Miami gets a bad rap (mostly from New York) about not having much culture. But we’ve got some amazing museums in the Magic City. Here are some of our faves. (Did we mess up and not include one that’s totally awesome? Let us know in the comments.)
Peréz Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
An hour sitting on one of the swinging chairs on PAMM’s epic porch – which has sweeping views of PortMiami, the Intracoastal, and the Macarthur Causeway – is worth a visit it all on its own. So is having brunch at Verde, their great on-site restaurant. But you should definitely leave time to explore the museum, which features contemporary art with an emphasis on Latin American works (big deal Miami developer Jorge Peréz donated a bunch of his personal collection). Even the building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, is a work of art. Keep an eye on their calendar, which is always brimming with events and special offers on admission. Admission is free the first Thursday and second Saturday of every month.
Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
The Frost Museum of Science is finally back, and man was it worth the wait. It’s spectacular, all the way from the top deck, where you can peer down into the 500,000 gallon aquarium tank full of sharks, rays, and fish, to the bottom floor, where you can peer up into the tank via the Oculus. In between are exhibits on sight, flight, coral reefs, and the Everglades (to name just a few), all of which will delight the inner child in all of us. The planetarium is also stunning, and they’re bringing back those beloved laser shows. Come near the end of the day and watch the sun set over Downtown from the top deck.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Built in 1916 as the winter estate of industrialist James Deering, Villa Vizcaya’s Italian Renaissance-style architecture and exquisite gardens make it one of the most beautiful, grandiose places in Miami. Now open as a museum, Vizcaya offers a glimpse into early Miami luxury — with its ornate rooms and waterfront patio. It’s also a favorite spot for photo shoots and weddings. With so many hidden nooks and crannies to explore on the property, no two visits are ever the same.
For anyone interested in Miami’s winding and wacky history, this museum has got the low down. It’s been Downtown since the 1940s and is the largest history museum in the state. Explore the early days of Henry Flagler and Julia Tuttle, or fast forward to the 1980s and learn about the Mariel boat lift and how it shaped the city as we know it today. There are also plenty of activities, including great tours of neighborhoods by their resident historian, Dr. Paul George.
Tucked between a late night diner and a pizza place sits a peculiar museum, one that houses the country’s largest collection of modernist materials. And they were all collected by one man — Miamian Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson, Jr. The museum’s exhibits group together Wolfson’s collection in unique and quirky themes. On Fridays, the museum is free from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pro-tip: Their cafe is one of the the best spots to get a nice coffee, get a little work done, and be inspired by the walls of books surrounding you. Also, they have a great happy hour.
What they do: Museum, cafe
Website: Visit Here
Price: Members: free, Adults: $10, Seniors, students with ID, and children 6-12: $5
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (free 6 p.m. to 9pm)
Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Address: 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
World Erotic Art Museum
The erotic is everywhere, especially in Miami. From hibiscus petals to voluptuous beach bods, our tropical wonderland is pretty sexy. So it’s no surprise that we house the country’s only museum dedicated to erotic art. But don’t be confused– this isn’t a shrine to dildos and avant-garde condoms. The museum showcases Picasso, Botero, and other masters’ appreciation of the erotic.
Coral Gables Musuem
What used to be the city’s police and fire station now serves as the hub of history and culture in Coral Gables. There’s a rotating set of exhibits which right now includes one featuring city founder George Merrick, highlighting his hand in building the Gables into what it is today. The museum’s central plaza, lined with coral fossils and limestone, is a great place to relax in between bouts of soaking up the city’s fascinating history. Be sure to check out the gallery nights on the first Friday of every month.
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA)
It’s a little off the beaten path, but MOCA is worth the trip, especially because of all the great programming they do that can be paired with a visit to the galleries. It’s a mix of local and international artists, and you never quite know what you’re going to get there. Plus, they do great lectures and classes by local and visiting artists. The last Friday of every month, there’s a free jazz performance outside in the courtyard, plus free admission to the museum (donations greatly appreciated).
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Many credit the extension of the Flagler Railroad down through Homestead for the development of South Dade. That’s why the Gold Coast Railroad Museum’s location in Homestead, full of 40 historic railcars, is so perfect. Peep the rail car used by U.S. presidents before Air Force One was a thing and learn about how South Dade came to be the bustling area it is today.
Bass Museum of Art
You never totally know what you’re going to get when you show up at the Bass, Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum. Sometimes it’s the classics, sometimes it’s contemporary photography, and maybe it’s both, somehow mixed together. Art is sourced from all over the world, and you’ll stumble on some really rare finds. Be sure to leave time to linger with the sculptures outside. It’s currently closed for renovations, but it will be reopening in fall 2017.
What they do: Art museum
Website: Visit Here
Address: 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach