11 Miami Suburbs You Should Absolutely Visit
Set your sights—and your Zillow filters—on these easy-living South Florida gems.
In case you missed it, Miami has now joined the stratosphere of high-rent American metros. This leaves long-time locals with a few choices if we want to stay cozied up in our waterfront abodes. And unless you’re keyed up to become the next big celebrity muse or SoundCloud rapper, you might need to look for somewhere more affordable to live. And that, my friend, could very well mean the suburbs.
But don’t freak out! Moving to the ‘burbs doesn’t have to mean crawling back into your parents’ house or resigning yourself to chain restaurant hell. Florida’s suburbs have blossomed into vibrant, cultural destinations with just as many perks as the highrise-flooded ‘hoods closer to Miami’s core. So chin up, former Beach People—South Florida’s outskirts have plenty to offer besides long commute times. Here are the best ones to check out.
Distance from Miami: 15 minutes
Miami Shores is the neighborhood that every condo-renting Brickell urbanite likes to call out when dreaming of a long-term future. “Yes,” they opine as they partake in late-night cocktails at Sugar, “if I ever buy a house and settle down, it would definitely be in Miami Shores.” Miami’s immediate neighbor to the north, The Shores is a collection of mid-century bungalows that screams tropical suburb vibes while still being close enough to downtown Miami that living here doesn’t feel as far flung as, say, Boca.
The Shores scores points not only for its architecture and proximity to the water, though. Its main drag along NE 2nd Avenue is lined with boutiques and neighborhood restaurants, like the quaint European café confines of Borsalino. Or the heartier gastropub fare at Sins, which also carries a fantastic selection of local craft beers and intriguing cocktails. Flight Wine Lounge might be the best wine bar in Dade County, and certainly its most underrated. The carefully curated collection of small-batch vintages is unmatched for a shop its size, and the monthly tastings it hosts give you a chance to try some of the rarer ones without investing in a whole bottle.
Distance from Miami: 20 minutes
When people want to experience modern art and old Florida nature in the same afternoon, it typically involves a very long drive from museums in downtown and Wynwood all the way to the Everglades. Or, it can mean going a couple miles in North Miami, where you’ll find both swampy mangroves and provocative art a short distance apart. The Museum of Contemporary Art has begun running its Jazz on the Plaza series again after a COVID break, with free, Friday night concerts in its breezy outdoor space. Plus yearlong outdoor art installations in the plaza as well, making it the city’s best destination for outdoor art outside Wynwood.
A short walk from MOCA in Griffing Park you’ll find the Electric Tree, a Banyan Tree adorned in fluorescent tubes that gives the city an iconic art piece to visit while in town. If you’d rather see nature without electric accoutrements, Oleta River State Park sits just north in North Miami Beach. Here you can rent a kayak and paddle through old mangroves, ending at beaches only reachable by boat and islands in the middle of Biscayne Bay. You can also traverse its miles of mountain bike tracks, which while not exactly Asheville South, offer a spot to get out in the dirt without driving for an entire day.
Distance from Miami: 20 minutes
We know, we know, Gables lifers, The City Beautiful is its own, magical metropolitan area with its own downtown, major university, and baseball stadium. But since that baseball stadium and the campus it sits on are called “University of Miami,” well, the suburban shoe fits. No shame in that, though, as America’s first fully planned community is teeming with stunning Spanish architecture, limestone gates guarding, and some of South Florida’s dreamiest homes. The Banyan Tree canopy that runs over much of the city is the stuff of car commercials, and the bustling downtown makes it easy to live here and never leave.
The Gables notched itself a James Beard nomination this year, with the addition of dumpling haven Zitz Sum. Miracle Mile is eagerly awaiting the return of John Martin’s, but in the meantime the city’s best local theater company carries on at the Actor’s Playhouse. The new pedestrian-friendly Giralda Avenue has stepped in as South Florida’s best walkable dining complex with Luca Osteria joining Tur Kitckhen and Graziano’s as legitimate destination restaurants, while Bachour makes Miami’s best pastries not far away. Add in a little culture at the Coral Gables Museum and beers and wings at Titanic Brewing, and you’ve got a suburb that’s quite tough to beat.
Distance from Miami: 20 minutes
With 34 municipalities in Miami-Dade County—and 10 of them including the word “Miami”—many would be hard pressed to tell you where, exactly, Miami Springs is located. It’s also difficult to determine because the city is hidden behind the northside of Miami International Airport, making it a historic hub for Pan Am and Eastern pilots who wanted to live close to work. But creep a few blocks north of NW 36th Street through the mini-city of Virginia Gardens, and you’ll arrive in a strange slice of small town America sandwiched between the airport and Hialeah.
Here, you’ll find a charming little downtown cloaked in both Spanish and adobe architecture, where boutiques, neighborhood restaurants, and offices are filled with locals who live mere blocks away. Spots like Siamo, the Burger Beast’s Crackers Southern Dining, and Ceviches by Divino might not be names you know, but for Springs residents, they’re the best in town. Westward Drive is an inviting place to walk, despite being a broad, European-style boulevard. And though Hialeah is just across a canal and Okeechobee Road, Miami Springs really does feel a world apart.
Distance from Miami: 25 minutes
Don’t let the soon-to-be-abandoned Sunset Place fool you into thinking South Miami is somehow falling off. Yes, the mall ain’t what it was when your parents dropped you there to see Phantom Menace, but the streets that surround it are bursting with new restaurants, classic bars, and college kids bringing a buzzy energy. Though UM is technically in Coral Gables, a good number of students live across US-1 in South Miami, meaning spots like Ra Sushi, Coyo Taco, TacoCraft, and InRamen are often filled with students buying dinner with their parents’ high-limit credit cards.
But it’s not just coeds who’ve made South Miami a suburb on the rise. Celebrated culinary power couple Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth opened up a pair of Miami’s top restaurants here at Mi’talia and Root & Bone. Salty Donut thought South Miami the ideal spot for an outpost, as did Adrianne Calvo, whose Cracked gives students upscale late-night munchie food. Michelin-starred Fiola set up shop here, just down Red Road from the simply electric Public Square. Then there’s divey Bougainvillea’s, a local landmark that was spared in 2020 and has provided endless after-hours fodder for anyone who’s ever slipped south.
Distance from Miami: 30 minutes
Local radio legend Neil Rogers (RIP) used to play a parody of “Margaritaville” called “Wasting Away Up in Hallandale,” a playful dig at the throngs of county-line retirees who obsessively dialed into his show. Neil is gone, and times have changed, and the city that was once a cavernous stretch of curmudgeonly condos now holds its own as one of the most interesting locales in South Florida.
Much of that starts at Gulfstream Park, which has taken the dying sport of horse racing and glammed it up with the see-and-be-seen Carousel Club and the annual Pegasus World Cup, which draws celebrities like the Super Bowl. The surrounding Village of Gulfstream Park is a destination on its own, boasting a private karaoke lounge, a top-tier kosher steakhouse at Bissaleh, and near-weekly events and festivals.
But Hallandale is more than a horse track. It also has one of South Florida’s swankiest rooftops at Terrazas at Hyde, where coastal cuisine is paired with ocean views. A little inland, you’ll find the best Israeli restaurant in South Florida at Jaffa, where chef Yaniv Cohen masterfully combines the diverse cultural flavors of the country, and tops it off with live belly dancing. Couple that with a selection of Israeli wines you’ve likely never tried, and you’ll almost forget you’re eating less than 50 feet from Federal Highway.
Distance from Miami: 30 minutes
A-Rod launched a thousand memes and a million eye rolls when he famously said he hailed from “the ‘hood” called Kendall. And while nobody’s confusing London Square with the set for Every Day I’m Hustlin’, Kendallites still rep their area code like they come from the school of hard knocks.
Why? Because Kendall isn’t so much a place, but a state of mind. It has no physical boundaries. It has no municipal designation. It’s more a term anyone who lives west of US-1 and south of Dadeland throws out to describe where they live. Or, more accurately, who they are (local comic Brittany Brave famously got it tattooed on her ribcage). But what was once a sprawling wasteland of traffic, track homes, and chain restaurants has begun to forge its very own identity over the last decade—and for locals, that means not having to drive hours to do something other than happy hour at Bennigan’s.
Noted Kendall native Adrianne Calvo began the culinary movement here, opening her landmark Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Bar to great acclaim, its waterside digs now one of Miami’s most romantic restaurants. Others followed suit, with spots like Finka Table and Tap, Tacos & Tattoos, and Dr. Limon, all getting people to brave the traffic. Though it branded itself as “Downtown Dadeland,” we all know the shiny new streets south of Dadeland Mall are squarely in Kendall. And with Ghee, Pubbelly Sushi, The Brick, and others calling it home, it can make a case as the best block-for-block restaurant district in Miami.
Distance from Miami: 30 minutes
Once upon a time, unless you worked at a cruise line, played golf, or had to bail someone out of TGK, there was really no reason to venture into Doral. But as an increasingly affluent immigrant population began to pour into this city that is, literally, named after a couple named Doris and Al, amenities soon followed.
Its gleaming new toy is Shoma Bazaar, a stunning food hall with a two-story bar and, stall-for-stall, the best food in Miami. Marvel at cake slices the size of your head while waiting for smoky kebabs from Shahs of Kebab. Or warm yourself up from the air conditioning with a steaming bowl of InRamen. It’s easily Miami’s top food hall, and debatably worth dealing with the Doral traffic to reach.
Next up is date-night hub CityPlace Doral, with its fountain shows, comedy club, bowling alley, and top-tier restaurants like Tap 42 and Kuba Cabana. A little closer to the airport, Downtown Doral is a walkable wonderland that most of Miami wishes it had, with the eclectic Doral Yard and outposts of Bachour and Bunnie Cakes serving as anchors. Plus, some of Miami’s best breweries call Doral home, where an afternoon in the sun at M.I.A. or Tripping Animals is just as buzzingly refreshing as bar hopping in Wynwood.
Distance from Miami: 35 minutes
Aventura is having a moment. Yes, it’s still dominated by pretty much everyone in New York City’s grandparents, and getting off I-95 at Ives Dairy Road continues to be its own special circle of hell. But in the past few years, the city of condos (seriously, the city seal is literally condos) has added everything from a food hall to a water park to one of Miami’s best vegetarian restaurants at FlyFuel. Which makes Aventura—we never thought we’d say this—actually kinda cool.
Aventura Mall is still bustling and adding upscale eateries, while the Feast at Treats Food Hall boasts one of Miami’s best Jamaican restaurants at Jrk! Just down the road, Tidal Cove stands as America’s swankiest water park, where if you can afford the triple-digit admission ticket, you can enjoy no waterslide lines and a private cabana. Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem thought enough of Aventura to open their 800 Degrees pizzeria there. The new Aloft brought Aventura a pretty respectable cocktail bar, which alongside Reunion Ktchn Bar’s lounge, presented the city with a verifiable drinking scene. That same stretch also houses one of Miami’s top Mexican restaurants at bartaco, accompanied by fantastic places to burn it all off at like Barry’s Boot Camp and Solidcore.
Distance from Miami: 1 hour
Do you enjoy indulging in buttermilk donuts at Salty Donut? Or waiting in line for an everything bagel sandwich at El Bagel? Or savoring a veggie-packed juice at Pura Vida? Well, friend, you have Weston to thank. Not because any of these concepts started there, necessarily. But because the people behind all three of those staples of the Miami food scene come from Cypress Bay High School. And so it reasons, without Weston, breakfast in Miami as we know it would be markedly different.
That by itself is pretty cool. But the city’s large immigrant population has made it the place to go for authentic South American food in South Florida. Panna is a quick service gem that started inside a gas station, filled with Venezuelan street food like cachitos, empanadas, and tequeños. There’s also La Pequena Colombian Bakery, which has been an outpost for Colombian food for nearly 20 years. There’s also Argentine steakhouse La Rural, which began as an old-school Argentine Meat Market and morphed into a full-fledged South American steak experience. Also a Broward County outpost of Graziano’s is in the bustling Weston Town Center.
Distance from Miami: 1 hour
Boca, to many, is simply the place your formerly fun friends moved to when they decided to trade CocoWalk for Cocomelon. But a funny thing happens when cool people move somewhere that’s not: They begin to change things. Case in point? Boca Raton, which has gradually become an enjoyable place to spend a few days over the past few years. Some of that starts with its iconic pink palace, The Boca Raton. It just finished a massive renovation in 2021, and has immediately landed itself on countless new Best Hotels lists.
But Boca’s appeal stretches far past fancy hotels. The downtown area, once anchored by Mizner Park, is a hotbed for excellent restaurants, beginning with world-class seafood spot Corvina. The fresh catches and prime steaks here could rival Milo’s in Miami, but if you can’t snag a seat, red-sauce laden Elisabetta’s isn’t far away. The Boca Raton Museum of Art has become the place to debut new touring exhibits, beginning with last year’s Machu Picchu showcase and continuing in 2022 with the Art of the Hollywood Backdrop.
While it gets razzed for its large senior citizen population, Boca is also home to Florida Atlantic University, which gives even neighborhood grocery stores a surprisingly youthful vibe. FAU is also the reason Boca Raton boasts an annual NCAA football bowl game, a claim no city in South Florida other than Miami Gardens can make. To boot, Boca Raton now has its own professional wrestling league. If that alone doesn’t make a city cool, we seriously question how you define cool.