There is no shortage of noteworthy places to visit around Miami. From the lush beauty of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens to the glamorous historical Art Deco district of Miami Beach, visitors and residents alike can easily find a way to while away a sunny spring day in this international city. In fact, when it comes to Miami, finding attractions isn’t the challenge; rather, the difficulty lies in picking just a few to focus on. Below is a sample of some key attractions that will make any visit to this southern city unforgettable.
Outdoor Activities For All Ages
The largest zoo in Florida happens to be located in South Miami and is a perfect way for animal lovers and families to spend a day. Originally founded in the ’40s as a much smaller operation on nearby Key Biscayne, it has grown steadily despite sustaining significant damage from Hurricane Betsy in the ’60s, Hurricane Andrew in the ’90s, and Hurricane Irma in 2017. Today it is the continental United State’s only tropical zoo and is home to over 3,000 animals. Stroller, wheelchairs, and even full family cycle vehicles can be rented within the zoo, making touring the expansive grounds easy and fun.
Sunbathing in Style
The Venetian Pool is a worthy temple for sun worshippers. Located in the ritzy Coral Gables neighborhood and adjacent to the nationally ranked University of Miami, this pool is almost 100 years old. It was built in a coral rock quarry and is the largest freshwater pool in the United States. It is also the only pool on the National Register of Historic Places. Surrounded by lush landscaping, and with a large waterfall for swimmers to enjoy, it is truly an amazing place to spend a sunny Miami day. The Spanish-style buildings that surround the pool, along with the mature trees and picnic tables, contribute further to the relaxed ambiance. Though older children are welcome, very young ones are not admitted into the water.
Food, Food, Food
No visit to Miami is complete without sampling the wide variety of cuisine available. From amazing Cuban food in Hialeah to kosher steakhouses in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach, there are a wealth of options for even the pickiest eater. For those who want to roll right off the beach into a nice meal, they can amble a few blocks north to Kosh and enjoy world-class kosher sushi or steak. Reservations are accepted, making it an even easier choice. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert! For authentic Cuban food, on the other hand, a slightly longer but very worthwhile trip to the south end of the city will pay off. Tostones and papa rellenas are just some of the tasty appetizers that can be enjoyed, and nothing beats a Cuban sandwich and coffee as a lunch treat.
Art and Architecture
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is another South Florida gem that showcases the city’s long and interesting history. Though it was originally the private home of a wealthy businessman, James Deering, today it is owned by Miami Dade County and is a museum. Aside from its day-to-day purpose, it is also used for private events, festivals, and fairs. The Italian-inspired villa’s original interior decorations and architecture have been preserved and can be toured by visitors. Almost more impressive are the meticulously maintained grounds, which like many other Miami attractions have had to survive multiple hurricanes. The villa is also located right on Biscayne Bay, making it a particularly romantic place to take a stroll. The City of Miami has even instituted zoning rules designed to protect not only the property itself but the view from its gardens. This is one Miami attraction that no one should miss, whether local or tourist.
Art Deco Delight
While visitors to Miami will almost certainly end up on Miami Beach at some point during their stay regardless, lovers of the Art Deco movement will particularly appreciate this lively historical district’s unique architecture. Not only are there bars, restaurants, shops, and gleaming white sand all along this enchanting strip of land, there are also some of the best maintained historical Art Deco buildings in the United States. The colorful geometric shapes that the style is known for are a perfect compliment to the green palms, blue sky, and aquamarine waters of Miami Beach. Like the Venetian Pool, this neighborhood is also on the National Register of Historic Places and was, in fact, the first 20th-century neighborhood to make the list. The majority of the preserved and restored buildings are on an approximately 20 block stretch along the water between 5th and 23rd Street. Many hotels in this area, in particular, exemplify this style, and the many nearby cafes guarantee that visitors can soak in the view while enjoying a nice espresso and gelato.