By: Riki Altman
You finally landed in Miami! See the city’s highlights in less than 24 hours… if you can keep up.
While it's true you can't see everything the entire city of Miami has to offer in only one day, you can definitely get a taste for our flavors, colors, culture and personality. What you experience in less than 24 hours depends largely on your personal interests. This 24-hour itinerary should satisfy history, art or architecture aficionados as well as all-around, open-minded adventure seekers. And of course, there’s a little something here for the sun worshipper, shopaholic and foodie. In short, we've got plenty to keep you busy and intrigued.
Getting around by car may be your best bet if you want to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Two other options you may wish to consider are DecoBike, the City of Miami Beach’s public bike rental program, or Gray Line’s Hop On Hop Off bus tours, large red double-decker buses which cover Miami’s most popular neighborhoods and sightseeing spots. Both are inexpensive, fun, reliable and easy to access, and they afford visitors the opportunity to spend as much time at each destination as they see fit.
So let's get going ― we don't have time to waste!
Morning: The Big Attractions
Start with a brisk walk or bike ride along the boardwalk and check out the goings on around Ocean Drive with the candy-colored Art Deco buildings. Then fuel up with a quick breakfast under an umbrella at News Café—a great place for people watching—or The Front Porch Cafe. (Don’t forget to get a cup of coffee to go—you'll need the caffeine to keep up with the itinerary we have planned!) Visit the Wolfsonian-FIU design museum with its fascinating collection of objects dating from 1885 to 1945, the Modern Era. Those with kids in tow, however, should probably head for Jungle Island or the Miami Children's Museum, both located along MacArthur Causeway, midway between Downtown Miami and South Beach.
End at Bayside Marketplace, where the little ones can ride a carousel while you accomplish that ubiquitous souvenir shopping for loved ones back home in less than an hour.
Lunch: Eat Up Our Culture
Head to the Miami Design District for 18 blocks of interior design showrooms, galleries, high-end clothing stores and design studios. It's also a fun place to grab lunch if you’ve already developed an appetite. On the way out, be sure to pay a quick visit to the much-ballyhooed Wynwood Walls, a tribute to top international street artists.
Bursting at the seams with style of a different kind is Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a mansion offering a magnificent display of European splendor, nestled within 10 acres of Renaissance Italian- and French-inspired gardens. Or you can always stop by for a quick view of the Biltmore Hotel, the 1920s centerpiece of “The City Beautiful”, also known as Coral Gables. If you skipped lunch before, take a short drive to Coconut Grove for window shopping and an outdoor meal at GreenStreet Cafe. Or try or a selection of ceviches, a favorite local dish incorporating cold seafood marinated with citrus, at Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & LatAm Grill.
Afternoon: Little Havana, Big Shopping Opportunities
Afterwards, even if your Spanish language skills are rusty, head to Little Havana for hand-rolled cigars and steaming cups of café con leche (coffee with milk). Sip and stroll over to Domino Park to eavesdrop on the older generation of Cubans playing dominoes.
Ready for more shopping? Head back to South Beach for Lincoln Road and nearby Española Way, offering a great mix of name-brand stores and a number of small boutiques, their shelves loaded with everything from steamy Miami fashions to vintage finds. Your visit wouldn't be complete without a peek in the windows of the various art galleries, too, including ArtCenter / South Florida and Britto Central.
Evening: Dinner and a Show
Head back to your hotel for a quick "disco nap" and wardrobe change. For a taste Miami’s famous crustacean, stop by the legendary Joe’s Stone Crab for dinner. This seasonal eatery is extremely popular and often crowded, so arrive prepared to wait (or go to Joe’s Takeout next door if you are in a hurry but craving a Key lime pie and stone crab fix). Otherwise head back to Lincoln Road for dinner at Meat Market, a sultry steakhouse and the ultimate place to see and be seen. (Want to treat yourself? Consider heading to Azul for elegance or Barton G. for novelty. The budget conscious can have a blast at Burger & Beer Joint, instead.)
If you don't already have tickets to a show at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, stop by Mango's for a wild time. It's impossible to miss the leopard-spotted, spandex-clad dancers out front of this Ocean Drive hot spot. When you’ve had enough of that salsa scene, walk down a few blocks to the Clevelander for a drink or two by the outdoor pool.
Late Night: Nightclubs, Nightcaps & Nibbles
Energy levels still high? No trip to Miami is complete without a visit to a nightclub. Those with incredible stamina rush to Space or any number of mega-clubs downtown, but the 25-plus crowd can be mostly found at chic places like the celebrity hangout Mynt, SET and LIV (all located on South Beach). Call ahead to get your name on a guest list—otherwise you'll be stuck standing in line.
Should your stomach call out, hit Pizza Rustica, which is open until 3 a.m. or sometimes even as late as 6 a.m. They offer the perfect spicy snack to end a zesty day in paradise.
See? It’s nearly impossible to cover Miami in a mere 24 hours, but you can definitely manage to hit some spectacular spots… so long as you don’t waste much time sleeping.