Miami in One Day - Miami skyline

Miami in One Day: A Perfect 24-Hour Itinerary 

Miami is a vibrant and diverse city that offers something interesting for everyone. Whether you are looking for sun, sand, art, culture, food, or nightlife, you can find it all in this amazing city. But what if you only have one day to explore Miami? How can you make the most of your time and see the best of the city in one day? 

I’m a Miami expert, travel agent, and highly-experienced itinerary planner. In this article, we will show you how to plan a perfect Miami one day itinerary that will let you experience the highlights of the city and give you a taste of its unique charm. From beaches and art to history and nature, we will guide you through the best things to do in Miami in one day and help you create your own Miami itinerary, depending on your interests.

Highlights of Miami in One Day: Quick Guide

Seaspice outdoor restaurant on the river

Miami in One Day: Why you should visit this amazing city 

Miami is one of the most popular destinations in the United States and for good reasons. It is a city that combines the best of both worlds: a tropical paradise with a cosmopolitan flair. The weather is warm year-round.

Miami is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and cuisines. It’s influenced by its rich history and its proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also a city that celebrates art, creativity, and innovation, with world-class museums, galleries, and festivals.

And of course, Miami is a city that knows how to have fun, with beautiful beaches, glamorous shopping, and exciting nightlife. 

There is so much to see and do in Miami that you could easily spend a week or more exploring the city and the surrounding areas. But if you only have one day in Miami, you can still enjoy some of the city’s most iconic attractions and atmosphere.

If you’re planning to explore Miami in one day, follow this guide to see the “best of”. You may choose to lean in on your top interests, whether that’s the beach, art, or highlights of the sights.

South Beach

Miami in One Day – Morning: Beaches, Art, and History 

Start your day early and head to South Beach 

One of the best ways to start your Miami in one day trip is to head to South Beach. South Beach is a long stretch of white sand and turquoise water that attracts locals and tourists alike. It’s one of the most popular beach areas of the region.

South Beach is not only a place to relax and swim, but also a place to enjoy the lively atmosphere and the people-watching. 

Start with a quick breakfast at one of the many cafes and restaurants that line Ocean Drive, along the beachfront. Front Porch Café is your go-to for a great breakfast in a nice setting.

Outside of breakfast, I don’t recommend eating on Ocean Drive, as it tends to be a tourist trap. That said, it’s excellent for people-watching.

Throughout South Beach, you can also try some of the local specialties, such as Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, or croquetas. Dulce Cafeteria and Charlotte Bakery are my favorite places to get to-go empanadas clos e to the beach.

Dulce Cafeteria in Miami Beach

Take a leisurely walk through the Art Deco District 

After spending some time along the beach, you can take a leisurely walk through the Art Deco District.The Art Deco District is a historic area that contains over 800 buildings that date back to the 1920s and 1930s. These buildings feature colorful facades, geometric shapes, neon signs, and tropical motifs that reflect the style and spirit of the era. Many of the buildings have been very-well restored and maintained.

You can look around yourself, or join a guided tour offered by the Miami Design Preservation League, which operates from the Art Deco Welcome Center on Ocean Drive. You can also visit some of the landmarks and attractions in the district, such as the Versace Mansion, the Colony Theatre, or the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum. 

I only recommend a tour if you have an interest in architecture only. There is so much more to do in Miami for those who are not architecture lovers.

Stroll the Streets of Española Way 

Another charming and historic area is Española Way which is a part of the large historic district called the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District. Española Way was designed in the 1920s as a replica of a Mediterranean village, with Spanish, French, and Italian influences. 

Española Way is a lively and colorful street that offers a variety of shops, galleries, cafes, restaurants, and markets. You can stroll along the cobblestone pavement and admire the quaint and cozy buildings that surround you. Sample some of the delicious cuisine that Española Way offers, from tapas and paella to crepes and gelato and other cuisine options. 

Española Way comes alive at night, so stop in for dinner, if you’re in the area. My favorite restaurant on Española Way is Tropezon. Tropezon offers delicious tapas, or small plates originating from Spain.

Lincoln Road is another pedestraian mall in South Beach that is great for people-watching. Though the restaurants here are also largely tourist traps, there are a few good ones like Tapelia.

Visit the Wynwood Walls 

If you are looking for some more art and culture, you can head to Wynwood. The area is a former industrial place that has been transformed into a hip and trendy neighborhood! Wynwood is home to the famous Wynwood Walls, a collection of murals and graffiti that cover the walls of warehouses and buildings. The Wynwood Walls were created in 2009 by visionary developer Tony Goldman. He invited some of the most renowned street artists from around the world to showcase their work. Since then, the Wynwood Walls have become one of the most popular and impressive attractions in Miami, attracting millions of visitors every year. 

You can take a self-guided tour or join a guided tour offered by the Wynwood Walls Shop, which is located at the entrance of the park. You can also explore the rest of Wynwood, which is full of galleries, boutiques, breweries, and restaurants that cater to every taste and budget. 

Wynwood is also a great area to stop for drinks! Copal Rooftop Bar is one of my favorites.

Try some of the best Cuban dishes and drinks 

One of the best things about Miami is its rich and varied cuisine, which reflects the influence of its diverse and multicultural population. One of the most prominent and delicious cuisines in Miami is Cuban cuisine. It’s not only tasty but also generally affordable and filling, making it a perfect choice for lunch. 

There are many places where you can try some of the best Cuban dishes and drinks in Miami. Cuban food is available in many restaurants such as Havana 1957, with several locations throughout the city. Moreno’s in South Beach is a favorite of mine for dinner. The food is good but the ambiance here is unmatched. (I’ve included it as a dinner option below!)

If interested in traveling into Little Havana, check out Old’s Havana or El Rey De Las Fritas. The area is not the closest to the other places mentioned in this itinerary.

Insider Tip: Versailles Restaurant has the best empanadas in Miami. However, it’s tougher to get to without a car. The kiosks in the airport serve the same empanadas, so be sure to get one on your way!

Havana Vieja Ropa Vieja

Miami in One Day – Afternoon: Culture, Shopping, and Nature 

Browse the Bayside Marketplace and Bayfront Area

After lunch, continue your Miami in one day itinerary by heading to the bayfront downtown. Walk the length of the water and admire the views.

Check out Bayside Marketplace, a waterfront shopping and entertainment complex located in downtown Miami. The Bayside Marketplace is a great place to browse, shop, and relax, as it offers over 150 stores, food stalls, as well as live music and events. You can find everything from souvenirs and gifts to clothing and accessories, as well as local and international cuisine. 

The Bayside Marketplace is also a great place to enjoy the views and the breeze of Biscayne Bay, the body of water that separates Miami from Miami Beach. You can sit on a bench or a swing and watch the boats and the birds that pass by. You can also take a boat tour from the Bayside Marketplace, which will give you a different perspective of the city and its surroundings. 

Bayfront Miami

Enjoy the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens 

Consider the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a former estate that is now a stunning museum and a public park. The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens were built in the early 20th century by the industrialist James Deering, who wanted to create a European-style villa in Miami.  

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are a great place to admire the beauty and elegance of the past, as well as to learn about the history and culture of Miami. You can take a self-guided tour or join a guided tour offered by the museum staff, which will take you through the various rooms and exhibits of the main house. 

Miami in One Day – Evening: Sunset, Dinner, and Nightlife 

Watch the sunset from a boat on Biscayne Bay or rooftop

One of the best ways to end your Miami one day trip is to watch the sunset. The best option is to watch from a boat tour or a cruise on Biscayne Bay. Biscayne Bay is a large and scenic body of water that separates Miami from Miami Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. It is also home to various islands, wildlife, and landmarks, such as the famous celebrity homes.

Take a boat tour on Biscayne Bay to see the city from a different angle. Enjoy the colors and the calmness of the evening. 

Additional top sunset spots include:

Remember – the sun sets in the west, so looking out from the beach will not provide the best view, though the beach is lovely at golden hour and sunset time.

Sunset from the Moxy South Beach

Have dinner at a rooftop restaurant or a waterfront café 

If your Miami in one day itinerary continues into the evening, an outdoor dinner is a must. After watching the sunset, you can have dinner at one of the many restaurants and cafes that Miami offers. Miami is a foodie’s paradise, as it offers a wide range of cuisine, from local and regional to international and fusion. You can find something for every palate and budget, from casual and cheap to fancy and expensive. 

One of the best ways to enjoy your dinner is to choose an outdoor restaurant – whether that’s a rooftop, an outdoor courtyard, or a waterfront café, where you can enjoy the warm air while tasting some of the best food in the city.

My favorite outdoor restaurants in Miami – all are in South Beach:

Eggplant at Byblos

Eggplant at Byblos, South Beach

Experience the nightlife in Brickell, Miami Beach, or Coconut Grove:

Miami in one day may also mean Miami in one night. After dinner, it’s time to experience the nightlife at one of the three main areas in Miami: Brickell, South Beach, or Coconut Grove. Each area has its own nightlife identity and offers a variety of bars, clubs, and venues to suit your mood and taste. 

Some of the best nightlife spots in each area are: 

  • Brickell: a bustling and trendy area with a young professional crowd, where you can find sports bars, cocktail bars, and nightclubs, such as 1306 and Blue Martini. 
  • South Beach: a glamorous and lively area with a diverse and international crowd, where you can find outdoor bars, rooftop bars, and nightclubs, such as the Clevelander, Mango’s, Story, and LIV. 
  • Coconut Grove: a relaxed and charming area with a bohemian and artistic vibe, where you can find pubs, live music venues, and comedy clubs, such as Sandbar, Taurus, and The Grove Spot. 
Nightlife at LIV

Best Time to Visit Miami 

The best time to visit Miami in one day is between November and April (except mid-March!) when the weather is dry and mild, and the prices are reasonable. I recommend avoiding mid-March, as spring breakers take over South Beach. I would also recommend against planning a trip to this area in July through September, as summer is unbearably warm and hurricanes are common in the fall. Still, you can visit Miami at anytime throughout the year and still have a great time.

How to Get to and Around Miami 

Miami is well-connected and easy to reach by air, land, or sea. You can choose from various options to get to and around Miami, depending on your budget and convenience. 

By air: Miami has two major airports, Miami International Airport (MIA) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), that serve domestic and international flights from various airlines. It’s an easy rideshare from FLL to Miami, so I always evaluate flights from both airports, with some preference given to Miami.

By land: Miami is accessible by car, bus, or train from various cities and states in the US. You can also use the train services, such as Amtrak, Brightline, or Tri-Rail (South Florida), to reach Miami. Brightline is becoming super popular for traveling between Tampa, Orlando, and Miami.

By sea: Miami is a major cruise port and a popular destination for cruise ships from various cruise lines, such as Virgin Voyages, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, and Celebrity. You can also use the ferry services, such as Bahamas Ferries or Balearia Caribbean, to travel to Miami from the Bahamas or other Caribbean islands. 

Once you’re in Miami, you can use various options to get around the city, such as ride-sharing services (my recommendation), public transportation,  taxis, bikes, scooters, or walking. You can use the public transportation system, such as Metrorail, Metromover, Metrobus, or Trolley, to travel within and between the different areas of Miami. 

I prefer using rideshare apps Lyft and Uber to get around. It’s typically easy to connect to a car and the fares are inexpensive in comparison to other major cities. It’s also surprisingly easy to take the Metrobus from Miami International Airport to South Beach, so I’ll often do that when I arrive early in the morning.

You may also like to rent a Citi Bike and ride along the waterfront in South Beach, even to Mid-Beach, if you’re interested in going further north to a more quiet area.

Miami boats in river

Insider Tips for Miami in One Day 

To make the most of your Miami in one day trip, here are some insider tips:

  • Pack light and comfortable clothes, shoes, and accessories, and don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and water bottle, to protect yourself from the sun and the heat. Miami sun is no joke. I’ve gotten burned bad a few times!
  • Plan and book your tickets, reservations, and tours in advance, especially during the peak season, to avoid disappointment and to save money. 
  • Be flexible and adaptable, and have a backup plan, in case of bad weather, traffic that may affect your itinerary or activities. It’s common to experience an afternoon thunderstorm in South Florida, especially during the summer. Traffic is also expected during certain times of day and surrounding events.
  • Be aware and cautious, and keep your valuables and documents safe. The locations mentioned in this article are generally safe but never leave your possessions unattended, especially on the beach!

Final Thoughts: The Perfect Miami in One Day Itinerary 

Seeing the best of Miami in one day is worth a jam-packed itinerary. Miami is a city that never sleeps, and it always has something new and exciting to offer. Whether you want to relax on the beach, admire the art, taste the food, or party all night (more on that laterr…), Miami has it all. Many of my recommendations are in South Beach, so you may want to just explore there for the day.

If your schedule allows, I recommend visiting Miami for longer than a day!

Eleanor and friend at Joia Beach