Tourists can't get enough of Miami. They love it so much they sport "I'm in Miami, Bitch" tank tops on South Beach. You might turn your nose up at visitors and avoid the places they frequent, but you can't really blame them for their enthusiasm. Miami is an escape that offers the sun and sin lacking back home.
To help tourists better plan their trip to the Magic City, New Times put together this list of the ten best tourist attractions in Miami — no snobbery included. (OK, maybe a little snobbery.) Consider it our way of giving visitors the warm welcome they probably won't get anywhere else in this city. And if you're a local who typically avoids these hot spots, know they're each worth a visit — at the very least to check them off your bucket list.
Here are the ten best tourist attractions in Miami.
Between NE 36th and 20th Streets and NE Second and NW Sixth Avenues, Miami
Locals argue that the Wynwood Arts District has lost much of its hipster charm as artists have been priced out of the already-gentrified neighborhood. But even with the addition of office buildings and luxury apartments, there's no denying Wynwood still has one of the top street-art scenes in the world. Some of the area's best murals can be found at Wynwood Walls, where artists such as Shepard Fairey (the guy behind the iconic Barack Obama Hope poster) have left their mark. Once you're done posting those Instagram pics, take advantage of Wynwood's worthy dining options, including the Salty Donut for Miami’s best doughnuts and the 10,000-square-foot Asian-themed food hall, 1-800-Lucky, which hosts a record store at its entrance. See? There are still some traces of Wynwood's hipster roots left.
Between Fifth and 23rd Streets, Miami Beach
There's no need for a hard sell here. South Beach is the reason most people vacation in Miami. Tourists can conveniently enjoy the beach, art deco architecture, world-famous nightlife, beautiful people, and high-end shopping all in one locale. Is it too much at times? Sure, particularly during the drunken and overcrowded spring break season. Do some of the tourist-trap restaurants on Ocean Drive price-gouge? Uh-huh. But city officials are attempting to crack down on these issues. If they make enough progress, maybe even locals will want to hang out in the area. Or not.
Everglades National Park
40001 State Rd. 9336, Homestead
The swamp isn’t just for the Duck Dynasty crowd. Tourists from all walks of life head about 30 miles west of South Beach to ride airboats through the Everglades and get a glimpse of alligators in the wild. If they’re lucky, they might even spot an endangered Florida panther or West Indian manatee. For the best wildlife sightings, take a tour with pros such as Gator Park, Coopertown Airboats, Everglades Safari Park, and Tigertail Airboat Tours, and go during the dry season, between November and April. (Pro tip: There are also fewer mosquitoes then.) And don’t forget to try gator tail and gator sausage while you're there. They taste better than you think.
Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures
401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Double-decker buses and duck boats are a fine way to see Miami if you're rolling with grandparents or toddlers. But for a wet adrenaline rush, tour the city by speedboat. The 45-minute high-speed tour zips along the ocean with club music pumping from the speakers. The guide slows the boat regularly to drop informative nuggets and crack jokes about famous locales such as the Arts District, Star Island, and Fisher Island. There's also the occasional high-speed turn thrown in just for kicks. This tour will be the most fun you'll ever have wetting your pants, guaranteed. Tickets cost $38 for guests 12 and older and $24 for kids aged 3 to 11.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami
Take a break from the beach and booze to enjoy a more cultured outing at this Renaissance-style villa built in the early 1900s. The 50-acre estate belonged to the agricultural industrialist and filthy-rich dude James Deering, who built the place as a winter pad. Visitors come for the picturesque gardens and well-preserved antique furniture and art collection. Vizcaya has also been known to attract movie shoots, including Bad Boys II and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Tours are available at an additional cost and walk visitors through the history of the mansion and the era in which it was built. If you're not careful, you might actually learn something. Tickets cost $22 for adults 18 to 64, $16 for seniors 65 and better with ID, $15 for teens 13 to 17 and college students with ID, and $10 for children 6 to 12. Children 5 and younger get in free.
SW Eighth Street, Miami
There are multiple Chinatowns, Greektowns, Koreatowns, and Little Italys around the United States, but there’s only one Little Havana. And the heart of this Cuban home-away-from-home is SW Eighth Street, better known as Calle Ocho. On any given day, guests can watch elder Cubans playing dominoes at Máximo Gómez Park and stroll past sidewalk stars honoring 30 Latin Walk of Fame inductees, including Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan. The street is also home to murals, live music venues, cigar shops, and ventanillas selling strong-ass Cuban coffee and golden croquetas — a fried snack considered sacred around these parts.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
This megaclub located inside the five-star Fontainebleau Miami Beach is notorious for having the toughest door in town, and with good reason. LIV takes its world-renowned rep seriously — undergoing a $10 million renovation in 2017 to give the 18,000-square-foot space that extra wow factor. Its A-list clientele, including Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, and Lil Wayne, makes LIV even more exclusive. This is the same club where Diddy reportedly punched Drake in 2014 and where a sloppy and shirtless Cuba Gooding Jr. was caught on camera gnawing on a phone in 2016. So, yeah, LIV gets pretty turnt.
Drag Brunch at Palace Bar
1052 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach
Miami does everything over-the-top. That includes brunch. Palace Bar offers hungry patrons an unforgettable drag show with their meals and mimosas on weekends, complete with table-dancing, lip-syncing, acrobatics, and witty banter. Reservations are often required to score a good seat on the patio at Palace Bar — voted one of the "100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America" by OpenTable diners in 2017. But you can also watch the drag performers strut their stuff from inside the restaurant or on the sidewalk, where crowds regularly form. Just keep in mind these queens work hard for the money — so hard for it, honey. Tip them! Admission costs $45 per person and includes an entrée.
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Jai Alai at Magic City Casino
450 NW 37th Ave., Miami
Perhaps you've briefly seen this Basque sport played in the intro to Miami Vice. Maybe you saw a rejuvenated Mr. Burns play it on The Simpsons. But chances are you've never seen this once-popular game played in real life. Lucky for you, South Florida is one of the unique parts of the country where jai alai is still a thing. You can catch games at Magic City Casino (jai alai is on hiatus at Casino Miami until December) and see for yourself why Guinness World Records calls jai alai the fastest-moving ball sport. How fast? Players routinely whip the ball upward of 150 mph using a curved wicker basket called a cesta. If that's not enough to hold your attention, add a little excitement to the game: There's a reason jai alai is played in casinos.
World Erotic Art Museum
1205 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Miami might not boast the friendliest people, the best drivers, or the most affordable rent, but we claim the only museum in the nation devoted to fine erotic art. ¡Dale! The World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) offers visitors more than 20 rooms and 12,000 square feet of art, much of which is dedicated to doing the deed. The collection includes a penis popsicle drawing, a massive dong statue, and a painting of a woman pleasuring herself. It should be noted that WEAM bills itself as tasteful and educational, so don't go in expecting a bachelorette-party atmosphere. Tickets cost $20, and you must be 18 or older.