Skip to Content

Ultimate Miami Itinerary Ideas for first time visitors

Miami is one of the most popular cities to visit in the USA. Tourists from all around the world have Miami on their bucket list.

The city is famous for its laid-back vibe, amazing beaches like South Beach, Wynwood murals, and warm weather. 

The city of Miami is also home to amazing neighborhoods. 

South Beach is popular for people watching and its art deco architecture whereas in Little Havana, you can enjoy and understand the Latin American culture. 

Fun fact: Our first introduction to Miami was in the TV series ‘Dexter’! While the series is known for its thrilling storyline, we were more enamored by the relaxed and casual vibe of Miami and Miami Beach. 

And then of course there is high end shopping and amazing nightlife in Miami Beach. The city is the best place to let your hair down and enjoy a weekend away. 

Here is a detailed Miami travel guide that makes the most of this amazing city. Spend anywhere from a day to three, Miami has enough attractions to offer for all kinds of travelers. 

Dotted Globe contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full Disclosure here. Thank you!

Frost Museum of Science Miami Downtown Florida
Frost Museum of Science Miami Downtown Florida

Also Read: Best Beaches to Camp in the USA

How many days to spend in Miami?

How many days should you plan the Miami trip?

If you want to see the highlights, then 3 or 2 days in Miami are enough.

Miami attractions are close to each other and can be easily seen over a weekend.

Fun Fact: Downtown Miami and Miami Beach are actually two separate cities linked by the causeway! They even have separate mayors and governments. Don’t worry, you can definitely see them both on the same trip!

In this post, you will find the best Miami trip itinerary ideas for every type of traveler from Miami 2 day itinerary to an extended Miami Florida Keys itinerary.

Historic building in Art Deco District of Miami
Historic building in Art Deco District of Miami

Miami Itinerary Ideas

If you are tired of continuously running around in the theme park in Orlando, and then drive down to spend a fun-filled, relaxing beach weekend in Miami.

See the attractions in downtown Miami, people watch on South Beach, take an Instagram worthy photo with Wynwood murals, then take an airport ride in Everglades National Park – all with our ultimate itinerary for Miami Florida! 

Or drive down the overseas highway to party in Key West. Miami is also an amazing place to explore other popular attractions in southern Florida.  

If you love the outdoors, then go snorkeling or windsurfing or hire a fishing charter. There are also several hiking trails near Miami. 

3 Day Miami Itinerary

Miami is one of the most popular cities to visit in Florida and receives over millions of visitors every year. 

While some come here for just a day or two, we recommend spending at least 3 days in Miami and Miami Beach area to see the most popular tourist attractions including South Beach, Wynwood Wall, and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. 

Here’s our ultimate itinerary to enjoy the best things to do in Miami in 3 days and explore its unique vibe. 

Day 1 in Miami

On Day 1 in Miami, see the top favorite attractions in Miami. 

Start by visiting the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Downtown Miami then end the day in South Beach / Miami Beach. Have lunch on Espanola way and admire the art deco historic district. 

Vizcaya Mansion Museum in Miami
Vizcaya Mansion Museum in Miami

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the former estate home of businessman James Deering, of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune. 

This sprawling mansion is located on Biscayne Bay in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, Florida and is a must visit when in the city.

The landscape was influenced by Tuscan Italian Renaissance style while the house was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style of architecture. 

The blend of styles creates a truly unmatched architectural gem in South Florida that is hardly rivaled today anywhere else in the greater United States!

The estate and surrounding area consist of 50 acres with the villa and the botanical garden located at its heart. The remaining landscape is made up of native jungle forest. 

Vizcaya Gardens and Museum Miami architectural archway
Vizcaya Gardens and Museum Miami architectural archway

The 10-acre garden blooms with beautiful plants and orchids every year and draws in thousands of visitors.

On a tour of the villa’s museum, you can walk through more than seventy rooms displaying artistic interiors and decorated with numerous antiques. 

The antiques and decor place an emphasis on 15th through early 19th century European style furnishing and art.

The stunning design and unique beauty of Vizcaya is why in 1994 the estate was designated as a National Historic Landmark. 

And since then, it has remained one of America’s most popular and also most beautiful museums and is a must-stop on any Miami trip.

Miami Skyline Florida
Miami Skyline Florida

South Beach, Miami Beach

South Beach is arguably the most recognizable neighborhood in all of Miami! With a nickname like the ‘Sun and Fun capital of the world’, it is easy to figure out why!

South Beach was the first part of the greater Miami beach development and has grown into a popular tourism hub since then. 

Panoramic view of the ocean at South Beach Miami
Panoramic view of the ocean at South Beach Miami

It has a huge array of fantastic attractions and sights available for anyone that visits this area and is perfect for everyone including friends, families, couples, and solo travelers. .

The South Beach area is famous for its white-sand beaches like South Pointe and Lummus Park, which are said to be the best beaches in Miami Beach city. 

Also Read: Best Beaches in the USA

The stunning skyscraper dotted Miami skyline is located behind the beach and makes for picturesque photos. 

The colorful lifeguard stations on Miami Beach are brilliant pieces of Art Deco style and design and one of the most Instagram worthy locales in Miami.

Colorful Wooden Life Guard hut on South Beach Miami
Colorful Wooden Life Guard hut on South Beach Miami
Miami South Beach Life Guard Hut
Miami South Beach Life Guard Hut

In the South Beach area, you will find a variety of popular nightclubs as well as some of the world’s best restaurants. 

You can easily spend hours getting lost exploring popular districts of Miami Beach like Lincoln road which has excellent shopping and art galleries.

South Beach is the beating heart of Miami beach culture. Its vibrant atmosphere and glamorous nightlife scene make it the perfect stop on your Miami itinerary for 3 days. 

South Beach is especially popular in winter, making Miami one of the best winter sun destinations in America.

Ocean Drive and Art Deco architecture

The Easternmost street of Miami Beach, Ocean Drive is the symbolic center of Miami and is an iconic tourist attraction due to its beautiful art deco architecture.

Ocean Drive is the heart of the historic Miami art deco district. It features a huge variety of architecturally impressive hotels, restaurants, and bars that attract thousands of visitors every day. 

Ocean Drive Art Deco buildings at night
Ocean Drive Art Deco buildings at night

The majority of art deco buildings in Miami Beach were built between the Great Depression and the early 1940s so any stroll through this historic district will have you feeling like you took a step back in time.

Visit the iconic 1939 Colony Hotel which is known as one of the most photographed art deco buildings in the world. It has been featured in scores of movies and TV shows. 

Or stop by the Sunray Apartments, another famous Art Deco building, which has been immortalized as a filming location in the cult classic Scarface.

Other popular buildings include the Raleigh, Delano, and National hotels. You can even go on a guided Art Deco tour of the area. 

The beautiful designs of this neighborhood as well as its atmospheric nature are what make it a perfect stop on the first day of your Miami 3 day itinerary. 

Espanola Way

Española Way resembles the romantic small towns found in Europe. 

Here you will find cobblestoned streets and a charming atmosphere. It is eclectic and bohemian and quintessentially Miami!

Espanola Way has its origins as an artist’s colony. Today, the area has grown into a popular dining spot and has a unique mix of restaurants, bars, sidewalk cafes, and boutiques. 

Art deco architecture near Espanola Way
Art deco architecture near Espanola Way
Aerial view of South Beach Miami Florida
Aerial view of South Beach Miami Florida

Dining here is delightful. It’s the perfect match of really good food, people watching, and romantic ambience.

Visitors love spending hours here, exploring through the one of a kind stores, shopping for souvenirs and trinkets, and discovering a truly different part of Miami during your 3 day itinerary.

Day 2 in Miami

This day of Miami 2 Day itinerary is for soaking in Miami’s vibrant culture and indulging in some shopping. 

Enjoy a slice of Cuba in Little Havana and then admire the murals in Wynwood Arts District. And the day window shopping and people watching at the Bayside Marketplace. 

Welcome to Little Havana mural
Welcome to Little Havana mural

Little Havana

If you want to know the roots behind the Cuban culture and history that is ever present in Miami, visit Little Havana. 

Thousands of Cubans that fled to America after the country’s 1959 communist revolution built this neighborhood and shaped its unique identity.

Miami Little Havana is truly the perfect slice of Cuba. Visitors will find Latin American culture and relaxed way of life in its streets. 

Time seems to stop here – you can spot the locals playing dominoes sipping on local coffee!

Some of the must things to do in Little Havana? 

Enjoy delicious Cuban cuisine, drink a Cuban coffee, visit Azucar Ice cream for exotic flavors such as guava and avocado, and see the famous landmarks such as the Latin walk of fame.

Game of dominoes in Little Havana Miami
Game of dominoes in Little Havana Miami

You will also take a variety of culinary and cultural tours in Little Havana.

A must is the tourist hotspot of Calle Ocho which is home to the Domino Park and the historic Tower Theater. 

Also notice the giant colorful roosters that are present all over Calle Ocho. Take a photo with the Welcome mural and spot other murals in the area.

If you can, attend the Calle Ocho Music Festival, the largest Latin music festival in America. Little Havana is definitely a must on the Miami itinerary of 2 days.

Mural in Little Havana Miami
Mural in Little Havana Miami

Wynwood Walls

Love street art? Visit Wynwood Walls on your 2 day Miami itinerary! 

Wynwood Miami is one of the greatest outdoor graffiti and street art museums in the world. 

At Wynwood Walls, you will find an impressive amount of street art and murals on a variety of thought provoking and intriguing topics. 

Besides the murals, Wynwood is also home to numerous eateries, art galleries, and retail stores.

Looking at the hub that is Wynwood today, it’s hard to imagine that this area was a ghetto in the 1990s!

Mural of Cuban flag at Wynwood Walls Miami Florida
Mural of Cuban flag at Wynwood Walls Miami Florida

Visit the Market place area and enjoy unique food vendors as well as watch some of the live shows which are so prominent in the district. 

If you are lucky enough to visit on the second Saturday of every month you can enjoy the Wynwood Art Walk.

The entire Wynwood Business Improvement district turns into a late-night street party and arts festival where a variety of food trucks set up and live music plays well into the early hours of the morning. 

Bayside Marketplace

The number one most visited attraction in Miami the Bayside Marketplace. 

This two-story open-air shopping center is located on the banks of Biscayne Bay adjacent to the Miami Marina.

Here you can shop to your heart’s content for a variety of apparel, trinkets, souvenirs, and home goods. 

Beware – the stores here are high end brands, so if you want a budget friendly trip then keep to window shopping!

The marketplace also has excellent views of boats and yachts. You can also take a boat tour.

Then try some of the best seafood in all of Miami for lunch.

Bayside Marketplace Miami
Bayside Marketplace Miami

Perez Art Museum

End your day at the Perez Art Museum which is located near the Bayside marketplace and Bayfront Park. 

This is one of the largest contemporary art collections in the world with over 2000 pieces available for visitors to view!

The museum building itself is equally stunning and one of the most popular Instagram spots in Miami. Views of the water from here are also relaxing.

This museum is an important part of the art and culture scene in Miami and is a must-stop on any 3 day Miami Itinerary.

Perez Art Museum Miami Florida
Perez Art Museum Miami Florida

Miami Design District

Miami design district is a must visit if you love fine dining or high and shopping. 

In this neighborhood you will find a plethora of art galleries, public artwork, showrooms, antique stores, gastropubs, celebrated restaurants, and more. 

Art lovers should go to the Institute of Contemporary Art located here. The sculpture garden is especially stunning. 

Those who love taking photos for the ‘gram, should head to the Fly’s Eye Dome sculpture. Take a walking tour to see the amazing artworks spread throughout the district. 

Day 3 in Miami

On your last day, you have a couple of options. You can either visit Everglades National Park and see the mysterious Coral Castle on the way. 

Another option is to take a day trip to Key Biscayne. Combine it with spending the day swimming at the pool in Coral Gables! 

If you have kids, then consider spending an entire day at the zoo! 

We have tried to include brief information about each of these popular attractions in Miami. 

Alligator in Everglades National Park Florida
Alligator in Everglades National Park Florida

Everglades National Park

One of Miami’s most popular day trips!

Everglades is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. This 1.5-million acres wetlands preserve on the southern tip of Florida is a natural treasure. 

The vast Everglades landscape consists of coastal mangrove forests, sawgrass marshes, and pine Flatwoods. 

It provides a nourishing habitat for many of Florida’s unique animal species including the famous gators.

Also Read: Best National Parks to Visit in the USA

The best way of seeing the Everglades is an airboat tour. You can easily spot many species including alligators, manatees, otters, turtles, and raccoons. 

You can also spot birds such as blue herons, ospreys, egrets, and hawks.

The Everglades is a UNESCO world heritage site and a must-see for any visitors to Miami, hence why it is one of the most popular locations on our 3 days in Miami itinerary.

Airboat tour in Everglades National Park
Airboat tour in Everglades National Park

Coral Castle

Coral Castle, known as Florida Stonehenge, is an enigmatic tourist attraction.

Eccentric Latvian American artist and engineer Ed Leedskalnin single handedly built the attraction using numerous megalithic stones each weighing several tons.

Part of the castle’s attraction mystery relates to its construction; Ed moved and placed the heavy monoliths without any heavy machinery!

Legends say that Ed figured out the secret of the pyramids and used it to build Coral Castle.

On a guided tour of Coral Castle, you can learn more about Ed, his life, and inspiration behind the castle.

Coral Castle near Miami Florida
Coral Castle near Miami Florida

Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne is the ultimate day trip from Miami. Just take the scenic causeway to the island and you are in for a treat. 

This small town in Florida is located on a barrier island.

It is home to beautiful beaches, mangrove forests, and a variety of wildlife including shorebirds and seabirds, sea turtles, and butterflies.

Here you will also find attractions such as charming neighborhoods, an aquarium – the Miami Seaquarium, restaurants, and even hotels if you want to extend your stay. 

The views from Key Biscayne are some of the best in Florida. 

Lighthouse at Key Biscayne near Miami
Lighthouse at Key Biscayne near Miami

Coral Gables

The city of Coral Gables is located just four miles away from Miami.

Coral Gables boasts stunning Mediterranean Revival style of architecture.

It is most famous for the impressive Venetian Pool, built in 1920s, in an abandoned coral rock quarry.

The Venetian Pool caters to hundreds of visitors every day!

Other things to do in Coral gables include the Merrick House, Fairchild tropical botanic gardens, and the Lowe art museum. The townhomes and houses inside the gated community are very pretty.

Another must is the colorful Umbrella alley.

Venetian Pool in Coral Gables Florida
Venetian Pool in Coral Gables Florida

Zoo Miami

The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens, better known as the Zoo Miami is one of the best things to do in Miami for families. 

The zoo has many animal species such as giraffes, zebras, big cats including lions, tigers, and apes such as gorillas monkeys and chimpanzees. 

Kids can also see a variety of birds including flamingos as well as otters and crocodiles. 

Besides the animal attractions, the zoo also has many extra amenities such as a boat ride and a monorail tour of the zoo. 

Here’s a tip: wear your best walking shoes and carry a bottle of water as you’ll be easily spending 2 to 3 hours to see the entire zoo. 

Zebras inside Miami Zoo Miami Florida
Zebras inside Miami Zoo Miami Florida

2 Day Itinerary Miami

If you want to plan 2 Days in Miami itinerary, the just focus on Downtown Miami and Miami Beach area.

Marvel at the beauty of the Wynwood murals, and explore the streets of Little Havana. Visit a museum of your choice: Vizcaya Gardens or Perez Art museum are both excellent attractions!

End the day admiring the views and window shopping at Bayside Marketplace.

Next day, have lunch on Espanola Way, see the art deco buildings on Ocean Drive, and relax on South Beach.

Enjoy the famed nightlife in Miami Beach before heading back home.

Miami Itinerary 4 Days

Alternatively, you can also see Everglades + Coral Castle on one day and Coral Gables + Key Biscayne on another if you want to plan a Miami Itinerary of 4 days.

Other fantastic day trips from Miami include St Augustine, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach. To read about them all, see our post Best Day Trips from Miami. 

Also Read: Best Places to Visit in America

5 Day Miami Itinerary

If you have more than the minimum 3 days in Miami, then consider driving down to Key West.

The Florida Keys road trip is amongst the best road trips in America – visitors can easily do it in 2 days. 

Here are a few essential stops that you need to make on this epic Key West road trip. This works best if you want to plan a Miami Itinerary for 5 days.

Coral Gables Umbrella Alley Florida
Coral Gables Umbrella Alley Florida

Key Largo

Key Largo is the first island of the Florida Keys and a must stop on your Key West drive. It is the ultimate tropical paradise and has a host of tourist activities for all kinds of travelers. 

Take a glass-bottom boat tour through the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. You can spot many of the marine mammals that call this part of America home including rare sea turtles. 

Explore the mangrove waterways by a kayak or just unwind and relax on the stunning sandy beaches.

Key Largo is also one of the most popular scuba diving locations in the world. Here you can dive into the world’s largest artificial reef, the 510-foot USS Spiegel Grove. 

Visitors can plan a customized cruise for scuba diving or snorkeling in Key Largo.

John Pennekamp Key Largo coral reef Florida
John Pennekamp Key Largo coral reef Florida

Take a boat cruise on the famous African Queen boat. 

Key Largo is a dream tropical destination and is a perfect addition to any Florida Keys Itinerary. 

Islamorada

Known for its stunning coral reefs and comprising 6 keys, the village of Islamorada is a popular tourism destination. It has a beautiful tropical vibe and many tourist attractions.

Here you can visit the Theatre of the Sea marine park and swim with bottlenose dolphins and Californian sea lions. 

Or stop by the History of Diving Museum and marvel at unique relics and exhibits that showcase the evolution of diving.

Take time to walk amongst the virgin tropical forests of the Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park or take a boat tour out to the Indian Key Historic State Park which holds a host of 19th-century ruins from a long-abandoned ghost town.

Islamorada is also home to the Morada way arts and cultural district.

Here you will find several art galleries and studios as well as participate in art walks. 

Feeding tarpons at Robbie's Marina Florida Keys
Feeding tarpons at Robbie’s Marina Florida Keys

Marathon

Marathon Key consists of 13 islands in the Florida Keys and is known for its beaches and barrier reef.

Highlight of a visit to Marathon – view Loggerhead turtles’ nests at Coco Plum Beach! 

Visit the Curry Hammock State Park and walk along its sandy shoreline. Go to the Dolphin Research Center to see interactive shows and swim with dolphins in a shallow lagoon.

Stop by the Marathon Marina and visit the Crane Point bird-rescue center and natural history museum. 

Here you can view dozens of unique tropical bird species and learn about the amazing biodiversity of the Florida Keys.

Marathon is a nature lover’s paradise and is the perfect stop on any Miami itinerary.

Theater of the Sea Marathon Florida Keys
Theater of the Sea Marathon Florida Keys

Seven Mile Bridge

Your 5 day Miami itinerary will take you over the impressive Seven Mile Bridge that connects the Middle keys to the Lower keys and is one of the world’s modern engineering marvels.

The views from the Seven Mile Bridge are fantastic. You can see the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf spread around you.

Plan your drive at dusk to see one of Florida’s most amazing sunsets. 

This bridge makes the drive from Miami to Key West one of the most scenic drives in the US. 

Overseas Highway Florida Keys Florida
Overseas Highway Florida Keys Florida

Bahia Honda State Park

The Bahia Honda State Park provides the perfect day out experience on your Miami itinerary. Calusa Beach, located inside the park, is one of the best beaches in the country. 

Visitors can enjoy some of the best scenery in Florida right from the shore. hike up to see the Old Bahia Honda bridge or see the beautiful butterflies in the butterfly garden. 

Kayak off the coast from palm-lined beaches in crystal clear water and spot stunning marine life including colorful fishes and stingrays. 

The park is an excellent place to observe unique shorebird species and you can rent boats here and head out for a day of diving at the reefs in this beautiful State Park. 

Calusa Beach in Bahia Honda State Park in Florida Keys
Calusa Beach in Bahia Honda State Park in Florida Keys

Key West

The island city of Key West is Florida’s southernmost point and lies just roughly 90 miles north of Cuba. 

Key West is famous for its vibrant atmosphere and pastel hued conch style houses. It is a popular stopping destination for cruise ships and diving enthusiasts.

On your Key West itinerary, you can visit the Southernmost Point Buoy which marks the southernmost point in the continental United States. 

Stop by the former home and now a museum for the legendary novelist Ernest Hemingway. Visit the bustling Mallory Square and enjoy its famous sunsets. 

Visit the historic Fort Zachary Taylor to mix some American history with a day at the beach. Take a walking tour of Old Town and shop for souvenirs on the seaport. 

There are also many things to do in Key West with kids including the Shipwreck Museum, lighthouse tour, and the Key West aquarium.

Key West is in many ways the beating heart of the Florida Keys and it’s a must see location on any 5 day Miami itinerary. 

Southernmost Point Buoy Key West Florida
Our family at the Southernmost Point Buoy Key West Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is located in the Gulf of Mexico west of Key West. This is one of the most remote and least visited national parks in America. 

The park comprises 7 islands as well as a protected coral reef. The area is home to beautiful beaches as well as the historic 19th-century Fort Jefferson.

Loggerhead Key has a lighthouse and sea turtle nesting location. To reach Dry Tortugas National Park, you need to take a NPS managed boat tour from Key West. 

If you are a diving enthusiast make sure to visit the nearby Loggerhead Reef which is home to the Windjammer Wreck, a sunken 1875 ship. 

Dry Tortugas National Park Key West Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park Key West Florida

One Day in Miami Itinerary

For those who want a one day in Miami itinerary or planning a day trip to Miami!

Start by seeing the iconic neighborhood of Little Havana and the splendid murals at Wynwood in Downtown Miami.

Cross the causeway and see Ocean Drive and the Art Deco buildings. Dine in Espanola Way then head to South Beach.

Spend time relaxing on the sand and see the gorgeous sunset, then enjoy Miami’s famous nightlife, restaurants, and coffee shops to end the perfect day.

This Miami Itinerary of 1 day is hectic but lets you enjoy the best of Miami in a few hours. Start the day early to make most of your time. 

Beautiful houses in Art Deco style on Ocean Drive Miami
Beautiful houses in Art Deco style on Ocean Drive Miami

Where to stay in Miami

While you visit Miami, stay in the Miami Beach area.

You will be close to the nightlife, swaying palm trees, pristine beach in Miami, world class restaurants, and public transport to get around Miami.

Our favorite hotels in Miami near Ocean Drive include Avalon Hotel Miami, The Colony Hotel, and the excellent Clevelander South Beach Miami Hotel.

We hope you liked our Miami itinerary. Did we miss any amazing spots? Let us know in the comments. 

More Southern Florida destination guides

Here are additional resources to help you plan your Miami trip:

22 Most Romantic Things to do in Miami for Couples

Miami to Key West Drive: 25 Best Itinerary Stops

3 Days in Key West Itinerary

Best things to do in Key West with kids

Best Museums in Key West, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park Visitor Guide

Ultimate Florida Road Trip Itinerary

32 Amazing Things to do in Key West with kids
← Read Last Post
Ultimate 3 Days in Key West Itinerary for Beach Lovers
Read Next Post →