Explore Ft. Lauderdale

Miami for the Busy Traveler

Short stay in Miami? We've curated the city with all the things you can do under two hours.

Did you land at the airport and realize you have time to kill? Are you wondering what's worth doing in a short period of time? Whether you are visiting the Miami area for business or pleasure, you will find many ideal places to explore and things to do, even if you have 80 minutes to spare.


Little Havana

Hop a cab to Miami's famed Calle Ocho (Eight Street) and explore the Little Havana neighborhood where Spanish is the main language spoken. 

Named after La Habana, capital of Cuba, Little Havana is the cultural center of the city of Miami and the place travelers come to soak up Cuban food, music, art and see monuments commemorating Cuban independence, and other historic sites.

Calle Ocho mosaic mural, Miami
Calle 8 mosaic mural next to Domino Park (©Dawn Sorokin-Tschupp)

The neighborhood spans a large area, generally from 37th to 4th avenues, but we recommend you start at El Pub Restaurant on 16th Avenue and 8th Street and walk east for a few blocks. Grab a photo next to the colorful roosters outside the restaurant's front entrance—a perfect selfie spot. And if you get hungry you can buy assorted Cuban pastries from the many "ventanitas" (cafeteria windows) along the way. 

No visit to the area is complete without a stop at "Domino Park" (officially Máximo Gómez Park) on 15th Avenue and the guayabera stores for the quintessential Miami garment to keep cool from the sun's rays. A new Visitor Center on 14th Avenue, open weekly from 11 am to 5 pm, is also stocked up with maps, tourist brochures and souvenirs for purchase. 

In Miami, cigar aficionados are as serious about their stogies as they are about their café Cubano (Cuban coffee). It is an important part of Cuban culture and lifestyle. Here, you can buy locally made cigars and if you are lucky, you can even see them hand-rolled and take behind-the-scene tours of the factories. At family-owned El Titan de Bronze (1071 SW 8th St., Miami) they still make them the old Cuban-style way; rolled on site, inspected by Master Rollers, boxed and dated.

smoking cigar
If you are a cigar smoker, in Little Havana you can puff away with a Tatuaje or Don Pepin cigar. (©Disoniador/Pixabay, Creative Commons)

If you are an art or music lover, maybe a Salsa lesson or a gallery of pre-revolutionary art works from the masters of Cuban art at the Cubaocho Museum and Performing Arts Center should be on the itinerary.

And you can always cool off with gourmet ice cream from Azucar (you can't miss it, it's the shop on 15th Avenue with the enormous ice cream cone on the façade) or refresh with a classic mojito from iconic nightclub Ball & Chain, next to Cubaocho.


Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum is a magnificent 18th century Italian-style villa and estate, and a beloved historical landmark in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood. This 1916 beautiful, historic mansion set on lushly landscaped gardens fashioned after Mediterranean-Renaissance style courtyards and loggias on Biscayne Bay is a must-visit.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami
If Vizcaya looks familiar, is probably because this European-inspired villa is a well-known backdrop for Hollywood movies and TV shows including "Iron Man 3" and "Bad Boys II." (©Bill Sumner)

Although you may not be able to see all Vizcaya has to offer at once, it is definitely worth the effort.

The private winter estate of American industrialist James Deering includes a beautifully maintained Main House with 34 decorated rooms showcasing over 2,500 art objects and furnishings. On the first floor you'll find several reception rooms, the Library, the music room and the dining room. The second floor holds Deering’s personal suite of rooms and guest bedrooms in addition to the breakfast room and the kitchen.

The museum's "Discover Vizcaya" 90-minute audio tour available in five languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and French) makes it easy to explore the estate at your own pace. The general overview only takes an hour and it costs $5 to rent. 

Ten acres of European-inspired gardens overlooking Biscayne Bay greets visitors offering some of the area's most picturesque and serene views. Stroll past the Main House to see the gallery of orchids in the David A. Klein Orchidarium and the subtropical forest where 400-year-old trees stand. 

A gourmet café serves a menu of fresh salads, sandwiches and Italian gelato and the gift shop is the perfect spot to pick up jewelry pieces inspired by Vizcaya's intricate architectural details.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
A popular Miami attraction for locals and visitors, the well-manicured gardens at Vizcaya are breathtaking. (©Bill Sumner)


Las Olas Boulevard

If you are like many travelers, flying in and out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Las Olas' close proximity to the airport makes it an ideal location to visit whether on a layover or quick visit. 

Stroll the popular boulevard from Andrews Avenue to A1A, where you can shop, dine, drink or people-watch. This strip is considered the cultural and commercial hub of Fort Lauderdale and is host to art fairs and wine and food festivals.

Here, you'll find high-end shops like Maus & Hoffman, jewelry stores Alex and Ani and Carroll's Jewelers, and close to a dozen art galleries with a selection of fine art and antiques. And if you get hungry from all the shopping, American Social, Louie Bossi's Restaurant Bar & Pizzeria and some well-known restaurant chains can be found along Las Olas.

Shops along Las Olas Boulevard
Las Olas Boulevard is the commercial hub of Fort Lauderdale (©Elvert Barnes/Flickr, Creative Commons)

For a dose of local lore, visit the Stranahan House to learn the history of Fort Lauderdale pioneers. The historic home offers daily guided tours at 1, 2 or 3 pm. Stop at the NSU Art Museum (formerly the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale) with an impressive collection of contemporary art and Picasso ceramics to see the changing exhibitions that range from photography to textiles and portraiture.

Known as "The Venice of America," Fort Lauderdale is also one of the world's yachting capitals. Explore its network of rivers and canals by water-taxi, gondola tour or a cruise on the Jungle Queen and see the mega-yachts and waterfront estates of the Intracoastal Waterway or New River. Most boat tours are 90-minutes.

Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal Waterway
Enjoy a boat cruise on Fort Lauderdale's Intracoastal Waterway or New River and catch a glimpse of the mansions along "Millionaire's Row." (©Vince Alongi/Flickr, Creative Commons)


Wynwood Art District

As host to Art Basel, the most important art show in the United States, one can concur that art is a large part of Miami’s local culture. In Miami's Wynwood Art District, art galleries, photography studios, indie boutiques, restaurants and bars dot one of the most cutting-edge and hippest neighborhoods in America, in addition to the most walkable in Miami.

Wynwood Miami
Miami's Wynwood neighborhood is the sixth coolest street in the country, according to a new Cushman & Wakefield report. (©Chip Litherland)

Engulfed between the Miami Design District to the north and Downtown Miami to the south, Wynwood bursts with blocks of colossal murals and street art. The Rubell Family Collection, Dina Mitrani Gallery, the de la Cruz Collection, Locust Projects and the Bakehouse Art Complex are some of the standout galleries you'll find besides the Wynwood Walls.

If your visit coincides with the second Saturday of the month, check out the free art walk from 6 to 10 pm, or make your way to the art events that pop-up throughout Wynwood during the week of Art Basel for what is referred to as "Miami Art Week."

And with the opening of the Wynwood Block in late-2015 on NW 2nd Avenue between 26th and 27th streets, there's no shortage of shops if you are looking for clothing, eyewear, jewelry, handbags—all from local designers. At Nomad Tribe you'll find fashion label, Duho from Miami-based designers, creating pieces celebrating Latin American heritage. Over at the Wynwood Walls' Go Shop you can pick up one-of-a-kind merchandise from the street artists found at Wynwood. Choose from t-shirts, art prints, books and other collectibles. 

If you've worked up an appetite, the dining scene is as vibrant as the art on the walls. Here, the vibe is chill and the cuisine adventurous. From burgers at Kush Wynwood, ceviche from GK Bistronomie, Mexican fare from Coyo Taco and plant-based dishes from Plant Food+Wine in addition to James Beard Award nominated eatery like Alter, Wynwood has something for every palate.

Alter Miami
This Miami restaurant snagged a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant and its chef, Brad Kilgore won the praise of Food & Wine as Best New Chef for Alter Miami. (©Gourmandj)