The following is a guest post by Adrienne Fors, a full-time traveler, and freelancer from Minneapolis, Minnesota, but gave up the snow for the sun to live in Miami for three years after graduating from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. When she’s not working from her laptop or exploring interesting places around the world, she manages her blog, Adri En Route, searches for cheap flights, or savors local street food.
Welcome to the Magic City! Miami is a vibrant, multicultural melting pot, with global influences in its food, music, art, and architecture. It’s also a great place to spend a weekend! Make the most of your time in the 305 with this guide on how to spend 2 days in Miami, because there’s a lot more to Miami than just the beach. With so many interesting neighborhoods, delicious restaurants, and sights to see, this guide will show you how to do it all on a short trip to Dade County.
Table of Contents
What to do in Miami in 2 days
Bienvenidos a Miami!
What to do in Miami in 2 days: Day 1 Morning
Old School Miami
Kick off your Florida vacay with a trip back in time to the old-school Miami. Head south to the classic Coral Gables neighborhood, where the streets are lined with banyan trees and peacocks roam the yards of Spanish-inspired homes. Pop into Threefold Cafe for breakfast, then spend a few moments walking off your meal in the Miracle Mile area.
Next, make your way to Vizcaya, the gorgeous, waterfront mansion of the early-1900’s businessman James Deering. The villa is now open to the public as a museum, where you can learn about Miami’s history as a playground for the rich and famous of the northern United States. The surrounding gardens are beautiful, too! Admission costs $18 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $6 for kids, and the museum is closed on Tuesdays.
After seeing your fill of water views and tropical plants, make your way to Calle Ocho, in the heart of Little Havana. Stop by Versailles, a favorite Cuban restaurant, for a syrupy Cuban coffee, a guava-filled pastelito, or, if you’re already hungry, a meaty Cuban sandwich. Wander around Calle Ocho for some interesting street art, watch locals play dominos in Maximo Gomez Park, and pick up a hand-rolled cigar as a souvenir.
Although it’s known for its Cuban heritage and influence, Calle Ocho isn’t just limited to Cuban food. Go for that Cuban sandwich or basket of croquetas from Versailles, or try some Nicaraguan food at Guayacan, Mexican food at Mi Rinconcito Mexicano, or, my personal favorite, the Thai cuisine at Lung Yai Thai Tapas. Yep, some of Miami’s best Thai food is found in Little Havana! After lunch, cool off with a delicious ice cream treat from Azucar, which offers locally-inspired flavors like Sweet Plantain, Cafe con Leche, and Caramel Flan.
What to do in Miami in 2 days: Day 1 Afternoon
Continue your exploration of Miami street art and mouth-watering food by driving north to Wynwood, the city’s artsy neighborhood. This up-and-coming district was nothing more than warehouses and wholesale retail stores a few years ago, but it’s now home to some of Miami’s best restaurants, trendiest bars, and most Instagrammable spots.
Start your Wynwood adventure at the Wynwood Walls, home to dozens of murals by the world’s top street artists. The murals change regularly, so the next time you visit Miami, many of them will be different. It’s easy to spend an hour or more wandering through the murals and the galleries connected to the Walls.
What to do in Miami in 2 days: Day 1 Evening
By now, you’ll probably be getting thirsty, so you have a couple options for refreshment. If string lights, food trucks, and crafts make you smile, walk over to Wynwood Yard, which is like your hipster friend’s dream backyard and host of daily DIY workshops, yoga classes, silent disco parties, and live music. The Yard features several food trucks, like the veggie-heaven Della Test Kitchen and the World Famous House of Mac (and cheese, that is).
Or, if a cold beer at a locals’ bar is more your style, Wood Tavern has an awesome happy hour and a relaxed vibe on their outdoor patio.. They also offer daily specials and delicious burgers at the Bar Next Door, which is connected to Wood’s patio.
The food scene in Wynwood is so much more than burgers and food trucks, though. (But if you happen to be in town on the second Saturday of each month, dozens of food trucks gather here for Art Walk). Alter, the brainchild of Miami’s award-winning chef Brad Kilgore, is the ultimate foodie-hotspot, serving a fantastic tasting menu. Or try the Asian-fusion cuisine at Kyu,
Wynwood keeps going strong after dark, and some of Miami’s favorite nightlife venues are found here. For craft beer nerds, J. Wakefield and Concrete Beach make some of the city’s best local brews. Cocktail enthusiasts will love the speakeasy-like back room at Coyo Taco – you’ll just walk through the door at the back of the restaurant marked “Staff Only” to access the hidden, dimly-lit mezcal lounge.
What to do in Miami in 2 days: Day 2 Morning
After sleeping off your food truck grub and local beer, start off your second day in the Magic City with what Miami is best known for: the beach! Make your way to Miami Beach and dig into a yummy breakfast in South Beach’s Sunset Harbor neighborhood, where the Venetian Causeway meets the west side of Miami Beach.
This trendy area is popular among locals who want to be near the beach, but far from the tourist traps. You’ll find everything from chic clothing stores, local Panther Coffee, restaurants, and exercise studios within a couple blocks. DIRT Sunset Harbor is a good bet for a healthy brekkie, while Ice Box is known for more decadent morning dishes.
Then, make a beeline for the beach to get a good spot in the sand. The busiest, and notoriously party-oriented, stretch of the beach lies between 5th Street and 20th Street. If that’s not your idea of a perfect day in the sun, head north of 25th Street for a more peaceful beach experience. Not only is the beach picture-perfect, it’s free, which is one of my favorite ways to save money while traveling. It’s easy to spend the whole day lazing around in the Florida sun, but there’s more of the city to see!
Miami food trucks
When you’re starting to get hungry for lunch, hop in an Uber and head across one of Miami’s picturesque causeways. Watch the yachts and cruise ships go by, and see if you can spot a celebrity as you drive past Star Island and Palm Island, home to Miami’s rich and famous.
Have the Uber drop you off at First Miami Presbyterian Church on Brickell Avenue, and walk behind the church to enjoy some classic Florida fare at the Surf and Turf food truck. Don’t be fooled by the name, this food truck is in a class of its own. Well-loved by locals, and you’ll see a mix of professionals on their lunch break, families, and travelers savoring fresh stone crab, ceviche, and the fried grouper along the water. Grab a seat under their awning and try not to polish off that basket of homemade chips before your food comes out!
What to do in Miami in 2 days: Day 2 Afternoon
Depending on your interests, there are several afternoon options in the Brickell area. If you’re craving more time in the sun, book a catamaran tour with Playtime Watersports. This is my favorite catamaran company – the service is great, snacks and drinks are included, and the boat is spacious!
Playtime Watersports offers afternoon and sunset cruises, so if you want to spend time in the water, opt for the afternoon one, which includes swim stops. The catamaran leaves from the dock on the south side of the bridge to Brickell Key.
If you’re in the mood for retail therapy, head to the shiny, new Brickell City Centre mall. With high-end shops and modern architecture, it’s a shopper’s dream. You can also catch a glimpse of the cutting-edge climate ribbon, which was developed to regulate the temperature of this outdoor mall, keeping it comfortable in the summer heat.
Or, if the heat is starting to get to you, pay a visit to a fascinating Miami museum. The Perez Art Museum Miami and the Frost Museum of Science are both near Brickell, and they’re adjacent to the sprawling Museum Park. If you opt for the science museum, don’t miss the planetarium show! Afterward, relax at Museum Park, and watch the cruise ships sail away between 4 pm and 6 pm.
What to do in Miami in 2 days: Day 2 Evening
If there’s one thing Miami does well (besides the beach), it’s happy hour. Start your evening on the right foot with a scenic drink at The Lido Bayside Grill at the swanky Standard Hotel on a small island just west of Miami Beach. This waterfront desk offers one of my favorite sunset views in the whole city, and their frozen rose is delicious too.
Another solid evening option is one of Miami Beach’s most famous bars, The Broken Shaker. Somehow, this spot has shoot into mixology fame while maintaining a friendly, local atmosphere and top-notch drinks. Or, if a wine and pasta meal sounds absolutely perfect, make your way to Macchialina, known for authentic Italian cuisine and a cozy vibe.
How to get to Miami
If you’re planning on flying to the Magic City, the Miami International Airport is the nearest airport. MIA is about 15 minutes by car to Downtown Miami and about 25 minutes by car to South Beach. You can also take public transportation; the Metrorail’s Orange Line provides a direct connection to Downtown Miami (about 20 minutes) and the Metrobus #150 takes you to South Beach. Before your flight back home from Miami, make sure to pop into the VIP Lounge in MIA’s North Concourse!
Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood and Palm Beach airports are also nearby, within about an hour’s drive. If you find a cheaper flight that lands at one of those airports, you can easily catch a rideshare or the Tri-Rail train to Miami.
Aside from getting to and from the airport, Miami isn’t known for great public transportation. Plan on using rideshare services or getting around on foot. Or, rent a CitiBike from one of the kiosks found throughout Miami and Miami Beach and you’ll be riding in style!
Where to stay in Miami
Historically, the main tourist hub is Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, known for art deco architecture and boutique hotels. However, with great restaurants and things to do popping up throughout Dade County, many visitors prefer to stay outside the touristy area. I recommend making your home base in either Mid-Beach if a beachfront resort is your thing, or in the Downtown/Brickell neighborhood.
Mid-Beach stretches from about 25th Street to 75th Street on Miami Beach, which gives you lots of selection as to where to stay. From the glitzy Fountainbleau to the hip Confidante to art-deco apartments in the Surfside neighborhood, Mid-Beach has something for everyone. And, it’s a short Uber ride from South Beach, Wynwood, the Design District, and Downtown/Brickell.
Brickell is another great choice, especially if you’re looking forward to exploring the local side of Miami. Just a few minutes from Little Havana, Wynwood, and Coral Gables, Brickell is quickly becoming a favorite place to stay. Beautiful new hotels like the EAST, the SLS Brickell, and the Atton Brickell are all steps away from the modern Brickell City Centre mall.
Day trips from Miami
South Florida’s coasts are lined with beautiful beaches and cute beach towns, so renting a car for a day or two is a great way to extend your trip and see more of the state.
The Florida Keys make for a great day trip – the northernmost island, Key Largo, is only about 90 minutes from Miami, while the southernmost island, Key West, is about three hours away. Soak up the views as you drive from island to island across scenic roads and bridges.
Alternatively, head west for a slower pace and stunning sunsets in Naples or Fort Myers. These cities don’t have the nightlife that Miami has, but there’s plenty to do, from boating to fishing to perusing flea markets. Naples is a straight shot across US-75, commonly known as Alligator Alley. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot an alligator from the car!
Well, what are you waiting for? Time to head south to the sparkling sands and glittering skyscrapers of Miami, Florida for a weekend to remember. With this guide, you’ll spend 2 days in Miami enjoying the best food and experiencing more than just the touristy side of South Beach. I hope you leave Miami with a better understanding of the culture in this dynamic city and a taste for some new foods. And a desire to come back to the 305 for more fun in the sun!
If you liked it, pin it!