Things to do in Miami
Bal Harbour Shops
With 500,000 square feet harboring two stories worth of chichi retailers and several fine-dining restaurants, this is the gold standard for Platinum-Card consumerism.
This museum shows off its impressive permanent collection of 15th-century art, including works by Botticelli and Ghirlandaio. There are also world-class rotating exhibits (past programs have featured work by superstars like Annie Leibovitz).
Charter a Yacht
Renting a yacht is an unforgettable way to experience the flashy Miami Vice lifestyle, if only for a day. Channel Don Johnson as you slip into a pair of docksiders and light a cigar on the deck of your private chartered yacht. Take the helm as captain or hire a full service crew to navigate the turquoise Biscayne Bay while you kick back and relax, cold beverage of choice in hand.
The Coral Castle consists of turrets, fountains, a rocking chair, even a revolving nine-ton door you can push open with a finger – all built out of coral over a 28-year period using nothing but hand tools.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
A favorite local sanctuary, this 83-acre garden devoted to tropical plant conservation overflows with palms, cycads and flowering trees. Special displays include a butterfly garden, tropical fruit pavilion and a two-acre rainforest. Walking is the ideal way to explore, but guided open-air tram tours are also offered year-round. From December through May, major sculptural installations by artists such as Dale Chihuly and Roy Lichtenstein are incorporated into the grounds.
Recognize the building? It was the backdrop for the movie Flipper. Dolphins, manatees, sea lions, and Lolita the killer whale, entertain the whole family; kids love feeding the seals.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Architect Charles Gwathmey melded New York chutzpah with Miami whimsy in his colorful 1996 building design for MoCA. The cubist construction turned a parking lot into an urban art park, where exhibitions featuring well-known artists (Salvador Dalí, Yoko Ono) and rising local stars (Pablo Cano, Hernan Bas) feel equally at home. Free outdoor jazz concerts are held on the last Friday of the month.
The first in what is now a jet-setting chain that stretches from Cabo San Lucas to Saint-Tropez sprawls along the oceanfront at the southern end of South Beach's sands. Lounge by day in a private cabana with VIP bottle service or sashay after dark into 0-1 (One Ocean) on the second floor. A seafood restaurant and raw bar provide sustenance to the fashionable, international crowd.
Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation
Housed in a 45,000-square-foot former Drug Enforcement Agency warehouse in the blossoming Wynwood Arts District, this pioneering institution is a must-see for lovers of edgy, contemporary art. Works from the 1960s to the present, from such luminaries as Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, Anselm Kiefer, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Koons, are showcased in 27 galleries. The privately owned collection launches a new exhibition each year for Art Basel Miami Beach in early December, which then stays up through May. (It's closed from late May to early December.)
South Florida Art Center
Not only can you buy the wares of local artists here, you can also watch them at work in their ateliers.
This quirky museum houses design, furniture, and artwork relating to 20th- and late-19th-century social movements in the U.S. and Europe. The 1927 Mediterranean Revival building is a sight in itself.
Visit an animal park
Find feathered friends like Cockatoos and African Queens out in force at this elaborate island animal park, as well as critters like orangutans, crocodiles, giant snakes, and land tortoises.
Business mogul James Deering's early 20th-century take on a grand, Italianate, renaissance palazzo draws brides, debutantes, and tourists for photo ops in its lush formal gardens overlooking Biscayne Bay.
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Diaper bags make fantastic carry-on totes. They're sturdy, fit under airplane seats, and have tons and tons of pockets.
Christine Wei Assistant Editor
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