7 Miami Landmarks You Can’t Miss
Miami is home to some of the most famous landmarks in Florida. Architectural gems, historic buildings, and world-famous attractions set Miami apart from other Florida cities. With the Everglades just an hour away and fantastic beaches right at your fingertips, there’s so much to see and do on a trip to the Magic City.
Whether you tour on foot, get a bird’s-eye view on a helicopter tour, or see Miami from the water, the city is sure to make an impression. Plus, many of the area’s most famous places are free to visit! Go back in time to 1920s Miami, discover European-inspired furniture and architecture, and visit city institutions that have been around for over 100 years. Start by visiting these top seven Miami attractions that you can’t afford to miss.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is a National Historic Landmark and was once the villa and estate of Miami millionaire James Deering. Today, visitors can marvel at the European extravagance of this famous Miami-meets-Versailles attraction constructed in 1914. Shrubs, orchids, and palms are just some of the plants on display in the 10-acre garden.
Inside the main house, you’ll find more than 70 rooms finished with sleek marble floors, stained glass windows, gilded panels, fresco ceilings, and other lavish furnishings. Over the years, the house has hosted everyone from Popes to foreign dignitaries, and it’s even available for weddings and events.
Joe’s Stone Crab
Seafood lovers can’t skip a visit to Joe’s Stone Crab, one of the top Miami food attractions. Once you take your first bite of succulent stone crab dipped in butter or mustard sauce, you’ll see why. Founded in Miami Beach in 1913 by a Hungarian couple, Joe’s Stone Crab has been serving up this Florida Keys delicacy for decades. Stone crab is such a Miami food staple we even featured it in our Miami foodie’s guide!
The trick to getting your hands on Joe’s stone crabs is timing – and patience! Come mid-October, when stone crab season begins, visitors and locals flock to the restaurant for this delicious seafood. The lines can be quite long, and Joe’s doesn’t take reservations. Come early and prepare to be patient. Trust us, it’s worth the wait!
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Inspired by the Giralda in Seville, Spain, the 17-story Freedom Tower is one of Miami’s top attractions that you can easily spot as you walk around the downtown area. You may have even seen this attraction on an episode of Miami Vice. Built in 1925, the Freedom Tower once served as the home of The Miami Times, and it was also used by the federal government to process Cuban refugees in the 1960s.
Today, the Freedom Tower is part of the Miami Dade College, used as an office space for arts disciplines. It’s also open to the public, showcasing art by Leonardo da Vinci, Francisco de Goya, and other famous artists. You can even tour the tower for free! If you don’t have time to go inside, you’re sure to get a glimpse of it on a city bus tour. You can’t miss the prominent cupola and yellow facade.
This high-end hotel built in 1926 was the place for luxury parties, glamorous fashion shows and galas, and water performances in the enormous swimming pool. During the early 20th Century, the Biltmore hosted celebrities and gangsters – in fact, it’s famous for being the site where gangster Thomas Walsh was shot and killed, leading to rumors of ghosts and hauntings. Some Miami locals regard the Biltmore as one of the most haunted locations in the city. When the hotel closed in 1968, people sneaking into the shuttered building reported countless ghost sightings.
Since it reopened in 1987, restored to its former glory as a luxury hotel, the Biltmore now offers 5-star amenities like fine dining, a spa, and even an 18-hole championship golf course. It’s easy to see why it’s one of Miami’s timeless landmarks. A stunning courtyard, fountain, and 750,000-gallon pool add to the European charm of this classically beautiful attraction. The Biltmore is also home to a theater and culinary academy.
Cape Florida Lighthouse
Known for being the oldest structure in Miami-Dade, the Cape Florida Lighthouse is a historic emblem. Built in 1825, it’s survived nearly 200 years of weather events and other catastrophes, like a gunpowder explosion. Although its initial purpose was to help sailors avoid the reefs, today it is a famous landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located at the south end of Key Biscayne, the tall white lighthouse stands above a forest of palms. Visitors can climb 109 spiral steps to reach the top, and the lighthouse visit is free with entry to the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. From the top, enjoy views of the Atlantic, Miami Beach, and the floating homes of Stiltsville.
The Venetian Pool is not your average public pool. Created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, this 820,000-gallon pool is filled with spring water from an underground aquifer. It features two lookout towers, a bridge, grottos, palm trees, and waterfalls that add to the charm of this cool oasis. Swimmers can enjoy splashing around the pool or sunbathing while taking in the scenic backdrop.
What really sets this pool apart from other public swimming pools is that it’s filled and drained daily during the spring and summer seasons! Plus, a limited number of tickets per day keeps this Miami landmark from getting overly crowded.
Ocean Drive is all about that iconic Miami glitz and glam. Beach views, cafes, boutiques, and Art Deco architecture set the stage for a fun-filled day strolling around this Miami hotspot. From the pastel buildings to elaborate hotels and gourmet dining spots, you can’t visit Miami without spending some time on Ocean Drive. Start at 1st St. and walk the 15 blocks of palm-lined streets.
Beyond the excellent people-watching, you can find beachy boutiques, quaint coffee shops, and adorable bars that serve a mean margarita. Take a break and put your toes in the sand at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Beach Park or Lummus Park. By night, clubbing and bar-hopping are popular activities along Ocean Drive. From pool parties and rooftop DJ sessions to private cabanas and craft cocktails, Ocean Drive’s nightlife scene is legendary.
Once you’ve crossed these seven top attractions off your list, consider visiting Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, a hub for arts and culture with impressive floor-to-ceiling murals.
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