Actually Cool Things to Do in Miami this Spring

Solve an art heist, kayak through mangroves, or try a new restaurant.

Miami Beach promenade
Miami Beach promenade | lazyllama/Shutterstock
Miami Beach promenade | lazyllama/Shutterstock

Though we’re not quite sure if Miami seems unusually packed this spring, or we just forgot what the city was like during peak tourist season, one thing is for certain: Our days of having the city to ourselves are over. Yes, it’s fantastic that the country is beating a path to South Florida and pumping some much-needed life back into our hospitality industry, but it also means doing stuff like going to the beach or dinner at your favorite restaurant is a little more hectic than it was a couple months ago.

Not to worry, though. Spring is still prime time to be living in Miami, and though we can’t promise you won’t find crowds everywhere, we’ve still got some awesome stuff to do. From solving an art heist at the Arsht Center to watching live baseball for the first time in over a year, there’s plenty to keep you busy. So read on for some actually cool stuff to do around South Florida this spring, and enjoy our last few months before summer rolls in.

Photo Courtesy of Art Heist Experience

Solve an art heist

Adrienne Arsht Center and Broward Center for Performing Arts
Live theater has gotten creative in the wake of the pandemic, and with the Arsht and Broward Centers’ indoor spaces closed they’ve taken the show into the great outdoors. This spring, the Art Heist Experience hits both our major PACs, where you and a group of aspiring detectives will move through five interactive stations and try to solve a half-billion dollar art heist. Along the way you’ll meet con men, criminals, and generally disreputable individuals, which might not sound all that different from a regular night out in South Florida. But these ones are actually actors. The show is based on a real art heist, and will require masks and comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking around the venue.

Spread out and watch the symphony on the lawn

SoundScape Park
One of the great events we lost during the pandemic were the monthly performances the New World Symphony broadcast on its concert hall’s wall. The wallcasts have finally returned this spring, where you can grab a blanket, a picnic basket, and the beverage of your choice and set up shop to watch classical music with a warm tropical breeze. There’ll be free, live shows April 23 and May 20 open to the public, plus a handful of encore ticketed shows April 9, May 7, and May 15 if you want to make up for all the lost wallcasts of 2020.

Stiltsville, Biscayne National Park
Stiltsville, Biscayne National Park | Francisco Blanco/Shutterstock

Dive into Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park
While Everglades National Park gets most of the attention as our best local escape to nature, Dade County has the unique distinction of being the only county in America with TWO National Parks. Of course the other one, Biscayne National Park, is mostly underwater, and is best experienced by taking a snorkeling or paddling adventure through its mangrove islands and trail of shipwrecks. This season, the park is also offering scuba tours, where you can get up close and personal with the coral reefs, sharks, tropical fish, and century-old boats that make Biascayne so special.

Take yourself out to the ballgame

Various locations
There’s a reason half of Major League Baseball calls Florida home one month a year, and that’s because our breezy days and balmy nights make spring the perfect time to catch a game. As near as West Palm Beach and Jupiter you can catch socially distanced spring training action all month long. Then in April, the Marlins—who won a playoff series last year, in case you forgot— return to action in front of their regular crowds, or what MLB is now calling “reduced capacity.” If you want a more homey experience, the nationally ranked Miami Hurricanes play a full ACC schedule in front of limited fans at Mark Light Stadium almost every week. And have the best milkshakes in the city in the concourse.

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

Kayak through Oleta River

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.

Drive-in to a movie downtown

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.

Serena Rooftop
Serena Rooftop | @serenarooftop

Try one of our literal dozens of new restaurants

Various locations
This winter, we’ve seen a deluge of restaurant openings the likes of which we’ve never experienced. The backlog of places that were supposed to open last year combined with spots slated to open in 2021 has given us everything from a new Filipino restaurant from a James Beard nominee, to a rooftop Mexican spot in South Beach from the Coyo crew, to our very own outpost of Carbone. No matter your taste or price range, something new opened up this year that’s worth checking out. Though you may wanna wait until late-May, when all the people who swore they were moving here realize it’s not 80 degrees all year long.

Rickenbacker Causeway
Rickenbacker Causeway | pisaphotography/Shutterstock

Work out outside

Various locations
We’ve got, oh, about 10 months left where you’ll actually want to exercise outside during normal hours, so take advantage of our waning pleasant days before you bid them adieu until November. You can run the boardwalk along Miami Beach or across the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne. You can also swim in the calm waters of Biscayne Bay, or hit one of our many beautiful parks for some light calisthenics.

Hike in the Everglades

Everglades National Park
Though “hiking” is a loosely used term in a place with almost zero elevation gain, if you can appreciate the beauty of a big cypress swamp and rickety birds soaring over black water, spring is still a magical time to get out and explore the Everglades. The bugs are barely there, and you can spend a day in the park without packing your body weight in water. Everglades National Park has plenty of easy trails at both Shark Valley and Flamingo. Or, if you don’t want to go into the park, cruise down US-41 to Loop Road and hike through the water on the 4.7-mile Gator Hook Trail.

Photograph the Wynwood Walls

Miami has one of the most impressive collections of ever-changing street art in the world, with blocks upon blocks of colorful, provocative murals that are never the same twice.  Beyond the official Wynwood Walls park, which just started charging admission this year, the al fresco murals act as a free outdoor museum and you'll find plenty of fodder for your Instagram around every corner. Plus, with no tour buses, you might actually be able to park!

Snorkel in the Keys

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.

Drink milkshakes and wait in line for the best cinnamon rolls you'll ever have

Miamians are pretty averse to waiting in line for anything—except for the cinnamon rolls at Knaus Berry Farm, which even midweek will have you waiting minimum half an hour. The farm is typically open through the third week of April, closed Sundays, and only accepts cash. After you visit head a few miles down the road to Robert Is Here for some fresh fruit, a milkshake made with said fruit, and the baddest petting zoo animals you’ll ever meet.

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.

Do a neighborhood beer and food crawl

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.

Visit one of our world-class museums

Various locations
Miami makes it more convenient than most big cities in America to visit our showpiece museums, with both the Frost Museum of Science and Perez Art Museum Miami both situated right downtown in Museum Park. HistoryMiami is only a short walk away in downtown, and is guaranteed to teach you something about your hometown. 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. Or tour the gleaming new Rubell Museum to see Miami’s most impressive private art collection.

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