Top Attractions in Miami for First-Timers
Trying to decide what to see and do first in Miami? Here are some must-visit attractions and neighborhoods for those new to the city.
Art Deco District
You can’t visit Miami without a stroll through the iconic Art Deco neighborhood! Flanked by beautiful turquoise waters and retro architecture, this district transports you back to Miami’s glamorous heyday in the 1920s-1940s. Today, the area still buzzes with great shopping, dining, and ocean views. Walk down Ocean Drive to admire the colorful facades of buildings like the Colony Hotel, then stop for an iconic slice at Joe’s Stone Crab.
Insider’s tip: For the most vibrant people watching, visit this neighborhood in the morning or early evening as it tends to get hot and crowded midday.
This cutting-edge arts district is home to the famous Wynwood Walls, a sprawling outdoor mural park with constantly rotating street art installations. Beyond the walls, you’ll find hip galleries, coffee shops, breweries, and eateries to fuel your artistic adventures. The neighborhood really comes alive on the 2nd Saturday of each month with a giant street festival. Come prepared to explore!
Insider’s tip: Bring cash for parking as most lots and garages in the neighborhood only accept bills.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
This 100-room Italian Renaissance mansion was built in 1916 as the private home of businessman James Deering. Today it serves as a museum where you can tour the opulent interiors and manicured gardens that look like they belong in a European villa. Marvel at the home’s intricately carved ceilings, lavish furnishings, and acres of subtropical flora and fauna.
Insider’s tip: Visit on a Wednesday for discounted admission and smaller crowds.
You simply can’t visit Miami without a trip to the iconic South Beach neighborhood. Here you’ll find world-famous Art Deco architecture, endless entertainment options, and of course – miles of beautiful sandy beaches. After you’ve had your fill of sun and surf, check out chic boutiques and dine at a sidewalk cafe on pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Road. When the sun sets, South Beach’s nightlife scene comes alive!
Insider’s tip: For a less crowded beach experience, head north to Sunny Isles or Surfside beaches located just outside the South Beach hub.
Getting Around Miami
Miami encompasses a large metro area, so you’ll want to plan transportation carefully to avoid traffic headaches. Here are some of the best options for navigating the Magic City:
Metrorail and Metromover
Miami’s public transit includes the elevated Metromover in Downtown and the Metrorail covering a 21-mile route. While the system doesn’t reach everywhere, it’s a budget-friendly option for seeing major neighborhoods like Little Havana, Brickell, and south to Dadeland. The ride offers cool views of the city! Purchase reloadable Easy Cards to pay your fare.
Apps like Uber and Lyft operate throughout Miami and provide a convenient way to arrange rides, especially for shorter distances within neighborhoods. Rates vary based on location, traffic, and demand. Shared rides can help cut costs for solo travelers or pairs.
For ultimate convenience when traveling in a group, rent a charter bus! Companies like Charter Bus Company Miami provide private group transportation around the city and to/from destinations outside Miami like the Keys, Orlando, or Fort Lauderdale. Charter buses range from mini coaches to full-sized motorcoaches. Onboard amenities like WiFi, TVs, and restrooms make for a comfortable ride. No parking or traffic headaches!
Fun Neighborhoods to Explore
Beyond major tourist sights, Miami boasts lively neighborhoods full of hidden gems, mom-and-pop restaurants, and local flavor. Here are some areas worth exploring:
Experience old-world Cuban culture in lively Little Havana! Play dominoes at Maximo Gomez Park, pick up hand-rolled cigars on Calle Ocho, sip Cuban coffee at Versailles Restaurant, catch a show at the Ball & Chain music venue, or dine at beloved spots like Azucar Ice Cream Company. Don’t leave Little Havana without trying an authentic Cuban sandwich!
This hip neighborhood near Coral Gables offers a relaxed, bohemian vibe with chilled-out cafes, indie boutiques, outdoor art festivals, and live music. Wander around Coconut Grove’s pedestrian-friendly streets and admire the majestic banyan trees and bay views. Hit up The Mai-Kai for a classic tiki cocktail.
Miami’s Design District delivers a vibrant mix of art galleries, showrooms, chic boutiques, modern architecture, public art installations, and some of the city’s hottest restaurants. Browse high-end home decor stores during the day, then return at night for dinner at a celebrity chef hotspot. Don’t miss checking out historical sites like the Moore Building, an original 1920s structure.
Can’t-Miss Events in Miami
From festivals to sporting events, Miami’s calendar is packed with lively happenings. Check out some of these can’t miss events, especially if they overlap with your travel dates:
Art Basel Miami – This massive international art fair draws artists, galleries, and art enthusiasts each December. Don’t miss the public displays and exhibits.
Miami Book Fair – Occurring each November, this is one of the largest book fairs in the U.S. Meet authors and browse books to your heart’s content!
Miami Marathon – Every January, 30,000 runners participate in this massive marathon winding through Miami neighborhoods and downtown.
Miami Music Week – In March, hundreds of thousands descend upon Miami for this electronic music festival with pool parties and nightclub events.
Miami Heat Games – Cheer on Miami’s beloved basketball team at the electric AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown. Games run October through June.
Ready to Visit Miami?
We hope this Miami guide gives you a helpful head start on planning your ideal itinerary. When you’re ready to book transportation for your group, give Charter Bus Company Miami a call at (786) 350-3196 for a free quote. Our team looks forward to helping you explore the Magic City!