Located in the vibrant American city of Miami, South Beach is a world-famous destination known for its beautiful beaches, Art Deco architecture, world-class shopping, and vibrant nightlife. With an almost endless array of activities, it can be hard to narrow down what the best things to do in South Beach during your visit are. But rest assured, whether you're seeking a relaxing day on the sand or an exciting night out, South Beach has something to offer everyone — there are even free options so you won't break the bank.

When hunger calls, South Beach is a culinary hotspot, with both classic and cutting-edge cuisine. You can also opt for casual bites from food trucks at parks and beaches. Don't forget to sample Cuban classics like croquetas and ropa vieja and Atlantic Ocean seafood favorites like stone crab. There is also a lot of Spanish-inspired food and architecture to enjoy as well.

Quick Answer Guide: 17 Best Things to Do in South Beach

‌Top Things to Do in South Beach Miami‌

‌Best Things to Do Outdoors in South Beach‌

‌Best Things to Do at Night in South Beach Miami‌

‌Free Things to Do in South Beach Miami‌

Top Things to Do in South Beach Miami

Miami Beach, Florida is a 9-mile-long barrier island, and South Beach is a neighborhood generally considered to be the southernmost 2.5 miles of Miami Beach. South Beach contains the Art Deco buildings many associate with Miami Beach, and it is so stylish you could spend the day just taking photos without even taking a plunge into the water.

1. Visit South Beach

The water to the west of Miami Beach is Biscayne Bay, and on the other side, of course, is the Atlantic Ocean. With so much water, you can swim, boat, fish, jet ski, kayak or canoe, or just lounge around and enjoy the swaying palm trees and the colorful lifeguard stands.

2. Art Deco Historic District

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Miami Beach is home to the nation’s largest concentration of the architectural style known as Art Deco. The district is on the National Register of Historic Places and there are around 800 designated historic buildings that have Art Deco and other notable architectural styles as well. The Miami Design Preservation League offers an Art Deco Welcome Center and museum, and official Art Deco Walking Tours.

Best Things to Do During the Day in South Beach Miami

Art and culture aficionados will want to check out the beautiful Art Deco architecture. Stylish shoppers will want to browse the trendy boutiques along Collins Avenue, or visit museums like The Bass contemporary art museum and the Wolfsonian-FIU. Walking or driving tours are best done during the day so you can see everything, but these same shopping and dining districts come alive in the evening as well. Days in Miami can be hot and humid, with rain showers not uncommon. It can be nice to plan for some indoor activities, as a way to beat the heat.

3. The Bass

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  • Perfect for‌: Lovers of contemporary art
  • Website:https://thebass.org
  • If You Go:‌ The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

The Bass has an international collection contemporary art by established artists that also includes design, fashion, and architecture. The building itself is a 1930s Art Deco building that was placed on the National Register in 1978.

4. The Wolfsonian—Florida International University

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  • Perfect for:‌ Fans of art and design
  • Website:https://wolfsonian.org
  • If You Go:‌ The Wolfsonian has many kids and youth programs.

The Wolfsonian-FIU collection is more than 200,000 objects, from household appliances to war propaganda. It’s hard to define, especially since the collection contains material from Europe and the United States, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The building itself is unique as well — it is a prime example of the Mediterranean Revival style, and it’s right in the heart of SoBe, so you can’t miss it.

5. Lincoln Road Mall

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  • Perfect For: Shopaholics and people-watching
  • Website: https://lincolnroadmall.com
  • If You Go: This is an 8-block pedestrian mall so wear your walking shows.

Indulge in retail therapy and grab a seat at one of the outdoor cafes for some excellent people-watching. Lincoln Road has a farmers market and many public events in addition to lots of international brands like H&M and Armani Exchange.

Best Things to Do Outdoors in South Beach

South Beach has options for almost any kind of outdoor activities you can imagine, from strolling along the beach or engaging in active water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding. Botanical gardens and parks are always an option for outdoor adventures.

6. Lummus Park Beach

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To get to Lummus Park Beach, drive down Ocean Drive, between 5 Street and 14 Place.This beachfront public park features a playground, restrooms, and paved paths for walking or biking. There’s a “Muscle Beach” outdoor gym area where you can spot fitness enthusiasts weight lifting. If you want to get a workout in, there are structures with workout components that are installed that can be managed with a free phone app — the first of its kind to be featured in a public park in the United States. Of course, since it is also a beach, pack your beach essentials and spend a day relaxing and enjoying the water.

7. Miami Beach Boardwalk

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Enjoy a scenic stroll or rent a bike to traverse the iconic Miami Beach Boardwalk. This scenic pathway stretches uninterrupted from the southern point of South Beach (South Pointe Park) north for 7 miles. Many hotels and parks are right along it, and you can easily get to the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall from here, because it terminates at the boardwalk. Just west of Washington Avenue (one block west of Ocean Drive and the boardwalk), Lincoln Road turns into the pedestrian mall.

8. Watersports

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With so much water, figuring out the best things to do in South Beach that take advantage of the water is part of the fun. Rent paddleboards, kayaks, or e-surfboards. Snorkel or dive. Charter a boat for a deep sea fishing adventure, or take a dinner cruise. Embark on a guided kayak tour through the mangroves of Biscayne Bay and spot unique wildlife along the way.

Best Things to Do at Night in South Beach Miami

After dark, South Beach comes alive. Dance the night away at an oceanfront nightclub or jazz bar. Take in a show at the Fillmore Miami Beach or a comedy act at the Improv Comedy Club. There are also moonlit boat tours, silent discos right on the beach, and free live music happening on many weekends.

9. South Pointe Park Pier

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South Pointe Park is a public green space at the southern tip of South Beach. From there you can watch the cruise ships come in, see panoramic views of the ocean, and see Downtown Miami’s skyline. In addition to beach access, enjoy walking trails, take your own food for a picnic or use the barbecue areas, and if you’re traveling with your furry friends, there’s even an off-leash dog park. If you don’t want to picnic, there’s the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse is located in the park. The pier itself is 450 feet long, and you can watch people catching fish, watch people on the water, and wash any fish you might have caught yourself.

10. New World Center

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  • Perfect For:‌ Music enthusiasts
  • Website:https://www.nws.edu
  • If You Go:‌ Request a docent-led tour of the center.

Catch a live outdoor performance or watch a simulcast of a concert on the center's impressive 7,000-square-foot projection wall. The New World Symphony consists of young musicians who are granted fellowships lasting up to three years. Many concerts are collaborations with DJs, which appeal to a wide audience.

11. Artechouse

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Artechhouse combines art, science, and technology in mind-blowing exhibits such as an exploration of the color magenta, called Magentaverse, which is an immersive experience of color.

Free Things to Do in South Beach Miami

Many of South Beach’s businesses cater to visitors, and as such as frequently have free events. Of course, soaking up the sun on the beach is always free, but beyond that, it can be a haven for budget-conscious travelers and locals alike. Check the city calendars for free outdoor events and live performances where you don’t have to spend a dime. Nature lovers can explore the picturesque beaches and parks. A stroll through the botanic garden costs nothing. And Ocean Drive is an easy walk, where the iconic pastel-colored Art Deco buildings are always a treat. Free adventures await around every corner, making South Beach an unforgettable destination for those seeking both relaxation and excitement.

12. Free movies at SoundsCape Park

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Catch free movie screenings at the New World Center’s SoundScape Park. This park hosts free movies on Wednesday nights from October to May. The center's impressive 7,000-square-foot projection wall means everyone gets a chance to see.

13. Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach

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South Florida has one of the highest populations of Holocaust survivors in the United States. Pay your respects and take a quiet moment to reflect on the powerful exhibits that commemorate the victims. In 1984, a small group of Holocaust survivors began working to create a permanent Holocaust memorial in Miami, and the bronze sculpture was dedicated in 1990. The memorial is free and open to the public, with no ticketing required.

14. Ocean Drive

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Take a leisurely walk down Ocean Drive and marvel at the iconic pastel-colored buildings that define South Beach's Art Deco district You may recognize some of these buildings from shows such as The Birdcage and Miami Vice. Ocean Drive is packed with eateries, boutique shops, hotels, and more. People watching is easy!

15. Yoga at New World Center

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Once a month, enjoy a free yoga class in the New World Center’s SoundScape Park. You may already have enjoyed the park if you went to one of their free movie nights! This free event is suitable for all levels. No advanced purchase required. Just bring your yoga mat.

16. Miami Beach Botanical Garden

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  • Perfect For:‌ Nature lovers
  • Website:https://mbgarden.org
  • If You Go:‌ The garden is open every day except Mondays.

The Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a lush 3-acre oasis right in the middle of Miami Beach, and admission is free! Enjoy a peaceful stroll through the lush gardens, and keep an eye out for the vibrant butterflies that call this oasis home. Originally operated as a city park, the garden has flowering trees, orchids, philodendrons, and more than 100 palm species. There’s also a Japanese Garden, a Native Garden, and an Edible Garden.

17. Española Way

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Española Way was Miami Beach’s first commercial development in the early 1920s. It was modeled after romantic Mediterranean villages in Europe and was meant to be like an artists’s colony. Today, it is a pedestrian-only street with a lot to see.

As you can see, South Beach offers an incredible array of activities for every type of traveler. From its captivating public art and historic landmarks to its beautiful beaches and free attractions, some of best things to do in South Beach are close at hand. Whether you're exploring during the day, savoring the nightlife, or enjoying the outdoors, South Beach has something special in store for everyone. So, pack your bags, embrace the Miami vibe, and make the most of your time in this vibrant and dynamic destination.