14 Things to do in North Bay Village, Florida

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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I doubt many cities in the world resemble North Bay Village. Just over 8,000 people reside on three small islands in Biscayne Bay.

This spot could not be better suited to water activities. From Pelican Harbor Marina here you can launch kayaks, rent motorboats, or zip away on jet skis to experience all the wonders of the bay.

There’s a wonderful food truck rally in the city on Wednesdays, and a wildlife rescue center at the harbor organizes heartwarming nature cruises. North Bay Village has a stellar location, bookended by Miami Beach and Miami’s trendy Upper East Side. 

In mere minutes you can be at the beach, browsing farmers’ markets, sampling innovative new music, or coasting along the newly paved Beachwalk.

1. Water Activities from Pelican Harbor Marina

On the north side of Harbor Island, Pelican Harbor Marina is your gateway to the waters of Biscayne Bay and beyond.

This is the base for a whole catalog of rental companies. You can head here for jet skis, motorboats, kayaks and paddleboards.

There’s a lot to see around the North Bay, and one place that you can reach with ease is Pelican Island. Maintained as a natural preserve and recreation facility, this small landmass is covered with pines and mangroves. You can head ashore for picnics, BBQs, or just to unwind. 

A few of the rental companies serving Pelican Harbor Marina when I wrote this list were iPaddle Miami, Jet Ski 305 Rentals, and Breeze Jet Ski Rental.

2. Pelican Harbor Seabird Station

Something that elevated Pelican Harbor in my eyes is the Seabird Station, rescuing and rehabilitating native birds, reptiles and mammals. This facility was established in 1980 expressly to care for injured brown pelicans, but soon expanded its scope.

In the year I visited, the station treated close to 2,000 patients, with more than 120 in care at the time of writing. 

This isn’t a visitor attraction, but there are regular talks and guided cruises on the bay. The former take place at the marina’s multipurpose room, while the cruises usually happen at sunset and involve a behind-the-scenes look at the station. 

On the cruise you’ll get a romantic view of the Miami skyline, and will pass close to the mangrove-trimmed shores of Bird Key to observe brown pelicans and frigatebirds from a distance.

3. Food Trucks Wednesdays North Bay Village

If you’re looking for the best time to come to North Bay Village, it might be this buzzing food truck festival. Happening on Wednesdays 5 pm to 10 pm at the Pelican Harbor Marina, it’s a heartwarming community gathering.

An enormous variety of trucks creates a giant food court on the grass here, and there’s a sociable feel thanks to the many picnic tables. 

In terms of dining options, I saw elotes, flavored wrench fires, arepas, tostones, hot dogs, fried chicken, Cuban sandwiches, burgers, gyros, ice cream, and a lot more. There’s music every week, either from live bands or DJs, as well as activities to keep kids from getting bored.

4. Dr. Paul Vogel Community Park

On the left arm of North Bay Island, the city’s community park sits right on the water. I have to start by talking about the view at Dr. Paul Vogel park. This is truly special, comprising much of the north bay, and Pelican Island.

It’s even better later in the day, although you do need to keep an eye on the park’s early closing time. 

This space is mainly just somewhere to relax by the water, and bring children to play. There’s a rentable picnic pavilion, which is available to non-residents, as well as a modern playground for wee ones. If you’re a resident, keep an eye out for the regular yoga classes here.

5. MiMo Historic District

When most people think of architecture in Miami they picture South Beach’s louche Art Deco creations in pastel tones. 

Another prevalent style that came later is Miami Modern, which arrived after WWII. This is unmistakable in the office blocks, motels and diners along Biscayne Boulevard on the Upper East Side.

Until as recently as the 1990s this part of Miami was associated with urban decay and crime. This partly explains why the area was never redeveloped, which is good news for you and me.

Because now there’s a vibrant district, brimming with boutiques, restaurants and trendy hotels. 

A curious emblem for the district is the 35-foot Coppertone Girl sign, dating back to 1959 and moved to its current location on the north side of  7300 Biscayne Boulevard in 2008.

6. North Beach Oceanside Park

The Atlantic shore sits five minutes from North Bay Village, and the nearest large-scale beach park is not much further. In the years before I visited, North Beach Oceanside Park was given a total overhaul.

This multi-year project improved everything from the landscaping to restrooms, irrigation, lighting, playground equipment and picnic shelters. 

No question, it’s a wonderful place to feel the sand between your toes, play in the Atlantic, take a picnic, or watch the sunrise. 

In recent years it’s also become an access point for the nine-mile Beachwalk promenade, which I’ll come to below.

7. Miami Beach Bandshell

As it happens, one of the great examples of MiMo architecture is also a cutting-edge performance venue, five mins from North Bay Village.

The Miami Beach Bandshell dates to 1961 and was designed by Norman Giller (1918-2008), who was responsible for some of the most iconic structures in this style. 

In the 1970s this was the winter home for The Mike Douglas Show, a talk show, welcoming big South Florida personalities like Burt Reynolds. Since that time it was put to a range of uses, before being taken over by Miami’s Rhythm Foundation agency in 2015.

Now it’s a stylish, one-of-a-kind venue for live music, with dance, comedy, and occasional movie screenings on the schedule.

8. The Spa at Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

There’s no shortage of exceptional spas in the Miami area, but one of the very best in the country is seconds from North Bay Village. This is the Spa at Carillon Miami, sitting right on the beachfront.

This facility has won countless awards, and features high in lists by publications like Conde Nast Traveler. For one thing it’s part of a resort geared towards wellness, with ultra-modern fitness and European-style thermal therapy zones.

In that vein, the spa harnesses the latest technology and innovations in a variety of spheres, from restorative rituals to body therapies, beauty, anti-aging and skincare. 

The range of Signature Spa Services when I was here included the Detox & Renew Wrap, and the Ginger-Coconut Argan Sugar Glow, involving an invigorating citrus-kombucha wash and ginger-lime sugar shrub.

9. Legion Park

Traffic is a factor, but it won’t take more than ten minutes to get to this bayfront park on Miami’s Upper East Side. I can think of plenty of reasons to make the short trip. 

The view of the bay is a joy, especially at sunrise. Legion Park is also crammed with amenities, from outdoor gym equipment to a dog park, recreation center, picnic areas, and a playground.

But maybe best of all is the hopping farmers’ market, happening every Saturday, 9 am to 2 pm. Think South Florida-grown fresh produce, specialty foods, arts & crafts, and a smorgasbord of prepared foods.

10. The Beachwalk

There has long been some kind of path connecting South Beach with North Beach, but it’s only in recent years that it’s become paved for its entire length. 

Since the final section was unveiled in 2022, you can now travel all the way from 1st Street to 87th Street by bike. More importantly the whole path is ADA accessible and open to strollers. 

For its entire length, the Beachwalk has water fountains and restrooms at regular intervals. I don’t need to tell you that there are dozens of beach parks where you can pause for a picnic or kick back on the sand.

If you don’t have your own set of wheels, Miami’s Citi Bike bike share service has numerous stations along the Beachwalk.

11. Normandy Shores Golf Course

Normandy Shores Golf ClubSource: Normandy Shores Golf Club / Facebook
Normandy Shores Golf Club

This highly regarded public golf course is right across the JFK Causeway in Miami Beach. Dedicated in 1941, Normandy Shores Golf Course was updated in the 2000s, and I’ve always found it in excellent condition

Given the exposed location, the wind poses an occasional challenge at this course, while water comes into play on the back nine in particular. As with a lot of open spaces in the Miami area, iguanas are never far away, and you’re sure to see a few during your round.

Since 2011, the course has hosted the South Beach International Amateur tournament, on the week before Christmas. 

This is one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the world, ranking just behind the likes of the NCAA Division 1 Championship and the United States Amateur tournament.

12. Normandy Isle Park & Pool

South of the golf course on the neighboring island is a compact park, filled with things to do. For me, the main draw at Normandy Isle Park is the pool complex. This has a four-lane lap pool, aerated in the summer and heated during the cooler months.

There’s a reasonable fee for non-residents to use this facility, and another summer highlight is a zero to 15-inch depth water playground for littler family members.

The remainder of the park is totally free to everyone. There you’ll find a soccer field, 2x basketball courts, a tot lot, and a pavilion that can be rented for parties.

13. Captain Joe’s Boat Rentals

Captain Joe’s Rentals, Tours And ChartersSource: Captain Joe's Boat Rental & Charter / Facebook
Captain Joe’s Boat Rentals

A rewarding and glamorous way to experience Biscayne Bay is aboard a luxury boat. You could spend your time cooling off in the water, lazing in the sun, and zooming between waterside restaurants and shimmering sandbars. 

Captain Joe has more than 25 years of experience in this business, and relocated to Treasure Island in 2013. Though his company has grown over the years, it has still maintained a strong relationship with its customers.

In terms of rentals, there’s a whole fleet of vessels available, from the 20’ Black Hurricane right up to the 54’ Sea Ray La Nina. And as for water activities, you can choose from wakeboarding, tubing or water-skiing.

14. Shuckers Waterfront Bar & Grill

Shuckers Waterfront Bar & GrillSource: Shuckers Waterfront Bar & Grill / Facebook
Shuckers Waterfront Bar & Grill

It’s always a good sign when locals call a restaurant an institution. This applies to Shuckers Waterfront Bar & Grill, on the scene for more than three decades, and sitting right on the bay on the north side of Treasure Island. 

It’s a location that other restaurants dream about, combined with some of the area’s best seafood, burgers, and steaks. 

It’s in the name, but if you come for just one thing, I reckon it has to be the freshly shucked oysters. Be advised that these are very popular and have been known to run out. 

Sports fans appreciate the 30 screens gracing the bar and can view a variety of worldwide sports year-round. The place is particularly busy during the NFL season.

14 Things to do in North Bay Village, Florida:

  • Water Activities from Pelican Harbor Marina
  • Pelican Harbor Seabird Station
  • Food Trucks Wednesdays North Bay Village
  • Dr. Paul Vogel Community Park
  • MiMo Historic District
  • North Beach Oceanside Park
  • Miami Beach Bandshell
  • The Spa at Carillon Miami Wellness Resort
  • Legion Park
  • The Beachwalk
  • Normandy Shores Golf Course
  • Normandy Isle Park & Pool
  • Captain Joe’s Boat Rentals
  • Shuckers Waterfront Bar & Grill