Top To Do and See
in Miami Cruise Port

Top Highlights for Cruise Travelers to Miami
 - Downtown, Wynwood, Design District, Mary Brickell Village, Vizcaya Museum, South Beach.

By: Editor-in-Chief | Date: February 1, 2018

Miami is a vast city - spanning over 20 miles East to West and more than 40 miles South to North - with so many attractions, interesting sites and nice things to do that it is next to impossible to see or do it all in one day. Surely not much can be seen in a few hours if the cruise traveler is catching a flight after disembarking a cruise ship or on the day before embarking. If possible or feasible, the Editor recommends at least a couple days to explore some of Miami's highlights.

Overview

For those that only have a few hours or even a day before or after the cruise, the best option is either to enjoy a general view of the city in one of the many sightseeing tours available, to focus on one specific area or on a couple sights. There are quiet few attractions close to the Cruise Port (in the Downtown area) and South Beach is only 8 miles away. On the paragraphs below, you will find the best of what there is to see and do in places close by - Downtown, Brickell, Wynwood, Design District and, last but not least, South Beach.

Photo of Zoo Entrance in Miami

Zoo Entrance, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

Before making final plans, you should also consider venturing farther into major attractions like the Miami Zoo, The Everglades National Park, the Fairchild Tropical Gardens or the Deering Estate. Be aware that to visit any of this the cruise traveler will need to either drive (your own car or a rented one) or take a tour.

Photo of the Everglades National Park in Miami

Everglades, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

The Miami Children's Museum and the Jungle Island are close by the port and praised by cruise travelers with children as a great place to spend half a day. Key Biscayne and the Seaquarium are also good alternatives when cruising with children. It is easy to get to the Seaquarium by bus; around 45 minutes - Route B stop at Downtown Metrobus Terminal - but, if on your own car or on rented one and driving that far, the Crandon Park and Cape Florida are worth a visit.

Photo of Seaquarium in Miami

Seaquarium Entrance, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

 

Downtown

Most cruise travelers will pass by Downtown (or stay overnight in the hotels in area) without realizing that Downtown Miami is the historical center of the city where Flagler Street divides North from South and Miami Avenue delimits East and West - when Brickell was just a tropical hammock, and South Beach a deserted mangrove on a sand strip.

The Historical Center

Considering that the area is undergoing a massive revamping and large sections are constructions sites (or empty spaces used as car parks), historical Downtown doesn't look particularly inviting. Most attractions, entertainment, and activities are found close to the Bay and tourists rarely venture inland west of Biscayne Boulevard - the main thoroughfare parallel to the bay.

Photo of Olympia Theatre in Miami

Olympia Theatre, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

But, if the visitor doesn't feel intimidated by the sometimes dilapidated outlook of the historical center, a few points of interest will be found: major landmarks like the Courthouse, the Olympia Theatre, the Old Post Office or the Gesu Church. The Olympia Theatre (a renovated silent movie theater from the 20's) features concerts, movies, plays and other cultural events. On Flagler Street, Macy's and other stores keep shopping life going, in particular on the block dominated by the Seybold Building known for its jewelry stores. There are also a handful of excellent restaurants, a few off-the-beaten-track shops, a museum (Miami History) and the major transportation hub of Miami at the Government Center.

 

East Side - Downtown

On the East side of Downtown, close to the Bay, most has been already renovated and many sites are major attractions for cruise travelers, tourists and residents.

In the southern part of Downtown, the Bayside Marketplace is a popular open-air shopping center with famous brands (Brookstone, Crocs, Disney Store, Foot Locker, Gap, Guess or Victoria's Secret) and famous eateries: Starbucks, Bubba Gump, Chili's, Fat Tuesday, Hooters, The Knife and Hard Rock Cafe.

Photo of Bayside Market in Miami

Bayside Market, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

By the entrance of the Bayside Marketplace, on Biscayne Boulevard, the visitor will also find the main stops for the Big Bus Tour and the City Sightseeing bus to explore Miami top attractions on a hop-on-hop-off basis. Different tours of the Biscayne Bay are offered at the Marina: Thriller Speedboat, Island Queen, Pirate Boat, Deep-Sea Fishing and a water-taxi to South Beach.

Photo of Tour Ticket Booth in Miami

Tours at Bayside, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

The marketplace is directly connected to the Bayfront Park with wonderful views of the bay, a playground and an open-air amphitheater with sporadic concerts.

Entertainment District

The northern part of Downtown connects to what is know as the Entertainment District or Omni. Here, the visitor will find the best of Miami's Arts, Culture, and Nightlife. The Arsht Center presents Opera, Classical Music and Dance, Broadway shows, Jazz, and Flamenco. The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and the (under-construction) Frost Museum of Science are two venues not to miss, as is the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) for those that enjoy contemporary art.

Photo of Pérez Art Museum in Miami

Pérez Art Museum, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

Nearby, Miami's exuberant nightlife attract revelers until wee hours to famous clubs and bars like E11leven, Space, The Hangar, Heart, and lounges like Floyd. Next to the Port Bridge, the American Airlines Arena is not only the home of the Miami Heat but also the performing venue for popular entertainers like Andrea Bocelli, Cirque du Soliel, J. Cole, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande or Lady Gaga.
Getting There: both the MetroMover and different Trolleys routes are FREE and all have stops within walking distance to most attractions - but not to the clubs.

 

North of Downtown

Midtown and Wynwood

Midtown is immediately south of NW 36th Street (and the Design District) - a contrasting mid-market area that has its own appeal for those looking for an urban mall with big-box stores like Marshalls, Ross for Less or HomeGoods. There are also many well-known restaurant, slick coffee shops, bars, grills, and breweries to enjoy a lunch or just a quick bite.

What used to be a very run down neighborhood with abandoned warehouses and graffiti, Wynwood was converted into a street art mecca, which recently developed into a must-go-see in Miami. Artists, art galleries, restaurants, cafés, and lounges took over the degraded area transforming it into one of the hip places in Miami. The Rubell Family Collection and the Margulies Collection are two major art galleries together with smaller ones along NW 22nd Ave - the most central and attractive street in Wynwood.

Photo of Wynwood Walls in Miami

Wynwood Walls, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

The Wynwood Walls (with murals by street artists from all over the world - Banksy and Shepard Fairey are only two of the major names represented) attract visitors from all over the World. To enjoy food and drinks, Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, Joey's, the Butcher Shop, El Patio, J Wakefield Brewing and Wynwood Brewing are among the best rated. Be aware that on weekend nights the streets, bars, and clubs can get very crowded. The Wynwood Trolley runs every day (except Sunday) and starts by the Arsht Center.

Design District

Photo of Design District in Miami

Design District, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

The Design District The most recent urban development in Miami has already become a must. More shops and venues are still due to open in the Design District but the wonderful Palm Court and the four blocks around it are worth a visit, as are the shops of major luxury brands: Armani, Bulgari, Cartier, Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Hermes, Hublot, IWC, Lowe, Miu Miu, Panerai, Piaget, Prada, Tiffany, and Vuitton are some of the names the visitor will stumble upon. Art and Design Galleries in a mix with excellent restaurants, complement the manicured district to perfection. Last but not least, the Haitian Heritage Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art add a subtle artistic luster.

Photo of Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

 

Brickell

Most cruise travelers seldom venture into Brickell not realizing that it is just a few minutes walk away, south of the Miami River and also with excellent transportation directly (and FREE) from Biscayne Boulevard. There are over 20 hotels in Brickell - some of the best in Miami like Fours Seasons, or W but also a few less upscale.

At the heart of Brickell, Mary Brickell Village is one of the main attractions of the neighborhood. At this peaceful open-air enclave, crossed by South Miami Avenue, the visitor will find a mix of services (AT&T, Sprint, FedEx Kinko's, Barbershops), boutiques, popular restaurants (such as Toscana Divino, Rosa Mexicano, Taverna Opa, or Balans), coffee shops like Starbucks; and bars like Blue Martini's, Fadó Irish Pub or TuCandela.

Photo of Mary Brickell Village in Miami

Mary Brickell Village, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

Next to the Village, Perricone's Marketplace & Café, Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita and Mister 01 (Pizzeria) are three restaurants well known by locals for pairing affordability with a very nice and relaxed ambiance.

One block north, the Brickell City Center, opened in November 2016 and has immediately become one of the best shopping malls in Miami. The Center is anchored by a 107,000 square foot, ultra-modern Sacks-Fifth Avenue surrounded by a mix of premium, contemporary and new-to-market brands.

Photo of Brickell City Center in Miami

Brickell City Center, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

On the spot where the River meets the bay, Brickell Point is an archaeological site revealing prehistoric settlements, those of the Tequesta Natives and also the house where the Brickell family once lived. The green area is separated by the massive Epic building but is connected by a River Walk. On the northern side, the Miami Circle Historic Landmark is a 2,000-year-old structure cut into the bedrock. On the south side, the Mausoleum of the Brickell family stands empty.

South of Brickell, the Vizcaya Museum is a Top Highlight of Miami. This wonderful villa built between 1914 and 1922 by businessman James Deering is an invitation to remember how the first rich developers of Miami lived and made their mark in the city.

Photo of Vizcaya Museum in Miami

Vizcaya Museum, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

Deering's conservationist ideals are immediately noticeable as the visitor enters the walled property through a native tropical forest. The formal gardens merge imported French and Italian layouts opening into a stone barge placed on the bay right in front of the Villa. The museum inside the villa is the highlight of the visit with over seventy rooms decorated in different architectural styles filled with European antiques, art, and furnishings from the 15th through the early 19th centuries.
Getting There: the Brickell Trolley has a stop next to the main entrance of the Vizcaya Museum and is the best way to get there. Although it starts in Brickell this Trolley Route as a stop next to the Brickell MetroMover station.

 

South Beach - SoBe

Last but not least, South Beach aka SoBe is undoubtedly Miami’s Top Attraction. The white sands bathed by the clear turquoise warm water of the beach are stunning and on par with the best in the Caribbean. But this isn't the only attraction of the neighborhood. In the northern part of South Beach, the Botanical Gardens are a delight, the Holocaust Memorial is both a monument and a landmark of the local resident Jewish community, for those into greens the South Beach Golf Course is a must. Three venues host diverse cultural events: the Convention Center, the Fillmore and the Bass Museum.

Ocean Drive with its Art Deco landmark hotels, restaurants and bars has to be seen and leisurely walked. Likewise, just two blocks north, Lincoln Road is a pedestrian open-air mall lined with famous stores, boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars.

Photo of Lincoln Road in Miami

Lincoln Road, Miami

Photo © IQCruising.com

Close to Lincoln Road, on Washington Avenue, the visitor will find the Temple Emanu-El Synagogue and the Soundscape Park of the New World Center; a couple of blocks south the entrance to Española Way, and farther south the World Erotic Art Museum, the Miami Beach Cinematheque and the Wolfsonian Museum.

Between Ocean Drive and Washington, Collins Avenue is at the heart of the Art Deco District (home to about 900 preserved buildings) with some of the larger hotels in SoBe and, just before 5th Street, two blocks of shops with brands like Armani, Hilfiger, Zara, Guess or Victoria’s Secret.

The southern tip of SoBe, known as South of Fifth, is the most affluent neighborhood of Miami Beach. Besides luxurious condos, historic restaurants like Smith & Wollensky or Joe’s Stone Crab, the visitor will find in South Point Park a vast lawn with scenic views for a walk and with direct access to the beach - the perfect spot for those that wish to stay away from the non-stop party atmosphere of South Beach.

Getting There: either taxi or uber but also a fast bus (Route S) at the Downtwon Bus Terminal at the junction of Flagler and 1st Avenue.

 

Explore Miami

Share This Review


Last Update: February 1, 2018

The information on this page was accurate when last updated and published but changes may have occurred without notice.
It is advisable to confirm details with local tourist information before planning your cruise, tour or excursions of Miami.
If any inaccuracies are found or if there are any suggestions to improve the content of this page please let us know.

Submit a Correction / Suggestion.