Miami is one of the hippest, most modern cities in the country and the busiest cruise port in America. From exploring Cuban culture to seeing iconic South Beach, there are many exciting things to get into before embarking on or disembarking your cruise. And you may even be on a cruise that stops in Miami as a port of call. Here are suggestions for what to do at the Miami cruise port when faced with these scenarios.
Take A Segway Tour
Bike & Roll Miami Segway Tours take you through South Beach for an up-close and personal look at the world-famous Art Deco architecture, the glamorous residents, and even Versace’s Mediterranean mansion.
Enjoy the scenery along Collins Avenue as you roll down the streets with vintage cars, beautiful tourists, and sophisticated outdoor cafes. You’ll get a great history lesson about Miami, Florida, in addition to some exercise, photo-ops, and have a lot of fun.
Explore The Everglades
Everglades National Park is one of the most unique places to visit. This protected ecotourism preserve, often confused for a swamp, is full of subtropical wetlands—one and a half million acres, to be exact.
Chances are, your Everglades tour will involve an airboat ride through the mangroves and river of grass. Gators are up close and personal on this tour, and you’ll see a wide array of birds and other critters. If your cruise ship offers an excursion, take them up on it. The Everglades is a bit of a haul from the cruise port, and this will save you money in the long run.
I’ve done a few different tours with the cruise lines, but my favorite was at Everglades Holiday Park. This wildlife preserve sits amidst 29 lush acres of wetlands in nearby Fort Lauderdale. Most tours last an hour and will include a look at the preservation and conservation efforts of the parks. Ear protection is available.
Note: It is illegal to feed the alligators in Florida.
Stroll Through Little Havana
Having been to Cuba, I see the similarities in the food and domino parks, but that’s about it. With that being said, Little Havana, a neighborhood in Miami chock full of Cubans and everything Cuba-related, is about as close you can get without going 332 miles to visit the country of Cuba.
Little Havana is so cute, fun, and vibrant that you will probably kick yourself for not visiting until now. Calle Ocho, the most famous address for tourists and the main drag, bursts with Cuban eateries, boutiques, dessert, and cigar shops. You’ll find items that run the gamut, from designer goods and handmade earrings to cheesy t-shirts and home decor.
I love the murals and the whimsical painted fiberglass roosters lining the street. The collection of these art installments is known as “Rooster Walk.”
Fun Fact: The rooster represents strength and power in Cuban culture.
Versailles is probably the most famous Cuban restaurant in the world, and definitely in Miami. While you are there, be sure to have a delicious Cuban sandwich and a cortadito (double espresso with steamed milk). Yuca fries with cilantro sauce, croquettes, and empanadas are great for lighter appetites.
Be sure to check out the domino and chess players at Máximo Gómez Park.
Shop Lincoln Road Mall
Over 60 years ago, a wise man thought of building shops along a street, designing one of the first modern outdoor pedestrian shopping malls. Lincoln Road is a pedestrian east to the west parallel between 16th and 17th Street.
Today, the world-famous Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach has a mind-blowing 200 retail shops touting designer threads, jaw-dropping art galleries, eateries, and much more. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s the best people-watching address in the country, even topping Las Vegas.
I like to do a few things at Lincoln Road Mall: shop at Anthropologie, Jo Malone London, and Sunglass Hut, a weakness of mine. I love to have French macarons from PAUL Bakery Café or a cortadito (or mojito) and a Cuban combo appetizer platter from Havana 1957.
You can also venture over to Aventura Mall for Miami’s best luxury shopping mall—three stories of luxury boutiques, beautiful artwork and gallery, a theater, and an interactive playground. Expect big names like Bond No. 9, Burberry, Kiehl’s, and Louis Vuitton.
Catch A Sporting Event
Miami, Florida, is a city with a host of professional sports teams. To see a Miami Dolphins game is a thrill for sports enthusiasts, and there is something special about attending a game in flip-flops and t-shirts…in the winter. Catch a game at Hard Rock Stadium, one of the most accessible arenas to access and one of the most thrilling.
Fun Fact: The Miami Dolphins were Super Bowl winners in 1972 and 1973.
Wander Bayside Marketplace
Bayside Marketplace is another fun mall to stroll around and admire the waterfront views. This two-story open-air shopping complex is great for restocking the things you forgot for your cruise, sprucing up your wardrobe, or bagging a bargain. There are several excellent spots to hang out and enjoy the scenery and weather. You may be surprised to know that Bayside Marketplace is Miami’s #1 visited attraction.
I go to Bayside for photo ops and dining. Kids will love Dino Safari (a walk-through adventure), and It’s Sugar or Sugar Factory candy shops. The adventurous type may want to partake in a speedboat adventure, a fantastic way to get out on the water and get your adrenaline pumping. Some dining options include Mambo Cafe, Lombardi’s Ristorante, Landshark Bar & Grill, and Hard Rock Cafe. There is usually live music, too.
Any Dexter TV show fans? You can visit a few of the filming locations while you are in Miami, such as his apartment located at 1155 103rd Street, out on Bay Harbor Island. In the TV show, his second-floor apartment is 10b.
Visit Historic Sites
Miami’s Holocaust Memorial is a permanent fixture; I would say hidden gem if it weren’t such a sad reminder of the 6,000,000 Jews that died during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945. Still, I didn’t expect Miami to have such a jaw-dropping, important historical site amid beaches and its elite crowd, but this is something you have to see.
The moving monument, created by architect Kenneth Treister, is nothing short of thought-provoking, and it is free to visit. Don’t be surprised at the flood of emotion when you gaze at the 40-foot-high outstretched hand wrapped with desperate souls crying out.
Enjoy A Botanical Garden
On a lighter note, Miami has another excellent free attraction, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. You can wander the 2.6 acres freely as you indulge your eyes on a spectacular display of plants, flowers, sculptures, and even water fountains. This urban green space and tropical oasis is truly a way to forget you are in one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the country.
My favorite parts of the gardens are the Japanese garden, with a lovely bridge and pond, the Banyan trees, and the edible garden, with coffee, figs, pineapple, and more. Of course, the giant flowering milkweeds, koi pond, and orchids caught my eye, as well.
FYI: This attraction is closed on Mondays and most US holidays.
Note: There is free Wifi in many parts of the gardens.
Photograph The Wynwood Walls
Once a free attraction, the Wynwood Walls is one of the country’s premier outdoor museums of street art and murals. It was one of the first to bring these huge, vibrant murals from artists worldwide to one spot. Tickets and a tour run around $17 to see the special artwork, which I would splurge on for the photo-ops alone. We are talking incredible artwork here, and the Wynwood Arts District area has a Bohemian feel that is fun to be in.
Tours last approximately 50 minutes. Children under 12 are free.
Eat Delicious Food
Blue Collar is my favorite Miami restaurant, serving simple but exceptionally well-done food as beautiful as it is tasty. I love the coziness of Blue Collar, the dailies, and comfort food dishes. I go for the veggie plate, with four choices from the daily selection (see the chalkboard), and chock full of yummy starches, too. Save room for dessert, such as Hummingbird cake or Butterscotch Heath bar bread pudding. Note that Blue Collar also has a weekend brunch.
Joe’s Stone Crab, a pricey but bucket list restaurant, is another Miami institution. Just getting your hands dirty from these luscious seafood favorites and seeing the upscale crowd is worth the cost.
Baires Grill, an Argentinian steakhouse in Mary Brickell Village, has a stellar happy hour Monday through Friday. Besides drastically reduced beer and cocktails prices (upscale, call liquor cocktails), the bar bites are also heavily discounted. Try the empanadas and beef carpaccio, decadent and 10/10 good.
Versailles and El Pub Restaurant in Little Havana are two Cuban restaurants that will please your palate. Try a cafe con Leche and a classic Cuban sandwich. My favorite is the Media Noches, similar to a Cuban but on softer, Challah-like bread.
I recommend the ocean and poolside La Côte at the iconic Miami Beach Fountainbleau on Collins Avenue to rub elbows with the rich and famous. The Fried Calamari with artichoke aioli is fabulous, while the heirloom tomato salad is my choice for an entree. Enjoy your meal while a world-class DJ spins the tunes.
Where To Stay In Miami
In the MIMO (Miami Modern) District in North Miami, we found a darling AirBNB property, Kat’z Cozy Cottage. She is a delightful hostess with a cute as can be property. Every inch of space in this urban paradise is utilized for necessities or her brilliant collection of artwork and whimsical treasures. We loved staying there.
The Panorama Tower, with 85 floors, on Brickell, is home to incredibly luxurious suites with stellar views of Biscayne Bay for a special splurge. Panorama Tower is labeled the “best address in the best city.” Our stay was “all that and a bag of chips.”
Our room was around 1100 square feet with a fully stocked state-of-the-art kitchen, Bosch appliances, and balconies affording spectacular views. The furnishings were zenful and comfy, while the decor was beach chic and metropolitan, without obnoxious.
Enjoy Miami! Bon Voyage!
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