Maybe you got your dream job in a different city, or maybe you’re saying goodbye to your college years at the University of Miami or Miami Dade College.
Either way, packing up and leaving town can be bittersweet, especially if it’s a vibrant city like Miami. But before you make your final goodbyes, make sure you give Miami a full send off--because even if you think you’ve seen all of the city, you may be surprised at what this coastal town has yet to offer.
Below, we’ve got things to do, places to see, and of course, the best place to nosh and enjoy the sights before you say a fond farewell. The best way to go out is in style, and preferably, Miami style.
- Visit Birds and Big Cats at Jungle Island
If you haven’t visited Jungle Island yet, clear your schedule. One of Miami’s most popular attractions, the interactive zoo and park has over 3,000 different species of birds and mammals, home to white tigers, parrots, penguins and kangaroos. One of the site’s more impressive attractions is its walkthrough aviary, home to Peruvian macaws and squirrel monkeys that freely roam alongside guests.
- Stroll along Calle Ocho in Little Havana
Even if you’re planning a trip to Cuba, Miami’s Little Havana has a distinct and colorful atmosphere you’d be remiss not to see. Stroll by vibrant shops, hear Latin American music wafting on a breeze of fragrant cigar smoke, and, before you really stretch your legs, grab a scoop of something sweet from Azucar Ice Cream Company (maybe a bourbon-soaked cinnamon bun!)
- Be Wowed by the Sights at Villa Vizcaya
Built in the early twentieth century and formerly occupied by James Deering of the Deering-McCormick International Harvester fortune, the Villa stands now as a stately and beautifully preserved museum. While each of the Villa’s rooms are dazzlingly appointed in 15th to 19th century European furnishings and decorations, the real sight is the 10-acre Italian renaissance formal gardens.
- Swim and Sun in the Venetian Pool
This may not be an upper crust Villa, but the Venetian Pool is the closest you’ll get swimming. The pool was built out of a scenic coral rock quarry, and boasts much to explore, from cave grottos to waterfalls. If you’ve had your fill of swimming for the afternoon, the pool also has two look-out towers, providing perfect views. The pool is open seven days a week, but a quick tip—avoid weekends, when the pool’s idyllic setting brings the crowds.
- Visit the Coral Castle
If oddities are your, well, oddity, then the Coral Castle is worth a look. The elaborate limestone sculpture garden was built by one man, Ed Leedskalnin, over 60 years ago. How Leedskalnin exactly built the castle still has experts head scratching. And Leedskalnin gave up no secrets—when visitors to the castle would ask just how he accomplished this feat, he simply said he “knew the secrets of the pyramids.” Either way, the castle is still enjoyed as an unusual landmark today.
- Test Your Limits at the Virtual Reality Park
Move over, laser tag. Miami’s Virtual Reality Park can give you the experience of an intense galactic battle, or a seat in a movie theater that isn’t just front row, but completely immersive. Experience this new technology with a few friends, or on your own—whichever you choose, you’ll have an unique and distinctly futuristic experience.
- Dance and Drink at Ball & Chain
The original Ball & Chain was a jazz hotspot, attracting the likes of Billie Holiday and Chet Baker to its famed stage. While the old Ball & Chain has been cut loose, a recreation of it stands in its stead in Miami’s Little Havana. And unsurprisingly, it just happens to be one of the city’s more hopping places to salsa the night away (not to mention live jazz in the evening all weekend). Grab a partner and a Pastelito Daquiri from the bar, and prepare for a late night.
- Keep it Short (or Not) At Hemingway’s House
The famously brief writer settled in Key West by the end of his life, and the squat house and museum is worth the drive. Take a writer friend and you’ll see hallowed artifacts such as the writer’s typewriter. It’s worth a stroll the house and grounds, too, but watch your feet: the many descendants of Hemingway’s cat, Snowball, roam around the property, named for famous writers in a Hemingway family tradition.
- Tour the Art Deco District in Miami Beach
For a quick walking tour, you might take a gander at the nearly 800 colorful Art Deco buildings in Miami Beach. These striking, hardline buildings are made all the more eye catching with their bright pastel colors, which, though iconic now, were actually painted in a bid to attract tourist attention (and it worked). Guided tours are available at the nearby welcome center, for those who want more information on the buildings.
- See the Wynwood Walls
Miami’s only outdoor street art installations, the Wynwood Walls have attracted famed street artists and graffiti artists, including Shepard Fairey and Ryan McGuinness. Tony Goldman, who initially developed the property, started the Walls from six blank warehouses. Now, murals and art cover over 80,000 square feet of walls, and have represented artists from over 16 different countries. Though Goldman died in 2012, the walls—and his legacy—live on.
- (Finally) Visit South Beach
So you’ve finally found the time to visit Miami’s most well-known neighborhood and beach—where should you go? You can’t go wrong posting up on the beachfront itself, or walking (or rollerblading) down Ocean Drive for great people-watching and great food. Or, if it’s closer to night, you’re sure to find clubs and bars aplenty, such as the beachfront bar Nikki Beach Miami and the rooftop bar of the Clevelander Hotel. Go a little wild!
Trust us, there’s still more to see—here are more things to do in Miami before you skip town!