18 Actually Cool Things to Do in Miami This Fall

From visiting scientific curiosities to NFL tailgating’s triumphant return.

Ah, fall. A time that brings changing leaves, a chill in the air, and smells of apple cider and cinnamon wafting through city streets—at least we’ve heard it does, somewhere north of Orlando. But just because we live in a place where fall means a solid six weeks in the Cone of Uncertainty doesn’t mean this upcoming “season” will come and go without an ounce of fun. Football is back, after all, with stadiums at full capacity and tailgate lots buzzing with beer pong and barbecue. We’re also expecting some cool new art and science exhibits hitting our local museums. And there’s still another whole month of Miami Spice to come. Read on for all the best things to do around South Florida this fall, and be grateful 2021’s cone is almost gone.

Soho Beach House (Soho Beach House)
Soho Beach House (Soho Beach House)

Soho Beach House
Maybe it’s the sudden influx of people from California, but it seems like conversations about mushrooms and ayahuasca are becoming about as commonplace as talking about… other substances. One thing’s for certain: Medicinal psychedelics are on the rise, and on the second Tuesday of each month Soho House is hosting a panel of experts from doctors to lawyers to the occasional celebrity (Lamar Odom was part of August’s lineup) chatting about the wonders of fungal science. The whole thing is moderated by Dustin Robinson, the founding partner of Mr. Cannabis Law.

Kuba Cabana Miami
Kuba Cabana Miami

Kuba Cabana
Since traveling to Cuba isn’t really an option for the foreseeable future, the only way you’ll be experiencing an old-school Havana Cabaret and Cuban feast pairing will be by dropping by this monthly show at Kuba Cabana. For $150 you’ll get a three course meal filled with traditional dishes like empanadas, arroz con pollo, and arroz con leche alongside a premium open bar. The revue features a seven-piece band and burlesque performers, transporting diners to El Tropicana and other flashy nightclubs that dominated Havana’s glory days.

Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins

Hard Rock Stadium
Both the Dolphins and Hurricanes are set to play stacked home schedules in a full capacity stadium this fall. And since nobody’s holding their breath for a championship run, that just leaves more time for tailgating. Break out your portable grills and reunite with all those folks you only knew from their parking spaces to enjoy the first tailgates Hard Rock Stadium has seen in over a year and a half. If you’re actually there to watch football, the Dolphins top games include the Ravens on November 11 and Bills on September 19. On the college side, UM hosts Michigan State on September 18, and Virginia Tech on November 20.

Various locations
Summer coming to a close doesn’t mean the crazy deals have finished. The GMCVB's Miami Spa Month continues through August, where you can get pampered and plotzed at luxe spas all over the city for the bargain price of $139. Miami Spice will also roll through September, where $42 scores you a three-course meal at some otherwise-unaffordable restaurants. We’ve got all the best deals for you right here.

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Frost Museum of Science
Photo courtesy of Frost Museum of Science

Frost Museum of Science
This fall brings two exciting rotating exhibits to downtown’s Frost Museum of Science. From October 8 to April 3, you’ll find Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity, an in-depth look at the body’s biggest organ and how it adapts and regenerates depending on the world around it. The show also includes explanations of how other animals use skin and how skin color has been associated with race and culture throughout human history. Frost also welcomes X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out, a Smithsonian import spanning 40 black and white x-rays of fish. It’s an examination of evolution via the fishes’ skeletons, all arranged in order of how they evolved.

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach | Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

West Palm Beach
In case you missed it, our favorite brightly colored train with a fully-stocked bar cart will be gracing South Florida again beginning in November. The return of Brightline also means it’ll be way easier to escape up to West Palm Beach for a day, whether that means day-drinking at E.R. Bradley’s or wandering through curious jungle sculptures at the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden. Rosemary Square will also be in full bloom, with a joyful pumpkin patch, the Birdie Floral Truck, and a popup of Peruvian alpaca wool hats to keep you cool for our endless summer.

Discover new art all over the city

Various locations
Sure, you could go stroll around Wynwood and bask in one of the world’s greatest collections of street art. But assuming you’ve beaten that dead horse to oblivion by now, venture out to the Confidante Hotel, where a new exhibit from Ahol Sniffs Glue is setting up shop in the lobby. Just down the beach at Artechouse, Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies with Vince Fraser will take a look at “the historical, social, and cultural aspects of the Black experience,” via an immersive multimedia display. Finally, Oolite Arts will house a collaborative work by 10 New York and South Florida artists entitled Common Space, an interactive showcase studying our relationship to space.

Yuk it up at a local comedy show

Various locations
Stand-up is, in fact, not dead at all, and given the endless material comedians have to work with in Miami, it should come as no surprise that we’ve got a pretty good scene. Watch area comics workshop new material at Imperial Moto in Little River, where the $15 cover comes with a free beer. You can also hit the Miami Improv in Doral, where talented performers do their thing almost every night of the week. If sketch comedy and improv are more your style, check out Just the Funny on Coral Way, with shows running every Saturday night.

Van Gogh Miami
Van Gogh Miami

Olympia Theater
When one immersive Van Gogh experience leaves town, another apparently fills its place. Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience continues its run at the historic Olympia Theater this fall, walking visitors through more than 300 of the master’s works, from paintings to sketches to small drawings. It also promises a VR gallery called A Day in the Life of the Artists, which takes you on a first-person trip through the events that shaped some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

CLEAN MIAMI BEACH
CLEAN MIAMI BEACH

Volunteer to make Miami a better place

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Perhaps 2020 gave you a chance to do a little reflection, and you’ve decided you want to give something back to the city that’s given you so much. Or maybe you’re just looking for a way to meet new people that doesn’t involve throwing back tequila shots. Either way, there are plenty of ways to volunteer around South Florida, whether it’s cleaning up beaches, reading to kids, finding homes for stray dogs, or working at a food bank. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got a handy list of ways to volunteer around Miami right here.

Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Enjoy a slightly less crowded shoreline

Any of our beautiful beaches
Full-on snowbird season isn’t quite back yet, and historically-slow September might just offer up the chance to finally get a sliver of sand all to yourself. Crandon Park and Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne will have the lightest crowds, especially during the week, and you can always count on the sands of South Beach for a good time, with a little more room to spread out this time of year.

Biscayne National Park Institute
Biscayne National Park Institute

Biscayne National Park
While Everglades National Park gets most of the attention, hiking the Everglades any time of year sounds like a mosquito buffet to us. But, little known fact: Dade County has the unique distinction of being the only county in America with not one but TWO National Parks. The other one, Biscayne National Park, is mostly underwater and thus best experienced by snorkeling or paddling through its mangrove islands and series of mysterious shipwrecks. The park is also now offering scuba tours, where you can get up close and personal with the coral reefs, sharks, tropical fish, and century-old boats that make Biscayne so special.

Oleta River State Park
Oleta River State Park | Globalaura/Shutterstock

Oleta River State Park
In one of the more surreal natural experiences one can have in South Florida, Oleta River State Park offers you the chance to kayak through ancient mangroves and escape into a Florida of yesteryear. Then immediately pop out into a bay lined with massive condo towers. It’s a beautiful paddle through our dwindling nature, which takes you to uninhabited bay islands and beaches you can only reach by boat. If the water’s not for you, the park also has miles of mountain bike trails to explore. Of course, this is South Florida, so “mountain” is a loosely used term. But it’s the best you’re getting without a trip up the Turnpike.

Nite Owl Drive-In and Tropical Market
Drive-in movies may have been the great American comeback story of 2020, as we once again fell in love with the concept of watching a film from the comfort of our cars. While many surfaced, the most accessible, and most consistent, is the Nite Owl Drive-in and Tropical Market on NE 14th Street, where in March you can catch classics like The Muppet Movie, Grease, and Rocky on the big screen. It costs about $20 per carload of two passengers, and while the ticket includes concessions you can always bring your own.

Key Largo
Showing your guests the natural wonders of the Florida Keys doesn’t mean enduring the two-lane torture all the way to Key West. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is only about an hour from Miami, and offers some of the best snorkeling in the world.  And if you just want to go swim off the shore here you won’t need a boat, a guide, or any reservations. Want even more to do in the Keys? We've got that guide right here.

Monty's Raw Bar
Monty's Raw Bar

Relax with a drink on the water, obviously

Various locations
The best way to enjoy our ideal weather is by having a drink on the water. Hit either Monty’s Sunset in South Beach or Monty’s Raw Bar in Coconut Grove for the classic experience. Smith and Wollensky in South Beach is the move for a higher-end vibe, or hit LOL on the Bay in Brickell for a cheap, hidden gem located between two apartment building pools. If you want a scene, grab a table at The Deck at Island Gardens or lounge at the new Joia Beach Club. That’s far from the extent of our outdoor options, though, so here’s a comprehensive guide to South Florida’s best drinking patios and rooftop bars.

Cerveceria La Tropical
Cerveceria La Tropical

Do a neighborhood beer and food crawl

Wynwood
Wynwood has a collection of the city’s best breweries, where you can enjoy cold suds outdoors at J. Wakefield, or take in the Miami-centric murals inside Wynwood Brewing. Then hit the oldest brewery in Cuba’s Miami outpost at Cerveceria La Tropical before kicking back on the sunny patio at Veza Sur. After you’ve warmed up with a beer, go on a walking art tour as you sample the best quick food in the neighborhood by grabbing some Asian cuisine at 1-800 Lucky, a slice at Pizza Tropical, and a couple of tacos at Coyo.

Pérez Art Museum Miami
Pérez Art Museum Miami

Visit one of our world-renowned museums

Various locations
Miami makes it more convenient than most to visit the city’s many showpiece museums, with both the Frost Museum of Science and Perez Art Museum Miami situated right downtown in Museum Park (not to mention Verde, one of America’s best and breeziest museum restaurants). HistoryMiami, only a short walk away downtown, is guaranteed to teach you something about your hometown and if you want to delve into the modern art scene, hit the Institute of Contemporary Art in Buena Vista, where you’ll see rotating exhibits of provocative pieces plus a massive outdoor sculpture garden, all free to visit. Round it out with a tour of the gleaming new Rubell Museum to catch sight of Miami’s most impressive private art collection.

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Matt Meltzer is a contributing writer for Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram @meltrez1.