Things to Do in Miami - page 2
Miami Children's Museum is not so much a museum as a glorified playhouse, with areas for kids to practice all sorts of adult activities like banking and food shopping, caring for pets, playing TV news anchor in a studio and acting as a local cop or firefighter.
Kids can pretend they’re banking at the miniature Bank of America, shopping at the local Publix Supermarket, or taking a Carnival cruise ship, which even stops in the re-created port of Brazil. One of the more impressive exhibits is the World Music Studio, where budding rock stars can lay down a few tracks and play instruments.
Miami Children’s Museum also offers educational displays about subjects ranging from Miami architecture to Brazilian culture. There are also hundreds of bilingual, interactive exhibits as well as programs, classes, and learning materials related to arts, culture, community, and communication.
The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, founded in 1963, specializes in global art, primarily from the Renaissance period on. The museum is located in the 1930s Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center and includes traveling exhibitions from national and international collections to contribute to the cultural activities available in the area. A large expansion took place between 1998 and 2002, more than doubling its size from 15,000 to 35,000 square feet, and more expansions are planned.
There is a year-round calendar of contemporary exhibitions, artists’ projects, educational programs, lectures, workshops and concerts at the museum. Don’t miss the Art History Lab, a spot that mixes different works of art from various eras in art history to create visual and thematic relationships between them. Pieces are displayed in a “salon style” format as well, so visitors can perhaps also consider the connections between art created in different countries at different points in time.
The New World Center sits in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood and is a top venue for music education and performance. Designed by Frank Gehry, the concert hall is home to the New World Symphony and includes state-of-the-art technical capabilities. Yasushisa Toyota designed New World Center’s acoustics, working with Gehry previously on the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Opened in 2011, the venue hosts the New World Symphony’s performances from September to May, including percussion concert series, small ensemble shows, a chamber music series, full-orchestra concerts and other special-themed recitals and events. The center features a main performance hall, a pavilion, a rooftop garden, an atrium, a lounge and an ensemble room. Don’t miss the rooftop gardens, which host many private parties and receptions, and not only feature expansive views of the surrounding South Beach area but also look down into the New World Center Atrium, which is captivating on its own.
Adjacent to the New World Center is the Miami Beach SoundScape, a 2.5-acre urban multi-purpose space that holds New World Symphony WALLCAST Concerts. Utilizing an impressive mix of visual and audio technology, WALLCAST concerts are shown on a 7,000-square-foot projection wall. As part of the Arts in the Parks program, the SoundScape Cinema Series at ExoStage shows movies on Wednesday nights; concerts and movies are free to the public and do not require a ticket.
Biscayne National Park, 95 percent of which lies underwater, is one of the top scuba diving areas in the United States. Divers and snorkelers flock here to experience Biscayne Bay’s extensive reef system. Above water, you can explore the Florida park’s small mainland mangrove shoreline and keys by boat.
Posh Coral Gables, called the “City Beautiful,” is filled with old European-style homes: Italianate villas, Mediterranean mansions, mini-Alhambras, and cookie-cutter Cordobas shaded by living walls of banyan trees and ficus copses. You’ll also find 1920s-era historic landmarks like the Biltmore Hotel.
One of Miami’s most delicious and vibrant attractions is Mango’s Tropical Café. Offering a quintessential dose of Miami flavor, this two-story nightclub boasts some of the city’s best live entertainment, especially as their shows display Miami’s melting pot culture. The decor has an outdoor beach vibe, with palm trees and tropical artwork, while the menu consists of simple yet tasty dishes like steak, burgers, and mahi mahi. The real draw to Mango’s, however, is the loud and lively entertainment, showcasing talented men and women in vibrant costumes dancing tango, salsa, reggae, congo, mariachi and even pulling out some Michael Jackson moves. Pair the experience with a mojito, caipirinha or Caribbean rum cocktail to really get to know the culture of the dances.
Conveniently, Mango’s Tropical Café is located across from Miami Beach. Just like at Miami Beach, you can expect beautiful people at the nightclub and restaurant and a party that seems to never end.
To experience the energy, art deco architecture, and top-notch nightlife in Miami Beach, visitors shouldn't miss Miami's Washington Avenue. This bustling stretch is the place to eat, sip cocktails, and shop. Running from City Center through the Art Deco District, you can head here to enjoy the best of Miami, without planning a thing.
Often considered the “Cruise Capital of the World”, Miami Cruise Port (PortMiami) is the largest and busiest cruise port in the world and one of the largest cargo ports in the US. Home to seven modern terminals situated on Dodge Island, PortMiami is a popular jumping-off point from which to explore Miami and the Everglades.
A stone castle and sculpture garden crafted entirely by one person without the help of modern equipment, the Coral Castle is a mysterious architectural anomaly. Sometime between 1923 and 1951, the complex was constructed by Edward Leedskalnin—a 100-pound (45-kilogram) man who claimed to know the secrets of the Egyptian pyramids.
Located in Homestead, Florida, the Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts NASCAR, IndyCar and several other series of racing events. With a design representing the vibrant nearby Miami Beach Art Deco district, the speedway opened to a sold-out NASCAR crowd in 1995. The track contains several lakes, the largest of which is 18 acres and even stocked with rare peacock bass. The lake is deep enough to submerge an entire six-story building.
The speedway has continued to gain in popularity and garner the attention of motorsports enthusiasts around the globe. The track made history in 2008 when it became the first venue ever to host all of North America’s major motorsports championships: IndyCar, Grand-Am and Firestone Indy Lights Series, NASCAR’s Spring Cup, and the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.
If you’re interested in testing out the track yourself, there are exotic auto racing experience tours available. Drive an Audi RB, Lamborghini Gallardo or Ferrari F430 around the track after a quick safety orientation and a two-lap test ride in a demo vehicle. Once you’re comfortable, hop behind the wheel of your race car. There’s also a Sky Box where you can watch other drivers before and after your experience.
More Things to Do in Miami
Cape Florida, officially known as Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, is home to a historic lighthouse dating back to 1825 and serves as a popular place for visitors to relax, sunbathe, swim and picnic. Although the lighthouse was reconstructed in 1847, it remains the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County, and this stretch of sandy beach runs for over a mile, over which other activities such as fishing, kayaking and bike riding take place.
It’s hard to imagine that the tranquil area was once the site of significant bloodshed in the 18th century, when marauding pirates and Native Americans used the area as their hunting grounds. One of the most notorious pirates was Black Caesar, who terrorized the region until he was caught and hanged in 1718.
Located in Miami’s Art Deco District, The World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) was founded in 2005 and is the only museum of its kind in the United States – exclusively filled with erotic art. The collection includes over 4,000 works of international art, dating back as far as 300 BC.
The 12,000-square-foot museum is the world’s largest public collection of erotic art and was founded by Naomi Wilzig, an American art collector and writer. There are pieces from noted artists on display, including Rembrandt, Rodin, Picasso and Dali, while modern pieces include everything from countless sex toys in various shapes to dominatrix Barbie dolls.
If you’re surprised to see Rembrandt’s name on the list of noted artists, you’ll soon learn about his erotic works here. “Rembrandt’s Erotic Secrets” is an exhibit of 20 etchings, several of which are now permanently housed in the museum. Another popular exhibit is “African Treasures,” which explores fertility worship in Africa as it relates to objects and practices both inside and outside of the bedroom.
Wilzig was honored with a Key to the City of Miami Beach in 2006, and the city also designated October 16 as “World Erotic Art Museum Day” in 2011.
Explore Miami’s rugged trails and mangrove-spotted coastlines of Biscayne Bay at Oleta River State Park. Florida’s largest urban park, Oleta offers adventure junkies different ways to enjoy the fresh air in the 1,000-acre park — from sea activities and animal spotting to picnics and fishing. Best known for its’ cycling trails, Oleta boasts 3 miles of paved, simple paths for novice riders and more than 10 miles of rough, off-road terrain for expert pedalers. Navigate your way through the waterways in a kayak or canoe (both available for hire, plus stand up paddleboards and mountain bikes) or spend time in the sun along the 1,200 feet of sandy beach.
Families flock to Oleta for days full of splashing, BBQ, and exploring nature trails. Cabins and campgrounds are also available.
Separated from the mainland of Florida by only a small strip of water, Bal Harbour is a small, upscale community on the island of Miami Beach. The affluent area is most known for its luxury shops, high rise apartment buildings, and St. Regis hotel. The beautiful Bal Harbour Shops include high-end retailers and designers such as Prada, Gucci, Versace, Hermes, Chanel, and Tiffany. And the open-air shopping center features many palm fronds and a tropical feel that is fun to explore.
The Bal Harbour Beach is a wide expanse of fine white sand in the shadows of the nearby buildings. It is difficult to access without direct access to the surrounding structures, so the tropical beach is (for the most part) private. Bal Harbour has fine dining and cocktail options as well — though the island is mostly quiet and peaceful in the evenings.
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