Find where Florida's biggest city comes alive after sundown
Salsa music streams out of neon-drenched nightclubs in trendy South Beach, and glamorous revelers bar hop through the skyscraper-filled streets of downtown – just a typical night in Miami, a city that comes alive after dark. But while there are plenty of evening hot spots throughout the beachfront city, Miami also offers low-key experiences once the sun goes down. Spend the night exploring museums and galleries, learning about regional architecture or simply admiring the city lights while sailing.
All the world’s a stage: enjoy a live performance
Based in downtown Miami, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is home to three major venues, including the 2,400-seat Ziff Ballet Opera House and the 2,200-seat Knight Concert Hall. The center stages nearly 400 events annually, including operas, ballets, Broadway musicals, classical music performances and stand-up comedy concerts. Buy your tickets online, and you’ll also have the chance to purchase a parking pass ahead of time and make dinner reservations at Brava, the Arsht Center’s upscale restaurant.
An eye for architecture: Art Deco evening tours
Various Miami-based companies offer tours of South Beach’s famed Art Deco district, a region known for its historic buildings. Sign up for a photography-themed tour where instructors teach shutterbugs of all levels how to take night photos in low light conditions of the neighborhood's beloved edifices. You’ll walk long stretches down Ocean Drive, so make sure you wear comfy shoes and bring a DSLR camera and tripod for best results. Splurge and take the private and pricey Art Deco tour with Tours by Locals. While the guide will provide a narrated history of the region and its famed architecture, the tour is also customized to fit your interests. You can decide if you’d like to walk or drive during the tour but, keep in mind, traffic in South Beach is particularly heavy in the evenings.
After-hours museums and galleries
Many of Miami’s first-rate museums, including the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, host late-night events throughout the year. For instance, the Frost Museum’s onsite planetarium showcases such special evening programs as science-themed lecture series and sci-fi film screenings. On the first Friday night of every month, the planetarium also features laser shows accompanied by music from popular performers. Space is limited so buy your tickets early online; credit cards are the only acceptable payment for tickets at the door. Most after-hours planetarium events do not include access to the rest of the museum.
Wynwood Art District is a buzzing Miami neighborhood with more than 70 galleries and 200 murals decorating the Wynwood Walls. An Art Walk is held the second Saturday of every month, where galleries stay open late, food trucks are on hand and graffiti artists sometimes create works live. Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes and allow at least three hours for perusing and eating. Download a map of the area before you go, however, because the neighborhood can be confusing to maneuver.
City tours by water
Some tour companies offer pricey helicopter rides against Miami’s evening skyline. Save money and enjoy the surrounding waterways – a quintessential Miami experience – by taking a boat tour instead. Island Queen Cruises offers a 90-minute Dance Cruise twice nightly Friday through Sunday evenings, offering panoramic views of the twinkling skyline. Sail the Biscayne Bay aboard a two-story yacht complete with a live DJ, dance floor and cash bar. You’ll save money by purchasing your tickets online, but they’re not time-specific so make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your preferred departure time. All vessels sail in light rain but not during heavy rain or lightning.
Dancing the night away
While no trip to Miami is complete without a visit to South Beach, skip its overrated nightclub scene filled with crowded, expensive and overly exclusive establishments. Instead, enjoy such laid-back spots as Ball and Chain in Little Havana. Opened in 1935 and once host to such luminaries as Billie Holiday and Count Basie, the nightclub still serves up an array of cocktails, Cuban dishes, dancing and live Latin music every night. There’s no cover charge – a rarity in Miami – and salsa lessons are offered on select days. If you want to sit, you’ll need to book as table weeks ahead of time as there’s limited seating, particularly on weekends; reserved tables also require bottle service.