There are plenty of things to do in Miami, but sometimes you want to get away from your getaway. We understand. Even though The Betsy Hotel and Ocean Drive have tons to offer, adventuring is part of the joy of vacation. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Miami day trips. Whether you’re planning a trip with friends, family, or by yourself, South Florida has a variety of activities to please any type of traveler ― and you should see it all!
Coral Castle ― 45 Minutes from South Beach
Less than an hour west of South Beach is the mysterious and impressive Coral Castle. The baffling structure was constructed by Edward Leedskalnin as an ode to his beloved, a young woman referred to as “Sweet Sixteen” by Leedskalnin. Ed set out to build a monument to his love, first called Ed’s Place, then the Rock Gate, and finally the Coral Castle. Now, I’m sure you are thinking, “So? Loads of people build houses,” and you’re right ― but no one else has built a house quite like Ed did. Still standing almost a century after the start of construction, the sprawling castle is comprised of 1,000 tons of oolitic limestone which Ed moved entirely on his own ― without heavy machinery ― and without another living soul seeing him do it. Needless to say, it’s a one-of-a-kind sight and a must-visit for travelers coming to the Miami Beach area. It makes for a perfect mid-morning outing before heading back to The Betsy for a swim, sun, or snacks!
Homestead ― One Hour from South Beach
With its small-town feel, Homestead offers a nice alternative to South Beach’s bustling streets and steamy clubs. Visitors to the area can find a variety of activities from outdoor adventures to boutique shopping to the historic Seminole Theater to the Cybrary ― there’s even Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Miami Brewing Company where you can enjoy a local fruit wine or craft brew! Located just an hour west of Ocean Drive, Homestead has it all. May we suggest taking a full day in the area by visiting the Coral Castle mid-morning, continuing west to Yardie Spice or Shiver’s Bar-B-Q for a casual lunch in Homestead, then hitting main street to shop, heading out to one of Homestead’s beautiful trails for a hike, and checking out Robert is Here Fruit Stand and Farm to grab some fresh produce and check out an awesome O, Miami installation.
Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens ― One Hour From South Beach
Take an afternoon from your Miami Beach vacation and head out to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, a gem among South Florida’s museums. An hour north of South Beach, the Morikami Museum is a must-see for those who enjoy an afternoon taking in art, history, and culture. The Morikami museum has been home to a permanent collection of art and artifacts as well as a variety of rotating exhibitions since its founding in 1977. There is plenty to do at Morikami other than look at art. The museum buildings are located in a sprawling park complete with a picnic pavillion, a restaurant, a tea house, cultural demonstrations, and six traditional Japanese gardens, each of which is modeled on a different period in Japanese history. They also play host to a variety of cultural events throughout the year, so keep an eye on that calendar! No matter what you do there, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens makes for an unforgettable day trip from Miami.
Ochopee ― One and a Half Hours from South Beach
If you and your family are looking for an off-the-beaten-path day trip from South Beach, look no further than Ochopee, Florida. Located an hour and a half west in Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee is like a little slice of Florida’s past. A tiny town, Ochopee is home to a variety of weird and wonderful attractions like the smallest post office in America, the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, the Smallwood Store in Chokoloskee (20 minutes west), and tons of gorgeous land to hike and explore. After your hike, grab a bite at the popular weekend haunt, Joanie’s Crab Shack (open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only). If you’re headed out on a weekday, go a little further and try Havana Cafe of the Everglades for authentic Cuban dishes in a garden setting.
Naples ― Two Hours from South Beach
If you head northwest from Ochopee until you hit the Gulf Coast ― or if you take I-75 due west across the state from the hotel ― you’ll find yourself in Naples. Known for its gorgeous beaches, upscale dining, and high-end shopping, this western Florida city offers more than just opportunities to indulge. In fact, fishing is a mainstay of Naples activities. Visitors can charter boats and head out for a half-day or full-day of deep-sea fishing in the Gulf. Art lovers can take a stroll through Artis-Naples which combines the Naples Philharmonic space and the Baker Museum of Art.
Jupiter ― Two Hours from South Beach
The northernmost city in Palm Beach County, Jupiter has a surprising amount to offer travelers looking to get out of the city for an afternoon. Square Grouper Tiki Bar is a perfect place to spend a few hours kicking back, sipping cocktails, and watching the boats come in and out of the harbor. They have live music every day of the week, and the laid-back vibe is a perfect counterpoint to the glamour of South Beach. Be warned, though, that Square Grouper is 21+ at all times. Other highlights in Jupiter include the Loggerhead Marinelife Center where visitors can learn about, then see, sea turtles who are there for rehabilitation. For those seeking views, try heading a bit further north to Jonathan Dickinson State Park which boasts one of the tallest points in the area ― an ancient sand dune with a lookout on top that allows unobstructed views of the park and the surrounding waterways ― and plenty of other outdoor activities.
Sanibel & Captiva ― Three Hours from South Beach
Neither of the islands allow chains of any kind to operate, so everything there is unique to their community. Well known for natural beauty, hitting a beach on either island is a great way to spend an afternoon (assuming you’ve exhausted Miami’s options). Gene’s Books on Sanibel Island is a beloved local bookstore for good reason. Housed in… well, a house, the rooms are filled with books all the way up to the ceiling. So head across the state to pristine Sanibel and pick up a good summer read. Don’t worry, though, there’s plenty or other things to do on the islands. You can also head to one of their beloved local restaurants like The Island Cow, Cantina Captiva, or Sanibel Fish House, Inc, or browse in one of their local art galleries or shops.
Bimini ― Forty-Five Minutes to Ft. Lauderdale + Two Hour Ferry
If you’re looking to get out of the country in addition to getting out of Miami Beach for the day, you can hop on a ferry to Bimini, Bahamas. Head to Fort Lauderdale to board, and two hours later you’ll be experiencing island living on Bimini’s pristine beaches. There’s plenty to do, but the draw of Bimini is the beaches, no question. If you’re looking to change up the view (while still taking in some sun), Bimini is the answer! Just remember that you’ll need a passport to board the ferry.
Florida Keys ― Between Two and Four Hours from South Beach
We all knew it was coming as no list of day trips from Miami Beach would be complete without mentioning the Florida Keys. Jump in your rental car and hit the open road towards the end of U.S. 1. On the way, stop off on one of the islands in Islamorada (Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key) for art galleries, restaurants, shopping, and more! Key Largo is another option in the keys for great outdoor activities like fishing trips, paddle boarding, and snorkeling. Finally, continue on to Key West for some of the coolest South Florida museums around. Visit the Oldest House in South Florida, Ernest Hemingway’s former residence, Tennesee Williams’ former home, and the Key West Shipwreck Museum. Finally, head three miles further south to catch a ferry to the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. Mostly comprised of water, the park offers incredible photo-ops against crystal clear waves and a 19th century fort, Fort Jefferson!
Of course, after each of these Miami day trips from our Ocean Drive doorstep, Katie and Betsy will be waiting eagerly to welcome you home. If you are interested in more details about any of these experiences, contact our concierge. They will help you get to where you want to go.