Destination Summer: The Miami Edition

The biggest metropolitan area in Florida State, the city of Miami is at the center of South Florida, and attracts millions of visitors every year. From shopping and dining to thrilling boat rides, we’re exploring some of Miami’s biggest attractions to help you plan for your next summer destination!

A shipwreck in Biscayne Bay, near Miami.


A shipwreck in Biscayne Bay, near Miami. Reprinted from Biscayne National Park by James A. Kushlan and Kirsten Hines courtesy of PK (pg. 83, Arcadia Publishing, 2017).

A Brief History of Magic City

Founded in the late 19th century, Miami, Florida was the brainchild of a woman named Julia Tuttle, also known as the “Mother of Miami.” Tuttle, who had moved to Southern Florida from Cleveland, Ohio, fell in love with the area after visiting her father’s estate there. Tuttle later inherited both land and money from her father, who lived the Miami area when it was still referred to as Fort Dallas.

Once she had moved herself and her family to Florida, Tuttle became involved in trying to establish the area as a major city. This process was a slow one – reaching out to railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, Tuttle attempted to persuade him to expand his Florida East Coast Railway to Miami.

While these initial attempts failed, the Great Freeze of 1894-1895 gripped the majority of Florida, killing citrus crops throughout the state. Miami, however, was spared from the freeze, and Flagler was persuaded after seeing its thriving orange blossoms to not only extend his railroad, but also build a resort hotel to promote Miami as the perfect summer destination.

Our Top 10 Things to do in Miami

Flagler and Tuttle’s business partnership helped kick start the area, which has slowly grown over the past century into a vibrant and multicultural city, with a port that welcomes millions of tourists every year. From museums and parks to shopping and dining, Miami now has much more to offer than just Julia Tuttle’s orange groves. Here are our top 10 things to do during your next trip to Miami:
  • Take a stroll down Lincoln Road: Miami’s largest outdoor shopping mall, Lincoln Road is located in historic South Beach, just minutes from the Miami Beach boardwalk. Featuring both mainstream shops like H&M and Apple, Lincoln Road is also home to local retailers like bookstore Books & Books, offering something for any shopping taste!
  • Soak up the sun in South Beach: After perusing Lincoln Road, take some time to visit South Beach’s famous waterfront. Once just a sandbar, South Beach is now at the center of Miami’s tourist and nightlife, with its beach as its main attraction.

South Beach. Image by Rey Perezoso [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr.
South Beach. Image by Rey Perezoso [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr.
  • Expand your mind in downtown’s Museum Park: Located in the heart of Miami’s downtown district, Museum Park is home to the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and the new Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. The 30-acre park also has a waterfront boardwalk, and is located near other downtown shopping and entertainment districts.
  • Catch a game with the Miami Marlins: Miami is home to many professional sports teams, including the Marlins, the city’s major league baseball team. The Marlins play at Marlins Park, located in Little Havana. If basketball is more your speed, you can catch a game with the Miami Heat, who play in downtown’s American Airlines Arena.
  • Fuel your adrenaline on the Thriller Miami Speedboat: A power catamaran, Thriller Miami offers forty-five minute tours of Miami in a self-described “Miami Vice” style. On board, you can see the city’s famous Art Deco district, opulent Fisher Island, and the Miami skyline.
  • View the artistic flair of Wynwood Walls: Formerly a warehouse district, Wynwood has become one of Miami’s most artistic neighborhoods since its revitalization in the late 2000s. Today, the district is most known for the Wynwood Walls, an outdoor art collection of graffiti-style murals painted on the area’s warehouses.

A mural at Wynwood Walls. Image by Daniel Di Palma [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
A mural at Wynwood Walls. Image by Daniel Di Palma [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Explore inside the gardens and walls of Vizcaya Museum: The former home of businessman James Deering, Vizcaya is an extensive villa and garden, done in the Italian Renaissance style. The villa, whose main house was finished in 1916, has been open as a museum to the public since 1954, offering tours of the estate.
  • Enjoy one of Miami’s summer festivals: Summertime is also festival season in Miami, featuring festivals like the International Ballet Festival, and Miami Swim Week. The city features dozens of events throughout the summer, which it advertises to both locals and the general public.
  • Try to understand the mystery of Coral Castle: A large structure carved into coral rock, Coral Castle was the creation of one man, Edward Leedskalnin. A Latvian immigrant, Leedskalnin carved over 1,100 tons of limestone to create the Coral Castle as a testament to his former fiancée. How Leedskalnin moved the heavy rock (or completed the work entirely on his own) remains a mystery. Today, Coral Castle is open as a private tourist attraction.
  • Spend a day at Bayside Marketplace: If Lincoln Road didn’t satisfy your shopping bug, try out Bayside Marketplace. Located near Museum Park in downtown, Bayside is a two-story outdoor shopping center, which also features several restaurants. The marketplace often welcomes local bands, which play in a small ampitheater near the Miami marina.

To learn more about the city of Miami and its history, check out some of the books below.

Have you ever visited Miami? Where’s your favorite place to go? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted: 7/16/2018| with 0 comments

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