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3 Days of Non-Touristy Things to Do in Miami

BY: Dan Delagrange | Sep 25, 2017

When visiting Miami, it might seem really difficult not to act like a tourist. South Beach's art-deco scene and pristine waters practically beg to take up hours of your time, and you'd be silly not to join your fellow out-of-towners in sampling the Cuban food on Calle Ocho. But what if you want to go off the grid a bit when thinking of things to do in Miami? Which spots should you check out to avoid tourist traps? Never fear, noble explorer: we've created a sample three-day itinerary of Miami activities to help you experience the city like the locals do.

Day 1

Catch a Mini Play (or Two, or Three, or Four) at Micro Theater Miami

1490 Biscayne Blvd | Downtown
Buy now: $15 for two theater passes & four glasses of sangria, valid Thursday or Sunday
They're not kidding about the micro part. Plays at Micro Theater Miami take place in seven graffiti-strewn shipping containers, which hold a maximum audience of 15. Oh, and each play lasts 15 minutes at the most, letting viewers take in multiple shows inside a single hour.

Go Back in Time at Stone Age Antiques

3236 NW S River Dr | Airport

Looking perfectly at home among the shipping yards that are its neighbors, the crowded stock of items sitting in front of Stone Age Antiques is a sight few Miami tourists see but should. As the giant buoy out front lists, you'll find tons of miscellaneous artifacts and items here: entire old-school diving suits, wooden treasure chests, weather-worn statues, and exotic African masks make up just a fraction of the fascinating collection.

Eat Cuban Food that Isn't Pork at La Camaronera Seafood Joint

1952 W Flagler St | Little Havana
Yes, yes, we know: the almighty Cubano sandwich is an iconic Miami foodstuff. But that's exactly why you should try something a little different when grabbing Cuban cuisine here. We recommend the seafood at La Camaronera, a cash-only Cuban-seafood spot just a few blocks north of Calle Ocho. There, you can fill up on fried-snapper sandwiches (tail and all), conch fritters, and their customer favorite: giant fried shrimp.

Go Anti-Clubbing at Mac's Club Deuce

222 14th St | Miami Beach

The club scene is one of the top things to do in Miami, which means it's also well trod with the dancing shoes of tourists. For the polar opposite of that sort of nightcap, head to Mac's Club Deuce, a dive bar ironically located in club-heavy Miami Beach. The clack of billiards balls and whiskey-smooth tones of Bob Seger fill the air here, setting the perfectly unpretentious vibe for conversation with friends.

Day 2

Toast the Fall of the Galactic Empire at J Wakefield Brewing

120 NW 24th St | Wynwood
Fans of craft beer and Star Wars, you've found your paradise. The inside and outside of J Wakefield Brewing are covered in murals and other works of art dedicated to the legendary space opera. While the artwork will have Star Wars fans geeking out ("NO DROIDS ALLOWED" is spray-painted on the entrance ramp), the beer is even better. The El Jefe hefeweizen is a standout thanks to its addition of toasted coconut, which gives the brew a deliciously tropical twist.

Recharge at Body Sense Holistic Spa & Wellness Center

2292 Coral Way | Coral Gables

Buy now: $115 for a 60-minutes couples massage

Whether it's the flight into town or a late night at Mac's that's catching up with you, kicking off day two in Miami with a session at Body Sense will help you get back on your feet. Massage practitioner Angel Orozco is well versed in massage techniques from India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, and his staff kneads away knots and worries in more than 20 different styles. If you're feeling like truly treating yourself, go for the Chocolate Decadence massage, which uses Italian cocoa, almond oil, and chocolate cream.

Get a Beachy New 'do at Safar Coiffure

22 Washington Ave | Miami Beach

Buy now: $34 for a blowout, style, and haircut

If you're going to hit the beach while you're in Miami (you should), you might as well do it with a fresh new hairstyle. As evidenced by the reviews, the crew at Safar Coiffure is loved by locals for their attention to detail and overall skill. It's no surprise: staff members here have trained with some of the best of the best in international beauty, including L'Oréal Paris and Vidal Sassoon.

Find Some New Reads at Books & Books

927 Lincoln Road | Miami Beach

Though it's located in the middle of the popular-with-tourists Lincoln Road pedestrian street, Books & Books remains a haven for getting away from the out-of-town crowd in Miami Beach. The cozy, quirky (there are zebra statues on the roof) shop's corners and alcoves are filled with intriguing finds for your next beach read. You can dig into pages at a seat in the store's café, whose menu goes beyond coffee and bakery to include burgers, tacos, and breakfast staples like pancakes and eggs benedict.

Eat Cuban Food that Is Pork at Las Olas Café

644 6th St | Miami Beach

If it's not written into law, it should be: you can't go to Miami and not eat a Cubano sandwich. Though the crowds at Little Havana's Versailles aren't wrong, you can find an arguably better sandwich at a much more low-key locale at Las Olas, one of the best (and most under-the-radar) Miami restaurants. While the sidewalk takeaway counter buzzes with regulars picking up their daily Cuban coffee, diners at the cafés small, shared tables dig into sandwiches and entrées served cafeteria style. The star of the menu here is the Cubano sandwich, whose crispy, panini-pressed bread squeezes ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard into its massive rectangle frame.

 

Day 3

Hang out While You Work out at Stardust Fitness

1401 NW 88th Ave | Doral

Buy now: $16 for one aerial-yoga-fundamentals class

When you think of hammocks, you usually don't also think of exercise. But that's exactly what goes on at Stardust Fitness. The Doral gym's aerial-yoga class sees its students cocooned in hammocks suspended from the ceiling while they stretch and pose—with sensations of weightlessness and flight added in for a totally unique workout.

Coffee-Cookie Breakfast at Panther Coffee

2390 NW 2nd Ave | Wynwood

It's often too warm in Miami to even think about drinking hot coffee, but the brew at Panther Coffee is worth it even in the heat of summer. Their Wynwood location, decorated with wood decor and warm lighting, lets you watch brewers grind and roast their beans in house while you sip on flight samples of espressos, nitro cold brews, or cortaditos. And—since you're on vacation, after all—grab one of their humongous cookies to go with your drink.

Old-School Creole Food at Naomi's Garden Restaurant & Lounge

650 NW 71st St | Little Haiti

One look at the technicolor, muraled walls, bright-yellow wrought-iron windows, and backyard-like patio at Naomi's is all it takes to know you're about to eat some of the best and most authentic Creole food in Florida. Jerk chicken, oxtail stew, fried plantains, conch stew, and fried goat are just a few of the specialties awaiting in cafeteria-style buckets when you order. On the patio, a homey environment with plastic lawn chairs and patrolling roosters complete the no-frills, bucolic scene.

Tour an Architectural Marvel at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

3251 S Miami Ave | Coconut Grove

Standing on the shore of the Biscayne Bay are the sprawling grounds of this massive mansion built for industrial executive James Deering about 100 years ago. You can get lost (in the best possible way) exploring the manor and its lush gardens, but be sure to check out the stone, half-sunken barge out in the water and the subterranean pool beneath the mansion. While you're taking in all the gorgeous Mediterranean-revival architecture, keep your camera ready: African agama lizards and even the occasional gator have been spotted roaming the grounds.

 

 

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