South Florida Beyond the Beaches
Everyone loves visiting south Florida for its sun and active nightlife. The area is also one of interesting nature, culture, and history. Take a break from the beaches to check out these top landmarks of south Florida.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach
There’s a lot to experience at this historic garden and museum complex. Pioneering Japanese immigrants began a farm colony here over a century ago. Now the gardens have been transformed into a world-class destination.
The museum is designed to look like a Japanese villa. Visitors can learn about Japanese customs and culture, past and present. Enjoy lunch at the waterside cafe. Then, head out to wander the 16 acres of gardens, including a bonsai collection. Traditional Japanese festivals are held throughout the year. Check the calendar for exhibit info, tea ceremonies, and cultural events.
Stonewall Gallery National Museum & Archives
2157 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
Don’t be fooled by the small size of this museum. The exhibits and events offer a powerful perspective into gay history and culture. Programs include information on LGBTQ life within the U.S. and throughout the world.
This is also home to the largest LGBT lending library in the nation, with over 26,000 books! Check the event schedule for upcoming exhibits, film series, and other public programs.
Insider Tip: Admission here is by donation.
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
900 Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of south Florida at the Bonnet House. This low-key museum is just off the main strip of Ft. Lauderdale beach. This charming oasis features a rare glimpse of old Florida.
The Caribbean-style house has been preserved as it was in the 1920s the when the artist Frederic Bartlett lived there. Tours are available of the house and the 25-acre of tropical gardens. Lucky visitors might even spot a monkey or two, descendants from the owner’s pets!
Insider Tip: Take a guided tram or golf cart tour of the property for a small additional charge.
The Art Deco District
Between 5th and 23rd Streets, along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Step off the sand and into the Art Deco District made up of over 800 buildings and structures. Constructed from 1923 to 1943 the whimsical and beautiful district is a feast for the eyes. Most of the structures have been lovingly preserved and house hotels, restaurants, or clubs.
Stop by the Art Deco Welcome Center (Ocean Drive at 10th Street) to get a map of the area, or join a guided tour, so you don’t miss any part of this national landmark.
Hialeah Park Racing & Casino
2200 East 4th Avenue, Hialeah
This south Florida landmark was constructed in 1925. This majestic racetrack is known for its history of top horse racing and its beautiful grounds. Wander the palm-lined gardens and check out the flamingo aviary.
Now, the Park comes alive in the evenings with visitors enjoying a variety of restaurants, casino-style gaming, and entertainment.
Miami Design District
Known for its beautiful boutiques, and people, Miami’s Design District it’s a great place for people watching.
Browse the creative architecture and ultra high-end boutiques of this outdoor shopping center. You won’t find any big box or outlet stores here!
Enjoy lunch or happy hour at one of the nearby upscale cafes and restaurants.
Insider Tip: Parking is also pricey here. Plan to valet or pay by meter. This is primarily a day time destination. Be aware of your surroundings and stay on the more crowded streets.
North Miami Avenue to NW 2nd Avenue, between NW 29th and 24th Streets
Miami’s Wynwood is a happening district. Check out former warehouses converted to funky bars, upscale shops and art galleries.
During the day take in the landmark Wynwood Walls (2521 North Miami Avenue), an outdoor exhibit featuring urban graffiti art by well-known street artists.
At night, join the party at the late-night dance clubs and music venues that set the beat for this bustling area.
Insider Tips: Wynwood is on the fringe of some of Miami’s grittier areas. Use your instincts and be aware of your surroundings, day and night.
Freedom Tower at Miami-Dade College
600 Biscayne Boulevard
This 1925 Mediterranean Revival building has many stories to tell. Visitors with an interest in history, art, and Cuban heritage will enjoy learning about its interesting past.
It was built in 1925 began life as the headquarters of “The Miami News.”
In the 1960s the building became known as the “Elis Island of the South” for its role as the Cuban Assistance Center. It was here that refugees from the Cuban Revolution were processed and documented.
Now, the Freedom Tower is home to Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design, it is open for free art shows and public programs.
Insider Tip: Check public hours and upcoming exhibits on the museum’s website.
The Miami Circle
Brickell Point, where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay
Discovered in 1998 during a development project, this archaeological site is now a National Landmark. The area is believed to have been a 2,000 year-old settlement of the Tequesta Indians. Researchers believe the Circle was the base of a large council, or meeting house, for the community.
Come relax at this serene oasis in the middle of bustling Miami.
Insider Tip: Parking can be a challenge in this area. Consider walking from nearby shopping districts or taking the Metromover to nearby 5th Street Station.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami
Step into the magical world of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. This historic Italian-style villa, award-winning gardens, and amazing bay views are spectacular.
Built as a private home in 1916 by a wealthy industrialist the home and grounds became a museum in the 1950s. The elaborate furnishings and decor are all original to the 32-room house. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of house, or the formal gardens.
The indoor/outdoor cafe is a great spot to enjoy lunch, or a glass of wine, as you relax near the bay, or the historic swimming pool.
Don’t be surprised to see a photo shoot or film crew on the grounds, this unique backdrop has been featured in dozens of films and commercials.
2710 De Soto Boulevard, Coral Gables
The Venetian Pool is a unique way to beat the south Florida heat. The pool was reconfigured from the coral rock quarry used to build the nearby community. Caves, waterfalls, and bridges make this one of the most magical places to spend a day. There is a smaller pool designated for children to enjoy.
Since 1924 generations of visitors have been enjoying the cool (72-degree) waters that bubble up from artesian wells. It’s natural beauty and designation as the largest freshwater pool in the United States make it a landmark worth checking out.
Insider Tips: Bring your own towels to avoid renting. Lounge chairs are also available to rent. The pool gets very crowded on weekends and holidays.
1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables
Revisit a bygone era at this 1926 landmark hotel. The Biltmore is all about timeless luxury. You can see the stunning towers of the hotel as you approach from miles away. The lobby and common eras feature old-world craftsmanship.
You don’t have to check into one of the 271 guest rooms to feel like royalty for the day. Visitors can enjoy one of the on-site restaurants and lounges or treatments at the spa. Rent a cabana for a day by the historic swimming pool, one of the largest in the United States.
Insider Tip: If you don’t have luggage, skip the valet and park for free just west of the entrance near the golf course.
Coral Castle Museum
28655 South Dixie Highway, Homestead
Visitors from around the world marvel at this enchanting sculpture garden, built in 1920. Supposedly the land’s owner, Edward Leedskalnin, created the structure single-handedly. No one ever saw him working on the construction and some believe he had supernatural powers. This would help explain how he managed to create a nine-ton gate that moves as easily today as it did in 1920!
Check out this unusual landmark and see if you can solve its mysteries.
Just one hour from Downtown Miami, the Everglades is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River. This national park, established in 1934, protects the southern twenty percent of the original Everglades, now an endangered ecosystem. There are multiple ways to access this natural landmark.
Shark Valley Visitor Center
36000 SW 8th Street, Miami
Just 25 miles west of Miami is the northern entrance to the Everglades. At Shark Valley you can bike or take a park tram along the 15-mile loop. Climb the observation tower, at the loop’s halfway mark, to take-in breathtaking views of the seemingly endless river of grass.
Insider Tip: In colder months it is common to encounter alligators sunning themselves along the tram loop. The rule of thumb is don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. Whenever you go water, sunscreen, and insect repellent are always a good idea.
Flamingo Visitor Center
1 Flamingo Lodge Way, Homestead
The Flamingo station is a great place to start your Everglades adventures here. Knowledgeable rangers can provide educational materials and general information about the park.
Nearby check out the marina store for supplies. Concessions rent out equipment including bikes, canoes, and kayaks. For a more in-depth experience book a tour with a local guide.
Camping is also available near the Flamingo Center. Learn about overnight visits here.
Insider Tip: Summers in the Everglades can be brutal. Visitation is lower so some ranger stations and concessions may not be staffed. Check before you go.
Memorable Adventure Awaits
Southeast Florida has a lot to see and do. Wherever your south east Florida journey takes you, you’re sure to collect some great memories. Don’t forget to pack a back-up charger for your camera – you’ll want to capture lots of photos too!
**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.