One of the most diverse places in the country, South Florida offers visitors a little bit of everything, including beach fun, airboat rides through strange swampland, world-class classical music performance and of course Cuban coffee. Here are our recommendations for your weekend adventure in South Florida, from Ft. Lauderdale down to Key West, with a lot of Miami in the mix.
Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, co-founded this orchestral academy in Miami Beach in 1988. Performances take place in the Frank Gehry-designed facility October through May and often include WALLCAST™ concerts, which are live projected for free on the building’s 7,000-square-foot façade.
Join the Miami Design Preservation League on this 90-minute walking tour for an introduction to the Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and Miami Modern (MiMo, for short) architecture that makes Miami Beach so unique. You’ll check out iconic hotels along Ocean Drive, the Versace Mansion and some prime Miami Vice hotspots. Even on summer days, informative guides do a good job of keeping you in the shade.
Before Wynwood became the hottest art neighborhood in the country, the abandoned warehouses stood bare along Miami’s NW 2nd Ave. Now, the Wynwood Walls (and doors) include murals painted by local artists, as well as those from Brazil, Mexico, Japan and more. The art covers buildings and permeates bars, restaurants, and boutiques, representing how art can spur urban revitalization.
Often called “The Yachting Capital of the World,” Fort Lauderdale hosts an annual International Boat Show every November (the next one starts November 5, 2015). All kinds of seafaring vessels—from canoes to superyachts—will be on display across seven locations throughout Broward County.
The legendary spot in Little Haiti satisfies locals and visitors alike. It still serves as a meeting place for Cuban-Americans for social and political rallies, as well as authentic meals. Get perfect guava and cheese pastries and indulgent dulce de leche flan in the bakery, and order at the ventanita to go. Of course, you also have to try a shot of colada (sugary Cuban coffee) before you go.
James Beard Foundation award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Schwartz gets a lot of the credit for revitalizing Miami’s foodie scene. Michael’s Genuine, his flagship location that opened in the Design District in 2007, celebrates local ingredients and simple food with dishes like burrata with heirloom tomatoes grown in nearby Overtown, a perfect whole roasted chicken and a sea-salty grilled octopus. Try not to drool over the raw bar of local catches.
Le Tub Saloon lies hidden just off of the beach in Hollywood, FL. In fact, many locals don’t even know this little casual joint with no signage exists even though both GQ Magazine and the Oprah Show have lauded their hamburger.
Beer-lovers willing to drive north of Fort Lauderdale to Oakland Park are in for a funky treat. Founded in 2010 and now located in a large converted warehouse, this microbrewery has become one of South Florida’s most respected. Be sure to try even the outlandish flavors like Don't Tell Reece Peanut Butter Cup Brown Ale or fall seasonal Sweet Potato Casserole – they’re surprisingly delicious.
This secluded spot at the southernmost point of Miami Beach is both a beach and a public park. Enjoy paved and sandy walking paths, modern art sculptures and the turquoise waters of the Atlantic all in one place. Plus, it’s kid and pet-friendly.
Just west of Miami proper sits 1.5 million acres of strange and swampy national park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. While numerous unguided trails lead through different regions of the Everglades, Shark Valley (just 30 miles outside of Miami) remains a favorite, with ranger-guided programs and tram rides.
This archipelago off the coast of Miami rivals any watery paradise with its beautiful beaches. Visit Bahia Honda State Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Dry Tortugas National Park, and enjoy water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, paddle boarding and, of course, fishing and lobster-hunting.
Don’t let the causeway construction and congestion scare you off. This educational and entertaining spot showcases Miami’s diverse wildlife with 3,000 species of tropical birds, primates, gators and other fauna. The special children’s area also includes a playground and a petting zoo.
This alligator adventure will get you as close to these enormous reptiles as you’ll want to get. Gator Park offers the best airboat tours of the Everglades. For those who’d rather stay off the water, though, Gator Park also presents wildlife shows with gators, snakes and more on land.
Miami’s newest art museum highlights contemporary works from South and Central American artists. Located right on Biscayne Bay in Downtown Miami, PAMM has beautiful views in and outside the museum walls. Ask for the interactive family packs at the ticket desk, as kids under six years old get in for free and youth 7-18 get discounted tickets.
This luxury spa and athletic club is located inside The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, just north of Miami Beach proper. Work out using the Italian-designed Technogym equipment or indulge in relaxing treatments anywhere on the 14,000-square-foot premises as part of the “Spa Without Walls” program.
These free, donation-based yoga classes take place right on the sand in South Beach. Find your inner peace at a sunrise or sunset class offered seven days a week, 365 days a year, just north of South Pointe Park.
Just past Lincoln Road—the 10-block pedestrian mall right in the middle of South Beach—a scenic pathway runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. The South Beach Boardwalk, usually just referred to as the boardwalk, is the perfect scenic spot for walkers, joggers, bikers, and ‘bladers.
The Webster is the pinnacle of fashion in Miami Beach. The 20,000-square-foot, three-level boutique in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District stocks only the most high-end designers and brands. A second Miami location is located in Bal Harbour, within walking distance of the Remède Spa at the St. Regis.
This co-ed New York-based shop recently opened a location in South Beach. The company’s mission reads, “Atrium has been dedicated to providing a range of contemporary apparel for the stylish New Yorker.” But since most New Yorkers flock to Miami in the winter anyway, Atrium’s curated stylings seem to fit perfectly in Miami.
Nestled north of Wynwood and south of Little Haiti, this neighborhood hosts many of the best fashion designers, brands and luxury artists in Miami. Historically known for interior design stores, the Design District has recently lured upscale brands like Burberry, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and others to its movie-set-like streets.
Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard serves as the area’s main thoroughfare of shops and restaurants. Check out the art galleries, high-end accessories stores and entertaining gift shops nestled between seemingly endless rows of canals and just a few blocks from the ocean.