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Downtown Miami Guide: How to Make the Most of Your Visit

by Roslie L.
Published: Updated:
Boats on Biscayne Bay water under Metrorail with Brickell and Downtown Miami Buildings in the background

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 need to explore Miami’s epicenter.

Downtown Miami sits on the waterfront near PortMiami but offers plenty of urban activities, dining, shopping, and museums — 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 base 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 museums, 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 it’s relatively easy to get from Miami International Airport to downtown Miami. All you have to do is take the Miami Metromover to Miami Airport Station, where you can hop on the Metrorail. 

The Miami Metrorail’s orange line will take you right 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, 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, thanks to its endless entertainment, convenience as a business hub, and easy access to 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.

Downtown Miami Hotels

Building and aerial view of Brickell Key and Downtown Miami Florida
  • Kimpton EPIC Hotel: If you’re looking for a great hotel 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 great on-site dining and drinks.
  • SLS Brickell Miami: 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.
  • EAST Miami: 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 vacation home rentals 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 share a wall with strangers, you’re in luck, as downtown Miami is filled with vacation home rentals, ranging from budget-friendly affordable housing 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, some of which are even free! Here are just a few of our top picks.

Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel

Giant ferris wheel with blue sky in backgound

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

Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel is open to visitors 365 days a year, offering 42 climate-controlled gondolas (and one VIP gondola with a glass bottom floor!) that will take riders through a spectacular 12 to 15-minute experience.

👉 Book your Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel experience

Miami Riverwalk Trail

View of Miami Riverwalk in Downtown Miami and Brickell Florida

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 Miami

Bayfront Park is a similar waterside city park that offers great surrounding views and plenty of space to spread out and social distance.

If you happen to be at Bayfront Park on a Monday or Thursday, stick around for the popular, donation base, “yoga at the park” program. Bring your mat and just claim a piece of grass near the Tina Hills Pavilion.

Check out our post for more things to do in Bayfront Park.

Bayside Marketplace

Bayside Marketplace Downtown Miami Florida bay view with boat, people and building 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, artisan 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.

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. Museums, not your thing? Take a minor detour and check out the Wynwood Walls for your fill of local street art and culture. 

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.

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

Planning note: Freedom Tower is currently closed for renovations.


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 Downtown Miami courtyard

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, as there’s always a rotating lineup of temporary exhibitions that are worth a look at during your tour of downtown Miami’s best museums.

Admission is free every Second Saturday, but reserve your tickets in advance.

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Exterior of Phillip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science boasts an incredible state-of-the-art planetarium, wildlife center, and aquarium.

Head down to the subterranean aquarium level for an interactive deep-sea experience and discover the world beyond the reach of most humans!

This is one of the top things to do in Miami with kids, so if you are in any way science inclined be sure to head here.

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

The museum admission 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.

Where to find live entertainment in Downtown Miami

Olympia Theater Downtown Miami neon lights at night
  • Visit the Olympia Theater to get a glimpse of the past. Currently experiencing renovations, the Olympia Theater began as a silent movie theater in 1926 and has since showcased Vaudeville acts and various live entertainment.
  • The Kaseya Center (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.

Just Around the Corner

If you’re visiting downtown Miami and are looking for an exciting day trip a little outside of the city, look no further! Spend some time outdoors at the following locations:

South Pointe Park Pier gate and entrance sign

South Pointe Park

Located in Miami Beach, South Point Park is home to a seafront greenspace that locals and visitors enjoy. Enjoy walking trails, picnicking areas, a water playground, and an off-leash park for your four-legged friend to enjoy the fun. Walk along the pier and watch the cruise ships come in.

Key Biscayne

Downtown Miami is a neighbor to the scenic Key Biscayne. Just a short drive away, visitors can explore Crandon Park, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, relax on the beach, and even investigate a nearby barrier reef.

Book an Excursion – Everglades National Park

Book an Everglades airboat ride if you’re looking for some excitement out in nature. With a guide, you can explore the rich wildlife the Everglades has to offer.

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 access to the adjacent EAST Miami 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 high-end boutiques, vendors, and service providers (like hair 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.

Downtown Miami Restaurants: 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. Check out the best restaurants Downtown has to offer.

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 brunch favorites, or you can stop by for burgers and tacos during their happy hour. If you’re looking for a fun restaurant on the water to bring the whole crew to, 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.

Who needs grocery stores when you have 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?

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 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 Dry Goods

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 made to your tastes and that you won’t find anywhere else.

Downtown Miami Rooftop Bars

View from Area 31 Rooftop Bar in Downtown Miami

For great views and hotel rooftop settings, try the bars at Epic Hotel and EAST Miami 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, 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 norm 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.

Is Downtown Miami Safe?

Downtown Miami is considered relatively safe, especially when compared to other major metropolitan areas. However, as with any large city, there are always some areas that are more dangerous than others. Use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings, and you should have no problem staying safe in downtown Miami.

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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