Top 10 PortMiami Cruise Layover Things to Do

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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

So, you’ve just arrived in Miami for your cruise to paradise from PortMiami, and have some time to spare. There’s a world of sun and fun, culture, activities and prime shopping just minutes away. Getting there is as easy as a quick taxi or ride-share like Uber and Lyft.

Spend an hour or a few at Bayside Marketplace

If you’re short on time, this is one of the closest spots to PortMiami — and the energy, live performances and dancing at Bayside Marketplace will immediately put you in a relaxed Miami state of mind. The lively and colorful waterfront marketplace offers stunning views of Biscayne Bay, as well as Port Miami, so it’s the perfect spot for grabbing a bite to eat or sipping a classic mojito. When it comes to dining, there are numerous big-name restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Hard Rock Café along with local favorites like Segafredo. If you’re looking for souvenirs or vacation items like flip flops or a Miami hat, there are plenty of shops offering all price points. If you have the time, rent a boat, book a fishing charter, or explore the Miami waterways on a sight-seeing tour with boat operators like the Island Queen to scope out million dollar mansions. If you’re really daring, get your adrenaline pumping on The Thriller boat, a thrilling 45-minute speed boat tour.

Explore one of Downtown Miami's Museums

Think of this as your two-for-one location for art and science. Located on a sprawling greenspace overlooking Biscayne Bay in Downtown Miami are two incredible museums with longtime ties to Miami. Impress the kids by taking them to the newly built Frost Science which houses a 3-D planetarium, an aquarium with touch-tanks and an impressive 31-foot-wide oculus lens that offers a view of sharks circling overhead. Walk next door to Perez Art Museum Miami for modern and contemporary international art of the 20th and 21st centuries, dramatic hanging gardens and suspended swinging chairs with epic views of Biscayne Bay. When you’re done at the museum, peruse the incredible gift shop, grab lunch or coffee and sit on the swings to watch all the surrounding activity and serene bay views; or venture into the surrounding park to walk along the bay.

Shop on multiple levels at Brickell City Centre

With four floors of luxurious shopping, dining and entertainment, you can easily spend an entire day (and all your money) at Brickell City Centre. While there are more than 120 stores, from big-box stores to many brands that are new to the U.S., you’ll want to spend extra time at the larger-than-life Saks Fifth Avenue, with three floors packed with well-edited designer labels; or get pre-cruise ready with a straight razor shave at luxe Aqua Di Parma or a blowout at Dry Bar. There are two Italian food halls there, Luna Park and Casa Tua Cucina, along with CMX, a luxury dine-in theater where you can order dinner and cocktails from your reclining seat.

Explore hands-on exhibits at Miami Children's Museum

Happy kids, happy parents, right? Cruise over the MacArthur Causeway to visit the Miami Children's Museum where the youngest travelers can burn off some energy while learning. Traveling exhibits change often, but there are endless activities and hands-on exhibitions spread out over two floors. Kids can test their musical abilities, learn to shop at the grocery store, barrel down the slide at the Castle of Dreams, try rock climbing, and they can even learn about cruise ships (talk about preparation for your cruise). 

Dine and play riverfront at The Wharf Miami

The beaches aren’t the only thing Miami has going for it — head to The Wharf, an open-air special events space that overlooks the Miami River. Here, you can sit on the dock to watch the mega-yachts and tugboats go by, and the U-shaped spot offers a long row of food stalls from well-loved chefs like Cracked by Chef Adrianne, OG Ceviche & Seafood Shack, Spris Artisan Pizza, and Mojo Donuts. Grab a seat at several bars or gather at many of the communal spots to play games like oversized Checkers, Jenga, ping pong and cornhole. When the sun goes down, the party crowd rolls in and DJs keep the night bumping.

Experience Miami's largest collection of street art at Wynwood

With 50-plus city blocks packed with vivid street art and sky-high murals by renowned and emerging artists from around the world, you can spend hours wandering the streets and snapping Instagram-worthy photos. Start your tour at the neighborhood’s backbone, Wynwood Walls, a maze of eclectic walls that are always evolving, then peruse art galleries and locally owned shops. Wynwood also offers some of the best eateries in the city like Asian-inspired KYU restaurant, local-favorites The Salty Donut and Panther Coffee, Asian food hall 1-800-Lucky, and Wynwood’s first rooftop lounge, No. 3 Social. There are also enough breweries for a daylong craft beer crawl.

Spend the day on South Beach

Let’s be honest, South Beach should top everyone’s must-visit list when in Miami. You can bake in the sun on the beach (head to the South of Fifth area to mingle with the locals), or use the Daycation App to snag a day pass at one of the many oceanfront luxury hotels’ pools and plush beach set-ups. Stroll the famous pedestrian mall, Lincoln Road, where there are two new food halls; or party your way down always-bustling Ocean Drive. Make your way to South Pointe Park to gaze at the ocean, watch the kids roll down the park’s grassy hills and splash around in the interactive water fountains. For picturesque views of Biscayne Bay, head to the waterfront neighborhood, Sunset Harbour, which is saturated with everything from yoga and cycling spots to juice bars, global restaurants and trendy boutiques. It’s also a great spot to enjoy Miami’s turquoise water on a kayak or paddleboard.

Visit Miami Beach's mediterranean village Espanola Way

If you’ve made it to South Beach, stroll over to this pedestrian-only street tucked between Washington and Pennsylvania Avenues that’s always alive with activity. The cobblestone street is adorned with hanging lights and lined with dreamy Mediterranean-style buildings, boutique hotels like the El Paseo Hotel with its romantic Juliet-style balconies, and sidewalk cafes offering al fresco dining, live music and even flamenco dancers. Cozy up at A La Folie Café, a Parisian café known for its buckwheat crepes, or get a sugar-rush at Happy Place Donuts.

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