Everybody knows Miami. With sun, sand, flowery shirts, and vibrant nightlife, it has long been the queen of TV series and movies. Truth be told, I’m one of those who fell in love with the City of Magic after seeing the stunning shots of the downtown on Scott Peer’s “Step Up: Revolution”, too.
It wasn’t until recently that I had a chance to visit this dream destination. Indeed, there is no shortage of adventurous things to do in Miami: Along Ocean Drive, you can admire the yellow and bright pink Art Deco architecture against the Atlantic’s blue backdrop. Walk by any nightclub and you will be lured in by the sound of Latin music blasting onto the street. Even a boring parking lot might feel like a salsa dance floor! The only thing that kept me from spending some more time in this city is that it’s pretty costly – as expected from a beloved tourist attraction.
So, is there any way to get lost in the same vibes and picturesque ocean view without having to bear the hefty price tags? The answer is simple: Drive to one of the cities close to Miami! From the sunny beachfront of Delray Beach to the iconic waterway in Fort Lauderdale, here are some of the hidden gems around the 305 that you will love. Note: I save my most favorite place for last!
Just 30 minutes away from Miami, Fort Lauderdale is famous for its infinite selection of beaches and a complex canal system. Once a go-to party spot, the city has become an oceanfront called “Venice of America”.
Shopaholics will discover a whole paradise at Las Olas Boulevard, located at the heart of downtown. There are plenty of quirky shops, most of them are local boutiques, so you can find the most unique fashion, jewelry, and accessories here.
Continue to immerse yourself in the lifestyles of the rich and famous (while still on a budget!) by experiencing the magic of a traditional gondola ride. The gondola will take you down the canals that give Fort Lauderdale its Venice vibe. You will pass by some historic, Victorian-inspired mansions during this romantic trip.
Perhaps you have heard about Coconut Creek more than once. I’m not surprised if your daughter has told you that she wants to visit this city: After all, it boasts the largest butterfly aviary in the world. And yes, it’s only 45 minutes away from Miami!
More than 20,000 exotic butterflies of 80 species call Coconut Creek home. You can interact with and learn more about these charming creatures at Butterfly World. It’s a beautiful and unique place to spend the day, where visitors can immerse themselves in a blooming garden paradise and see colorful butterflies flying all around them.
Another highlight is feeding the domestic, rare birds in the lorikeet enclosures (though some comments on TripAdvisor mention the birds’ tendency to perch right on your arm, which can scare younger tourists).
Butterfly World, Coconut Creek, FL
With plenty of green space and abundant wildlife, Coconut Creek is also the place to go if you want to feel at one with nature. To inhale fresh air and forget about the hustle and bustle of the metropolis for a while, take your family to the Hillsboro Pineland Natural Area, Fern Forest Natural Center, or the Quiet Water Park for a weekend getaway!
Cities Close To Miami – Islamorada
Just a 90-minute drive south of Miami, you will be at the sports fishing capital of the world! Made up of six Florida Keys, Islamorada has everything you could ask for from an island retreat – sandy beaches, serene water, and a wonderful climate. Beyond all, it’s most known for countless water sport rentals and an abundance of fishing tours. These tours are available all year round, so if you suddenly want to go fishing in December, you know where to head to.
Unlike Miami or Key West, Islamorada is not a popular tourist attraction. To me, though, that’s a big plus: The Village of Islands has a laid-back, quaint, and charming ambiance that you can’t find anywhere else. It makes you feel like living in a romance novel set in a secluded ocean town! For those who want to enjoy dreamy Florida’s beaches yet can’t stand the crowds often associated with more commercialized cities, this is the perfect destination.
Located 52 miles north of Miami, the place was called “Dull-ray Beach” in the 1990s. But now, Delray is making neighboring communities envious: Its downtown area is a magnet for tourists day and night.
What attracts tourists the most is how the town brings out the best of both worlds: Adventurous souls can get the most out of Delray’s big personality by indulging in exciting outdoor sports, like kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, and sailing. Yes, you don’t have to go all the way to the beaches in Veracruz to engage in these vibrant beach events! If fun indoor activities are your thing, head to the unique Silver Ball Museum and enjoy over 100 vintage games.
The town also has a vibrant bar scene: From beachfront to rooftop, you can find a cool hangout at any given time!
When you need a moment to slow things down, though, explore another side of Delray at the serene Morikami Museum & Japanese Garden. This is a place for Japanese-Americans, Japanese tourists, or anyone who appreciates the best of Japanese culture. The garden instills such a sense of tranquility that Morikami offers a program named “Stroll For Well-being”.
Other places to wind down include the Mounts Botanical Garden, where you can relax with a cold drink and take in the natural scenery; or Wakodahatchee Wetlands, where you can learn about various flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else.
Also, don’t forget that Delray is only 56.8 miles away from Coral Gables – one of the best suburbs in Miami. So, in the mood for a road trip?
Cities Close To Miami – West Palm Beach
Clematis Street in West Palm Beach is a great place to get a taste of the city’s soul. This is the epicenter of history and culture, with pastel-colored buildings, authentic beer halls, museums, and nightclubs.
Enjoyfuntrip would suggest visiting the street on Thursday night. Every week, an event named “Clematis by Night” takes place. It features food specials, drinks deals, and live performances. You can check out the City of West Palm Beach’s Facebook page for the most recent information on the event.
For good reasons, visiting the Norton Museum of Art is consistently ranked as one of the best things to do near Miami. Founded in 1941 by the Norton family, the museum is well-known all over the world for its collection of masterpieces. This includes paintings, sculptures, and, most notably, a collection of bronze and jade artifacts from China. It offers guided tours and has a rotating schedule of collections on display. Therefore, make sure to check what will be going on during the time of your visit.
Have You Found Your Next Destination Yet?
Oftentimes, travelers can forget how beautiful other cities close to Miami are. Well, it’s understandable since Miami tends to hoard all of the glory. If you give them a try, though, you will appreciate these amazing findings: They offer a lot of wonders without the hectic crowds and, of course, much lower prices!
So, which one is your next destination? Just don’t tell too many others and keep them hidden gems!