20 Places in Miami You Never Knew Had Great Art

Courtesy of Boxelder
Courtesy of Boxelder

For a long time, "art" in Miami meant whatever graffiti they hadn't had the chance to scrub off I-95 freeway signs... and possibly a Britto toothbrush. But thanks to some forward-thinking folks -- and our wildly eclectic community -- Miami has become a world-class art destination in less time than it takes a Miami contractor to paint your kitchen. And that art scene isn't just relegated to Wynwood or PAMM either; there are locations all over Dade County that boast amazing works of art you'd never expect to see there. From an apartment complex in Opa-locka to a SoFL Seafood Shack to the Women's Detention Center, here are 20 places around Miami to see some unexpected great art.

Courtesy of Pinnacle Housing

Little Haiti Soccer Park

Little Haiti

If you'd like to look at street art and not concern yourself with paying for parking, head to this soccer park in Little Haiti that's got murals even bigger than Wynwood's. Here, Pinnacle Housing has teamed with residents and artists from Haiti and Miami to create a true cultural urban gallery. Also, a portion of the walls is slated for local graffiti artists who will now have a legal place to display their art. 


Vizcaya Metrorail Station


Those lucky few who bother to ride the Metrorail are actually treated to some impressive art at every station -- and several stations along the Metromover as well. But the most impressive is the fountain outside the Vizcaya station titled "Delights and Terrors from the Sea." It incorporates mermaids and mermen from Alexander Stirling Calder's "Great Stone Barge," which Deering commissioned for Villa Vizcaya. Noted sculptor Mark Jeffries re-cast them from molds, creating the fountain that now greets passengers on their way to the Metrorail.

Courtesy of Kluger Kaplan

Law Offices of Kluger Kaplan


Though the hundreds-of-dollars an hour you're paying Miami superlawyer Alan Kluger might be better spent talking about, oh, I don't know, your case? If you're intrigued by the venerable gallery of Latin Contemporary Art that make up his 27th floor offices at the Miami Tower, he will happily tell you the backstory of every piece. He also donates the space for charity fundraisers and often sticks around as a docent of sorts to explain the collection.


Villa Aurora Administrative Offices

Little Havana

Here, instead of drab industrial walls you'll see 20 original works from contemporary artists like this one titled "The Lair" from Jill Cannady. Enjoy them before complaining about your neighbor's all night salsa dancing party.


Miami International Airport - South Terminal H

Virginia Gardens

Though MIA's got art in pretty much every concourse, the Carybé Murals in concourse H are the jewel of the collection. These iconic murals were once housed at JFK airport, but when American Airlines planned to demolish its terminal there, the airline worked with Odebrecht -- a Brazilian company with ties to Carybé -- to restore and display them at MIA. The murals, Settlement of the West and Rejoicing and Festivals of the Americas represent both the pioneer spirit and multiculturalism of our city.

Courtesy of Fontainebleau

The Fontainebleau Hotel

Miami Beach

The hotel itself is almost a work of art, highlighted by the Morris Lapidus-designed chateau building. But did you know the light exhibit behind the check in desk is actually James Turrell’s original work? And those chandeliers? Original works from Ai Wei Wei, and much less at risk of being smashed by disgruntled local artists than any of his stuff at PAMM.


Grafton Industries Furniture


You might recognize this mural from CNBC's The Profit, which featured Grafton Industries. The store commissioned local artist Andrew Reid for the mural for the show, and Reid created this piece to tell the story of a multi-generational business that was, for its founder, the ethos of the American Dream.


Gesu Church


The oldest Catholic church in Miami underwent a $220,000 restoration in 2012, not only fixing the cracks in its historic facade, but also touching up the murals, stained glass, frescos, and ceilings that make this space as much an art museum as a place of worship.

Courtesy of W South Beach

The W South Beach

South Beach

OK, so, yes, it's The W. And you'd obviously expect to find something better than a $20 print of seashells. But you probably wouldn't expect a collection valued at over $40 million with works from the likes of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Tom Sachs.


Women's Detention Center


Not that we're encouraging any of you ladies to jump up on stage at E11even and scream, "I don't care. Call the cops!" But if you DO find yourself a guest of the County, that bone-chilling air conditioning will feel a little less cold when you're looking at a tile mural called "You Make Me So Happy," complete with depictions of women complimenting each other on their hair. Full disclosure: jail life may not imitate jail art.

Courtesy of Pinnacle Housing Group

King's Terrace


The $53 million that were spent transforming this distressed property into a super-modern affordable housing apartment complex included a considerable investment by Pinnacle Housing Group in artwork. Art-in-affordable-housing is a trademark of Pinnacle, who're also responsible for the giant Britto lady hanging off the high-rise you see on I-95, and Peter Tunny's RESPECT mural.

Courtesy of Klima


South Beach

Visitors to this South Beach restaurant often comment as much about the artwork that's on the walls as they do about the food on their plates. Two of the more notable pieces are "Tel Aviv Man XVI” by Jaume Plensa, sculpted by carved metal letters to resemble the silhouette of a human-like figure. And a painting of a Spanish bullfighter, entitled “Matador” by Miguel Macaya.

Courtesy of The Vagabond Hotel

Vagabond Hotel


This restored Biscayne Blvd motel's not only one of the best new restaurants of last winter, it's also home to an ever-evolving curated art collection, including a graffiti mural by local artist Trek6 that sits behind the bar. It also boasts a wall of portraits from Guillermo de Yavorsky titled "Contemporary Miami Vagabonds" right next to the kitchen. 


West Dade Solid Transfer Station


Nothing freshens up the fragrant amora of a city dump in Florida better than some nice tulips. Unfortunately for your nose, this tulip happens to be of the metal variety and smells like aluminum. But lucky for your eyes, it's a vibrant, 7ft sculpture from Karel Appel that'll at least give you something nice to look at while you dispose of... well, we're not going to ask because we really don't want to know.


Traffic Control Center

Virginia Gardens

And you thought going in to petition for a stop sign in front of your street was going to be a dull trip to an airport-area government office. Not in Miami! Your trip to traffic control includes a pretty respectable art collection, such as a plexiglass structure called "Aeriel" and this painting from Naum Gutman called "Tiberias Esplanade."

Catalina Ayubi Photography

Izzy's Fish & Oyster


Jamie DeRosa's new seafood emporium fills the in-restaurant art void that was left when Tongue and Cheek closed. And they accomplish this with a giant custom octopus mural by Claudio Picasso on the back wall, and an original photograph from renowned photographer Amber Arbucci's "The Girl at Jellyfish Lake" collection.


Zoo Miami

South Dade

The zoo is full off all sorts of animal-related artwork, from Savannah sculptures called "Animal Train" to a full-sized replica of a Monolophosaurus. The most serene is Carlos Betancourt's "Still Zoo," an installation piece near the entrance to the Amazon and Beyond Pavilion. It consists of 25 sculptures depicting native Amazonian animals, like birds, snakes, and turtles.

Courtesy of Katsuya

Dragon Lounge

South Beach

The upstairs lounge at Katsuya -- at the SLS -- not only has one of Miami's best happy hours, but every couple of months the swanky sushi joint transforms the hideaway with an installation from local Miami artists, including Tatiana Suarez, Jose Mertz, and Jona Cerwinske.

Courtesy of Boxelder



This new-ish bar and bottle shop is run by a couple of former gallery owners from NYC, who in addition to slinging craft beer also have quarterly exhibitions from local and national artists. The above work is from the current collection, “Mutations and Mutilations” from Seth Scanlin.


Women's Park


The gates to the women's park were sculpted by Cuban-born artist Lydia Rubio. Who on Miami-Dade County's public art website describes the gates very poetically: "Throughout history, women have been represented as symbols of fantasy and virtue, bearers of the cosmic forces. The sculptural fences and artworks for The Women’s Park are structured as a linear narrative, running West to East of the Flagler Street park boundary. My intention is to use this fence to generate questions about women, their symbols, and provoke thought to both young and old visitors.”

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Matt Meltzer is a staff writer with Thrillist who proudly owns nothing with the words "Britto" on it. Follow him on Instagram @meltrez1.