How to Spend 48 Hours in Miami

A view of Brickell Skyscrapers on the bay

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

When people think of Miami they probably envision Miami Beach and not much else. However, you’d be remiss to stick solely to the beaches and miss out on one of the most culturally rich cities in the U.S., complete with a thriving art scene, a booming food scene, and nightlife that attracts celebrities and visitors from all over the world. This guide will help you explore all the different corners of Miami and give you the most action-packed, unforgettable Miami weekend possible.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

The pool at the Gates South Beach

Courtesy of The Gates South Beach

10:00 a.m.: While other neighborhoods are growing in popularity, South Beach remains a top place to stay in Vice City. For a mix of luxury, value, and a prime location, head to Gates South Beach.The hotel has a heated pool and hot tub, free bike rentals, and a weekly schedule of classes that include everything from yoga to a “shots and salsa” class. Unlike many other hotels on South Beach, bookings here include two complementary beach chairs and towels as well. Located only one block from the beach and within walking distance to all the South Beach hot spots, the entire hotel is decorated with art from Jorge de la Torriente. A Miami based photographer who specializes in aerial beach shots and time lapse nature shots. His work is like a love letter to Miami that adds a special hometown touch to the hotel. 

11:00 a.m.: Just a 13 minute walk from the hotel (or a short lyft ride away) is the Miami Botanical Garden. Wander through the connecting gardens that include a koi fish pond, butterfly garden, tropical hideouts, and more. Admission is free! After the gardens take a walk down Collins Avenue. This bustling street is the heart of South Beach and you can see all the famous Art Deco architecture that Miami is famous for. At 8th Street, you’ll hit La Sandwicherie, a small sandwich stand with stools that is a favorite of locals. The sandwiches use fresh local produce on a French baguette—the SOBE Club is a great option created specifically for their South Beach location.

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02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Brickell City Center

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

2:00 p.m.: Head across the bridge to Brickell, an ever-growing neighborhood with shiny new sky-scrapers and a growing food and nightlife scene that is attracting the young and trendy. Brickell City Center should be your first stop. This large semi open-air shopping center features everything from high end brands, to art galleries, to artisanal food halls. Not to mention the eye-catching building is Instagram-worthy on its own. Stop in to La Centrale, an Italian food hall with a market, three restaurants and a wine and gelato shop, making it a great stop for a snack or a cold drink to cool down. 

After shopping, admire quintessential Miami views at Brickell Point. Green spaces aren’t common in Brickell so enjoy this small green cove hidden behind the W Hotel that offers a palm tree lined walking path and a great view of the high rises and bay. This spot also holds historical significance for Miami - a large circle marked by stones with dozens of holes cut into the limestone bedrock. This is thought to be evidence of an ancient structure built by the Tequesta tribe and is considered to be the earliest evidence of a permanent settlement in on the east coast.. If you’d prefer a view from up high, enjoy a cocktail at the trendy Sugar, a rooftop bar at Brickell Plaza.

4:00 p.m.: Just across the bridge is downtown Miami, a busy neighborhood where something is always happening. While this area isn’t as new or as shiny as Brickell, it is home to many of the best museums in Miami. HistoryMiami offers an in-depth look at how Miami has become as unique as it is today, while the Perez Art Museum is an excellent art museum featuring works by Carmen Herrera and Jedd Novatt in the sculpture garden . In the same pedestrian pavilion is the Frost Science Center, a world-famous science center that boasts a planetarium, aquarium, and countless interactive exhibits. 

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03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

The bar at Sweet Liberty

Courtesy of Sweet Liberty

7:00 p.m.: Now that you’ve had some downtime and maybe a swim, it’s time to see when Miami truly comes to life—at night. Before your big night out, grab dinner at Moreno’s Cuba a modern Cuban restaurant in the inner courtyard of The Delano. Its reasonably priced modern take on Cuban food is delicious and the vibrant atmosphere feels like someone invited you into their eccentric Cuban grandmother’s house. 

9:00 p.m.: Start the night off easy by grabbing a signature cocktail at Sweet Liberty. This roomy bar draws a local crowd. Mingle with locals and get that perfect Instagram selfie in front of their “Pursue Happiness” neon sign. Or head to Ricky’s South Beach for an adult playground. Half arcade, half bar and with an Artichoke Pizza inside. Ricky’s is a one stop shop for a fun start to your night.

11:00 p.m.: If you want to dance but aren’t up for the velvet ropes that are standard for most Miami clubs, try Sophie’s, a more low-key dance environment that stands out among the city’s mega-clubs. If you are up for dressing up and experiencing the true Miami scene head to LIV. This is a Miami establishment. Liv is exactly what you think of when you think of Miami clubs: oud music, bottle service, and celeb spottings. Or head to the mecca of Miami clubs, E11even. Open 24 hours, this venue is a hybrid nightclub, restaurant, and event venue where you truly never have to stop partying.

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04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

View up the beach from South Point Pier

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

10:00 a.m.: After your big night,he Gates’ pool bar offers great meal options that will help you bounce back (and even a hair of the dog if you need!) Just down the street is Primo Bakery, a small Cuban café that has great breakfast sandwiches and Coladas, strong Cuban coffees. The Social Club is another option that has a brunch menu every single day until 3:00 PM.

11:00 a.m.: After experiencing the city side of Miami it’s time to hit the beach. Check out a bike from the hotel (the first two hours are free) and ride down the beach boardwalk through Lummus Park to the South Point Park—or ride up to the calmer Mid-Beach. If you want to catch some rays, the hotel’s beach stand that offers complimentary chairs and towels is only two blocks away. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

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05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

Funky building facade in Miami Design District

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

2:00 p.m.: When it gets too hot, head to the Miami Design District. This budding neighborhood is filled with high-end shopping, galleries, and photo-worthy buildings and sculptures at every corner. (The Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome is a favorite.) The Institute of Contemporary Art Miami is also in this neighborhood if the city’s abundant public art is making you crave more. Grab a late lunch at St. Roch Market, another upscale food hall with options for everyone. 

4:00 p.m.: Next door to Miami Design District is Wynwood, a neighborhood with a much different feel. Here you’ll find larger than life murals and street art that locals and tourists alike flock to see. The famous Wynwood Walls features murals from artists all over the world and once again offers up a great selfie opportunity. Best of all admission is free! Wynwood is also home to Miami’s oldest gallery Locust Projects, which opened in 1998, and fun stops like Wynwood Brewing Co., where you can sample local craft beers. 

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06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

The rooftop bar The Cape

Courtesy of The Cape Miami 

7:00 p.m.: For dinner, no need to go far—head to the Gates South Beach’s restaurant OLA. OLA is a Miami staple that moved into the Gates in June 2019. This restaurant features contemporary takes on South American classics, like the Fire & Ice, a ceviche that is somehow hot and cold at the same time. It also has an excellent cocktail menu that has creative variations on classic Mojito that is a Miami staple. 

9:00 p.m.: If you want a more relaxed atmosphere for your last night, head to The Cape, The Townhouse hotel’s rooftop bar. With a huge neon sign that says “YO” (Miami loves its neon signs!) and a great view of South Beach, this is a perfect place to kick back, have a drink, and still be able to have a conversation. If you don’t have an early flight, head to Purdy Lounge, a low-key, unpretentious, dance bar that plays 90s throwbacks that get everyone moving.