Planning the ultimate South Florida vacation? Don’t leave without checking out some of the best day trips from Miami, FL. While Miami is famed for its beaches, Art Deco architecture, and culture, some of its finest moments lie within a quick drive of the city.
To soak up Caribbean island vibes, travelers can hop southwest to the Florida Keys. The chain’s most famous island, Key West, is the perfect getaway for its laid-back attitude and colonial architecture. Beach lovers can bask on beautiful white-sand beaches and explore cities like Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, or Naples. Or, if nature is your jam, scope out the abundant wildlife in Everglades National Park.
Ready to plan the perfect Miami holiday? Round out your ultimate trip with this guide to the top-rated Miami side trips.
Top-rated Miami side trips
Looking for a taste of paradise in the Florida Keys? Take the Overseas Highway to Key West. The westernmost island in the Florida Keys, Key West is famed for its Caribbean feel, historic sites, and seaside splendor.
Key West occupies the southernmost point of the United States. It’s located close to Cuba and sports a subtropical climate.
It isn’t just the balmy weather that makes Key West unique, though. You’ll also fall in love with its natural beauty, architecture, history, and cultural diversity. The island has something for everyone to enjoy: watersports, fishing, sightseeing, golf, diving, shopping, and, of course, beautiful beaches.
After a day in the sun, head to Mallory Square. Dazzle at the square’s famous nightly sunset celebration that lures hundreds to soak up a fantastic Gulf of Mexico sunset. Enjoy food carts, street performers, and arts and crafts exhibitors as the celebration continues.
History buffs will love the city’s splendid mansions lining its palm-lined streets. It’s no surprise why Key West was the home of Ernest Hemingway, whose historic house is one of the top Key West tourist attractions.
Nature lovers visiting Key West should beeline instead to Bahia Honda State Park. Find time to relax at this natural sanctuary, offering 500 acres of incredible beaches and protected wildlife. Bahia Honda State Park is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Key West, including Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach.
If you have more than 24 hours in Key West and love the ocean, you won’t be disappointed by Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is well-known as the home of Fort Jefferson, an 18th-century military fort.
The seven tiny islands are surrounded by open water and are only reachable by seaplane or boat. For its emerald waters, marine life, and impressive coral reef, Dry Tortugas National Park is a must-see Florida destination. It’s also home to some of the most beautiful Florida Key beaches.
Everglades National Park
If you’re a bonafide nature lover, save time to visit Everglades National Park on your Miami trip. The park’s primary focus is preserving wildlife, but it also offers many other activities for travelers.
Everglades National Park is an outdoor lover’s wonderland. Visitors to the Florida Everglades will enjoy plenty of hiking and wildlife spotting in its blissful natural beauty.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love tackling the Anhinga Trail. Located about an hour southwest of Miami, the popular loop trail is a great place to see the Everglades’ wildlife.
The Anhinga Trail slogs along a paved walkway and boardwalk where you can safely see alligators and turtles. If you enjoy birdwatching, bring along your binoculars. The Florida Everglades trail is also home to a wide variety of colorful birds. It’s accessible via the Royal Palms Visitor Center.
Another great way to discover Everglades National Park from Miami is to visit Shark Valley. Located off Tamiami Trail (SR 90), the Shark Valley Visitor Center is about an hour from Miami. Climb the 65-foot-high observation tower in the middle of its 15-mile loop road. You’ll enjoy an awesome bird’s eye view of the Everglades from the top.
If you enjoy seafood, you’ll love the Everglades Seafood Festival. Serving the area’s finest marine grub, the event is held every February in Everglades City.
You can reach Everglades National Park from Miami via the Tamiami Trail or the Ronald Reagan Turnpike. From the city center, it’s about an hour to the Shark Valley Visitor Center or Royal Palm Visitor Center, two of the park’s most popular points of entry.
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If you’re planning a trip to Everglades National Park, keep the seasons in mind. The dry season from December to April is the best time to go because you will be welcomed with low humidity and fewer insect bites.
Consider yourself a sun-worshipper? Don’t miss out on Fort Lauderdale. Dubbed the yachting capital of the world, this South Florida city shines with 300 sunny days a year on average. The fantastic weather allows for year-round outdoor activities. You’ll enjoy spending the day boating, hiking, or hanging out on pristine beaches.
Fort Lauderdale teems with luxury hotels and features a phenomenal art scene. Beach bums will want to while away their day lazing on one of Fort Lauderdale’s best beaches, including Fort Lauderdale Beach itself.
For watersports enthusiasts, Fort Lauderdale is a superb Miami day trip. Jet skiers, paddleboarders, scuba divers, and snorkelers will love taking to its Florida Atlantic Coast beaches and inviting waters. Known as the Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale also sprawls with 300 miles of boat canals. On average, an impressive 50,000 yachts are parked along its glitzy waterways.
You’ll also find plenty of outdoor adventures around Lauderdale, including Hugh Birch State Park. The 180-acre coastal paradise offers superb outdoor activities. Take to its nature trails, paddle a canoe or kayak on its waterways, or pack a picnic and enjoy the sea breeze under the tree hammock.
If you’re a boating enthusiast, time your visit for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in October. Or, if you love swilling local brews, hit up the Greater Fort Lauderdale Ale Trail, sweeping past the area’s top craft breweries.
Scuba divers should carve time in their Miami visit for the blue waters around Key Largo. The gateway to the Florida Keys, Key Largo is home to the most extensive artificial reef in the world. Its diving scene is so extensive that the South Florida island has named itself the Dive Capital of the World.
Even if you’re not into diving, there are plenty of great tourist attractions in Key Largo. You can spend your day fishing, swimming with dolphins, or kayaking. Or grab your snorkel to explore the waters around John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The park is also home to Cannon Beach, one of the top-rated beaches around Key Largo.
If you prefer to keep your feet on land, there is still a lot to enjoy. You can enjoy one of the nature trails at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. Bird lovers can try to squeeze in a visit to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center in nearby Tavernier.
At the end of a beautiful day spent in the water, relax at one of the great beachside bars in town. Dazzle at a gorgeous Florida Keys sunset with your favorite tropical cocktail in your hand.
West Palm Beach
Looking for more of South Florida’s urban charms? West Palm Beach offers superb shopping, art, fine dining, and entertainment. Nestled along the Atlantic Ocean coast in Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach is a fantastic day-tripping destination all year long.
There’s always a buzz of excitement when you walk through the vibrant entertainment and retail districts of West Palm Beach. Grab a snack at bustling Rosemary Square before heading to Palm Beach Outlets for high-end retail at incredible prices.
If beaches are more your jam, beeline to Peanut Island, Riviera Beach, Palm Beach, or Singer Island. Marvel at the turquoise waters under the shade of palm trees as you let the water lap your feet and the sun hits your face.
Need a break from the beautiful beaches around West Palm Beach? Head over to Palm Beach Zoo for family fun. Or scope out artwork at the Norton Museum of Art, one of the top places to see in West Palm Beach. Fans of performing arts should time their day trip with a show at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.
Biscayne National Park
Want to explore Florida’s colorful marine life? Take to the tropical waters of Biscayne National Park. The underwater park is the biggest marine sanctuary in the U.S. national parks system. It’s home to a large selection of endangered or threatened animals, including sea turtles, crocodiles, and manatees. Surrounded by mangrove forests, the park is made up of many islands.
Biscayne National Park is also home to the Florida Reef, the only living coral barrier reef in the U.S. The best way to explore this incredible marine park is by boat since nearly 95% of it is underwater.
Home to many marine animals, Biscayne Bay comprises two state aquatic preserves. Keep on the lookout for manatees, Johnson’s seagrass, the smalltooth sawfish, and the American crocodile.
Take a guided tour around the preserves or go to Boca Chita Key, Biscayne National Park’s most popular island. Scuba divers and snorkelers will also love the Maritime Heritage Trail. There’s an abundance of shipwrecks to explore here.
The biggest island in Biscayne National Park is Elliot Key. The lesser-known “real” gateway to the Florida Keys, it provides campgrounds and great fishing. You can also saunter along its walking trail and marvel at the surrounding beauty
Palm Beach County has a well-kept secret: Delray Beach. The small beach town is such an enigmatic destination that it’s won the All-America City Award three times. At Delray Beach, you can enjoy the best of the beach or get swept away by its fantastic shopping, art, and culture. Delray Beach also offers incredible nightlife, with a great selection of restaurants & bars.
The small town owns the longest street in Florida: Atlantic Avenue. You’ll love perusing its fine dining options, entertainment, art galleries, and high-end shops.
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Whisk yourself over the Pacific and explore the grounds of Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, one of the coolest Delray Beach tourist attractions. The gardens offer an authentic Japanese garden experience. Walk around to peruse its bonsai garden, the Garden of the Drops of Dew, gift shop, and library. You can also dabble in authentic Japanese cuisine at the very non-Japanese-sounding Cornell Café
Delray Beach hosts two tremendous festivals every year. Head to Delray Beach itself for the Delray Affair or the Delray Beach Wine and Seafood Festival.
Delray Beach proudly houses a 100-foot-tall Christmas tree every festive season. It’s no surprise that Rand McNally and USA Today crowned this intimate town the “Most Fun Small Town in the USA.”
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Marco Island sits close to the Florida Everglades and the city of Naples. It’s the biggest island of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands and the only one that’s developed.
If you want to be impressed by natural beauty, Marco Island will deliver with its incredible white-sand beaches. The island offers untouched natural parks, outstanding beaches, and pristine luxury resorts.
Marco Island is a popular Florida vacation spot thanks to its incredible beauty and tropical climate. If you want to get in touch with nature, check out Collier Seminole State Park. The park offers plenty of activities like camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, and canoeing. You can also enjoy a mile-long nature walk or a daily narrated boat tour through the waterways.
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Looking for a fun shelling experience? Don’t skip the Briggs Nature Center. Rent a canoe for your shelling expedition. If you prefer to keep your feet on the land, you can always enjoy a walk on the boardwalk to spot the center’s wildlife.
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples is one of the Sunshine State’s most exciting holiday destinations. The historic Southwest Florida city offers fine dining, upscale shopping, and world-class culture. Just two hours from Miami via I-75 or Tamiami Trail, it’s one of the easiest urban Miami side trips.
Among the top attractions in Naples, FL, there’s something for everyone to enjoy—from families to nature lovers to beach enthusiasts.
Experience Naples’ natural beauty with a Mangrove Tunnels Eco Tour through the mangroves. You’ll love paddling through the unspoiled beauty on a paddleboat or kayak.
Take a stroll down the historic Naples Pier and admire the picturesque scenery of Naples Bay. Dazzle at the tropical flora of Naples Botanical Garden while breathing in the fresh air.
Historic Downtown Naples won’t disappoint either. If you’re in the mood for outstanding art galleries and boutique shops, be sure to spend time roaming its streets. Lose an afternoon in Naples strolling down Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South. After your shopping fun, imbibe a fantastic meal to breathtaking water views.
You can quickly lose an afternoon in Naples strolling down Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South. After your shopping fun, imbibe a fantastic meal while taking in breathtaking water views.
Naples is also home to some of Florida’s most exquisite beachfront resorts. Extend your day trip with a luxurious night in one of the top-rated Naples, FL, hotels.
When it comes to world-renowned beaches, Fort Myers won’t disappoint. Like Panama City Beach on the Florida Panhandle and Daytona Beach on Florida’s East Coast, Fort Myers is famous for its spring break hijinks. Outside these wild weeks, though, the beautiful beaches in Fort Myers are surprisingly family-friendly.
Besides its beaches, the top Fort Myers tourist attractions dish out plenty more fun. In Downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach, you’ll enjoy plenty of shopping, dining, family-friendly activities, and fishing.
For a day trip the whole family will enjoy cool down at Sun Splash Family Waterpark. Spike your adrenaline with its pumping speed slides or simply relax in the pools.
If you’re planning a trip to Fort Myers, be sure to visit Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. These small islands are full of unique features that can be enjoyed year-round. Both Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are famed for their beaches and shelling opportunities.
Anglers will love Sanibel Lighthouse Beach. The beach offers an intimate fishing pier and facilities for picnics. Sanibel Island hosts plenty of mangroves that are ideal for a kayaking adventure.
If you’re an avid shell collector, Blind Pass Beach is the perfect getaway. Enjoy the beach, scenery, and quality family time spent in its ideal setting.
Whatever you choose to do in Fort Myers, try to end your day at Fort Myers Beach Pier. It’s the ultimate spot to end your day with a perfect sunset.