Fun Day Trips From Miami
When visiting the Magic City, most visitors to Miami expect to spend their time sizzling in sunny South Beach, strolling the colorful Wynwood Walls, or wandering the culturally rich streets of Little Havana, home of the thriving Cubans Township of the city to eat.
And while each of these is a perfectly plausible itinerary only in Miami – adventures you should definitely enjoy – there is plenty to discover beyond the urban sprawl as well. Though Florida’s densely populated hotspot is best known for its streets and urban culture, exploring beyond Miami’s borders can enrich your trip and exude even more of the Sunshine State’s beauty.
Consider a Miami home base paired with these fun day trips on your next trip to South Florida that stays sunny, warm, and inviting year-round.
Take an airboat ride in the Everglades
A heron in the Everglades. (Rosanne de Vries / Shutterstock)
Believe it or not, being in Miami means one of our nation’s most impressive national parks is on your doorstep. The 1.5 million-acre Everglades National Park border is about 30 miles from Miami, and there are several ways to explore the wildlife-rich expanse of the wetlands, but an airboat ride is the quintessential Everglades experience.
Various tour operators offer Everglades airboat tours, where you get on board a boat that sweeps across the surface of the water thanks to a massive propeller fan on the back. It’s a loud but exhilarating adventure through one of the most unique ecosystems in the world (and don’t worry about the noise – you get earplugs or earmuffs!).
Expect plenty of alligators and maybe even some of Florida’s endangered species, like the Florida panther or the West Indian manatee – a full-day eco-adventure that most don’t expect from a standard Miami visit.
Get a fresh fruit shake from Robert Is Here
Fruit lovers shouldn’t miss Robert Is Here, which carries hundreds of varieties of fruit. (Courtesy Robert is here)
If you’re in the mood for a mini road trip to a long-standing South Florida staple, do yourself a favor and take the hour-long drive to the sleepy Homestead for a fresh fruit shake from Robert is there. The fruit stand – which had humble beginnings but is now a huge and bustling destination, sometimes referred to as “the Disney world of fruit stands” – has been popular with locals and tourists alike since its debut in 1959.
In addition to what is probably the best strawberry shake in the world, Robert Is Here also sells a diverse selection of hundreds of different local and exotic fruits, from black sapote (which tastes miraculously like chocolate pudding) to Spanish limes, sugar apples and tamarind.
Take the short trip from Miami to Robert Is Here for a sweet taste of authentic Florida and sample a new fruit during your visit, either raw or mixed into a creamy milkshake or smoothie.
Spend the day in the keys
A diver explores the coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo, Florida. The reef system in the Keys is the only contiguous coral reef in North America. (Bob Care / Florida Keys News Office)
Would you like to continue after you have fortified yourself with a fresh fruit shake? Then make Robert Is Here a mere pit stop on your way to the Florida Keys, which feels a bit like teleporting yourself to a tropical island surrounded by blistering blue waters and lined with swaying palm trees.
The Florida Keys are a chain of islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida and ending in Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States.
The drive from Miami to Key Largo (the first in the chain of islands) takes about an hour and a half, while the drive south to Key West takes about three and a half hours, so Key West is better as a weekend getaway than a day trip from Miami.
No matter where you go in the Keys, you’ll encounter Florida’s funky history and plenty of water sports including fishing, boating, snorkeling, and diving.
A common misconception is that going to the beach is a popular activity in the Keys – it’s a tropical paradise, after all – but it’s not, so don’t expect much beach time. Being on the water is more of what you do in the Keys, as most “beaches” are just tiny, sandy beaches hidden in parks and other secluded trails. Access to the public beach (as most imagine) is limited, if not non-existent, in the Keys.
Instead, book a snorkel or dive charter to swim and take in the beauty of Florida’s offshore reefs. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a long-running hit, and you can even dive to see a 9-foot statue of Jesus underwater, but exploring the area’s many shipwrecks is also popular.
Visit Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach
The front driveway leads to The Breakers; the twin towers are modeled on the Villa Medici in Rome. (courtesy of BREAKERS PALM BEACH)
Have you already explored the tropical paradise south of Miami? Driving north isn’t such a bad idea either.
While the state-of-the-art Brightline train is currently out of service due to COVID-19 concerns, in normal times it is the perfect way to incorporate more South Florida into your Miami visit.
(If it goes, Brightline will link Miami north to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Plans for other stations – in Boca Raton, Aventura and PortMiami – are in the works, with a possible extension to Orlando being one of the major developments being made by Floridians and tourists alike are eagerly awaiting. Orlando train station is ready, but the tracks are still under construction and service is slated to begin in late 2022.)
In Fort Lauderdale, you can shop and indulge in the restaurants and boutiques along Las Olas Boulevard, sample the funky artsy side of the city in FAT Village, or even take a “river cruise” aboard the Water taxi– a perfectly Floridian interpretation of public transport and the reason Fort Lauderdale is nicknamed the “Venice of America”. Even if you’re just taking the boat to get from point A to point B in comfort, you’ll enjoy a narrated tour from the crew (including insider information about the Millionaire’s Row mansions).
In West Palm Beach, visit the Saturday morning waterfront farmers market, stroll the posh Palm Beach Island, enjoy shopping and alfresco dining in the newly revitalized Rosemary Square, let your hair fall to enjoy the Clematis Street nightlife Enjoy, shop right up to you, visit the Palm Beach Outlets or just relax on the beach.
Skye Sherman is a freelance travel writer based in West Palm Beach, Florida. It covers news, transit, and international destinations for a variety of outlets. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter @skyesherman.