Though it’s adjacent to and shares a name with the state’s most populous metropolitan area, South Miami is its own municipality and had a population of just more than 12,000 residents at the time of the last census.
It’s bordered by Coral Gables and the Atlantic Ocean to the north and east, and Glenvar Heights and Pinecrest to the west and south.
South Miami is conveniently close to a variety of historical, cultural, and outdoor recreation attractions, so finding ways to stay busy when in the area won’t be an issue.
Below are 15 things to do in and around South Miami.
1. Dante Fascell Park
Dante Fascell Park is located at the corner of SW 57th Avenue and SW 88th Street near downtown South Miami, and it offers guests a variety of recreation options that are especially popular with the fit and active crowd.
Amenities include outdoor basketball, volleyball, and handball courts, and a gated playground for little ones.
Most of the park’s courts and fields are open on a first-come, first-serve basis, but they’re occasionally reserved for regular leagues.
There are also jogging and walking trails, covered seating and picnic areas, and plenty of clean restrooms and ample parking on-site that’s free of charge.
2. The Boiling Crab
The Boiling Crab is a favorite dining destination for those who want to get their fill of tasty Florida seafood before heading back to their landlocked home states.
It’s not a fancy place, but previous guests have noted that the portion sizes were ample, the prices reasonable, and the atmosphere cozy and family-friendly.
As their name implies, their crabs are big hits, but they also offer fish, shrimp, oysters, and crawfish.
There are plenty of sides to choose from, and economical seafood boils that contain a little bit of everything.
Most dishes come with the option of four signature seasonings.
3. Dadeland Mall
Malls don’t rank highly on the to-do lists of many beach-minded vacationers, but when the blaring sun gets to be too much, or storms roll in from the Atlantic, it’s wise to have some indoor escape destinations in your back pocket.
Featuring well-known national brands like Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom, Dadeland Mall is the perfect place to chill-out while waiting for the outdoor conditions to improve. With such a variety of dining, recreation, and shopping options, the time may just fly by.
Dadeland Mall’s food court is a big hit with visitors, and includes both fast and inexpensive options and more formal and upscale ones as well.
4. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Featuring a renaissance-style Italian villa and an amazing expanse of cultivated gardens set amid the scenic backdrop of Coconut Grove, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are one of the area’s most popular natural attractions, and there’s lots of history and culture mixed in as well.
The museum and grounds are comprised of more than 40 acres, much of which is set along the stunning waterfront, which makes for unparalleled photo ops.
The indoor museum portion includes artwork in a variety of mediums, and stunning architectural elements and antiques and housewares that date back many centuries.
They host a variety of special events too, so check their website before heading out.
5. Deering Estate
The Deering Estate was once the winter retreat for a wealthy Midwest industrialist and his family, who preferred the Sunshine State’s subtropical climate, abundant sun, and stunning sea views to dreary winters full of slush, ice, and frigid temperatures.
The estate grounds are some of the most scenic anywhere in the state, and from historical, cultural, and architectural perspectives, they’re really a must-visit attraction.
The expansive grounds also include a fossil and archaeological site that holds animal and Paleolithic human bones, some of which date back more than 50,000 years.
They often host star-gazing evenings coordinated by a local astronomical society, so consider an evening visit if interested.
6. Books & Books
For many vacationers who plan on spending much of their time relaxing on the beach or under a poolside umbrella with a rum-based cocktail, a good book is an absolutely essential element.
It’s true that e-books have taken the world by storm, but many readers still value the feel of actual paper between their fingertips; for those who do, there’s no better place to check out than Books & Books in nearby Coral Gables.
It’s hands-down the area’s oldest bookstore and keeps its shelves stocked with old classics and contemporary best-sellers in nearly all genres, including nonfiction and children’s literature.
There’s also an on-site café with fresh, locally made goodies and great coffee.
7. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
For sheer scope, beauty, and largely undisturbed stretches of beach in an otherwise touristy and overdeveloped area, there’s nothing quite like spending a day at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
Overlooking the harbor surrounding Key Biscayne, the park is comprised of nearly 400 pristine acres that give visitors a glimpse of the way much of the coast was before the land and tourist boom that began more than a century ago.
The park’s amenities include amazing beaches, covered seating and picnic areas, multi-use trails, and even an iconic Florida lighthouse that’s a big hit with maritime history buffs and shutterbugs.
8. Lowe Art Museum
Though its beginnings nearly seven decades ago were humble, to say the least, Lowe Art Museum has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Its permanent collection includes more than 15,000 individual works of art in a variety of mediums.
Lowe Art Museum was South Florida’s first museum of its kind. It’s located on the scenic campus of the University of Miami, just a stone’s throw from South Miami.
The items on display include works from nearly every continent and span thousands of years.
The museum’s Native American works are among the perennial favorites, and it’s worth checking out the university bookstore while on campus too.
9. Shops at Merrick Park
Featuring a cool, open-air design that lends itself well to Florida’s subtropical climate, the Shops at Merrick Park are a popular retail attraction with everything required to keep travelers comfortable and content for hours.
The shops are located in nearby Coral Gables and include a number of high-end brands like Gucci and Tiffany & Company, but there are plenty of options for average, working-class folks as well.
Relaxing with a coffee, tea, smoothie, or an ice-cold draft beer are great ways to while away an afternoon, and there are a few on-site gyms for those who could stand to shed a few extra pounds.
10. Azucar Ice Cream Company
Due to its cool location and fantastic variety of taste bud tempting ice cream offerings, Azucar Ice Cream Company is one of those unique vacation attractions that allows visitors to kill two birds with one stone.
Azucar is located in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, which is a cultural and historical icon that really should be experienced. For many visitors, there’s no better way to end a long day on their feet than with a bowl of heavenly, homemade ice cream.
Featuring less than traditional flavors and some old standbys too, there’s something for everyone, and the setting is both trendy, unique, and comfortable.
11. Actor’s Playhouse
The Actor’s Playhouse in Coral Gables is a community theater that was founded in 1988. Since then, it’s been offering the community a variety of entertainment and theater options, ranging from dramatic plays and live music to children’s productions.
Though for the first few years of its existence the playhouse was housed in a movie theater, after teaming up with the city, it moved into the historic and recently renovated Miracle Theater in the mid-‘90s.
The renovations brought the playhouse’s facilities up to modern-day standards. It’s now one of those rare local gems that compares favorably with many of its more urban contemporaries.
12. Merrick House
Located on Coral Way in Coral Gables, the Merrick House is a home that was built in 1906 for a man named George Merrick.
Merrick was the Founder of Coral Gables, and the home’s architect was also a Merrick.
It’s one of the most well-preserved sites of its kind in the area and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for nearly 50 years. In addition to its historical significance, it features unique architecture and is full of housewares, furniture, and art that were popular in the area.
Guided docent tours are the best way to see the attraction.
13. Crandon Park
Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park is situated on more than 800 acres overlooking Biscayne Bay, between the northern portion of Key Biscayne and the southern part of metropolitan Miami.
It might just be the most amenity-packed park in the area, and it’s an easy drive for those staying in South Miami.
The park is across the Bay on the scenic Rickenbacker Causeway. Once on-site, guests will have the opportunity to hit the beach, play golf and tennis, or snorkel, kayak, and explore the park’s multi-use trails on foot or by bicycle.
Admission is relatively inexpensive, and many guests spend an entire day or two there.
14. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
For lovers of historic cultivated gardens, there’s no place like southern Florida.
Featuring abundant sun and rain and a balmy subtropical climate, the conditions are perfect for growing a variety of native and exotic species of plants, flowers, and trees.
The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Center is located on Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables and includes an indoor museum and interactive learning center in addition to its sprawling grounds.
The garden portion of the facility is comprised of distinct cultivated areas connected by easily traversable trails. Along the way, guests will have plenty of seating areas, as well as informative signs describing the things they’re seeing.
15. The Barnacle Historic State Park
Key Biscayne and Biscayne Bay are two of south Florida’s most visited attractions, and they’re among the most scenic areas that most vacationers see on their trip to the Sunshine State.
Barnacle Historic State Park is not only known for its natural splendor, but for its historical significance as well.
More than a century ago the park was home to pioneers and settlers – and the man who went on to found the nearby city of Coconut Grove.
A few of the park’s centerpieces include the historic home, tree-shaded nature paths, and a few large replicas of sailboats that were popular on the coast in that era.