District, and Normandy Isles National register District. (Guided walking tours are offered at 9:30 a.m. the first Saturday of every month).
After getting acquainted with North Beach on the tour, stay and enjoy dinner in one of the restaurants surrounding the Normandy Isle Fountain on 71st Street. After dinner, take in a show at the intimate Byron Carlyle Theatre (500 71st St.) or a concert under the stars at the recently refurbished North Beach Bandshell (7275 Collins Ave.).
Early Morning Golf or Spa
Assuming you weren't out too late the night before, wake up early and hit the links. Even though Miami Beach is a relatively small island, it boasts two outstanding 18-hole public golf courses. On the northern edge of South Beach, Miami Beach Golf Club (2301 Alton Road) is a classic 1923 course that was redesigned by Arthur Hills in 2006 as part of a $10 million renovation. In North Beach's Normandy Isle residential area, challenge yourself at the Normandy Shores Golf Course (2401 Biarritz Drive), another Arthur Hills-designed course. Twelve of its 18 holes present water hazards.
If golf's not your game, how about a morning of relaxation? It's likely that your hotel offers a top-notch spa facility. If not, you're sure to find one at a nearby property. For a unique, only-in-Miami Beach experience, head to the beach at Third Street and greet the sun with a yoga class by 3rd Street Beach Yoga. Classes are offered daily at 7 a.m. For those who would prefer to sleep in, classes are also offered at 5 p.m.
Lunch on the Beach
What better spot for lunch than right on the sand? Many beachfront hotels offer food service on the beach. You don't even have to get up from your beach chair. Others provide boxed lunches that you can take to a beachfront picnic spot.
One Last Chance to Shop
During your previous strolls and shopping excursions, you likely saw something you considered buying but put off making a final decision. Now's the time to head out to the boutiques along Collins and Washington avenues, Española Way or Lincoln Road and buy that designer dress or unique piece of art that caught your eye. You probably won't be able to find something like it back home.
Cocktails, Dinner and Music
Many of the hotels along Collins Avenue have spectacular bars and even better restaurants in their lobbies, poolside patios, or on elegant terraces. Stop in for a cocktail, and stay on for dinner. Sit back and admire the architectural details of these Art Deco gems, feel the ocean breeze, and enjoy the people-watching.
Afterwards, take in some live music. Options range from national touring rock bands at the Fillmore Miami Beach at The Jackie Gleason Theater (1700 Washington Ave.), cabaret-style performances at the intimate Colony Theatre (1040 Lincoln Road), and live local acts in genres from reggae to rap, rock to Latin jazz and everything in between, at bars and nightclubs throughout Miami Beach.