Florida’s flat geography and boomerang shape tend to give the impression that there’s not a whole lot else to do and see around here—at least, not without driving hours on end. But if you’re itching for a quick escape from the bustling city life of Miami, its glistening beaches and 24-hour mega-clubs, we have a few solid suggestions that will have you packing a change of clothes and fueling up the car for a fun day of local adventures.
Our picks for worthwhile day trips from Miami run the gamut from the quaint-but-charming Key Largo, where can actually swim with dolphins, to West Palm Beach, a low-key-chic waterfront with great shopping and dining. Expect to find major museums, exciting nightlife and impressive natural landmarks at these destinations, none of which are farther than 100 miles away. Ready to take a little trip? Peep our suggestions for the best day trips from Miami below.
RECOMMENDED: The best weekended getaways from Miami
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Top day trips from Miami
1. Homestead, FL
Shame on any traveler who makes it this far south and doesn’t carve out at least a little time to wander through Everglades National Park, the largest natural subtropical park in the country. Spanning 1.5 million acres, it’s not the easiest national park to tackle, but the wildlife alone—think Florida panthers, alligators and bald eagles—makes this a fascinating side trip for anyone with a penchant for getting lost in the deep, jungle-y wilderness for a few hours. The laid-back town of Homestead, which is an easy 45-minute drive from Miami, acts as a portal to the Everglades; and while Homestead offers several affordable hotel options, hardcore naturalists will want to make use of the park’s 48 designated backcountry campsites.
In case you didn’t get your fill of Cuban food back in Miami, the family-style restaurant Mario’s is a top pick for its generous portions of churrasco steak, Cubano sandwiches and, of course, empanadas.
With a reputation for fermenting unconventional fruits—think mangos and avocados—into wine, lush estate Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery welcomes visitors to take tours of the property, followed by a tasting at the bar.
Just outside Homestead, near the entrance to Everglades National Park, visitors can sign up for a rollicking airboat tour at Alligator Farm, where you’ll skim the surface of waters that alligators and turtles call home.
You probably won’t be staying the night, but in case you do, keep things simple at Best Western Gateway to the Keys, a breezy budget inn with an outdoor pool and free breakfast.
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Drive out to the world-famous Homestead-Miami Speedway, which sits just outside the town, and hosts the annual NASCAR Championship. Not in a rush to get back? The event, which draws thousands of racing fans, allows camping and RV parking during the high-speed event.
2. Key Largo, FL
After what seems like an eternity driving through cramped Overseas Highway or, worse yet, Card Sound Road, entering Key Largo is like crossing over into a giant metropolis. But don’t get ahead of yourself. The first of several Florida keys is large compared to its neighbors, but it’s still quaint with plenty of small-town charm.
In business since 1982, the Fish House is a trusted source for fresh and local seafood, house-made chowders and it’s famous key lime pie. The dessert is so famous, in fact, that people driving past the restaurant often stop in to order whole pies to-go.
Key Largo is famous for its rowdy tiki bars. Most people pull up to the waterfront bars on boats but they’re also accessible via dry land. Gilbert’s is one of the area’s largest and most popular, with a divey atmosphere that fits right in with Largo’s laid-back vibe.
Pretend you’re on the set of Flipper. At Dolphins Plus, you’ll get to swim with the adorable mammals, pet them while sitting on a floating dock, give ’em a peck and even go behind-the-scenes with trainers to see how they’re cared for.
Playa Largo Resort & Spa, an expansive property that’s at once luxurious and relaxed, fits the bill if you’re planning to indulge in a long afternoon of frozen daiquiris and need a chic place to crash. Spend time lounging on one of the hammocks, take a dip in the lagoon-style pool and pencil in an afternoon of watching the sunset.
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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park encompasses approximately 70 miles of open water where visitors can go swimming, snorkeling, boating, diving and near every other aquatic activity possible. It wouldn’t be a trip to the keys without a water break.
3. Islamorada, FL
Lots of people assume that Miami and the Florida Keys need to be dealt with as separate vacations, but that’s simply not so. From Miami, it’s an utterly pleasant drive down Highway 1, also known as the Overseas Highway. That name makes sense once you’re on it—stretched over sparkling blue water, the 113-mile throughway connects the narrow, broken-up strip of the Keys back to the mainland. Islamorada, a small, idyllic beach community traditionally known as a sportfishing capital, is the perfect gateway to exploring what is arguably Florida’s most iconic coastal terrain. The drive from Miami takes less than two hours—though with such brilliant scenery, you’ll want to leave extra time for stopping and taking pictures along the way.
All-day dining spot Green Turtle Inn, which originally opened in 1947, is alone worth the trip down to sunny Islamorada: standouts like Barney’s Fish Sandwich and the Ultimate Patty Melt earned it a spot on the popular TV show Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.
Take a break from lazing on the beach and pull up a barstool at Florida Keys Brewing Co., a colorful taproom, which has been known to host the occasional group painting night.
The third Thursday of the month is possibly the best time to visit Islamorada, as that’s when Art Walk—a monthly showcase of local artists, sculptors, jewelry makers and musicians—takes over this quarter-mile stretch of the Old Highway.
If you’re looking to treat yourself to an overnight stay inside a handsomely furnished suite with a screened-in balcony and deep soaking tub (not to mention three restaurants and an open-air tiki bar), Cheeca Lodge & Spa is the place.
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Make sure you show up for happy hour at the Tiki Bar at the Postcard Inn, serving tropical drinks on the water since 1969. Opt for a frozen rum runner or two and don’t sleep on the homemade smoked fish dip as you take in sweeping views of the marina.
4. West Palm Beach, FL
West Palm Beach has long lived in the shadows of its glitzy neighbor to the east, Palm Beach, where the wealthy mosey about in their six-figure-priced cars, ducking in and out of million-dollar mansions. It’s a beautiful place to visit (more on our preferred way to sightsee in Palm Beach shortly) but for a lowkey getaway that’s also brimming with charm, we’re drawn to the area west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Plus, it’s a quick jaunt from Miami: just 60 miles north of downtown, you can hop on the Brightline (MiamiCentral Station) and be in WPB in just over one hour all while enjoying the view, free snacks (if you upgrade to Select) and a traffic-free ride.
The Regional Kitchen & Public House, helmed by Top Chef finalist and multiple James Beard Award nominee Lindsay Autry, is a spectacular contemporary American restaurant with roots deep in the Southern cooking tradition. Countryside favorites like pimento cheese, grits and fried chicken are finessed for modern palates and done up to fine-dining standards.
Restoration Hardware is a breathtaking, multistory design center and furniture store that also happens to have the RH Rooftop Restaurant, where sunset cocktails are a must. The restaurant doesn’t serve liquor but it makes up for it with an extensive wine and beer selection. Request a couch closest to the window and wind down with a cheese board and a crisp rosé. Whatever you do, don’t spill!
The Norton Museum of Art is one of the most impressive cultural institutions in South Florida, where the permanent collection comprises more than 8,200 works across European, American, Chinese, contemporary and photographic art. There’s also an auditorium, a well-stocked shop, a restaurant and an expanded gallery that hosts traveling exhibitions.
The Hilton West Palm Beach is connected to the Palm Beach Convention Center, but it’s not at all the stodgy business hotel you might be familiar with. It’s thoroughly modern with a large, inviting pool, and its location near The Square and the Brightline station is truly impossible to beat.
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At the center of it all is The Square, a community-focused, mixed-use complex in downtown where you’ll find retail, restaurants, family-friendly programming, public art and so much more. Curated with sustainability in mind, the space boasts outposts of Miami’s sophisticated plant-based favorite Planta and South Florida health-conscious café Pura Vida (do order the choco chip cookie), among other well-known eateries. It’s a great place to hang out when the weather’s right, be it catching an outdoor movie on the lawn, shopping the weekly farmers’ market or just strolling around.
5. Bimini, Bahamas
There are plenty of ways to get to Bimini, the closest Bahamian island to the USA (and a favorite of none other than Ernest Hemingway), but the most traditional method is by ferry. The once-daily service, run by FRS Caribbean, lasts two hours, and leaves from Port H of Miami Port (which sits across from downtown Miami). In a way, it’s the easiest of all possible Miami day trips, since it involves no driving, and after traveling 48 nautical miles from the mainland, the ferry drops you right at the beach in Alice Town, Bimini, so there’s little need for excessive planning or itinerary-making. The ferry comes equipped with a small cafe, though if you can hold your appetite until reaching the island—which is plied with delightfully laid-back seafood stands and beachside grills—you’ll be better off.
Equipped with an open kitchen and with windows facing out to sea, there’s no better or more classic south Florida dining experience than digging into a lobster and conch salad at the bar at Stuart Conch Salad Stand.
After-hours spot Island House, with a hand-painted sign outside and dollar bills staples all over the bar, is the quintessential beachside dive bar.
In the mood for an authentic experience? Sign up for a two-hour tour with Cleveland “Max” Rolle Jr. of Bimini Island Tours, who gives an insider’s glimpse into island life complete with excursions to shipwrecks, the Dolphin House Museum, the local straw market, a tasting of Charlie’s famous Bimini Bread and more.
The main landing spot for anyone looking to spend the night, the 750-acre luxury resort Hilton at Resorts World Bimini comes equipped with scenic water views, nearly a dozen restaurants, and a casino.
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Make use of Hilton’s sprawling oceanfront real estate by renting a golf cart and driving out to a secluded spot along the glistening white sand beach.