Look, we’re going to level with you: Even we here at New Times have trouble finding things to do in the long, hot summer. It’s the slump season: Spring breakers have left, and the Art Basel crowds are months away. The only major holiday during the whole season is the Fourth of July. Just stepping outside means risking sunburn and heatstroke. Summer here sucks; it really does. Anyone who says otherwise should not be trusted.
Nevertheless, as a handsome movie scientist once said: “Life, uh, finds a way.” And so must we, Miami! Below, you’ll find a list of conclusive proof that the summer — bear with us — isn’t terrible! We know it sounds crazy, but there’s actually a lot to do in this town, even when everyone is hiding out and cursing the sun for whipping us with its venomous rays.
You Have an Excuse to Stay Home
Say it, folks: “It’s too hot to go anywhere.” Northerners get their snowstorms and subzero temperatures as an excuse to be antisocial; South Floridians have the oppressive, scornful heat and tropical humidity, which are only worsening thanks to global warming. What’s the point of being seen in public if you’re just going to end up looking like a sweaty, red-faced mess? Why even bother? Your place has A/C. Your TV has Netflix, cable, and maybe even a game console. There’s ice in your freezer. Stay home! What has being sociable ever done for you anyway?
Should you deign to step outside into the burning sun, you might be pleasantly surprised to find fewer of what Miamians detest most: tourists. Sure, there are a few intrepid summer vacationers traipsing around the beach or shooting photos in Wynwood. There always are. But it’s certainly not the same as during Art Basel or spring break or WMC/Ultra. Two long, hot months without many major events might not be a boon for the local economy, but it’s also two months without snowbirds — a blessing in a sweaty disguise.
While tourists are away, the locals can play. Miami’s hospitality industry is one of the best in the world, so why not take advantage with an off-season staycation? Without the usual glut of vacationers, many hotels offer lower rates to entice locals. A cursory glance at TripAdvisor, for instance, reveals deeply discounted rooms at some of the city's most desirable spots: $169 at the Palms, $149 at the Clevelander, and a whole bunch of deals at the Freehand. Plus, the Convention and Visitors Bureau's Miami Hotel Months promo offers summer deals for Florida residents who don't want to travel far, and apps such as Hotel Tonight might offer even steeper discounts if you can get packing right now. For more, check out our list of the best summer staycation deals.
From luxurious, full-service restaurants in South Beach to trendy eateries in Wynwood, Miami’s food scene is one of the best in the nation. Wouldn’t it be nice to sample it all at a fraction of the cost? That’s where Miami Spice comes in. During the two-month dining promotion, nearly 250 of the city's most prestigious restaurants offer discounted prix fixes for lunch ($23), dinner ($39), and the all-important weekend brunch ($23). That’s a lot of menus, so if you can’t decide, relax: We have a guide for you. Whether you're a card-carrying carnivore, strict vegan, or sushi connoisseur, there's a menu for everyone. Miami Spice runs through September 30.
Miami Spa Month
Technically, Miami Spa Month lasts two months (not that anyone’s complaining). From the first day of July to the last day of August, spas across the area team up with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau to offer deals and discounts on their most sought-after treatments, for as little as $109. Some of Miami’s most luxurious, exclusive spas are in on the plan: Try the “Water Journey” at the Fontainebleau’s Lapis Spa or the Japanese tea treatments at the Setai. For more info, check out New Times’ list of the best deals, and wash away your stress before Spa Month evaporates like sauna steam.
A curious aroma — fruity, tropical, almost too sweet — floats in the air outside your home. At last, the mangoes from the tree in your yard are dropping! Soon you’ll be up to your knees in delicious, sticky fruit, devoured raw or prepared in dozens of culinary permutations: mango lassi, mango salad, mango sorbet and frozen yogurt, and on and on. For those without their own tree, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden on Old Cutler Road holds its annual International Mango Festival in mid-July, when you can learn about the many varieties of this scrumptious plant. If you’re not sick of mango by summer’s end, you haven’t indulged enough.
When It Rains and Doesn't Pour
As anyone born and raised in Florida knows, the state has only two seasons: wet and dry. The summer months happen to coincide with the wet season, when near-daily thunderstorms assault the peninsula thanks to its position between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, making it a lightning alley. Basically, the Sunshine State it ain’t — the area is even classified as a tropical monsoon climate. Nevertheless, there's a sweet spot between unabated sun and torrential deluges: when the sky doesn’t open up and simply remains cloudy.
A Day at the Movies
Since film was invented more than 100 years ago, Americans have flocked to movie palaces during the summer to avoid the dreaded heat, and it hasn’t changed. With a massive array of cinematic options in the area, film fans can while away an afternoon in air-conditioned bliss while watching the latest summer blockbuster or arthouse hit. Take in a Marvel movie in luxury at CMX in Brickell or the latest A24 curio at O Cinema. Horror fans can get their fill of gore at the annual Popcorn Frights Film Festival. And if you’re willing to make the drive, experience a massive movie at the only true IMAX theater in Florida, at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Discovery and Science.
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Yes, living in Miami means you can go swimming pretty much year-round, but summer is the absolute best time to do it. For one, the ocean is the warmest and most comfortable it’ll be all year, and the less crowded beaches (see “Fewer Tourists” above) means you might have the water all to yourself. Of course, there are plenty of options if saltwater isn’t your jam. You could be lucky enough to have access to a slammin’ pool. Or you could kick it at one of the area’s water parks.
Museums and More
Without much in the way of festivals or events keeping you busy, summer is a perfect time to rediscover Miami’s indoor amenities. Go crate-digging at Technique Records, or hunt for new reads at Books & Books. Take advantage of Museum Month in May and visit Pérez Art Museum Miami, ICA Miami, or any of the city’s many galleries. If you have kids out of school, take them to the Frost Museum of Science, the Miami Children’s Museum, or the Museum of Discovery & Science in Fort Lauderdale. Or if you’re willing to slather the little ones in sunscreen, watch them frolic with the animals at Zoo Miami while you cool off under the mist machines.