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Photograph: Adi AdinayevIII Points Festival 2021

The best things to do in Miami for locals and tourists

Music and seafood festivals, iconic sightseeing, festive fall events and more of the best things to do in Miami right now

Written by
Virginia Gil
&
Falyn Wood
Contributor
Time Out Miami contributors
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October 2023: Can you feel it? Between the daily rain showers, there's a new breeze in the air signaling the beginning of fall in Miami. With the change of season comes a barrage of fun things to do around town this October, from music and food festivals to pumpkin patches, haunted houses and all manner of festive Halloween events. Below, check out all of our picks for the best things to do in Miami right now. 

Locals and tourists can agree that the best things to do in Miami extend beyond lounging on the sand—though it goes without saying that spending some time on the best Miami beaches is fundamental to life in the 305. Aside from dabbling in our famous nightlife and exploring Miami's best bars, no trip to the Magic City would be complete without scoping out the booming culinary scene and our award-winning Miami restaurants. In between sunbathing, swimming and sipping cocktails, check off these essential Miami experiences, a mix of year-round attractions, seasonal events, cultural staples and exciting one-offs vetted by our expert editors. By the way, this list is curated, as always, but isn’t ranked—we just couldn’t choose favorites.

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Best things to do in Miami

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • South of Fifth

What is it? Like seafood? If you’re in South Florida, you don’t have much of a choice. And even if your taste buds prefer to stay on land, South Beach Seafood festivities might convert you thanks to four days’ worth of showcases and showdowns highlighting dozens of Miami’s most sought-after seafood restaurants, such as Joe’s Stone Crab, RED South Beach, Joliet and Sushi | Bar.

Why go? It all culminates with the massive, 11th-annual South Beach Seafood Festival’s main event on Saturday, October 21. Bring an appetite and possibly a bib.

  • Things to do

What is it? It’s pumpkin patch season, ya’ll! We’ve rounded up where to find the best of them in Miami. 

Why go? Skip the boots and scarves and rally the little ones: When you live in the tropics, getting into the seasonal spirit can be a challenge. But just like everyone else, we love a good hayride or corn maze in Miami. We just do things a little differently here.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Wynwood

What is it? Our beloved, homegrown indie music festival continues to outdo itself. Now on its tenth run, the Miami-born music, art and tech festival will serve up oodles of trippy, immersive installations and tropical-goth fashion alongside a cutting-edge lineup of indie, electronic and hip-hop heroes.

Why go? Fred Again, Iggy Pop, Caroline Polachek, Lane 8 and Unknown Mortal Orchestra feature on the initial lineup announcement for III Points 2023. The late-night fest returns to its longtime home, Mana Wynwood. 

  • Things to do

What is it? While the temps may be starting to cool off, the spate of live music headed to the 305 and surrounding cities remains sizzling. As you plan out your autumn itinerary, make sure to mark your calendar and stick around for these shows—and grab tickets while you can.

Why go? This fall’s lineup includes appearances by pop, rap and rock royalty as well as some of the biggest, can’t-miss festivals of the year. In October, look out for Billboard Latin Music Week events headlined by Shakira.

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Jesse Scott
Contributor
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  • Things to do

What is it? From fully decked-out haunted mansions to a heart-pounding carnival and an entire park overtaken by killer clowns, peep our curated guide to the top places around Miami to score your spooky season thrills and chills.

Why go? Because Halloween wouldn't be complete without a night spent losing your voice screaming, and there are plenty of haunted places and hair-raising experiences to check out around South Florida this time of year.

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Melissa Puppo
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  • Things to do

What is it? Wynwood Walls hosts a new community program, Street Art After Dark, on the last Friday of every month this summer. Sip cocktails and graze from food carts as you peruse murals and sculptures at the world’s leading street art museum by moonlight, set to the soundtrack of local DJs.

Wht go? You’ll also have the chance to learn how to spray paint at the Street Art Experience and catch special appearances from Wynwood Walls graffiti artists. Each ticket includes a signature welcome cocktail for those of drinking age.

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  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • Omni

What is it? Miami's premier performing arts center. 

Why go? The striking postmodern architecture alone makes it worth a visit. But the fact that it’s home to Zoetic Stage, the Florida Grand Opera and the Miami City Ballet, and occasionally hosts the New World Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, doesn’t hurt either.

Don't miss: This month, programming includes a live screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in celebration of the film's 48th anniversary.

  • Nightlife
  • Nightlife

What is it? We’ve combed through all the madness to bring you this roundup of the very best Halloween parties in Miami.

Why go? Though we freaks are out year-round in Miami, there’s no eve like Hallow’s Eve to trick ourselves out and treat ourselves to a good time. Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, which means you’re more likely to celebrate “Halloweek.”

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Ashley Brozic
Contributor
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  • Things to do
  • Downtown

What is it? With a collection of works from such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Frank Stella and Ana Mendieta, not to mention some high-caliber traveling exhibitions, this relatively young museum (formerly Miami Art Museum) is worth a visit.

Why go? Family-friendly interactive programs bring art home: during free Second Saturday (of the month) programs, museum teachers lead families in hands-on activities inspired by the works on display.

Don't Miss: A sprawling exhibit on New Journalism pioneer Joan Didion.

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • East Little Havana

What is it? Formerly Marlins Park, the home of the World Champion Miami Marlins is a state-of-the-art facility with a retractable roof and ample parking. The venue also hosts concerts, shows and private events throughout the year.

Why go? The Magic City's home baseball team Miami Marlins celebrates its 30th anniversary this season, and 
we made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2003!

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  • Attractions
  • Cemeteries

What is it? Where do you go to seek out an eternity (or just an afternoon) of peace and serenity? Your local cemetery will always deliver. By our count, there are about 18 throughout Miami-Dade County, and some are so picturesque you may find yourself wandering away from your intended visitation onto other plots unknown.

Why go? If they aren’t hanging around Miami’s most haunted places, our ghosts (yes, even the most famous ones) rest beneath palm trees, in beautiful limestone condos and even 40 feet beneath the sea. Peruse our picks for Miami’s most beautiful cemeteries.

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Ashley Brozic
Contributor
  • Things to do
  • Performances

What is it? There’s a lot to sort through over the last three months of 2023, and our picks for the most exciting shows are a testament to the diversity of producers, audiences and talent in the cultural melting pots of Miami-Dade and Broward. 

Why go? Expect to encounter both timeless (Twelve Angry Men) and contemporary (The Book of Mormon) classics, plus newer works that examine LGBTQ and Latinx issues with compassion, nuance and biting humor. 

Don’t miss: We’re especially excited for the second season of Miami’s freshest producing company, LakeHouseRanchDotPNG (they really should do something about that cumbersome name), whose new plays reveal different sides of its mission to bring absurdist and avant-garde stories to the region.

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John Thomason
Contributor
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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Miami Beach
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? The bar that started it all. Without the Broken Shaker, we’d still be ordering vodka-sodas and flavoring our drinks with cranberry juice.

Why go? For the tropi-cool vibes you can only get hanging poolside at Miami’s OG cocktail bar. If you’re hanging in a group, try one of the epic punches—they’re seasonal and a boozy bang-for-your-buck. The rotating list of daily specials is great too if you’re not into sharing.

Don’t miss: The upstairs lounge above the adjacent 27 Restaurant is now its own nightlife enterprise called the Eagle Room. It’s hot, sweaty and will keep you dancing till late.

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Downtown

What is it? Spanning across a massive 250,000 square feet, the new Frost Science (an upgrade from its previous Coconut Grove location) occupies four buildings—the Aquarium, the Frost Planetarium and the North and West Wings—features year-round exhibits and is a delight for curious minds of all ages.

Why go? Frost Science is as state-of-the-art as it gets, featuring interactive opportunities, a 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream aquarium that houses all sorts of sea creatures and a planetarium dome that hosts monthly laser light shows.

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  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs

What is it? An afternoon spent wandering the isles of Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods sounds fun, but nothing beats a dewy Saturday morning picking through organic produce and testing out kitchen-made salt scrubs as the Florida sun warms your shoulders. We’ve rounded up the best farmer’s markets in Miami, from year-round staples to options with air conditioning, too. 

Why go? For nearly every neighborhood in Miami, there is a farmers’ market, and nothing says “I support local” like giving small farms and mom-and-pop businesses the chance to peddle their homegrown and homemade goods. Oftentimes, you’ll find the produce is fresher (and cheaper) than grocery stores, and packing a picnic blanket to lay out on after a shopping trip makes for a fabulous family or dog-friendly afternoon.

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Ashley Brozic
Contributor
  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • South Beach

What is it? America’s only full-time orchestral academy, the New World Symphony grooms graduates from conservatories for careers in the symphony and other high-profile posts. Concerts range from classical to experimental, and the quality is high: guest teachers have included Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, and past guest conductors have included Sir Neville Marriner and Paavo Järvi. Founder Michael Tilson Thomas of the San Francisco Symphony often lends a hand too.

Why go? Since 2011, the symphony’s home has been a Frank Gehry-designed showstopper in SoundScape Park, where they regularly hold free, outdoor WALLCAST concerts and movie screenings throughout the season. 

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  • Things to do
  • Miami

What is it? One of South Florida’s natural jewels, this 83-acre garden, named after renowned botanist and Miami resident David Fairchild, is filled with tropical splendor: a lush rainforest with a stream, sunken garden, dramatic vistas, an enormous vine pergola and a museum of plant exploration.

Why go? It’s about the easiest, most scenic place to socially distance right now. And there are plenty of shady corners that provide respite from the summer heat.

Don’t miss: Dragons and Mythical Creatures, a mythical outdoor exhibition of larger-than-life beasts perched throughout the grounds that breathe smoke, roar and share their legendary stories. Kiddos are invited to partake in scavenger hunts and dragon quests to become knights and dragon royalty.

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Wynwood

What is it? The city’s first and only outdoor museum dedicated to street art.

Why go? The decade-old cultural institution is the famed epicenter of the Wynwood Arts District, legitimizing graffiti art with a roster of more than 50 murals painted by renowned artists around the world—from Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf to Kelsey Montague. Vibrant in color, deep in meaning and large in scope, the groundbreaking Walls are the undisputed selfie capital of Miami and chances are you’ll recognize some of the murals from the profile pics in your Insta feed.

Don't miss: The first U.S. solo show from 3D street artist Leon Keer, dubbed Seeing Things. The anamorphic floor installation and mural debuted March 2023.

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  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Coconut Grove

What is it? Miami’s number one attraction is a surreal Italian Renaissance-style villa in the middle of lush, laid-back Coconut Grove. Its meticulously landscaped gardens, sprawling bayfront terrace and, well, the house itself, make up a total of 43 acres.

Why go? Vizcaya makes for the most fetching photo backdrop in the city (just ask the quinceañeras and brides roaming about) and its inimitable collection of European antiques and decorative works from the 16th to 19th centuries is truly breathtaking. Need to up your social game? Vizcaya is home to some of Miami’s most Instagrammable floors and staircases.

Don’t miss: Vizcaya’s event calendar is packed with free activities that are accessible year-round.

  • Shopping
  • Shopping centers
  • Mid-Beach

What is it? Designed by iconic architectural guru Morris Lapidus in the 1950s, Lincoln Road Mall was once dubbed the “Fifth Avenue of the South,” though it’s now commonly referred to as “Lincoln.” Endless sidewalk cafés, lounges and cultural venues—such as the Colony Theatre—stretch along its length from Washington Avenue to Alton Road.

Why go? The Herzog & de Meuron–designed 1111 Lincoln Road is quite possibly the world’s most glamorous parking garage and houses upscale retail on the ground level. But there are more than several blocks of stores and boutiques to browse and shop for hours.

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  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • Miami Beach
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? Miami Beach’s biggest—and most famous—nightclub is back in business at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

Why go? Who needs Vegas when you’ve got LIV? Since reopening, the crown jewel of nightlife has pulled in more top-tier talent than ever before—not to mention the throngs of celebrities partying it up till dawn. It’s a tough door but well worth the effort.

Don’t miss: The latest name on LIV’s proverbial marquee. Whomever it is, it’s sure to be major.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • East Little Havana
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What is it? Authentic cuisine, cocktails and culture—this charming Cuban restaurant in Little Havana packs the neighborhood’s hallmarks into one inviting spot.

Why go? It’s rare to find a place that ticks off all the boxes of a proper touristic experience and also captures the attention of locals. James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein is behind the stellar menu, featuring favorites like the irresistible jamón serrano croquettes, hand-cut steak empanadas and risotto-style arroz con pollo. While decorated cantinero Julio Cabrera mixes up all kinds of cocktails

Don’t miss: The house band playing Trova-style music nightly. Let the sounds of Cuban son sweep you away!

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Allapattah

What is it? A massive 50,000-square-foot art space dedicated to the production of experiential mediums.

Why go? With so many so-called Instagrammable installations floating about, it’s hard to get excited about anything that bills itself as experiential or immersive—but that’s not Superblue Miami. Featuring brand-new works by some of the art world’s most notable artists, the groundbreaking venture challenges perceptions, heightens the senses and generally wows with its thoughtfully curated exhibition. On view this season: works by Es Devlin, James Turrell and teamLab.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

What is it? This massive national park spans 1.5 million acres of wetlands. See alligators, cranes, turtles, manatees and even panthers roam their native habitat freely.

Why go? There’s no place in the world like it, and it’s within driving distance of downtown Miami. With three separate entrances, visitors can explore on foot, on a bicycle and via boat.

Don’t miss: Have you ever zipped to marshes on an airboat? It’s the most exhilarating way to see the Everglades, and now’s your chance.

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  • Lifestyle
  • South Beach

What is it? Find a slice of old-world Europe right in the middle of South Beach. Española Way is a charming, pedestrian strip lined with shops, restaurants and cozy, bilevel hotels that transport you to far-flung places.

Why go? Much larger Lincoln Road may have overshadowed it at one point, but the bustling tourist corridor is attracting more locals than ever before with its sidewalk eateries and free outdoor programming. Experience Paris’ café culture at enduring favorite A La Folie Café, serving up hard-to-find French classics. Drink your way down the tree-lined street’s mix of open-air bars and restaurants, stopping to take in the live music and unique people-watching, and get away from Miami without the need to go very far.

Don’t miss: Breezy rooftop cocktails above it all at the chic new Esmé Hotel. 

  • Things to do
  • Key Biscayne

What is it? At the tip of serene, secluded Key Biscayne is this 400-acre state park with beach access, picnic tables, bike trails, and watersport rentals.

Why go? A great place for families with accessible parking close to the sand, Bill Baggs is home to South Florida’s only lighthouse. Take the kids and let them climb the 109 steps to the top of the lookout.

Don’t miss: Boater’s Grill is one of Miami’s best-kept secrets. Tucked away at a far corner of the park, the waterfront spot provides free docking for small vessels and serves moderately priced breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, The Cleat is just steps away for a sunset cocktail with your toes in the sand.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Allapattah

What is it? Don and Mera Rubell’s eponymous museum houses over 7,700 works by more than 1,000 contemporary artists. From Basquiat and Warhol to Koons, the whos-who of 20th-century artists is well represented.

Why go? It’s a former warehouse the couple turned into a sprawling exhibition space after outgrowing their Wynwood gallery of more than 26 years. With 53,000 square feet to play with, the Rubells have room to exhibit as well as engage the community via school partnerships and curatorial training programs.

Don’t miss: Dig into elevated tapas at Leku, the onsite Basque restaurant that’s every bit as enchanting as the contemporary art collection you just witnessed.

  • Things to do
  • Palmetto Bay

What is it? Built by James Deering’s similarly well-off brother Charles as his own sophisticated winter estate, the vast property encompasses several buildings, a mangrove boardwalk and a significant archeological discovery. 

Why go? Outdoorsy types will appreciate the guided nature walks and birding opportunities. Plus, the estate boasts a fossil pit of 50,000-year-old animal bones and 10,000-year-old human remains; the latter are Paleo-Indians.

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  • Things to do
  • Cultural centers
  • South Beach

What is it? What began in 1964 as a small, private collection of contemporary art is now an internationally recognized institution with hundreds of pieces within its multiple halls. The 1930s Art Deco building also has meeting areas and classrooms for family-friendly programming, though some of that is on hold for now.

Why go? The Bass’s permanent collections, as well as its traveling exhibitions, comprise art people actually want to see—and Instagram (the real reason we go to museums these days, right?). Think large-scale works made up of found objects that probe us and a site-specific work of LED signs that make you feel at home.

Don’t miss: Spend some time on the lawn exploring the museum’s public art, including Jim Drain’s chess table, Ugo Rondinone’s unmissable Miami Mountain and Najja Moon’s monument to motherhood, Your momma’s voice in the back of your head, which debuted this past spring.

  • Shopping
  • Redlands

What is it? A throwback to Florida’s fruit stands of old, Robert is Here started in 1959 when the shop’s namesake, then six, began selling his family’s cucumbers from a roadside table. It has since grown into an emporium of exotic fruit and vegetables—and a huge tourist attraction.

Why go? A lovely farm setting, a bevy of exotic fruit—which you can ask to be whipped into a fresh milk shake—and an adorable petting zoo make this worthy of the trek down (way) south.

Don’t miss: Beyond sourcing nearly every type of fruit available, Robert is Here stocks “Grandma’s Kitchen,” its small general store, with local honey, artisanal bread and other yummy, Miami-made treats. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Brickell
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? A stunning rooftop bar that sits atop East, Miami, rewarding those who venture up with 360-views of the city and Asian-themed cocktails. It’s a bougie crowd, so dress accordingly.

Why go? While a rooftop bar on the mainland might not instantly seem like an essential thing to do in the city, Sugar is deserving of its spot on the list. At 40 floors, it’s the tallest bar in Miami and its secluded, storybook garden setting is like none other.

Don’t miss: Come before the crowds to catch an absolutely stunning sunset over the Miami skyline. Stick around for the lively after-dinner crowd, or bop around Downtown after wetting your beak to find less pricy drinking options.

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • West Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? This self-proclaimed “most famous Cuban restaurant in the world” is arguably more popular than its palatial namesake in France. The Little Havana institution is the unofficial meeting place for the city’s Cuban community, who crowd the cafecito window 24/7 sipping on Cuban coffee.

Why go? Toasted Cuban sandwiches, piping-hot Cuban coffee served in thimble-sized cups, authentic Cuban pastelitos made the exact same way for 40-plus years, yummy arroz con pollo...shall we go on?

Don’t miss: Versaille’s adjacent bakery (it all connects inside) doubles as a charming dessert shop selling mini flans and key lime pies as well as Cuban-inspired ice cream. Get your meal to-go or take advantage of the large tents in the parking lot, offering loads of socially distant outdoor dining.

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  • Shopping
  • Designer
  • Design District
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? The former Decorators’ Row has expanded into a hub for vanguard architecture, fashion and art. There are several multilevel, open-air shopping complexes like Palm Court and Paradise Plaza where to shop for luxury fashion labels including Emilio Pucci and Giorgio Armani. 

Why go? If your pockets aren’t deep enough for the shops, there’s always the neighborhood’s growing number of galleries, a slew of public art and free museums, such as the ICA.

Don’t miss: The food! From Michelin-starred Cote and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon to hometown darling Itamae, some of the best meals in Miami are within walking distance.

  • Things to do
  • Miami
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What is it? The city’s premier wildlife center is home to thousands of animals, from reptiles to mammals to birds. The sprawling facility spans across 750 acres and is the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida.

Why go? Due to the zoo’s sub-tropical temps, species native to Australia, Africa and other warm climates comfortably reside here. Forget a safari—Zoo Miami is where you’ll safely spot zebras, giraffes and lions. 

Don’t miss: Hop on a Safari Cycle (with room for up to six riders) and see it all without tiring yourself out.

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  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • Park West
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? Miami’s 24/7 ultraclub is a playground for celebrities and hard-partying locals alike.

Why go? If you’re in the mood for going all out, E11even has you covered with a full nightlife experience—think dancers, bottle service and tons of big-name musical performances. 

Don’t miss: The people-watching at Giselle, the club's new rooftop restaurant. Just sit back and take it all in.

  • Things to do

What is it? Dubbed “Miami’s original neighborhood,” Coconut Grove is an eclectic waterfront enclave with a rich history as the oldest continually inhabited neighborhood in the city. Beyond its recent real estate boom, Coconut Grove is a pretty little neighborhood with some of Miami’s most beautiful architecture and pockets that are full of character.

Why go? One of our favorite neighborhoods in the city, Coconut Grove ranked number 29 on Time Out’s list of the 51 coolest neighborhoods in the world in 2022. It was the only Florida neighborhood to make the list.

Don't miss: Catch the sunset at Monty’s, a lively dockside raw bar with strong tiki drinks and picturesque views of the marina. For dinner, Ariete (New American) and Los Félix (Mexican) both earned nods in the new Miami Michelin Guide.

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  • Things to do
  • Coral Gables
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What is it? Possibly the most beautiful swimming pool in the world, even if it is jammed on hot days. It combines an impossibly idyllic setting (tropical foliage, waterfalls, Italian architectural touches) with freshwater, replenished nightly in summer months from a subterranean aquifer. 

Why go? Once a coral rock quarry, it was built in the 1920s as an exotic locale for swimming and entertainment; back in the day, there were gondolas and orchestras; movie stars such as Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame serenaded poolside dancers. Today, one of Coral Gables' most famous landmarks features everything from towers and waterfalls to cave-like grottos and its signature bridge. 

  • Things to do
  • South Beach

What is it? More than 800 buildings from the 1930s and early ’40s survive in the city’s historic Deco District, between 5th Street to the south and Dade Boulevard to the north. 

Why go? Amazingly, these buildings were almost destroyed by developers in the early 1970s. Their survival is due to a handful of activists who, in 1976, founded the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL). With their help, a number of the best Miami hotels, and even some South Beach clubs, have maintained their beautiful façades and historical designation.

Don't miss: A few of our favorite Art Deco buildings, including the Celino Hotel, the Carlyle and the historic Miami Beach U.S. Post Office.

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  • Things to do
  • Redlands
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What is it? The only garden of its kind in the US: a 37-acre park exhibiting more than 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, nuts and exotic edibles. An old schoolhouse and coral rock building recall South Florida’s pioneer life, while the charming gift shop sells spices, jams and jellies, unusual seeds and aromatic teas, plus cookbooks on tropical fruits and vegetables.

Why go? The park is also the site of recurring events like an annual orchid festival, blues concerts and a summer fruit festival where you can really stock up. 

Don't miss: There are free guided tours offered daily. Learn about the fruits as you eat them—visitors are allowed to try anything that's already fallen from a tree.

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