Our picks for enjoying this fair-weather city after Thanksgiving is over.

By Tom Austin
November 19, 2015
Miami South Beach Kayak
Credit: Courtesy South Beach Kayak

If you’re in Miami for Thanksgiving weekend, the official start of the city’s high season, braving the bargain-bedazzled hordes at the nearest mall may be the last thing any sensible lover of warm weather would want to do. Another, far wiser option is to take the day and explore the best of Miami.

1. Art at the Wolfsonian-FIU

Start in the heart of South Beach at the Wolfsonian-FIU, a first-rate museum. Curator Matthew Abess has brought together work from a wide array of artists—spanning Lewis Hine to Herbert Bayer—for the exhibition “Margin of Error,” a study of cultural responses to such manmade disasters as the sinking of the Titanic. The show is on view through May 8, 2016, and includes such gems as a mid-1930s Royal Air Force photograph album with images of crashes whimsically captioned “Error of Judge-ment.”

2. Lunch in Pinecrest

Then head about a half hour south to Pinecrest, a quiet residential neighborhood, for lunch at Pinecrest Wayside Market, featuring sandwiches, baked goods, and fantastic tropical shakes made with mamey and mango.

3. Explore Pinecrest Gardens

While you’re in the neighborhood, stroll the grounds of the former Parrot Jungle tourist attraction, now the lush Pinecrest Gardens, a 20-acre park that’s also the site of art festivals and a weekly farmer’s market.

4. Visit the Coral Castle

In Homestead, about an hour south of Miami, take in the fantastical Coral Castle, a massive coral rock fortress single-handedly built in the 1920s by Edward Leedskalnin as a tribute to his lost love.

5. The Everglades and Coconut Grove

In Florida City, a few miles south, walk the Anhinga Trail at Everglades National Park, overlooking alligators, great blue herons, and egrets. After a dose of nature, head north to Coconut Grove for a bit of Old Miami at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a circa-1914 Italian Renaissance-style mansion built by James Deering and, forever onto end, the most beautiful place in Miami.

6. Check in on Pelicans in Recovery

Just off the 79th Street Causeway leading to Miami Beach is an institution that every Miami native loves, the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station. There’s no charge to walk among the cages and see hundreds of injured and orphaned brown pelicans being nurtured back to health, but the center gratefully accepts donations. Since 1980, they’ve helped some 200 species of birds.

7. Kayak or Paddleboard Biscayne Bay

To work up an appetite for dinner, head to South Beach and rent a kayak or a paddleboard at South Beach Kayak. The two-hour Sunset Paddle ($65 per person) is a true workout, accompanied by the stunning backdrop of the sun setting over Biscayne Bay.

8. Dinner at a New and Notable Restaurant

For an early dinner, try one of two shiny new restaurants nearby. In Bal Harbour, Le Zoo is Stephen Starr’s latest Miami restaurant (bringing the grand total to four). Le Zoo, featuring the talents of chef Craig Wallen, is all about old-school French fare, from steak tartare to scallops nicoise, and the decor is inspired by the romance of the long-ago French Riviera.

On Miami Beach, the new Talde Miami Beach—launched by Top Chef vet Dale Talde, who also has outposts of the restaurant in Brooklyn and Jersey City—serves creative, fun plates with an Asian spin, such as the crispy oyster and bacon pad thai and lemongrass pork chops.

9. A Broadway Thanksgiving

For a performance not to miss, get to mainland Miami for A Broadway Thanksgiving at Ted’s performance space in the YoungArts Tower. The cabaret performance features Grace Martini, Hannah Richer, and Miguel Luciano of Talia in The Kitchen. If the show works up your appetite, dinner is available in the space by STARR Catering Group.

Tom Austin is based in Miami and covers the Florida beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @TomAustin__.