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The 20 Best Things to do in South Beach For First Timers


Miami is a city like no other. It has hot weather, beautiful beaches and palm trees lining the sidewalks. There is an all-night buzz to the Miami air that cannot be found anywhere else in America. The only bad thing about Miami, which is really not that bad at all, is that it's just too darn popular with half the world's population visiting every year. Which means it can sometimes feel like you're one of millions instead of the lone stranger in a crowd. But if you just stick around for a few days, you'll get over it. And your first time in Miami won't be your last. It's no secret that Miami Beach has been one of the top destinations for visitors and locals since the 1930s, when the Park Drive Hotel opened. Today's visitors can still find all the trademark South Beach attractions; from fancy clubs to palm trees, and fine dining to beachside bars. But there are some other great things to do in south beach for first timers too. In this article, we will explore the 20 best things to do in south beach for first timers new to the city of Miami, Florida.

Upper Buena Vista

20. Upper Buena Vista

The Upper Buena Vista neighborhood is located between the Buena Vista Golf Course and the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables. The area includes 32 houses that are mainly Mediterranean-style. Buena Vista Park, located nearby, is known for its beautiful architecture and its lush vegetation. Upper Buena Vista is also home to the Palms Neighborhood Park and the Jackson Elementary School.

South Pointe Park

19. South Pointe Park

Sea Ranch Lakes or South Pointe Park, located at the southernmost tip of mainland Miami-Dade County, this city park offers picnic areas, a fishing pier and a playground for children. There are also kayak launch ramps for Sea Ranch Lakes and Miami Shores residents, as well as Pier #10 (Coral Way).

The Venetian Pool

18. The Venetian Pool

The Venetian Pool is located in Coral Gables within the confines of the Venetian Shores community. The Venetian Pool is one of the best places to explore in South Beach. It is known for its beauty and tropical atmosphere as well as its historical significance.

Deering Estate

17. Deering Estate

The Deering Estate is located in the village of Palmetto Bay and it is one of the most unique parks in Miami. The estate offers golfing, horseback riding, and camping as well as many different types of outdoor sculptures and exhibits that are open to the public.

Flagship Cruises – Dinner Cruises

16. Flagship Cruises – Dinner Cruises

Flagship is one of several dinner cruise companies operating in Greater Miami. The fleet includes the Queen Elizabeth 2 and AmaWaterways ships. Most of the cruises are aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2, which was designed by Sir Peter Blake and launched in 1977. Among the menu items are caviar, steaks, lobster, and prime rib. After the main course, passengers can enjoy a fine wine pairing and dessert on board. In addition to dinner cruises in Miami, Flagship also operates cruises along Florida's west coast.

Jet Skiing

15. Jet Skiing

Miami, being surrounded by water on three sides (the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico), makes for some great jet skiing and water skiing. There are many jet skis available for rent all around the city. Many of these rental shops are located on South Beach in addition to a few on Coral Way near downtown Miami.

Ancient Spanish Monastery

14. Ancient Spanish Monastery

This historic monastery is located in Coral Gables. This historic landmark is called The Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels. This building is one of the oldest buildings in Miami-Dade County and it was shipped in from Spain.

Lincoln Road Mall

13. Lincoln Road Mall

The Lincoln Road Mall is now a historic mall located in South Beach. This shopping center used to be the main road of the area back when it was first created. The Lincoln Road Mall has some great wall art and murals as well as many other great stores and restaurants. This mall is a tourist favorite, especially for visitors from Europe. Lincoln Road Mall is also home to some great public artwork including "The Chair", "The Tree", "The Crosswalk", and more.


12. PortMiami

PortMiami is located on Biscayne Bay off of Miami Beach and it extends from Biscayne Bay all the way to the Atlantic Ocean as well. The port is located on the west coast of Florida and it offers a very easy way to travel from anywhere in the state of Florida to Miami, especially for cruise ship passengers who are bound for other ports including Florida. PortMiami also offers facilities and services for cruise ships sailing to or through South Florida, as well as cargo and dry dock operations.

Dolphins Stadium

11. Dolphins Stadium

Dolphins Stadium is located in Miami Gardens and it is home to the Miami Dolphins football team. The stadium seats up to 75,000 people and it is the largest outdoor stadium in the state of Florida. The stadium has been around since 1966 but it has undergone many renovations over the years. Along with being home to the Miami Dolphins football team, this historic football field is also used for baseball.

Cape Florida Lighthouse

10. Cape Florida Lighthouse

The Cape Florida Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located on the northwestern tip of the cape of south beach. It is one of the most visited landmarks in Miami, as well as the entire state of Florida. The lighthouse has been in operation since 1849 and there are many different tours that are offered to visitors. This historic structure sits right on the beach and offers an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida Aquarium

9. Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is located inside the Miami Seaquarium and it is one of the most popular aquariums in Miami. The aquarium has over 50 different species of fish, many of which are rare and endangered, so keep that in mind if you're planning on visiting. The reason the aquarium is so popular is because it offers guests a great look into our oceans and other aquatic life forms.

Miami Design District

8. Miami Design District

The Miami Design District is a part of Miami that has more than 100 specialty shops and galleries. It is located on the ground floor of the BankUnited Center in Downtown Miami. In addition to the shops and galleries in the district, there are also many different restaurants, bars and nightclubs located in the area as well.

Brickell Walking Tours

7. Brickell Walking Tours

The Brickell neighborhood is located close to the Miami financial district. This one is one of the most important and dynamic neighborhoods in Miami, as well as the entire state of Florida. The area offers a unique opportunity to see many historic buildings and homes that are over 100 years old. There are many different walking tours that you can go on with local tour companies that will take you through this interesting part of town and tell you all about its history.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

6. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is one of the largest tropical botanic gardens in the United States. The outdoor garden has many different types of plants, flowers and trees spread out over ten acres of land. In addition to the outdoor garden, there are also several greenhouses that include around 10,000 different types of plants and flowers from all over the world. This place may not be for everyone, but if you like flowers you'll definitely fall in love with this place.

Boat Ride to Elliot Key

5. Boat Ride to Elliot Key

Elliot Key is located in the Florida Keys and it is only about 23 miles from Miami. The island is a great place to hang out for the day or even for an overnight stay. There are many different types of tours that operate on the island, which include snorkeling, bird watching and sunset cruise packages. There are ten different companies operating on Elliot Key that you can choose from so you won't have any trouble finding a tour that suits your needs and budget.

Visit Miami's Farmers Markets

4. Visit Miami's Farmers Markets

Though they are not open all year round, the Miami Farmers Market is a great experience for first timers. It is located at the Everglades City Hall in the historic district of South Beach. In addition to fresh produce, there are many different types of businesses selling items such as local fish and meat to organic baked goods and flowers. The Miami Farmers Market is one of the best place to break away from your hotel room and spend a little time exploring South Beach on foot.

Visit the Everglades National Park

3. Visit the Everglades National Park

A visit to Miami offers a great opportunity to see the Everglades National Park, which is located a short distance away from Miami. Stretching over 634 square miles and covering 1.5 million acres, the Everglades National Park is a unique ecosystem that is home to thousands of species of plants, birds, fish and other animals. You can reach the park by taking a two-hour drive west from Miami to the town of Homestead (the deepest part of the park), which is where you'll want to start your visit.

See the Art Deco District

2. See the Art Deco District

The Art Deco District in Miami is a great place to visit as a first timer. It is really worth walking around even if you don't know much about art deco. The district was founded by a local historian who wanted to preserve American history, which is why it continues to draw visitors today. The district includes many family-friendly museums and restaurants with beautiful architecture such as the Miami Modern Museum of Art and the Hillel Kuttner Gallery. Its restaurants are also great for first timers. Some of the best include the Harvard & Stone, 8-15 Steak, and Maestro's Cafe.


1. Snorkeling

Snorkeling in Miami is a great experience. The water here is warm enough to be comfortable for people of all ages, and the reefs are abundant with colorful fishes, and corals just as colorful. Snorkeling in Miami can also be done from one of the many beach chairs on the beach with an overhead canopy or from snorkelers that carry their own canopy. You'll have to bring your own gear with you and keep it dry so it doesn't get ruined. You can also take snorkeling classes on the beach, with places like the Snorkel Bob's Snorkeling & Scuba School. This is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family learning all about how to snorkel. After learning how to do this, you'll want to go out for a night on the town celebrating your new hobby.


Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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