For much of its existence, Hialeah Gardens was more rural and less developed than many of its larger neighbors.
The city was incorporated in 1948, and for many decades horse farms were plentiful. But in the late ‘60s, the city’s planners undertook an aggressive development plan that led to quick growth.
Hialeah Gardens had a population of nearly 22,000 residents at the time of the last census. It is ideally situated to offer visitors easy access to almost all of South Florida’s natural, historical and cultural attractions.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Hialeah Gardens that you won’t want to pass up.
1. Westland Gardens Park
All over Florida, city parks are just waiting to be explored. For many families traveling on budgets, they offer free options that are often chockfull of activities which are conveniently located close to other attractions and lodgings.
Located near downtown Hialeah Gardens, Westland Gardens Park features sports fields and courts, and swimming pools for adults and children.
When the sports facilities aren’t being used for scheduled leagues, they’re open to the public. The park is also a popular venue for special events often taking place in the winter and holiday seasons when the Florida weather is perfect.
2. Garden of the Arts
South Florida – in particular, Miami and South Beach – are international art meccas and draw visitors from all over the world to their many museums and galleries. These venues largely focus on modern and contemporary art and feature several international influences.
Located on West 76th Street in nearby Hialeah, Garden of the Arts is in a relatively nondescript area, but is a true hidden gem; its stunning grounds include impressive murals and sculptures, and many of them are the creations of world-renowned artists.
Paved walking trails lead to each distinct area, and there are often live events held at the garden’s small amphitheater.
3. Amelia Earhart Park
At more than 500 acres, Amelia Earhart Park is large by municipal park standards. With so much to see and explore, it’s the kind of place that can occupy more than just an hour or two.
Featuring a creek, five lakes, and a number of well-marked trails open to bikers, walkers, and runners, Amelia Earhart Park is a favorite destination for those looking to stretch their legs. You can burn off a few excess calories without spending hours traveling to more well-known state parks.
Previous guests have noted that the park was clean and that there was ample parking.
4. Bayside Marketplace
Bayside Marketplace on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami is chill and trendy, even by South Florida standards. Though it may not be the best place for a budget-minded family to fill their stomachs and buy school clothes, it’s a beautiful facility brimming with Florida charm. It’s worth checking out even if it’s just for a bit of window shopping or an iced latte.
The marketplace offers many dining and retail options; though many of them are upscale and pricy, others are more reasonable.
From sushi and Starbucks to Baby Gap and Crocs, there’s quite a selection. It’s a popular venue for evening live entertainment as well.
5. Arline’s Restaurant and Seafood
Unless you’re allergic to seafood or just find it downright unpleasant to consume, no trip to South Florida is complete without eating some delectable treats from the sea.
Featuring a full menu of seafood with a decidedly Caribbean bent, Arline’s Restaurant and Seafood on NW 167th Street in Miami Gardens is known for its comfy but trendy atmosphere, ample portions, and reasonable prices.
From grouper and shrimp to more traditional items like mac ‘n cheese and chicken and waffles, there’s a little something for every palate no matter how finicky. Their homemade desserts like sweet potato pie are the perfect way to top it all off.
6. Miami International Mall
Though they’re often looked down upon as vacation destinations, malls can offer weary travelers hours of entertainment options, which is important when the weather isn’t conducive to being outside.
Featuring more than 100 retail stores – like Macy’s, Kohls and Perry Ellis – there’s something for every budget and taste, and more than a few options for kids too.
The mall’s space consists of more than one million square feet, and it purportedly hosts more than ten million visitors annually, so they must be doing a few things right.
There are a variety of dining options, ample onsite parking, and it’s near enough to the airport to make it an easy getaway for those waiting for a late flight.
7. Ñooo! ¡Que Barato!
For those not fluent in Spanish, the name of this attraction can be intimidating. Instead of trying to say it and embarrassing yourself, just remember that in Spanish it means something like, “Darn, that’s cheap!”
Located near the corner of Okeechobee and West 12th Avenue in Hialeah, Ñooo! ¡Que Barato! is like a relic from a different era in another country and on a different continent, and therein lies its charm and allure.
The market’s in a huge yellow building that sells everything from skinny stretch jeans and knockoff perfume to formal dresses and scented candles. It has been open since 1996.
8. Hialeah Park Racing & Casino
Located on East 4th Street in Hialeah, Hialeah Park Racing and Casino has been around in one version or another for nearly 100 years. In that time, it has hosted international heads of state, world-famous entertainment icons, and scores of business magnates.
In its most current form, the casino portion of the facility was opened relatively recently and is the perfect addition to a venue already overflowing with options.
From Vegas-style gambling and horse racing to world-class food and live entertainment, it’s one of those chic and historic Florida destinations that’s popular even with non-gamblers and those traveling with kids.
9. Leah Arts District
Though it’s only been around for a few years, the Leah Arts District is at the forefront of Hialeah’s urban renewal program – an initiative that’s largely aimed at turning the somewhat ho-hum downtown area into a vibrant and artsy destination.
One of the district’s major initiatives was providing creative types with an inexpensive place to live while promoting their work, as well as offering a variety of events catering to art lovers and artists interested in doing their part for the city’s renaissance.
The Arts District features live events and many studios, galleries, and dining establishments, making it a great place to spend a few hours.
10. Milander Center for Arts & Entertainment
Within the last few years, the Milander Center for Arts and Entertainment has undergone significant renovations and taken its rightful place as one of the area’s most respected cultural attractions.
The center is located on Palm Avenue in Hialeah, and much like the Leah Arts District, is on the forefront of the city’s urban rejuvenation.
The center is part museum, part gallery, and part performing arts center. There’s so much going on that the best way to keep abreast of it all is by checking the calendar of events on their website periodically.
11. City Place Doral
Though it’s a swanky destination for those with high credit card limits looking to indulge themselves in a little retail therapy, many previous visitors to City Place Doral have stated that its real claims to fame are its special events and live entertainment.
Of particular interest are their Cinco de Mayo, St. Paddy’s Day, and Christmas and Easter festivals and celebrations. Even for those who won’t be visiting during those times, City Place Doral offers a variety of activity options – from bowling and movies to dining, shopping, and live, outdoor performances.
Those who fancy a boogie might consider taking advantage of outdoor Zumba classes on Wednesdays.
12. Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux
Located in North Miami Beach, the Spanish Monastery – officially known as Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux – was constructed on a different continent nearly 800 years ago before winding up on its current site in Florida.
After centuries of ruin and disrepair brought on by conflict and neglect, the monastery was purchased by an American media magnate in the ‘20s, disassembled, shipped to the United States, and reconstructed.
It took years to rebuild and has been likened to the world’s largest 3-D jigsaw puzzle. It’s one of those fascinating bits of local lore that’s inexpensive to visit and worth a look.
13. South Beach Holocaust Memorial
Though it’s vastly different than nearly all other south Florida attractions, most guests agree that the South Beach Holocaust Memorial was the most poignant site they visited while in the area.
The museum was conceived in the ‘80s by a group of civic-minded citizens and Holocaust survivors, who felt a permanent memorial to the human tragedy would be a welcome addition to the often superficial materialism that abounds in the area.
The site features interesting and dramatic art and architecture, a memorial wall, and a number of places for quiet reflection.
It’s free to visit, but most guests leave a donation.
14. Big Pink
Miami and South Beach are places where the proverbial party never seems to end.
They’re areas that are largely reserved for the young, attractive, and well-heeled; when many poor stiffs are getting up to go to work, the revelers are just chowing down before hitting the hay.
Named after the massive pink building that is its namesake, Big Pink caters to the late-night and early morning crowds and is open until 5 AM on Fridays and Saturdays.
From Seinfeld-sized ‘big salads’ to burgers, wings, and Mexican food, it’s just the place to fill your stomach with alcohol absorbing treats before recuperating for the next night’s activities.