It would be easy to think, “Eh, who needs another beach when you’re on a cruise to the Bahamas?” Stop thinking this. Miami is so much more than beaches, and despite what you may think post-Hurricane Irma, the tourism industry is in good shape.
Here are 7 things you shouldn’t miss before cruising onwards – just as good as the Bahamas (and depending on who you ask, even better!)
1. Viernes Culturales
You don’t need a passport to visit Havana. And boy, do you want to visit Havana (Little Havana, that is.)
The best time to do it is Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays), better known as the last Friday of the month when Little Havana hosts a block party on Calle Ocho between 13th and 17th streets.
It’s everything wonderful that Cuban Miami has to offer in one big party with a strong whiff of the old country. Think painters and artisans, Latin bands and the smell of arroz con pollo, fried plantains, and cafe Cubano. It almost makes you wonder who needs a cruise to the Bahamas – you’ve got a whole world waiting for you right here.
2. Street Art Museum at Wynwood Walls
It looks like a lot of warehouses. That’s because it used to be. These days, thanks to the late arts patron Tony Goldman, the Wynwood neighborhood is an open-air, admission free museum of street art.
At the heart of the action is Wynwood Walls. If you’re looking to see work by the world’s best graffiti artists, skip New York. It’s all on display right here.
3. Art Deco Tour
If you know Miami Beach architecture, then you’re familiar with the drool-worthy Art Deco hotels, storefronts and restaurants lining South Beach.
If you’re not familiar, you should be. Think bold colors and geometric shapes incorporating cubism and expressionism, the quintessential style of the 1920s and 30s that Miami has fiercely claimed for its own.
Where to see the wonders of Miami’s beautifully preserved Art Deco architecture? Take a stroll in South Beach. The Miami Design Preservation League and Art Deco Walks both offer guided tours starting at $25 per person – great if you’re new to the style and want to learn while you walk.
If you’re less of a tours person and more of a take-your-time-and-ogle type, there’s always this handy map to make sure you hit all the right places on your own.
4. Visit a Museum
Oh, don’t worry. These aren’t the dead-dry museums you were dragged to in grade school. For whimsical public sculptures and experimental works, check out the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Miami) in the Design District. Bonus: it’s always free.
The Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is free on the second Saturday and first Thursday of the month. You’ll want to visit either way for the to-die-for views of Biscayne Bay and the surrounding hanging gardens complementing a collection of nearly 2,000 works by American and Latin American artists.
5. Check Out the Jazz Scene
Did you know you can listen to jazz in a pineapple? Try to beat that on your next cruise to the Bahamas!
Little Havana’s Ball & Chain is a restored historic jazz club that hosts 80+ hours of free concerts on its back patio bandshell (constructed to look like a cut-open pineapple.)
Did we mention it’s also one of the best bars in Miami? Of course, if you’re dying to mix your jazz and art fixes, the Museum of Contemporary Art has free monthly outdoor jazz concerts. You know, in case your jazz wasn’t classy enough yet.
6. Lazy Day in Coconut Grove
You can argue over which neighborhood in Miami is the best. Spend a day in Coconut Grove and you’ll have a new favorite contender. Coconut Grove is Miami’s original neighborhood, and it shows in the eclecticism.
Picture this: a bohemian village with historic churches and tree-lined streets. Also peacocks. Peacocks roaming the streets, just because. To the point where there’s Peacock Park (which you should visit for the sidewalk eateries and candlelit dining rooms.)
There’s the Coconut Groves Arts Festival (better known as one of the leading arts festivals in the US) and the Barnacle Historic State Park. But to get started small, go to Greenstreet Cafe. You won’t be sorry.
7. Taste Miami
How do you get to know a city? By tasting it, duh. And oh what flavors does Miami have in store for you. Your cruise to the Bahamas just got so much better.
There’s Eating House, which by some kitchen sorcery has a line for brunch every single Sunday, no matter how oppressive the humidity (Cap’n Crunch pancakes do that to a person.) Seriously, the chef is a creative genius. Your taste buds will thank you.
Then, there’s Red the Steakhouse. It’s no ordinary place that can be named best steakhouse, best tapas and best doughnuts by Thrillist (and get accolades from Forbes and Playboy) but Red is magical like that.
Pro tip: anything with the Red Lead sauce? 1000% worth it. Of course, if Latin fusion is your jam, there’s always Cardon y El Tirano. It’s in a strip mall in Little Havana, so it would be easy to overlook. Don’t – chef and owner Francisco Anton doesn’t mess around. Think tostones with charred queso and seared picanha.
In desperate need of a beer? Try J. Wakefield Brewing, which offers sour beers complemented by tropical fruits.
Or, you could keep things simple. Like cheese. Ms. Cheezious is a food truck-turned-restaurant where diners can either design their own gorgeous grilled cheese or order one of the 17 custom-made ones. Happy eating.
Come Cruise to the Bahamas with Us
Oh, still thinking of continuing on your cruise to the Bahamas, are you? Fine, suit yourself. We get it. South Florida is a main world cruise hub. That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire site to the region to help you make the most of your time here.
For those still looking for Miami ideas, check out our complete Miami guide for cruise vacationers. Or, if you’re going to stay the night (totally worth it) check out our list of the best Miami hotels.