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Ultimate Downtown Miami Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Make the Most of Your Visit

by Roslie
Boats on Biscayne Bay water under Metrorail with Brickell and Downtown Miami Buildings in the background

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Whether you are a local, in Miami for a day, or staying overnight before a cruise, our downtown Miami guide will fill you in on everything you will need to explore Miami’s epicenter.

Downtown Miami sits on the waterfront near PortMiami but offers plenty of urban activities, dining, shopping, museums, and more — all within easy walking distance of some of the city’s best hotels.

If you have a planned trip to Miami this year, consider making downtown Miami your basecamp for exploring the city’s gems. Need a little convincing? Check out our downtown Miami guide for uncovering all the best things to do and see in downtown Miami.


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Visiting Downtown Miami

Downtown Miami is glittering and modernistic, with towering highrises nestling beside some of the oldest buildings in the city. As well as being a major business district, it’s home to major museums and cultural institutions, dazzling rooftop restaurants, theatres, and shopping.

Thanks to many of its original buildings, it’s considered the historic center of Miami, giving it a unique look and feel. Here you’ll find several cultural places of interest, including HistoryMiami and Museum Park, which houses cultural institutions like the Perez Art Museum and the Frost Museum of Science.

Downtown Miami is also close enough to the Biscayne that one can easily charter a boat and spend an afternoon jetting along the bay.

Getting to and Around Downtown Miami 

Elevated MetroMover in Downtown Miami with building in the backgroud

If you’re flying into Miami, you’ll find that it’s relatively easy to get from Miami International Airport to downtown Miami. All you have to do is take the Miami Mover to Miami Airport Station, where you can hop on the Metrorail. 

The Miami Metrorail’s orange line will take you right into downtown. Once you’re actually in downtown Miami and the surrounding Miami neighborhoods, you’ll find easy access to the free Miami Trolley, Lyft and Uber, CitiBike (a bike-sharing system), and parking (if you decide to rent a car). 

Where to Stay in Downtown Miami and Brickell

First things first — this downtown Miami guide will also include information for Brickell. What or where exactly is Brickell, you ask?

Brickell Miami Florida buildings and street raffic aerial view

Brickell is a central urban neighborhood located just south of downtown Miami, filled with restaurants, luxury condos, and commercial highrises towering over nearby Biscayne Bay.

Brickell is popular with the business crowd and travelers alike, thanks to its endless entertainment, convenience as a business hub, and easy access to other neighborhoods like Wynwood, Little Havana, and South Beach.

You could easily stay in downtown Miami or Brickell and enjoy various activities without extensive travel between the two neighborhoods.

Best Downtown Miami Hotels and Brickell Miami Hotels

Building and aerial view of Brickell Key and Downtown Miami Florida
  • If you’re looking for a great deal with incredible views of downtown Miami, consider the Kimpton EPIC Hotel. This property was ranked on TripAdvisor as the second-best in value among downtown Miami hotels, and it offers some pretty great on-site dining and drinks.
  • If you’re looking for a property that exudes luxury, try the Four Seasons Hotel Miami, where the only thing better than the location is the palm-surrounded rooftop pool. For bay views and the same standard of excellence that you can expect at sister properties around the globe, consider InterContinental Miami
  • The Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami is another budget-friendly pick with spacious floor-to-ceiling window rooms and water views. It is ideal for long-term stays (making it a good choice if you’re in downtown Miami for business travel).
  • For a trendy scene, try SLS Brickell Miami, and make sure to hit up the spa during your stay, or the W Miami, where the party-friendly atmosphere makes for fun nights without ever leaving the property.
  • Looking for a Brickell hotel renowned for its food and dining? Look no further than EAST Miami. You’ll also love the multiple pools and hot tubs atop the hotel, which make for a great poolside scene both night and day.

Miami Airbnb and Other Options

Of course, more and more travelers are turning to Airbnb and other home-share providers like VRBO and HomeAway for more private stays without sacrificing luxury.

If you’d rather enjoy an entire apartment, studio, or house, all to yourself, than sharing a wall with strangers, you’re in luck, as downtown Miami is filled with vacation home rentals, ranging from budget-friendly to all-out luxurious.

Things to Do in Downtown Miami Guide

No matter what kind of traveler you are, or your interests, you can find plenty of fun in downtown Miami. Here are just a few of our tops picks.

Skyviews MIAMI Observation Wheel

Skyviews MIAMI Observation Wheel is easily one of downtown Miami’s most popular attractions. Now an intangible part of the downtown Miami skyline, this 200-foot tall Ferris wheel offers terrific views of not only downtown Miami but also Biscayne Bay and Bayfront Park.

Miami Riverwalk Trail

Miami Riverwalk Downtown and Brickell with boat, metrorail palm trees, buildings and people in background

If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, there are plenty of parks and other green spaces where you can get in a bit of activity (that’s right, downtown Miami isn’t only sidewalks and skyscrapers!). 

Try the Miami Riverwalk Trail to enjoy views of the skyline and architecture as you take to the tree-lined sidewalks along the Miami River and out to Biscayne Bay.

Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park is a similar waterside city park that offers great surrounding views and plenty of space to spread out and social distance; plus, you can find the popular free “yoga at the park” program every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 pm!

Bayside Marketplace

Bayside Marketplace Downtown Miami Florida Aerial View with boats on the water and buildings in the background

Bayside Marketplace is one of Miami’s most visited attractions. As the name would suggest, the two-story, open-air shopping outdoor mall features restaurants, bars, shops, artisans stalls, and entertainment venues, making it a convenient stop to pick up souvenirs.

Situated right along Biscayne Bay, this is also a good place to arrange a boat tour of the striking city views that can only be seen from the water.

Where to find live entertainment in Downtown Miami

  • The FTX Arena (formerly American Airlines Arena), is home to the Miami Heat, but it is also one of the many spots in downtown Miami where you can find live entertainment.
  • Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater was created to reflect the life and experience of African Americans in Miami-Dade County, this venue has an impressive lineup of diverse performances.

Downtown Miami Tours

If you don’t necessarily want to add a full-blown itinerary to your Miami packing list, let the pros do all the planning work for you when you book a downtown Miami tour.

Red Big Bus Miami Tour Bus
  • Or a Biscayne Bay parasailing experience, so you can see the sights while also getting your adrenaline going at the same time

Must-Vist Museums in Downtown Miami 

Downtown Miami’s museums are in a league of their own. For all you culture and history buffs out there, downtown Miami is one of the best Miami neighborhoods to explore. 

Freedom Tower – Museum of Art and Design

Yellow and brown exterior of Freedom Tower (Museum of Art and Design) in Downtown Miami Florida

Just a short stroll from Bayside Marketplace is the Miami time capsule that is the Freedom Tower. This historic national landmark was once known as the Ellis Island of the South for its role as the assistance center for Cubans seeking exile from 1962 to 1974.

You can now visit the historical building, now part of Miami Dade College, showcasing exhibitions ranging from sculptures to paintings, films, and photography.

HistoryMiami

HistoryMiami is the largest history museum in Florida and features exhibitions focused on Miami’s history (as you probably guessed by the name). Find exhibits on Miami’s history of aviation, the founding of Miami, the folklore surrounding Miami, and more. Family Fun Day is the second Saturday of each month when admission is free from 10 am to 4 pm.

Pérez Art Museum Miami 

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is a contemporary art museum dedicated to 20th and 21st-century works of art. The museum’s permanent collection features nearly 3,000 works of art, all displayed throughout eight galleries.

Check the museum’s website before you visit, though, as there’s always a rotating lineup of temporary exhibitions that are worth a look during your tour of downtown Miami’s best museums. Admission is free every Second Saturday, but be sure to reserve your tickets in advance.

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

The hands-on Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Biscayne Bay operate as a planetarium, wildlife center, and aquarium all in one. Head down to the subterranean aquarium level for an interactive deep-sea experience!

Miami Children’s Museum

Located on (nearby) Watson Island, you’ll find nearly 60,000 square feet of hands-on science fun and tons of kid’s activities at the Miami Children’s Museum.

From art and media centers to rotating interactive exhibits, this one is sure to keep your kids enthused for hours.

The museum entrance is free on the third Friday of the month from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  On one Saturday per month, the museum is reserved from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for children with disabilities.

Things to Do in Brickell Miami

When it’s time to take your exploration to neighboring Brickell, there are a few things to add to your Miami itinerary for a complete visit to one of Miami’s most vibrant neighborhoods. 

Brickell City Centre

Brickell City Center Mall Interior with stores and people shopping Miami Florida

You can start with a bit of shopping. At Brickell City Centre, you’ll find four levels of luxury retail, all anchored by a huge Saks Fifth Avenue and a luxury cinema. The shopping mall also offers ample on-site dining and even access to the adjacent East Hotel. 

Shops at Mary Brickell Village

Mary Brickell Village sign with multi color buildings in background

More shopping can be found at the Shops at Mary Brickell Village, where you’ll find a mix of boutiques, vendors, and service providers (like a blowout bar and nail salons), and well-known restaurant chains like Shake Shack. 

The Underline

People walking and skating along The Underline Linear Park path on Brickell Miami Florida

For some outdoor fun in the sun, head to The Underline, a 10-mile linear park, and urban trail. The promenade-style green space covers 120 acres below the Metrorail guideway. Beyond the walking trails, the space boasts bike paths, sports courts, and gardens.

Here’s what to expect along the Underline’s northern terminus:

  • Pollinator gardens and riverfront dog-friendly parks
  • Outdoor gym and sports courts between Southwest 7th and 8th Streets
  • A promenade near the Brickell Metrorail station featuring a stage and plaza for regular culture programming
  • Butterfly gardens, and meditation spots are also near the Brickell MetroMover station

Brickell Key Park

Another can’t-miss Brickell green space is Brickell Key Park, with nearly 360-degree water views.

Restaurants in Downtown Miami: Where to Eat & Drink

After all your exploring, you’re bound to be hungry. Miami has a fantastic food scene, so there’s plenty to feed your inner foodie palate. 

American Social in Brickell

Entrance area view with guest at American Social Bar & Restaurant Brickell Downtown Miami

Not a good day for the waterfront patio, venture inside the American Social in Brickell. This is where locals go when they want to grab a cold beer and watch the game.

The chicken and waffles with mimosas are a bunch of favorites, or you can stop by for burgers and tacos during their happy hour. If you’re looking for a fun restaurant to bring the whole crew, look no further. 

Pollos y Jarras

Get your Peruvian fix at Pollos y Jarras, which offers some of the city’s best Peruvian cuisine. Their specialty is the classic Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, just like what you’d get in Lima or Cusco.

Garcia’s Seafood Grille and Fish Market

Seafood platter on wooden setting with condiments in Garcia's Seafood Grille Fish Market Downtown Miami FL

But South Florida is known for its amazingly fresh seafood, so you can’t leave Miami without trying some of the best and freshest seafood around.

We like Garcia’s Seafood Grille and Fish Market, which offers indoor and outdoor seating, views of the Miami River, and everything from fried Mahi Mahi to conch fritters.

Last Call Bar & Lounge by Farfalle

If you’re craving Italian, downtown Miami has that on offer as well. The Last Call Bar & Lounge by Farfalle is an excellent pick for a date night in Miami, with a menu that’s a mix of Italian favorites and American classics for the picky eater. 

Manna Life Food

And if all of the above sounds too carb-heavy, too greasy, and too meat-based for you, head to Manna Life Food, a superfood juice bar and plant-based cafe that serves up eats that will nourish both your body and your mind. 

Downtown Miami Bars

Don’t think that just because you’re not staying in South Beach that you’re missing out on Miami’s great nightlife. What kind of downtown Miami guide would this be if we didn’t at least let you in on where you can grab a great drink and dance the night away, all from downtown Miami? 

Orange drink on table with Brickell and Downtown Miami Skyline in background

Mama Tried

Try the happy hours at Mama Tried, a downtown, chill spot with a pool table and a 70s vibe for affordable drinks and an atmosphere that doesn’t get raucous until after dark. 

Lost Boy

Try Lost Boy, a neighborhood bar with a quiet vibe and a true gem of a menu for something on the mature side. The atmosphere isn’t the thing that’ll impress here — it’s the well-made drinks designed for a more refined palate. Order the My Idea for a bespoke cocktail that’s made to your tastes and that you won’t find anywhere else.

The Wharf

But for the more traditional Miami night out with lots of loud live music and water views, go to The Wharf. The open-air space can get crowded, but if that’s the type of atmosphere you’re after, you’ll love it. 

Downtown Miami Rooftop Bars

People at bar and greenery surrounding Sugar rooftop bar at EAST Hotel in Brickell Miami, Florida

For great views and hotel rooftop settings, try the bars at Epic Hotel and EAST Hotel: Sugar and Area 31, respectively. Whichever you choose (or, you could always go to both), you’ll enjoy beautiful views of the city, plus trendy craft cocktails that are sure to please. Both are great options for a Miami date night

Downtown Miami Clubs

If live music, seas of dancers, neon lights, and bottle service are calling your name, you’ll want to hit up one of downtown Miami’s top nightlife spots, either E11even or Club Space. 

Floyd Miami

Similarly, Floyd Miami offers a good mix of DJ sets and swanky upscale vibes, with its British mansion feel and speakeasy-style cocktails.

Blackbird Ordinary

Blackbird Ordinary is a mix between a locals-only bar and a club. Live music and DJs are the norms late at night; you’ll also find great, well-crafted cocktails made fresh, too. If you have a mix of party-goers in your travel crew, who all think a little bit differently about what makes the perfect bar experience, this might be the place for you to go.

Discover All the Things to Do in Miami

Still, think a visit to Miami is only about Miami Beach and the beautiful beaches? We hope our downtown Miami guide has helped you further discover all the great things to do in Miami’s growing urban center. From world-class museums to beautiful green spaces to amazing dining and nightlife, downtown Miami offers it all.

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