Bay Harbor Islands is a small town of about 6,000 residents located just across the Bay of Biscayne from North Miami on the Florida mainland.
In many ways, visitors to Bay Harbor Islands have the best of both worlds; the town itself is removed from the hustle and bustle of nearby metro Miami that’s home to more than six million residents, but the city’s abundant attractions are within an easy drive.
Some of Florida’s largest state and national parks are nearby as well, as are historical sites, museums, galleries, and world-class beaches.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Bay Harbor Islands, Florida.
1. Normandy Shores Golf Club
The par-71 course at Normandy Shores Golf Club is technically located in Miami Beach, but it’s just a few minutes from Bay Harbor Islands and is one of the area’s most popular golf destinations.
Previous guests have noted that the course’s tee options make it appropriate for players of most ages and levels of ability, and that its strategically placed greens, water, and sand hazards make it both fun and challenging.
The course tends to be more crowded in the morning on the weekends, so to avoid the masses, consider an afternoon round, and reserve your tee time well in advance if possible.
2. Bal Harbour Gourmet Market
South Florida is one of the country’s culinary hotspots and is full of restaurants featuring famous chefs and a variety of international influences.
Bal Harbour Gourmet Market is located just a few blocks from downtown Bay Harbor Islands and offers guests a shopping experience unlike any other in the area.
Featuring a full line-up of gourmet food items, many of which aren’t easily found elsewhere, it’s a must-stop for do-it-yourself home chefs who’ve committed to making a memorable meal for family or friends.
Bal Harbor is also known for its gift baskets that make great Christmas and birthday presents, and online shopping is available as well.
3. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort towers more than 25 stories over the sugary sand beaches below. It’s a favorite destination for those looking to spare no expense in their pursuit of a world-class experience.
Though the St. Regis Bal Harbour’s amenities don’t come cheaply, it’s consistently ranked in the upper echelon of similar resorts world-wide, and the staff are dedicated to making each stay a memorable one.
Guest rooms are spacious and contemporary, and on-site amenities include swimming, dining, and a variety of massage and holistic wellness programs. The concierge can assist with tour plans and transportation to and from the airport.
4. Miami Children’s Museum
Over the last few decades, children’s museums have become popular attractions for parents who prefer their kids to be engaged and educated while they’re being entertained.
Miami Children’s Museum was founded in the early ‘80s and was one of the region’s pioneers; it’s an easy drive for those staying in Bay Harbor Islands.
The museum’s interactive exhibits touch on a wide array of stimulating topics, including science, space exploration, animals, and culture.
The staff offer plenty of guided activities as well, and though kids are the stars of the show, most parents usually have a fun and enlightening time too.
5. Museum of Contemporary Art
South Florida is one of the country’s epicenters of contemporary art, and there are several world-class galleries in the Miami metro area that feature priceless collections.
Many of the area’s museums are relatively pricy, but the Museum of Contemporary Art is reasonably priced and offers discounts for seniors and students; children younger than 12 get in free of charge.
MOCA’s collection includes works with a variety of international influences from local, national, and international artists.
The museum is located close to many area attractions, and most guests end-up staying an hour or so before heading off on other adventures.
6. Bayfront Park
Much of the South Florida skyline is characterized by modern skyscrapers and contemporary architecture, but with a little searching, it’s still possible to find urban parks that offer natural beauty and abundant activity options.
Bayfront Park sits on a strip of land overlooking scenic Biscayne Bay and is a favorite attraction of walkers, anglers, and those interested in catching an iconic Florida sunset.
Popular park activities include live entertainment at the amphitheater, and a number of free, guided yoga sessions and salsa dancing classes are offered as well; they’re extra special activities when experienced in such beautiful outdoor surroundings.
7. Venetian Pool
The Miami metropolitan area is home to more than six million people, and for many visitors, the hustle and bustle can be a bit too much.
The Venetian Pool is a unique local attraction that’s the perfect antidote for those who’ve had their fill of urban settings and big crowds. The pools have a fascinating history that stretches back more than a century.
The pools are continuously filled and replenished with natural spring water that remains a cool and constant temperature year-round.
Rumor has it that the pool’s water has therapeutic properties, and though it’s definitely not the cheapest attraction, it’s usually one of the most memorable for first-time visitors.
8. Brickell City Centre
Downtown Miami is full of amazing architecture, tons of cultural and artistic attractions, and some of the region’s swankiest shopping.
Brickell City Centre is an open-air complex that stretches over a few city blocks and includes shopping, dining, and entertainment venues that are among the city’s most trendy.
It’s a great area to explore for those who want a variety of options without having to drive all over the city, and it’s especially popular in the afternoon and evening hours, when many bars and restaurants are offering food and drink deals. Due to the pricy nature of the area, many visitors choose to window shop only.
9. Garden of the Arts
Hialeah’s Garden of the Arts is often described as an off-the-beaten-path oasis, and it’s popular with the hip and creative crowd.
Garden of the Arts is located in a relatively nondescript area that’s easily missed, but once inside, it’s full of quaint shops, trendy eateries, and cool galleries featuring fantastic art created by local and regional artisans.
A favorite spot of art lovers and creative types, it’s got a cool Bohemian vibe that’s not often found in the area. There are a number of regularly scheduled art walks and even live entertainment options too, most of which take place in the late afternoon and early evening hours.
10. Milander Center for Arts & Entertainment
Milander Center for Arts & Entertainment is located on Palm Avenue in Hialeah just a few minutes from Bay Harbor Islands. It’s one of the southern Atlantic coast’s main cultural attractions and offers visitors an array of traditional art exhibits as well as a full schedule of entertainment productions.
The center has undergone a variety of renovations and upgrades in the last few years and is often at the forefront of contemporary social issues as well.
The myriad of performances hosted by Milander throughout the year include traditional and contemporary music and dramatic theater, and their evening guided art walks are perennial favorites as well.
11. Hialeah Park Racing & Casino
Hialeah Park Racing & Casino has been open for nearly a century and is one of the oldest attractions of its kind in the Sunshine State.
Over the years, the park has been home to greyhound and horse racing, and in its heyday, it often welcomed guests of international repute like Princess Grace of Monaco, President Harry Truman, and Frank Sinatra.
Like many casinos, Hialeah Park fell into disrepair and disuse for a long stretch in the middle of the 20th century, but in the last few years, it has reopened and is now a popular destination for gamblers, foodies, and lovers of live entertainment.
12. Coral Castle Museum
Coral Castle Museum is one of the coolest and quirkiest attractions in the area. Its unique combination of history and beauty make it a big hit with those who take the time to visit.
The castle was built almost entirely of locally quarried coral and was the brainchild of an eccentric local man who dedicated his life to constructing the castle between the early‘20s and ‘50s.
According to local lore, the castle was largely built in secrecy; it’s a mystery how the man manipulated multi-ton blocks of coral all by himself.
Some say he had extraterrestrial help, but whatever the case, it’s a fascinating way to spend a few hours of vacation time.
13. Holocaust Memorial of Miami Beach
Free attractions are few and far between in the Bay Harbor Islands area, but the Holocaust Memorial of Miami Beach is not only free but historically significant and probably the most poignant of all the area’s sites.
The Holocaust Memorial is open every day of the year, and for those without access to a car, it’s easily reachable via the city’s inexpensive bus system.
The memorial is located on Meridian Avenue in Miami Beach and features a memorial, art created by Holocaust survivors, and a variety of exhibits which include photographs, documents, and first-hand accounts.
14. Everglades National Park
No other natural attraction captures the essence of Florida like Everglades National Park.
Spread over more than a million acres of diverse Florida landscapes, it’s a natural wonder that really deserves to be explored and experienced by those visiting South Florida.
The Everglades is known as a river of grass and includes marshes, swamps, forests, and prairies that are home to an amazingly diverse group of plants and animals.
Park activities include guided nature tours and lots of recreation options like fishing, biking, and camping.
Due to the park’s vastness, it’s wise to do a bit of research before showing up, so that you won’t waste valuable time deciding what to do once on-site.