Miami is by far the most happening city in South Florida. From the picturesque beaches to the restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping, and architecture, you can always find something to do in this world-class locale. But, why limit yourself? When spending time down in Miami, there are plenty of other fun day trips just an hour or less distance from the city. Explore the beaches of the Florida Keys, or watch a rocket launch into space — South Florida is filled with exciting adventures.
Take a ride down to the Florida Keys and enjoy a day of water fun. The truth is, water sports can be done at pretty much any beach Florida, but the Keys are in a league of their own. From the laid-back island vibe to the world-class coral reefs, it’s definitely worth a day trip. The closest Key from Miami is Key Largo, where you can catch a scuba or snorkeling day trip out to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Getting There: Key Largo is about an hour and twenty-minute drive from Miami. It’s a straight drive across the Overseas Highway — truly a sight to be seen. There is also a shuttle service that leaves from the Miami International Airport throughout the day. Plan ahead and make a reservation to ensure you have a spot.
Travel Tip: Beware of traffic heading down to the Keys. If you’re planning your day trip over a weekend or a holiday, be sure to leave early in the morning, otherwise the hour and twenty-minute trip will probably take you double that. Another important thing to remember is that there are no rest stops on the Overseas Highway until you hit the Keys, so make sure you don’t need a bathroom and you’ve packed plenty of car snacks.
Just 50 miles from Miami is the small Bahamian island of Bimini. It’s not the most popular island in the Bahamas, but this small paradise has a lot to offer. On your day trip to Bimini you’ll feel like an explorer uncovering unchartered territory. From snorkeling around shipwrecks off the coast, to diving with hammerheads, to hiking through the island’s visitors’ trail, you’re bound to discover something new to you. Of course, you can’t leave Bimini without eating like a local — don't miss the conch ceviche, a signature snack on the island, or the lobster pizza at Edith’s.
Getting There: The best way to get to Bimini is by boat. It’s about a two-hour boat ride. Day trips usually depart around 9 a.m. and leave Bimini about 8 p.m. that night. A round trip ticket is about $120 and usually you can get day passes to The Hilton Resort on the beach as well.
Travel Tip: Bimini is actually a series of three small islands — North Bimini, South Bimini, and East Bimini. The largest is North Bimini, which is also home to Alice Town and the main drag (the King's Highway) filled with bars, restaurants, and shops. Be sure to head there on your day trip.
Everglades National Park: Bike Through Shark Valley
Bike riding is a common Florida activity. Bike riding through an alligator infested pathway? Not as common. But, at Shark Valley, the 15-mile scenic loop around Everglades National Park, you can do exactly that. About halfway through the paved loop you’ll hit a concrete lookout tower where visitors can climb to the top and take in an amazing view of the Everglades. Bathrooms and water fountains are located inside the tower. Remember, you will see a lot of alligators along this path. Even if they seem calm stay at least 15 feet away, they’re still live gators!
Getting There: Shark Valley is about an hour drive outside of Miami. There are two entrances: U.S. 41 Tamiami Trail in Miami or the Gulf Coast entrance on Oyster Bar Lane in Everglades City. For exact directions, visit the Shark Valley visitor’s page.
Travel Tip: The bike loop path at Shark Valley takes about 2-3 hours, so make sure you’re prepared ahead of time with snacks and water. For those who may not be up for the extended bike ride, there is a guided tram that leaves from the visitor’s center.
Space Coast: Watch a Rocket Launch
Head up to the Space Coast for a day of sun, surf, and space! Besides Cocoa Beach, a haven for surfers, head to the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville. This is the location of rocket launches into space, which is definitely a sight to be seen. Check the Kennedy Space Center site to find out when the next launch will be so you can plan your visit accordingly. But, even if you don’t visit on a day that a rocket is being launched, touring the space center is fun for all ages. Explore mission control, go inside a real space capsule, and learn about famous NASA pioneers.
Getting There: Cape Canaveral is about a 3-hour drive from Miami. But, even if you don’t have a car, it’s still doable in a day. There are tours that offer round trip rides starting at about $150 per person. Reservations are required.
Travel Tip: If you’re goal is to watch a rocket launch, make sure you check that viewing is available. Due to certain launch times and schedule constraints, NASA does not always allow visitors to watch in the seating areas.
Palm Beach: Kayak to Peanut Island
Although Palm Beach is filled with classy shopping, award-winning restaurants, and million-dollar homes, there is more to do there than just gawk at the lifestyles of the rich and famous. For a fun day activity, rent kayaks at the Riviera Beach marina and head out to Peanut Island. It’s about a 20-minute kayak ride. Once you’ve reached the island there’s snorkeling, nature trails, and a relaxing beach. Bring all the supplies and food you’ll need because there’s not much on the island other than bathrooms. While there make sure to visit the once top-secret Kennedy Bunker. It’s a true historical relic.
Travel Tip: Head back to Miami on A1A and you’ll pass all the beautiful and opulent mansions that line the water.
Fort Lauderdale: Hang Out on Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale may have once been a spring break mecca of non-stop drinking and partying. But, in recent years, the city has really cleaned up its act. Today, The Strip, better known as Las Olas Boulevard, is no longer home to seedy vendors and questionable people, instead it’s transformed into beach-y walking area with boutique shops, specialty ice cream stores, and tasty restaurants. At night, the area glows with lights, live music, and a young crowd.
Getting There: Miami to Fort Lauderdale is about 40-minutes. The Tri-Railis also available. It leaves from the Miami Airport Station and makes three stops in Fort Lauderdale.
Travel Tip: During high season, which is usually from Thanksgiving through New Years, the downtown area of Las Olas can get a bit busy with tourists and visitors. Plan accordingly and if you can avoid having a car, you’re better off. Parking can be tough.
Naples: Relax and Unwind
When the hustle and bustle of Miami get too much, head west to the relaxing Gulf Coast. Naples is a low-key city with beautiful homes, a picturesque pier, and lots of white sandy beaches. Enjoy your day in Naples by renting bikes and heading to the pier or playing a round of golf. You’ll find an array of people fishing off the sides, tanning on the sand, or swimming in the warm Gulf water. The downtown area is quaint with cute shops and lots of outdoor eateries. Things close pretty early here, so you’ll know when it’s time to start heading back east.
Getting There: Head west across I-75 to hit Naples. It’s about a 2-hour drive. Greyhound buses are available for about $30 one way.
Travel Tip: Although Naples is small, it’s a rather affluent area, so if you plan on sticking around till dinner time, make sure you have a nicer outfit packed to change into for the restaurant — unless of course you’re only planning on getting pizza.
Homestead and Redland: Enjoy the Exotic Wine
The Redland region is right at the entrance to Everglades National Park. The area is filled with exotic fruit orchards, wineries, old Florida charm — you’d never guess you were only about 45 minutes from Miami proper. While in Homestead, visit Phil’s Berry Farm or Knaus Berry Farm and Bakery, they’re down the road from each other and both sell amazing baked goods like monkey bread, guava pies, and pecan rolls. Visit the Cauley Square Historic Railroad Village too if you have the time. The area is a blast into the past of dreamy old Florida, with refurbished railroad cars, tropical gardens, and antique outdoor statues. Of course, a day trip to Redland wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Schnebly Redland’s Winery. These wines are grape-less and instead are made with more Florida-esque fruits, like mango, avocado, lychee, and passion fruit.
Getting There: The best way to get to Homestead and the Redlands is driving. Even if it means renting a car for the day, it’s worth it. The drive is about 45-minutes and parking in the are isn’t usually an issue.
Travel Tip: Don’t leave the Redlands without stopping at Robert Is Here. The exotic fruit stand right outside of Everglades National Park sells all types of exotic, fresh fruit like persimmons, sapodilla, and lychees. You can also get a combo of pretty much anything in a shake.
Grand Bahama: Swim With Wild Pigs
On the off chance that you get bored of the beautiful Miami beaches, or maybe you are looking for something a little more laid back, a day trip to Grand Bahama or Freeport may be just what you’re looking for. Spend the day relaxing by the clear, blue water or swim with wild pigs in Freeport. Get your Caribbean foo fix in while there, too.
Getting There: Speedboats and cruises leave from Miami daily for Grand Bahama. For about $80 one way, you can spend the day in the Bahamas and be home by dinner time. If you book a tour with an all-inclusive cruise group, they will often pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the boat. The trip is about 3 hours long.
Travel Tip: Since it can get uncomfortable being beach clothes all day, consider buying a day pass to one of the resorts in the area. This way you can shower in the locker rooms and change out of wet beach clothes before heading on the ferry home.
Delray Beach: Hit up Atlantic Avenue
No matter your style, you’ll find something you love in Delray Beach. This city is the perfect combination of upscale meets laid back, and Atlantic Avenue has it all. This beachside drag is fun any time of day. Outdoor spaces and fresh food take up the sidewalks during the day, and at night the street comes alive with lit-up palm trees and live music. During the summer and holiday season there are shows at the bandstand by the water.
Getting There: Head north from Miami for about an hour and you’ll hit Delray. There is a Greyhound bus, although it is probably easiest to rent a car or take an Uber. Parking on Atlantic can get a bit crowded during high season, but there are a couple of municipal lots with 3-hour time limit meters.
Travel Tip: Atlantic Avenue transforms at night. Start your day by the beach and enjoy lunch at Boston’s or Caffé Luna Rosa. But don’t stay by the water for dinner, head further up the street, past the train tracks, and enjoy the party-scene at Salt or Rocco’s Tacos.
Biscayne National Park: Explore the Underwater World
Considered part of the northern Florida Keys, Biscayne National Park is an 173,000-acre national park located about an hour south of Miami. It’s made up of about 95% water and the rest is mangrove forests and small barrier islands. Visiting Biscayne National Park is like jumping into a water wonderland — from eco-adventure snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking through mangroves you’ll forget you’re just an hour out of the bustling city of Miami.
Getting There: Traffic out of Miami can be heavy, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. Allow extra time when travelling on weekends, holidays or rush hour.
Travel Tip: For a true Biscayne National Park experience, try campingon Elliot Key or Boca Chita Key. It’s about $25 a night and includes two tents for up to six people.
Bonita Springs: A Walking Tour Through Old Florida
Bonita Springs is a small coastal town on the west coast of Florida that will ease your stress no matter when you visit. Besides the beautiful beaches, the Bonita Springs Historical Society offers six different themed history tours around the city’s old-Florida downtown. Themes include city landmarks, How Bonita got its name, River Walks, and Land of the Calusa. Plan a tour by visiting the Bonita Springs Historical Society site.
Getting There: Bonita Springs is about two hours from Miami. Driving is your best bet.
Travel Tip: Pack a bathing suit and change of clothes for your day in Bonita Springs — the quaint small town offers a wide range of activities and you want to be prepared for both.
Marco Island: Beachcombing on a Barrier Island
Imagine spending a day on a white sand beach filled with exotic seashells while pelicans fly overhead. Well, that day is easily attainable on Marco Island. The small barrier island off the coast of Naples doesn’t offer much in the way of activities, but the beaches here are so peaceful you won’t need anything else to do. Make sure to hit up Tiger Tail Beach, it’s one of the most popular beaches in the area and offers visitors amenities like parking, a shaded playground, grills, and a picnic area. Sand Dollar Island is a must visit, too. The island is actually a small tidal lagoon that you can actually walk through because the water is so shallow. It’s a great place for bird watching, too.
Getting There: Definitely drive here! It’s about two hours west from Miami and it’s easiest to get around the island with your own vehicle.
Travel Tip: Expect fine dining and upscale shopping. This is definitely an affluent vacation spot, so keep that in mind if you’re traveling on a budget.