What Is Miami Known For?

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As vibrant, visually stunning and exciting as arguably any city in the world, Miami is the cultural and economic heartbeat of Florida and a world-class travel destination that needs very few introductions. Famous for the sandy shores and glowing neon-clad Art Deco buildings of Miami Beach, Miami is a dream destination for many who wish to sample its unique Latin cultures, Cuban-infused culinary delights and electric nightlife scene which has turned Miami’s South Beach into party central USA.

Step away from the sunny beaches and ritzy boutiques of Miami Beach, however, and a completely different side of Miami comes to the forefront. From the vast swamps and marshes of the Everglades to the myriad of islands making up the Florida Keys, Miami is just as stunning as it is electrifying, with a limitless amount of new things to try and colourful places to set your sights on for urban explorers and nature enthusiasts. Here’s what Miami is famous for.

What Is Miami Known For?

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Top Tours

1- South Beach

Drone View Of South Beach, Miami
South Beach is what Miami is known for.

When it comes to Miami neighbourhoods and districts, there’s simply no place quite as synonymous with this vibrant and laid-back city as South Beach, which refers to Miami Beach’s south side and is where travellers can find Miami Beach’s top nightlife, culinary spots, beaches, attractions and colourful Art Deco architecture.

Stretching from Dade Boulevard down to South Pointe, South Beach is home to iconic Miami Beach landmarks including Ocean Drive, the Versace Mansion, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden and arguably Miami’s best lineup of restaurants and beachfront hotels.

Easy to reach via downtown Miami and boasting a neverending array of things to do day and night, South Beach is the pinnacle of what Miami Beach has to offer and a fascinating travel destination with shops, beaches, public parks, ritzy boutiques and outdoor dining venues catering to visitors’ every whim.

Recommended tours:

2- Gateway To The Everglades

Road In Everglades
Being the gateway to the Everglades is what Miami best known for besides beaches.

Right on the proverbial doorstep of Miami is the Everglades, a massive and as-wild-as-it-gets wetland preserve covering a total land area of more than 1.5 million acres (607,028 ha).

Making up the Everglades National Park, this wetland expanse of southern Florida has a vast and intricate network of sawgrass marshes, coastal mangroves and pine flatwoods which form the perfect habitat for a wide array of animal and plant species.

Stretching from Fort Lauderdale to the southernmost tip of mainland Florida, the Everglades are famous for their manatees, alligators, Florida panthers and leatherback turtles.

The nature and wildlife makes the Everglades one of the most ecologically important natural features of the Sunshine State, and one which can easily be accessed just a short drive from downtown Miami.

Recommended tour: Miami: Everglades National Park Airboat Tour & Wildlife Show

3- The Florida Keys

Turquoise Waterfront Of Florida Keys In Marathon
The Florida Keys is what Miami is famous for.

Curving out across the Atlantic from Florida’s southern tip and stretching for well over 120 miles (193 km), the Florida Keys is a sprawling collection of islands renowned for their stunning coral reefs, turquoise waters and colourful towns.

Connected to the rest of the mainland via US Route 1 and the 113-mile-long (182 km) Overseas Highway, the Keys has long been a popular destination in the Sunshine State and has starred in Hollywood films and TV series.

Miami serves as the official starting point for the Florida Keys, with Key Largo, the first island along the chain, located just 60 miles (97 km) from Miami’s vibrant city centre.

Key West, the last, most populous and most visited key along the island chain, is the southernmost point in the Sunshine State and is home to a collection of bars and colourful conch-style houses which were once home to writer Ernest Hemingway.

Recommended tour: Miami: Day Trip to Key West with Optional Activities

4- Ocean Drive

Miami South Beach Ocean Drive Colorful Art Deco Street
Ocean Drive is what Miami, Florida, is known for.

One of the main thoroughfares of Miami Beach is Ocean Drive, a 1.3-mile-long (2.1 km) stretch of road connecting 15th Street with South Pointe, where hotels, Art Deco buildings and energetic nightlife have made Ocean Drive one of Miami’s most famous landmarks.

One of the most recognisable streets in the world, Ocean Drive overlooks the white sandy coastline of South Beach and there’s something happening there 24 hours a day, with beachfront cafes and restaurants to enjoy during the day and a range of exciting bars and clubs to party at after sunset.

Regularly starring in films and TV series as a backdrop, Ocean Drive perfectly embodies the spirit and energy of Miami and has developed into arguably the city’s main ‘must-visit’ attraction due to its plethora of landmarks and iconic status in Miami pop culture.

Recommended tour: Miami Combo: Open-top Bus Tour & Millionaires Row Bay Cruise

5- Art Deco Architecture

Miami Beach, Colorful Art Deco District
Art Deco architecture is what Miami is known for.

Dotted along Ocean Drive and throughout the rest of Miami is the city’s famous Art Deco architecture, which first began popping up in 1923 and was the predominant building style in Miami until the 1940s.

With sleek facades, neon lights and vibrant pastel colours, Art Deco buildings have come to define Miami, with the city boasting the largest collection of Art Deco buildings of any city in the world.

The best spot in town to see several perfectly preserved Art Deco buildings is Miami’s Art Deco Historic District, which has more than 800 Art Deco buildings dating back to the early 1920s.

6- Latin American Influence

Dubbed the “Capital of Latin America”, Miami’s Latin and Hispanic influence dates back more than 500 years, with large concentrations of Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians and Venezuelans calling Miami and southern Florida home.

Ever since Ponce de León arrived in Florida back in 1513 and began settling the region for the Spanish, Miami has shared a unique connection with Latin America and the Caribbean, with the city’s weather, food and culture sharing more in common with Havana and San Juan than New York City and D.C.

Roughly 23% of all Floridians claim Latin ancestry, with most of that concentrated in and around Miami, making the city among the most ethnically diverse and culturally vibrant destinations in the United States.

7- World-Class Beaches

Lifeguard Tower On The Beach Of Crandon Park
World-class beaches are what Miami is best known for.

With miles upon miles of picture-perfect beaches flanked by Art Deco buildings and palm trees, Miami is home to some of the best beaches in the world.

Scattered near lively Miami Beach are sandy coastal strips such as South Beach, North Beach and Mid Beach, while further away beachgoers can enjoy the soft sands of Crandon Park Beach in Key Biscayne or Coral Gables’ Matheson Hammock Park Beach.

Affordable to enjoy and boasting great beachside amenities, Miami’s coastline is as much an attraction as the city’s lively bars and cultured neighbourhoods, and a fantastic way to catch a break from southern Florida’s hot and humid summers

8- The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Built for business magnate James Deering in 1916, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighbourhood along Biscayne Bay is an important Miami historic landmark renowned for its extravagant appearance and preserved European design styles.

Situated just two miles (3.2 km) outside downtown Miami, the museum evokes European elegance everywhere you look, with a meticulously crafted garden by landscape designer Diego Suarez, a Baroque facade by architect F. Burrall Hoffman, and a stunning interior kept much the same as when Deering called it home.

Open to the public for tours, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are among Miami’s greatest landmarks and a rare glimpse into what life was like for the 20th-century aristocracy of Miami. Skip the lines and book your tickets here.

9- Pulsating Nightlife

Women In Nightclub, Cocktails For Happy Hour And Party
Nightlife is what Miami, Florida, is known for.

Few features of this one-of-a-kind American destination are quite as famous as Miami’s scintillating nightlife scene, rumoured by many to be among the most electrifying worldwide.

Miami’s reputation as a party city wasn’t firmly established at least until the 1990s, when major nightclubs and late-night hangouts frequented by the rich and famous started popping up along Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive.

By the 2000s, Miami’s status as America’s premier party place was cemented.

Modern-day Miami’s entertainment and nightlife scene is still firmly centred around Miami Beach and Ocean Drive, where partygoers can enjoy regular music festivals and performances by some of the world’s top artists, musicians and DJs.

A fun way to experience Miami’s nightlife is to meet new friends in a party bus, which takes you to the hotspots.

10- It’s the “Cruise Capital of the World”

Four Cruise Ships In Miami Port
The “Cruise Capital of the World” is what Miami is most known for.

Miami’s important location at the southeast tip of the United States has always boded well for the city’s reputation as a vital maritime and port city, with the Port of Miami regularly ranking among the busiest shipping hubs in the world.

Known most simply as Port Miami, this important maritime hub is also the ideal departure point for cruise ships, with the stunning islands of the Caribbean just a few miles off the coast of Miami.

The city’s pivotal role in the success of Caribbean cruises has earned the city the well-deserved nickname of the “Cruise Capital of the World”, with more passengers passing through Port Miami’s cruise ship terminal than at any other port in the world.

Recommended tours:

11- Year-Round Great Weather

Idyllic White Sand Beach In Islamorada
Excellent weather is what Miami is known for.

One of the many features which are responsible for making Miami among the most popular travel destinations in the United States is the city’s year-round warm and sunny climate, with Miami enjoying more than 240 days of sunshine on average every year.

Miami’s tropical climate delivers hot and humid summers and short, dry and warm winters, making the city a popular wintertime destination among snowbirds fleeing the cold weather in the northern states.

12- Cuban-Inspired Culinary Scene

Cuban Food
Cuban is what food Miami is known for.

Miami’s Latin influences have spilt over into the city’s culinary scene, with Cuban-inspired dishes a mainstay on menus in almost all restaurants and eateries across the city.

Cuban specialities such as crab croquetas and the popular Cuban sandwich are but a few of the many must-try Cuban-inspired dishes Miami is known for, with dozens of Cuban restaurants and street vendors serving authentic Cuban flavours for the masses.

Miami’s a true dream destination for gastronomes, with culinary delights from every Latin American nation found and enjoyed across this unique Floridian city, making it easy to sample a taste of authentic Miami flavours virtually everywhere in the city.

13- Pro Sports

Apart from its stunning beaches, great food and lively party atmosphere, Miami is also a paradise for sports fans, with the greater Miami area boasting five pro sports teams for sports lovers to cheer on.

Miami is one of only 10 North American cities with at least one sports franchise in every major league, with the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS and MLB all represented in Miami.

No matter whether you’re looking to support the Heat, Dolphins, Marlins, Panthers or Inter Miami, Florida’s most exciting city has you covered, with year-round major sporting showpieces taking place in Miami.

14- Street and Public Art

Graffiti Art On Wall In Graffiti Design District
Street and public art is what Miami is known for.

Among the city’s more recent claims to fame is Miami’s burgeoning street and public art scene in addition to Miami’s reputation as a global leader in contemporary art.

Street art can be experienced in many of Miami’s colourful neighbourhoods and districts, most notably in Wynwood, where art lovers can enjoy a variety of art murals perfectly depicting Miami’s vibrant edge.

Free to enjoy and accessible to all, the city is in the midst of a major cultural revolution, with all sorts of art mediums and styles being expressed and showcased in this fascinating Floridian destination.

15- Upscale Shopping

Lincoln Road Mall
Upscale shopping is another thing Miami is famous for.

Miami is a city known for the glitz and glam, and its shopping scene is no different, with upscale boutiques and the world’s largest luxury brands practically synonymous with Miami Beach and the high-end neighbourhoods between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Spots such as the Miami Design District and Aventura Mall are home to a wide selection of upmarket restaurants, boutique outlets and luxury brands, with dozens of other places across the greater Miami area catering to shoppers with larger budgets.

Even if travellers aren’t willing to spend the big bucks, Miami’s upscale shopping destinations remain fascinating spots to do some window shopping or people-watching if you’re all beached or partied out.

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cropped mark westwood.jpg
Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.