The motto of this town in Greater Miami is “Growing Beautifully.” On land owned by the storied Graham family, Miami Lakes was begun in the early 1960s.
Although it was scheduled to be completed by the early ‘90s, the town continues to expand and develop today. The Grahams still own a lot of the town, including the Miami Lakes Hotel and Golf Club.
Named for the nearly two dozen lakes within its borders, Miami Lakes is particularly charming and scenic, with tree canopy covering as much as a third of the town.
With plenty of shade from maturing live oaks, the town’s streets were designed to be walkable, while all neighborhoods are close to a public park. No question, Main Street here is one of my favorite downtown areas in Greater Miami.
1. Main Street Miami Lakes
In line with Miami Lakes’ urban planning, the entire town radiates from this central commercial district.
Main Street has earned acclaim and envying glances from communities across America. Along leafy sidewalks there’s a diversity of locally owned shops, restaurants, and other service businesses, from gyms to yoga studios and nail salons.
The district converges at a cute kind of rotary, with a beautiful old tree at the center, encircled by fountains. Here you’re a short hop from a 13-screen CMX theater, newly upgraded with power recliners.
On Saturdays there’s also a farmers’ market, right in the heart of the downtown area.
2. Miami Lakes Optimist Park
Miami Lakes has one of the most extensive park systems in the county. Many of them are an easy walk from other area attractions, making them convenient to visit.
Take Optimist Park, which is a short walk north from downtown, along the oak-lined 67th Ave. With facilities for baseball/softball, soccer, basketball, and tennis, this is a place for active reaction.
Along with its four baseball diamonds, the park has three lighted batting cages. I was especially impressed with the fenced playground. Surrounded by trees, this has a large canopy overhead, and features soft rubber paving.
3. Miami Lakes Farmers’ Market
Another great thing about downtown Miami Lakes is a weekly farmers’ market. This takes place on Saturdays, in a tree-shaded spot along New Barn Road, off Main Street.
Unlike most farmers’ markets, the one in Miami Lakes is an all-day event, from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Come for an ever-changing selection of fresh produce, flowers, plants, eggs, honey, baked goods, and a host of hand-made products. These might be organic soaps, baskets, candles, or jewelry.
You can combine a visit with lunch as there’s usually a delicious smattering of food trucks at the market. I saw Puerto Rican street food, acai bowls, and Neapolitan-style pizza.
4. Garden of the Arts
This exquisite public garden is tucked into a residential area, five minutes away in Hialeah. For those who don’t mind venturing slightly off the beaten path, it’s a beautiful oasis of culture and tranquility.
On a long and narrow plot, the Garden of the Arts is an outdoor gallery of murals, mosaics, and sculptures. These are set among neatly manicured lawns, flowerbeds, shrubs, fruit trees, and palms.
All of the works in this park were produced by local artists, and you can contemplate these pieces from several benches along the winding trails.
5. Amelia Earhart Park
The former Miami Municipal Airport, where the famous aviator, Amelia Earhart took off on her last flight in 1937, was located not far from Miami Lakes.
Now completely redeveloped, this facility was not associated with the current Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport, which lies to the north.
I recently discovered that the old airport was actually just south and east of the park named in her honor.
Amelia Earhart is a wonderful public resource. The park covers more than 500 acres and includes amenities like a skate park, a whole tangle of mountain biking trails, and a petting farm with pony rides.
Also special is the Miami Watersports Complex, which I’ll describe in more detail below.
6. Main Street Players
One of my favorite things about Miami Lakes is the local theater group. Founded in 1974, this was the longest running community theater in Miami-Dade.
The 2017 season marked a new chapter in the story of the Main Street Players. That year, for the first time, the group was able to pay its actors.
In a normal year there are four productions, along with children’s performances and special events like comedy shows. Held in a cozy 90-seat theater, these are often original works, and steeped in South Florida’s Cuban American culture.
7. Miami Lakes Golf Course
Part of a resort owned by Graham Hospitality, this championship golf course was previously named for legendary Dolphins coach, Don Shula.
The resort was rebranded in 2020, and the semi-private golf club is my go-to for a round of golf in Miami Lakes.
On 500 wooded acres, this course was designed in 1962 by famed course architect Bill Watts. It was then updated in 1998 by another renowned designer, Kipp Schulties.
Miami Lakes Golf Course will suit more accomplished players. The front nine is relatively simple and open.
Then things change on the 11th hole, and from here every fairway and green is framed by water. There’s also a full practice facility with a driving range, and you can relive your round at the 19th Hole, The Bull Pen.
8. Veterans Park
Perfect if you just want to relax outside in Miami Lakes, Veterans Park is mostly a place for picnics, and for children to play.
This is the location for the town’s annual Fourth of July concert and fireworks show, celebrating its 20th year when I wrote this article. The event also has a Fun Zone for kids, and a selection of food vendors.
If you’re here to be active, the park has a fitness trail with new, cutting-edge equipment. You’ll also find a half-court for basketball, and the Mary Collins Community Center, hosting yoga and tai chi.
9. Miami Watersports Complex
The 90-acre lake at Amelia Earhart Park is home to a state-of-the-art cable wakeboard park. All sorts of activities are available here, from cable wakeboarding to boat wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake-surfing, kneeboarding, and paddle boarding.
You don’t need to be a pro to use the Miami Watersports Complex. All levels of ability and experience are welcome. Even better, while using the cable, you’ll get expert tips from a qualified coach rising alongside you.
Floating on the lake there’s also an aqua park. This inflatable obstacle course has an exhilarating series of slides, climbing towers, and bridges to conquer.
10. McDonald Water Park
A mile south of downtown Miami Lakes, in the namesake park, is a super public water park.
The standout attraction for me at McDonald Water Park is the lazy river. At 1,000 feet long, and threading past lush palms and through a tunnel with a waterfall. For me, this is a ride worthy of any Miami’s posh resort.
Also on hand is a wave pool and a zero-depth water playground, with tons of fountains, jets and sprays.
Admission for non-residents is just a little more than for Hialeah residents. If you’re planning a party, you can also rent the full facility, or just a FUNbrella private area.
11. Westland Mall
Given the climate, I don’t think it’s a mystery why enclosed malls continue to flourish in South Florida. For the hottest or wettest days, there’s a regional mall just a mile south of Miami Lakes in Hialeah.
Westland Mall has over 100 stores, but what grabbed me most was the food court. Illuminated by skylights, this is a bright and welcoming space, with the likes of Cajun Grill, Sbarro, Subway, Yihi Japanese and McDonald’s.
A few of the many national and international retailers are Macy’s, JCPenney, H&M, Guess, Foot Locker, Victoria’s Secret, Perfumania, and Pandora.
12. Opa Locka Indoor Flea Market
Five minutes from Miami Lakes is one of several immense flea markets in the Greater Miami area.
Open 365 days a year, the Opa Locka Indoor Flea Market is an indoor and outdoor market despite the name. There were at least 200 vendors inside when I took a look around, and many more outside.
This is the kind of place I love to get lost in. Making my way around this labyrinth I saw quirky gifts, clothing, jewelry, footwear, watches, suitcases, musical instruments, flowers, power tools—I could go on for hours.
There’s also a lot of fresh produce, and food vendors making tacos, roasted corn, Cuban tamales, and a lot more.
13. GoFly Tours
A benefit of being close to Opa Locka Executive Airport is the opportunity to see Miami from above.
Based at the airport, GoFly is an FAA-approved flight school. The company also makes its expert pilots available for awe-inspiring tours of the Miami area.
There were three main packages when I went to press. I chose the Miami Sky Tour Experience, which took in the South Beach skyline, Fisher Island, Star Island, and the Cape Florida Lighthouse.
The Romantic Tour follows Miami’s shoreline, and serves champagne on the flight. There’s also a Majestic Tour, highlighting the opulent developments further north, at Fort Lauderdale.
14. Hard Rock Stadium
To most hardcore football fans, what’s now officially referred to as Hard Rock Stadium will always be Joe Robbie Stadium.
Built in the 1980s, this 65,000-seat stadium is home to both the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and the University of Miami’s Hurricanes. I think there’s no doubt that this is one of the best known sports venues in the country.
The iconic Orange Bowl is played here every January 1, and several games during the 2026 FIFA World Cup will take place at this stadium.
In addition to plenty of football during the season, the stadium hosts other live entertainment events throughout the year. Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift had all just played dates here when I was in town.