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Miami Boat Show Guide: What to Do Besides the Show

Sarah Nadler | February 7, 2023

As the buzz around the Miami Boat Show gets louder and stronger, locals and visitors alike will soon be flocking straight to our tropical mecca. Yachting enthusiasts, boaters, and industry professionals are counting down the days until the annual show begins this month. But what is there to do when you’re not on the docks?

It’s Miami! The options are endless…Read on to discover some of the best things to do in Miami and the surrounding area of the Miami Boat Show.

Take a Boat Tour

Thriller Miami Speedboat Tour
Thriller Miami Speedboat Tour

If you’re specifically visiting Florida to attend the Boat Show, you’ve got to get on a boat–and not just one at anchor on display at the show. What better way is there to see the waterfront beauty around you than on a scenic boat tour? By water is by far one of the best ways to experience Miami.

There are a multitude of options for boat tours, many leaving from various convenient points around downtown Miami. These sightseeing trips cover various routes, with tours of Star Island, the Venetian Islands, and the Miami skyline being some of the most popular sites to see. Depending on your style and speed–literally–you can find the perfect boat tour for you. There are fun catamarans, cruising riverboats, and the famed Thriller Miami speedboat for a real high-speed Miami experience.

Check Out Art Deco Architecture

Art Deco Architecture in South Beach, Miami
Art Deco Architecture in Miami Beach

Miami, and especially South Beach, is known for its infamous Art Deco architecture. This vibrant, lively style is seen throughout the area and needs to be seen in the flesh to fully understand its appeal and transformative power. Visit the Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach for what feels like a walk down memory lane.

The iconic Ocean Drive is a must-see. Between the colorful oceanfront buildings along the road, countless bars and eateries, beautiful people strolling the boardwalk, endless sports by the beach, and the ocean beckoning you, you won’t run out of things to do in this eclectic area.

Sunbathe in South Beach

South of Fifth South Beach Miami Beach
Miami Beach

If we’re already on the topic of the ocean, no Miami–or even South Florida–to-do list would be complete without a visit to one of its famously beautiful beaches. Take some time to soak up the sun and relax at, truthfully, any spot along the coast. Prepare yourself for a tropical paradise anywhere you lay your towel.

Miami Beach is comprised of many “beaches” that are yours for the picking. Want a lively atmosphere? South Beach, particularly the area directly across from the aforementioned Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive, is the place to be. Want a bit of an upscale vibe? South of Fifth (that’s Miami Beach’s 5th Street)–the most southern part of Miami Beach and known locally as “SoFi”–is the perfect place, featuring the likes of the illustrious Nikki Beach as well as the newer but just as impressive Joia Beach day clubs for your enjoyment. If you want to feel like you’re on a deserted island, Key Biscayne is the spot for you. For a quieter, more mellow mood, head to North Beach for full-fledged relaxation. The more North you go from there, the more there is to see. We’re talking miles and miles of soft sand and bright blue waters.

Eat Like a Local

Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana of Miami
Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana of Miami

Miami is known for being an international melting pot, resulting in quite a diverse food scene. Local cuisine varies from traditional American or Latin dishes to interesting fusion options, and so much more. For authentic Cuban cuisine–and culture–Little Havana is a neighborhood you have to visit during your stay. Versailles restaurant and El Cristo are well-known eateries recognized for their traditional Cuban dishes, including ropa vieja and vaca frita. You can’t come to Miami and not indulge in some Cuban food!

For Latin-infused seafood, look out for dishes like arroz con mariscos and paella, available in a number of local restaurants. To sample Caribbean flavors, visit Little Haiti for dishes like griot and Haitian-style rice and beans. Virtually every type of cuisine is available in this multinational city.

Shop in Style

Miami Design District
Miami Design District

A city known specifically for its style, Miami offers hundreds of shopping options, be it open-air malls, chic shopping districts, marketplaces, large enclosed malls, small boutiques, and more. From designer to small business to affordable, there truly is a shop for everyone.

Miami Design District is a dreamy place to walk around, window shop, or buy a souvenir from your trip. With high-end flagship designer stores and Art Deco vibes all around, strolling through these sunny few blocks–basically the Rodeo Drive of Miami–is the best way to spend an open afternoon. Brickell City Center, a popular outdoor shopping center in downtown Miami, is an urban, open-air shopping area also known for its impressive architecture–smack in the middle of the most “city” part of Miami, called Brickell. Shopping at Bayside Marketplace–another long-time known spot offering a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment–is also quintessential Miami. Walking along the waterside or catching one of those boat tours from the docks are great ways to spend your time there.

Visit a Museum

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Photo courtesy of Daniel Azoulay Photography
Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
Photo courtesy of Daniel Azoulay Photography

As Miami’s vibrant culture has grown and expanded, more and more spectacular museums have been cropping up. One of the most popular is known for both its inside and out. The PAMM–officially the Pérez Art Museum Miami–is a modern and contemporary art museum located in the heart of downtown Miami, right by the water. While it is unmistakably impressive for its collection of close to 2,000 works of art, there’s also much to say about what lies outside of the walls of the museum, as well as the walls themselves. Easy to spot from the water, the PAMM is a work of art in and of itself. The building is the stuff of any architecture junkie’s dream, or really that of any person who loves urban beauty. With a beautiful patio at the “back” (read: at the face of the water), this is the perfect place to take a breather and soak it all in.

Right next door to the PAMM is another museum that has locals and visitors alike raving. The Frost Museum–a.k.a. Phillip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science–is a great “getaway” from the typical Miami attractions. Known for its breathtaking aquarium as well as its otherworldly planetarium, the museum features countless science exhibits that can get you lost there all day.

When you’re done museum strolling–did we mention the beautiful waterfront garden directly outside both? There is no shortage of relaxing spots to simply enjoy your surroundings.

You may be wondering how else you can prepare for the Miami Boat Show. How about guarding yourself against some common boat show faux pas? Check out our guide on what not to do at a boat show, here.

Schedule a private yacht showing at the Miami Boat Show by filling out the form here. We can’t wait to see you there!