The Ultimate Sports-Lover's Guide to Miami
From pickleball and padel to watching Inter Miami CF, here’s how to get in on the action.
Miami haters love to say stuff like, “Miami’s not a real sports town.” But just because we don’t jump through tables or sit shirtless in freezing stadiums doesn’t mean our city isn’t a great spot for sports. Our ideal weather and active spirit make Miami a natural sports environment, so much so that we’re the only city in the world with pro baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, tennis, NASCAR, and F1.
The city’s sports culture moves far beyond spectator sports too, with year-round venues for everything from skeet shooting to ice hockey. And more than our share of places to bet on sports from the jai alai fronton to the track at Gulfstream. So hold your tongue before saying Miami isn’t a sports town. One look around South Florida and you’ll see sports are as much a part of our culture as Cuban sandwiches and plastic surgery—and tickets to the action are always easy to come by.
DRV PNK Stadium
This small stadium on the fringes of Fort Lauderdale didn’t garner much more than a passing glance for decades, home to some failed pro soccer teams and the University of Miami spring game. That is until it became the home pitch for the greatest footballer on the planet when Lionel Messi signed with Inter Miami CF last summer. Now, it’s the mecca for soccer in South Florida, where fans from all over the world pack the place to catch an up-close glimpse of a living legend.
Dania Jai Alai
Reports of Jai Alai’s demise are greatly overrated, as the fastest game on earth is still going strong at the Dania Beach fronton. For the unfamiliar, the game involves two or four players hurling a pelota at a wall using a woven basket called cesta. The winner of each point stays on and the loser goes to the back of the line. The game was all the rage in the 1980s—you may recognize it from the opening credits of Miami Vice—mostly because you can wager large sums of money on the games and occasionally walk away with cash. The crowds may be smaller today, but the venue has added a casino and showroom where you can see musical performances from bands who were also all the rage in the 1980s.
Amerant Bank Arena
Until about last May, there were no more than a few people in South Florida who had no idea the area had an NHL hockey team. That all changed with the Florida Panthers magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals, and Miami caught hockey fever for, like, four solid weeks. While the Panthers are still in the running for a Cup this year, tickets remain delightfully affordable by NHL standards. Unless the Cats are playing Toronto, Montreal, or another popular northeast team, typically you can get in the door for under $30, and get seats between the blue lines for under $100.
Those who enjoy shooting sports can make an afternoon out of a trip to the Markham Park Trap and Skeet range. There, you’ll find 100-yard pistol and rifle ranges to practice target shooting, with skeet, trap, and sporting clay ranges not far away. Mountain bikers can make a mini biathlon out of the experience, and take their two-wheeled steeds out on the park’s trails after their shoot. The ranges are open to the public, though hours can be spotty during the week so best to check before heading out.
Few would ever accuse South Florida as being a Cowboy Town, that is unless you’ve spent time in the Central Broward western enclave of Davie. In Davie, the Round Up country bar is the city’s social hub, and the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds welcome Weekley Brothers Pro Rodeo inside the Davie Arena. The rodeo offers all the buck- and bull-riding excitement you’d find in Wyoming or Las Vegas. Whether you’re a western sports devotee or just want to try something a little different, a trip to the rodeo is an experience unlike anything else you’ll find in South Florida.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Watching sports is fun, but it’s about 100 times more exciting when you’ve got an over/under to root for. That’s the fun inside the cavernous sports book at Seminole Hard Rock, where you can watch dozens of games simultaneously and add a little extra excitement to all of them. Beyond betting, the Hard Rock also regularly hosts live combat sports, from local pro MMA matches to the bloody spectacle of bare knuckle boxing.
Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino
Miami is one of the few places outside Kentucky where thoroughbred horse racing is still a big-time sport. Some of the top horses in the world race year round at this beautiful Mediterranean-revival racetrack, where each weekend is a chance to get outside and enjoy the high-speed thrills of horse racing. The track does a fantastic job of offering more than racing and wagering too, with regular themed “Taste at The Track” events where guests can scarf unlimited tacos and barbecue with free-flowing drinks to boot. If you want to experience the pageantry of a major race, hit the Pegasus World Cup in January or the Florida Derby in March. The latter is one of the big run-ups to the Kentucky Derby, where you’ll see many of the same horses before they run at Churchill Downs in May.
Hard Rock Stadium
Hard Rock Stadium is Miami’s most recognizable sports venue, serving as home to six Super Bowls, the Miami Dolphins, and the Miami Hurricanes. Tailgating a football game in balmy 78-degree weather in December is time-honored Miami tradition, even if our local teams are generally fizzling out by then. The stadium is also home to the F1 Miami Grand Prix, where makeshift “marinas” are set up around the track so well-heeled spectators can still watch from their yachts. In the spring, Hard Rock transforms into a tennis venue when the Miami Open brings the biggest names in the sport to South Florida.
Nathaniel 'Traz' Powell Stadium
If you know football, you know some of the best talent in the sport comes from Miami. And if you want to see the players who’ll soon be gracing gridirons on Saturday and Sunday, spend a Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium. Legendary high school programs like Miami Northwestern, Miami Central, and Miami Norland take the field, where the stands are filled with college scouts and the parking lot is a brightly colored car show. NFL legends like Antonio Bryant, Dalvin Cook, Amari Cooper, and Teddy Bridgewater have all played at Traz Powell at some point. And if you want to understand the importance of high school football in Miami, no place showcases it quite like Traz Powell.
The longtime epicenter of baseball in Miami was Bobby Maduro Stadium, home to the original minor-league Miami Marlins and spring training for the Brooklyn Dodgers, then Baltimore Orioles. The cantilevered gem met the wrecking ball in the late ’90s, but a plaque at 2301 NW 10th Avenue marks the spot where it stood and tells its story. The old ballpark also inspired one man to start @Miamistadium on Instagram, a veritable museum of South Florida sports history where you’ll see pictures and news clippings of everything from Negro Leagues baseball to the first Orange Bowl game. The page is dripping with nostalgia too, teeming with tributes to the ‘90s Florida Marlins and ‘80s Canes and Dolphins. There’s even an entire line of Miami Stadium drip, boasting original illustrations of Miami sports icons like the old Miami Arena and “$5, No Block” parking signs.
Miami’s most extensive spot for padel and pickleball sits on these lighted courts in Little Haiti. Pro padel player Fernando Alacron designed the space, where you’ll find indoor courts for those days when it’s just too damn hot to do anything; and lighted courts for when you want to squeeze in a game after work. Ultra also offers matchmaking services. No, not to find your next side piece, but rather to find players of similar ability so you can play a competitive match. Courts are all open to the public and can be reserved starting at $25 for 90 minutes.
On the hallowed grounds of the Miami Orange Bowl now stands the home of your Miami Marlins at the retractable-roof Loan Depot Park. That roof is rarely open after April, though, so no need to worry about oppressive humidity or rain showers ruining your afternoon at the ballpark. Inside the stadium, you can relive the Marlins’ glory days and two World Series titles inside the left field museum. Or just enjoy a few beers at the Budweiser bar as you catch the game from the bleachers. Tickets are alarmingly affordable, as it’s not uncommon to find after-market seats on StubHub for only a few dollars. Head to a weekend game, and you may be treated to a pre-game beerfest, wine tasting, or brunch special.
Battle Court Jai Alai
The Magic City Casino has brought Jai Alai back to its 1980s glam, outfitting its fronton with VIP tables and celebrity team owners to create the one thing Miamians can’t resist: a scene. The rules for battle court Jai Alai are a little different, as the sport evolves into a team game from its individual roots. One big difference: You can’t bet on the games, at least not yet. But you might spot team owners like Udonis Haslem, Pitbull, and Ray Lewis enjoying the action just a few feet away.
Calling Puttery mini golf would be kind of like calling the Brightline a commuter train. This three-course complex is more like a social hub than a golf course, where you can take breaks in between tee times enjoying elevated bar food and craft cocktails in a chandelier-filled dining room. The courses are all immersive themes with meticulous attention to detail, whether you’re putting through a library with dinosaur skeletons and a mockup of the moon, an alpine ski lodge, or a New York City rooftop.
The TVs aren’t the only things you’ll want to look at when you watch a game at Grails. The walls are also lined with framed, rare and collectible sneakers, effectively making Grails both a sports bar and sneakerhead museum. Peruse the ultra-rare Jordans, Yeezys, and other collectibles during timeouts, then settle into the back patio and enjoy the game with a warm tropical breeze. It’s the odd sports bar where the indoors and outdoors are equally alluring. And it’s definitely the only one where you can enjoy a cocktail out of a ceramic specialty sneaker.
No place in Miami offers a more scenic spot for sports than Reserve Padel, the membership padel club set in the shadow of the Miami skyline. The club’s six courts on Watson Island offer you the chance to play padel with a stunning backdrop, then jump in one of its two cold plunge tubs immediately after. Once you’re refreshed, head to the onsite Pura Vida, where fresh fruit smoothies and light bites reward you for your rigorous afternoon on the court. While Reserve sells memberships, nonmembers can also reserve court space. And the stadium lights ensure you can keep the action going right up until 11 pm.
Black Market Miami
The glorious pastel days when the Canes dominated college football and Dan Marino dominated NFL defenses live on at Black Market. The walls in this downtown sports bar are a tribute to Miami’s football glory years, where you can relive our winning era while watching current games across dozens of televisions. The original location Downtown is steeped in the most nostalgia, but the Bayside location offers sports with a sprawling waterfront view and some of the coolest bathrooms in Miami, decked out in photos of Miami’s literal original gangsters.
Known for decades as the AAA, the newly dubbed Kaseya Center is home to the Miami Heat from October to June. It’s seen six NBA Finals and three championship parades, the most championship experience of any local team. The arena is one of the most architecturally impressive in the NBA and boasts panoramic views of Biscayne Bay from its back patio. When the Heat aren’t in town, the arena also hosts concerts from global artists, and recently held the sixth largest-grossing UFC event in history.
The first phase of Miami’s pioneering urban greenspace project runs under the Metrorail tracks in Brickell. The Underline will ultimately run from Brickell to Dadeland South in Kendall, but for now the Brickell phase is an oasis of basketball courts, small soccer fields, and workout equipment in the heart of the city’s financial district. At any given time you can find pickup games going on at the Underline. And if you want to get your afternoon sweat on al fresco, the onsite strength machines get the job done. You may have to deal with the occasional train roaring overhead, but that noise is just part of the Underline experience.
Miami’s most unique public sports venue sits atop a short (for Brickell) office building between SE Fifth Street and the Miami River. Here, you’ll find footballers with varying degrees of skill running the pitch under the bright lights of Brickell, surrounded by glass and steel towers and immersed in the Miami skyline. The field can be reserved for private games and parties, and the people running the rooftop will help you organize a game if you don’t know enough people to field a side. Competitive players can also find league play on the rooftop, with the pitch open until midnight daily.
Brickell Soccer and Padel
Perhaps you’ve driven down SW Eighth street late at night and seen groups of people playing intense games of soccer on small fields under the lights. This is Brickell Soccer and Padel, where some of the top amateur players in Miami take the pitch every night in the city’s most competitive pickup environment. The field is short—closer to indoor soccer size—so the action is fast and high-scoring. As the padel movement has gained momentum, the space will soon offer padel courts so Brickellites have a convenient place to play that sport as well.
For years the University of Miami was considered a football school. That changed this past spring when both the men’s and women’s basketball teams made deep runs in their respective tournaments, with the women reaching the regional finals and the men reaching the Final Four. Both teams play at the on-campus Watsco Center, easily accessible from the Metrorail station across the street. Tickets are a fraction of NBA ticket prices, and offer a chance to see the Hurricanes take on vaunted programs like Duke, North Carolina, and Syracuse every year.
Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field
For lovers of pure baseball, no experience in South Florida can top a game at the University of Miami’s Mark Light Field. The cozy environs put fans mere feet from the players, and the warm spring air and leisurely game pace are a true example of everything that makes baseball great. With major leaguers like Ryan Braun, Pat Burrell, and Jon Jay as alumni, UM baseball also gives you the chance to see stars of tomorrow up close and personal. Don’t leave the game without getting a milkshake from Robert is Here. The line might take an inning to get through, but time moves a little slower The Light anyway.
Kendall Ice Arena
Hockey and ice skating are big in Miami. No, seriously. While we might not have the endless sea of frozen ponds they do in colder climes, South Floridians still love ice sports. You’ll need no more proof than an afternoon at the iconic Kendall Ice Arena, where open skates are as crowded as a Quebec City outdoor rink and organized hockey leagues take the ice at night. The University of Miami’s club hockey team calls Kendall home ice too—and while they’re not a D1 varsity program, the action is still entertaining if you’re in the area.
Homestead Miami Speedway
The grand finale of the NASCAR season always happens in Homestead, where Miami’s largest auto racing venue hosts the crowning of each year’s champion. The weekend is more than just one race, with Craftsman Truck and Xfinifty Series events commanding the track on Friday and Saturday. Spectators can watch from the stands, or post up on the temporary “beach” in the infield, where cars whiz by as you kick back on the sand. While the NASCAR Cup Series 400 is the track’s most popular race, you’ll also find smaller races from minor circuits on the track throughout the year.