Visit These Top Miami Attractions

Everglades National Park

Airboat ride through the River of Grass

dolphin show

Dolphin show at Miami Seaquarium

jungle island aerial

Aerial view of Jungle Island on Watson Island

vizcaya aerial

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

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By: Carolina Cardona

Beyond all the sun, sand and surf, Miami offers more fun attractions than you can fit into one vacation. Swimming with dolphins, speeding over a “River of Grass,” admiring the vaulted ceilings of a Gothic monastery or catching a glimpse of the mighty American Crocodile’s scale patterns, here’s a guide to Miami’s most famous attractions that guarantee thrills and adventure for all.

Hold a baby alligator at Everglades Alligator Farm
Hold a baby alligator at Everglades Alligator Farm

South Dade attractions that get you in touch with nature and animals

After a day or two at the beach, head south to the agricultural wonderland that is South Dade for some nature, culture and animal encounters. Everglades Alligator Farm is a real working alligator farm where 2,000 alligators of all sizes live in their natural settings. You can enjoy a thrilling airboat ride over the famous and scenic Florida Everglades, catch an animal show, meet some baby alligators and even hold one of these sleek reptiles.

Family at Monkey Jungle
Family feeding spider monkeys at Monkey Jungle

Monkey Jungle is your next stop for up-close and personal monkey business. Its immersive cage-less concept allows playful primates to roam freely and live their best lives on its lush 30-acre reserve. More than 30 species of gibbons, guenons, spider monkeys, orangutans and more eat and play here, and they even get to observe YOU for a change!

Zoo Miami Everlgades Otter exhibit
Crawl through a clear tunnel at the Everglades otter exhibit at Zoo Miami

Drive 20 minutes north and you’ll get to Zoo Miami. Animal enthusiasts of all ages love seeing beautiful Komodo dragons, meerkats, monkeys, tigers and rhinos roaming about in this gorgeous, world-class zoo. With four distinctive ecosystems re-creating Asian, African, Australian and American habitats, Zoo Miami has added the new “Florida: Mission Everglades” exhibit where visitors can crawl through a clear tunnel and “meet” the American Crocodile. Whether you choose to explore on foot, rent a Safari Cycle, catch a tram tour or travel in air-conditioned comfort on board the zoo’s Monorail, you will want to make “Zoo day” a full day.

Alligator show at Miccosukee Indian Village
Catch an alligator show at Miccosukee Indian Village

Go west and straight to the heart of the Florida Everglades where fascinating airboat rides come with a dose of cultural enrichment at Miccosukee Indian Village. The Village Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the Tribe’s every day life through artifacts, historical documents and archive photography. Examples of beautiful beadwork and basket weaving give way to exciting alligator demonstrations that showcase centuries-old traditions. The property’s Our Little Shack restaurant serves breakfast and lunch.

Capuchin monkey and handler at Jungle Island
Capuchin monkey and handler at Jungle Island

It’s a jungle out there

Closer to Miami Beach, Jungle Island offers a real “jungle experience.” Located on Watson Island, civilization only FEELS far behind when you’re cuddling a lemur or snuggling with a sloth inside this lush 18-acre park. Learn all about flamingos, capybaras, alligators and many other fascinating animal friends, and have a chat with a talkative parrot or rainbow-colored macaw. The park’s Superflight experience is a sky-diving simulation that allows you to “fly” without needing to jump off an airplane, and its challenging Escape Room will test your escape artist skills.

Sea lion show at Miami Seaquarium
Playful sea lion show at Miami Seaquarium

Key Biscayne lets you explore marine life

Scenic Virginia Key is where you will meet your new best dolphin friend. Slip into a wet suit at Miami Seaquarium and Dolphin Harbor for a hands-on dolphin encounter or spend some quality time with sharks, manatees and stingrays. Dare to step into marine life’s home turf during a 20-minute Sea Trek Reef Encounter that allows you to walk among colorful schools of fish and other sea creatures. Playful sea lions give quite a show and “Miami pink” flamingos and other majestic birds can also be observed along with penguins, sea turtles and the Seaquarium’s most iconic performer: Lolita, the killer whale.

Gardens at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Sprawling European gardens at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Architectural attractions that take you back in time

Now that natural wonders have captured your imagination, it’s time to explore two of Miami’s man-made marvels! The graceful, idyllic gardens and stunning Renaissance architecture of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens will transport you to a Gilded Age. This striking Italian villa in the heart of Coconut Grove overlooks the bay and houses priceless furnishings and artful treasures in its grandiose courtyard and extravagant rooms. Built by industrialist James Deering in 1916, Vizcaya features sprawling European gardens, elaborate porticoes, gazebos and trickling fountains that are romantically nestled among hardwood hammocks and tropical foliage.

Ancient Spanish Monastary
Tour the Ancient Spanish Monastary, orignially built in 1141

You may not have expected to bump into the Western Hemisphere’s oldest standing structure right here in Miami. North Miami Beach’s Ancient Spanish Monastery was originally built in 1141 and brought to Miami from Segovia in pieces by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in 1924. Local developers reassembled the cloister, brick by ancient brick, and now you can walk its Gothic halls, admire priceless architectural details, catch a religious service or celebrate a special occasion in its manicured gardens. Tours are available most days from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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