by Eric Barton | January 22, 2024
Think You Know Greater Miami and Miami Beach?
Hit these hidden gems on your next trip to Greater Miami and Miami Beach.
If you’ve been to Greater Miami and Miami Beach just once, most likely you hit South Beach. Perhaps you took in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Brickell. Maybe you shopped in the Design District before taking in the art scene in Wynwood. All of that sounds like a pretty perfect itinerary for a trip here. But if you’re heading back to Greater Miami for the second (or thousandth) time, perhaps this time you want to see something entirely new, places you won’t find in the tourism magazines they leave in hotel rooms. For that, we’ve put together our curated list of seven ways to see Greater Miami, places that just might become your new favorite way to experience the city.
Feeling very much like a grotto behind a Mediterranean palace, the Venetian Pool is a favorite spot for Coral Gables families. An underground aquifer feeds the 820,000-gallon pool. An arched bridge that looks like it was plucked from an authentic Venetian canal stands next to stucco towers with big arched windows and terra cotta roofs. Sun yourself on the rocks along the edge and cool down in the waterfall that cascades off cliffs along the pool’s edge. The pool closes in the colder months and many holidays but reawakens on hot summer days when families turn it into a festive oasis.
A Tour Through Historic Overtown
The historically Black neighborhood in the heart of Miami is home to several attractions that are worthy destinations of their own. The Ward Rooming House once served as a respite for Black travelers during segregation and now holds a gallery of images that honor Black history. Feast on down-home cooking at Jackson Soul Food, an old standard that’s served presidents and celebrities. Then catch a show at the Historic Lyric Theater, a 400-seat performing arts hall that hosts concerts and festivals.
The grand columns of Miami Beach's historic city hall building serve as the home to O Cinema. Expect documentaries, independent productions, foreign flicks and regular film festivals, including the upcoming 2024 Miami Jewish Film Festival in January. All of it is curated by the Miami Beach Film Society, a community-based nonprofit. Best of all, the theater is a modern space that feels like an upscale reading room with cushy chairs in rows up an inclined platform. Check the schedule of upcoming movies and festivals here.
If you’ve been to Greater Miami and Miami Beach just once, hopefully you hit Vizcaya, one of the area’s top attractions. But the historic property has enough hidden spots worthy of a return trip. Try to find the secret doors that may have been used to sneak in liquor during prohibition, the dining room fountain and the Venetian basement swimming pool.
Knaus Berry Farm
Miamians have been making the trek to the southern reaches of the county for Knaus Berry Farm since 1956. The farmstand, open November through mid-April, is worth the drive simply for the u-pick-it strawberries and bushels of fresh produce. But the real reason to come can be found by standing in the lines that often snake out to the road out front: freshly baked cinnamon rolls that are as good as they appear in photos, warm and gooey and exploding with cinnamon. You’ll spot locals eating one from tailgates before trying not to finish off the entire sheet on the drive back to the city.
A Culinary Tour of Western Miami-Dade
Greater Miami has become an international culinary destination, thanks in part to the recent arrival of the Michelin Guide. But head to western Miami-Dade to find a veritable United Nations of dining options often hidden in nondescript shopping plazas. Follow Anthony Bourdain and Shaquille O'Neill to Pepito's Plaza, which serves Latin-ified burgers and hot dogs. Take a tour of Venezuela at El Arepazo Doral, where arepas are stuffed with plantains, stewed meats and melty cheese. Southern Italian classics and perfectly charred Neapolitan pizzas shine at the Acqua y Farina food truck. And the national dishes of Nicaragua get white tablecloth treatment at the charming Madroño Restaurant.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Occupying the southern tip of Key Biscayne just off the coast of Miami, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a trip back to pre-colonial Florida. Paved and unpaved trails snake through coastal forests of mangroves and highlands full of big oaks. The white sand beach, with its natural dunes, offers an alternative to the modernity elsewhere along Greater Miami beaches, with views of the ocean and the hard-to-believe homes in Stiltsville, a community of wooden cottages built on (you got it) stilts standing on the edge of Biscayne Bay. And a historic lighthouse stands tall along the water, a perfect backdrop to an uncommon Miami photo.