A Different Side of Miami

Venetian Pool

Venetian Pool in Coral Gables

Coral Castle

Coral Castle Museum in South Dade

Stiltsville

Stiltsville in Biscayne National Park

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By: Miami New Times Writer

Miami insiders know that there’s no better place than their very eclectic city to experience some pretty offbeat and unusual attractions. With its vibrant, larger-than-life personality, it’s no surprise that Miami is host to an array of eccentric things to do and see — a variety of fun and quirky attractions, events, and more.

While the most popular tourist attractions in Miami are certainly worth a visit, there’s something to be said for exploring some of the area’s less-traveled roads. If you’d like to experience Miami’s more unconventional side, here are a few must-see places and events that will show you exactly what makes this city so special.

World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM)

Since its opening in 2005, the Wilzig Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) is without a doubt, one of the most unique museums in Miami. Dedicated to exhibiting fine erotic art from all over the globe, the WEAM is part of the renowned “WILZIG” art community in South Beach.

You can explore more than 4,000 individual works of erotic art, with pieces, incredibly, dating from 300 BCE to present-day. Trust us, this museum is not for the faint of heart!

Venetian Pool, in Coral Gables was a coral rock quarry

Venetian Pool

Although a community swimming pool might sound like a fairly nondescript feature found in nearly every city in the U.S., the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, isn’t just any other aquatic facility. First created in 1923, the pool was built from a coral rock quarry and all 820,000 gallons of its spring water is supplied by an underground aquifer. The pool is adorned with two waterfalls creating a beautiful backdrop, cave-like grottos, loggias, porticos, palm trees, and a signature bridge. As one of the main tourist attractions in the city of Coral Gables, this pool has been visited and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.

Spend a day exploring Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

The Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, once the home of early 20th-century agricultural industrialist, James Deering, was designed and furnished in breathtaking European extravagance. Imported gilded panels, carved mantels and fresco ceilings from Tuscany and France line the villa walls. You can easily spend a full day exploring the site’s 11 historic buildings and 11 acres of pristinely manicured gardens, as well as the main estate featuring many lavishly decorated rooms, overflowing with treasures dating back to the 15th century.

Not surprisingly, Vizcaya is also a magnificent wedding venue with very beautiful and romantic photographic opportunities.

Coral Castle took 28 years to be built

Coral Castle

From 1923 to 1951, Edward Leedskalnin, a Latvian emigrant to the U.S. and self-taught engineer, created a massive sculpture garden from over 1,100 tons of coral rock – an impressive feat that today’s experts still don’t know how he managed to complete single-handedly. The Coral Castle Museum gives you the opportunity to see Leedskalnin’s accomplishment for yourself, where you’ll likely leave wondering how a reportedly five-foot-tall man with no modern construction conveniences built such an awe-inspiring masterpiece.

Leedskalnin, himself, would say that he knew the secrets used to build the ancient pyramids — he was thought by some to have supernatural powers. Some say the inspiration for this 28-year undertaking was his quest to build a monument to his one true love who cancelled the wedding a day before the ceremony. Others think that maybe it was to illustrate ancient sciences that defy gravity. Or could it have just been to prove raw human determination? His true motivation will forever remain a mystery!

Ancient Spanish Monastery was shipped to the US in pieces

Ancient Spanish Monastery

The Ancient Spanish Monastery dates back to 1133 AD in Sacramenia, near Segovia in northern Spain. What makes this monastery so special to North Miami is the fact that William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings, and then dismantled the structure stone by stone. It was then bound by hay, packed into more than 11,000 wooden crates, and shipped to the U.S. Hearst came into some financial problems and his collection had to be sold at auction.

The crates remained in Brooklyn for 26 years, until they were purchased by two entrepreneurs to be used for a tourist attraction. The monastery was put back together piece by piece, and was called “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history,” by Time magazine.

Eventually, in 1964, Colonel Robert Pentland, Jr., a multimillionaire banker and philanthropist, purchased the Cloisters and presented them to the Bishop of Florida. Today, the parish Church of St. Bernard de Clairvaux is a growing congregation, and the Ancient Spanish Monastery remains owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, serving as both a peek into history and a tourist attraction.

Wynwood Museum of Graffiti is the first of its kind

Museum of Graffiti

It’s no secret that Miami is host to some of the best street art in the world, but did you know the city is also home to a museum dedicated entirely to graffiti? While it was once ephemeral, being quickly removed from walls and the sides of subway trains, graffiti has now gone mainstream. The Museum of Graffiti in the Wynwood area, is the first of its kind, celebrating graffiti art and its influence on fashion, design, and advertising. Complete with indoor exhibitions and 11 exterior murals, the Museum of Graffiti is a street art lover’s dream.

Neptune Memorial Reef is a manmade reef and memorial site

Neptune Memorial Reef

Whether you’re a first-time diver or a seasoned underwater adventurer, we’re willing to bet you’ve never seen anything quite like the Neptune Memorial Reef. Just over three miles from Key Biscayne, this man-made reef is an artistically-inspired take on the infamous Lost City of Atlantis. Due to its extraordinary ecosystem, not only is it a breathtaking scuba and snorkeling site, but it’s also home to thousands of different marine creatures. The unique reef also serves as a modern-day memorial site, offering up a very special final resting place under the sea.

The Kampong is a collection of exotic fruit trees and plants

The Kampong (National Tropical Botanical Garden)

Nestled in the community of Coconut Grove, The Kampong is a must-see for anyone with an appreciation for unique plant life. Formerly serving as the residence of famed horticulturalist, Dr. David Fairchild, who traveled throughout Southeast Asia and other tropical regions collecting exotic plants he introduced to the United States, the nine-acre site now provides visitors the opportunity to enjoy an incredible collection of exotic fruit trees and plants. Fairchild created a garden that contained many of the plants that he obtained throughout his trips. Among the fruits featured at The Kampong are more than 50 types of mango, peanut butter fruit and cocoplums.

Stiltsville houses can be seen in TV series and movies

Stiltsville

Though locals debate on the origin of Stiltsville, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: the series of structures suspended above the ocean water on pilings and stilts is a Miami icon. Throughout the decades, the wooden houses have served their fair share of roles, including illegal gambling houses, a social club, and a bikini bar. Now, visitors can see the seven remaining houses and determine which ones they recognize from famous TV series and movies, including Dexter, Bad Boys II, and Miami Vice.

Miami Circle

The Miami Circle, designated as a National Historic Landmark, is a mysterious archeological site first unearthed in 1998, discovered by accident when a Miami real estate developer commissioned a routine survey of a plot of land in Downtown Miami, on Biscayne Bay. Found beneath a layer of limestone were hundreds of odd holes, 24 of which formed a perfect circle. Although there’s still much unknown about the Miami Circle, many experts believe it to be the only prehistoric-era evidence of a bedrock structure on the American East Coast. Artifacts found at the site matched perfectly with artifacts known to be from the Tequesta Native American tribe that occupied southern parts of Florida in the 16th century.

Uncover More of Miami’s Most Unique Attractions

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a Miami local for years or you’re planning your very first trip to South Florida – discovering the city’s most wonderful wacky attractions is a guaranteed good time. With a huge variety of the best things to do in Miami, including the best restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities, and more, consider us your go-to source for making the most of your time here.

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