As self-championed supporters of culture, we like to make sure that Miami is being represented in as well-rounded a way as possible. That means, spotlighting the amazing people and places that make this city so special. And we mean the whole city. That includes neighborhoods outside of the urban core, like South Miami. For many, it’s a densely populated residential area, strung along by other, luscious and verdant neighborhoods, with a sleepy personality and little to offer in terms of hype and happenings. Well, we’re here to prove you wrong.
In fact, when we crowd-sourced which South Miami gems we couldn’t leave out of our latest map series, we got an overwhelming response and some of the most suggestions we’ve ever received. The map, beautifully designed by local illustrator Beth Rhodes, is our most jam-packed yet and features every gem, landmark, and delicious dive you can’t miss–straight from the locals who rep it every day. We’re covering South Miami, bleeding into Pinecrest, and lightly grazing some parts of Kendall–making sure to include as much as we can along the way. With US-1 and Old Culture Road as our two spines, let us take you down South and shed some light on the stops you just can’t miss.
Pinecrest Gardens – Once the location for the original Parrot Jungle, the sweeping outdoor garden is South Florida’s Cultural Arts Park, featuring over 1,000 varieties of rare and exotic tropical plants and palm trees in a native tropical hardwood and cypress setting. It’s now home to one of Miami’s biggest farmer’s markets.
Matheson Hammock Park & Marina – This luscious spot is useful for many reasons. The entrance, with its towering oaks and royal palms, is perfect for birthday parties. The marina has been frequently used by the public for years. But it’s the private lagoon beach and its mangrove walls that draw families every weekend.
Tropical Audubon Society – This is seriously one of Miami’s best kept secrets and most charming hidden gems. Embraced by native trees and nestles along Sunset Drive, Tropical Audubon Society traces its roots to the 1915 Coconut Grove Audubon Society, the first in Dade County. It now lives at the historic Doc Thomas House where they host live music nights, workshops, and even markets.
William Kerdyk Family Park – Technically in Coral Gables, we’re still including it here for being so close to the South Miami line and for benefitting so much for the SoMi community. Some of you might recognize it as the park near Sunset Place that neighbors the Publix and Whole Foods, but many families and active visitors know it as a perfect place to chill under a poinciana, workout outdoors, or stroll with your dog.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden – The 83-acre tropical oasis is a pillar of research and preservation when it comes to preserving the renown botanist’s homage to native and foreign flora. You can get lost here, whether with your family or alone, and discovering some of the most beautiful sights in Miami.
Photo by Garden Traveler
Five Sisters – This New Age gift shop spotlighting items such as crystals, candles, incense, clothes and books came highly recommended by you all, so we couldn’t leave it out!
Historic Pinewood Cemetery – The oldest cemetery south of the Miami River, and the final resting place of many of Dade County’s pioneer settlers. The serene space has been kept in its natural habitat of pines so perfectly that you can take a walk there without realizing you’re in a cemetery.
Dante Fascell Park – Many natve kids growing up here might remember the rolling fields of this park, so close to the Wayside Market down the street. But it’s well known for the pristine tennis courts that anyone can book.
Montgomery Botanical Center – While Fairchild gets the popularity, this Botanical center wins in its seemingly untouched natural state. It’s a 120-acre non-profit garden opened in 1959 that keeps living specimens from wild plant populations worldwide with an emphasis on palms and cycads.
Deering Estate – The Deering Estate preserves the 1920s era Miami estate of Charles Deering, Chicago industrialist, early preservationist, environmentalist, art collector, philanthropist and first chairman of the International Harvester Company. Nestled along the coast in South Dade, the Deering Estate is a cultural asset and historic site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo source unknown
Area Stage Company – Long-running performing-arts theater presenting plays and musicals, plus workshops and classes. The non-profit, award-winning theater company fcuses on plays for younger actors with some adult productions.
TamboWorks – A cozy and affordable co-working space that also came highly recommended by our audience as a great place to work from, connect with like-minded people, and lay down the foundation of a fruitful career.
Books & Books Pinecrest – The Suniland Shopping Center is home to many favorites, also on this list. It’s also the home of Books & Books’ Pinecrest location, where locals in the area can snag books, enjoy readings, and get literal.
Pinecrest Library – If you’re anything like us, we love the smell of a library and the hundreds of books it holds safe within its walls. This branch features many a reading hour for kids and children, a colorful Brito upon entry, and is also a community center for support meetings, chess club, speech classes and even yoga.
Casa Vinyasa – The first studio in South Florida to offer classes with infrared heating technology. It’s a quiet and friendly studio that focuses on yoga for all levels, but also offers Pilates and other fitness classes.
Photo courtesy of Casa Vinyasa
Red Road Linear Park – A 2.5 mile lighted walking/bicycle path along the Snapper Creek Canal on Red Road. The park includes three rest areas accented with coral rock walls and enhanced landscaping along historic Red Road.
Wall’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream – For many locals, this ice cream spot is an absolute favorite and a scoop of childhood nostalgia. The family-owned, cheery, old-school ice cream parlor offers scoops, sundaes and housemade fudge in an eclectic atmosphere.
Whip’n Dip Ice Cream Shop – Another nostalgic ice cream shop, this one has also been around for decades and was even frequented by President Bill Clinton. It’s a long-standing sweet shop supplying handmade ice cream, soft-serve yogurt, cakes and other confections.
Joanna’s Marketplace – For those in the know and living in the area, Joanna’s is the go-to spot for when you want to impress guests at a dinner party or just get a gourmet sandwich on the go. It’s a Chic market, bakery, deli and cafe with coffee, daily breads and pastries, to-go meals and so much more.
Brewing Buddha Cafe & Arthouse – Another top-rated spot by our local followers, this one was an absolute gem to discover. They turn making coffee and brewing a perfect cup of tea into an art form, and we’re not just talking about the photography and visual art that pepper the walls. It’s a perfect vibe for any time of day.
Photo courtesy of Brewing Buddha
Cao Chocolates – Charming, family-owned shop supplying handcrafted chocolates and truffles made from Venezuelan cacao. You might recognize their products from other coffee shops and markets around town, so we recommend checking out the flagship store for the freshest indulgences.
Pinecrest Wayside Market – Another childhood favorite. Many local kids and even their parents remember frequenting this Red Road stop for fruity treats and snagging local produce. It’s a quaint outdoor produce market and juice bar dishing out fruit shakes, snow cones and baked goods. They’re famous for their strawberry shake.
Norman Brothers Produce – Across the street from the Galloway nursery, Norman Brothers is an absolute staple. It was one of the first gourmet markets to really hit home with the locals, and is a charming, family-owned market that boasts farm-fresh seasonal produce and meats, plus prepared deli fare for every occasion.
Misha’s Cupcakes – Although Misha’s is a pretty well-known name in the city, we’d be remiss not to include their flagship store in SoMi. The classic cupcakes have made their way from Miami’s hearts into Whole Foods, and we’re not surprised because the delicious treats have stayed just as great as when she first started as a pop-up.
Honeybee Doughnuts – Owner Karen Muirhead says that baking ran in her family and it’s also what took her away from a corporate job and into a career of passion. You can feel this the moment you walk into the cozy little shop, with rows and rows of fresh handmade donuts in the classic fluffy style.
Madruga Bakery – For those who know about Madruga, they know they’ve struck absolute gold. With a full mill on-site, you can taste the handmade freshness in every loaf, pastry, or tart you sink your teeth into. Owner Naomi Harris studied with Zak the Baker, Lyon + Lyon, and Cafe Curuba to create the perfect all-day menu. It shows.
Photo by Miami Indulge
Trader Joe’s – Okay, okay, we know this one isn’t local but gosh darn it’s good. Who isn’t a fan of Trader Joe’s with their seasonal items, affordable prices, and oh-so friendly staff? A majority of their products are made in-company so you can really only get them there. We’re keeping it on the list.
La Boulangerie – Well known for their epic French-inspired menu which features breakfast and lunch items that are all to die for, this spot is a neighborhood favorite. It’s not a stuffy French bistro but a friendly and open atmosphere where the service is great and the croissants are even better.
Mojo Donuts – We know the Miami location of the fames Mojo Donuts & Fried Chicken isn’t technically in South Miami (Bird Road location), we’re including it on the list because they’ll soon be opening a pop-up along Red Road and near the University of Miami campus.
Atelier Monnier – Many local Europeans and bakery-addicts sweat by this Dadeland area spot, the perfect place to snag a traditional French dessert, freshly baked baguette, succulent macarons, or even swing by for a wine tasting.
Tea & Poets – This mixed-use concept store is an absolute gem when it comes to the Sunset Place area. Part artisanal market featuring local makers, part coffee shop and bite purveyor, and part entertainment venue where monthly poetry readings and spoken words take place.
Photo by Eater Miami
Phenomenom Nitrogen Ice Cream + Bake Shop – We’ll tell you right now, this spot has a serious cult following, we’re surprised it hasn’t blown up even further. They have one shop on the beach, but we’re focusing on their Pinecrest location for the insane nitrogen ice cream and some of the best cookies you’ve ever had. Try the sugar cookie, we’re not kidding.
The French Bakery – Yes, that actually is the name of this place. Search engine difficulties aside, this spot is definitely worth a drive down south. Located in a casual strip mall, you might even miss it. But don’t. Because their tarts and croissants have been voted among the very best in town. Grab a sandwich too.
The Big Cheese – An absolute Miami classic. This family-friendly Italian diner has been serving up some of the cheesiest slices for over 30 years. They’re well known for the pizza, but of course everything will come dripping in sauce and paired with mouth-watering garlic rolls.
Bougainvillea’s Old Florida Tavern – If you grew up in Miami in your college years, chances are you spent a night or two at this classic tavern. Lovingly nicknamed “Bougies,” this SoMi spot is just the kind of dark, low-key spot you’re looking for to jam to local bands and snag some well-priced local brews in an old Florida-style cottage.
Whisk Gourmet – When this SoMi spot opened, we knew it would become an instant classic. And they haven’t expanded over the years, no matter how crowded their intimate spot becomes. They serve up some of the most delicious new-American cuisine in town. We’re talking fried green tomatoes, chicken, salads, and a mean brunch featuring the famous huevos rancheros Whisk-style.
Photo by Postmates
Sunset Tavern – Just nearby is another classic SoMi dive. Sunset tavern serves all the sports bar staples from wings to chili and burgers, but also serves up a great lineup of local tribute acts and beyond.
Sports Grill – Down Sunset Drive is another great sports bar, but this one comes with a seriously loyal fanbase. These people aren’t loyal for the place necessarily, but the world-famous wings. They’re grilled to perfection and the size of your face. Yeah, and the beers and atmosphere are great too.
No Name Chinese – Great names aside, this Chinese outpost is considered one of the best in Miami. They’re a cut above your classic Asian spot, with a deep focus on local flavors, seasonal menus, and traditional techniques you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
Keg South – The name pretty much does the work for us here, but this isn’t your average sports bar. It’s been open since the 60s and has barely changed since which, in Miami, is a rarity. People flock over from all over the city to munch on the keg burger and special grilled chicken wings but it’s the many local beers on tap that make you feel at home.
Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Co. – Although this favorite local brewery isn’t technically within the confines on the map, we needed to include it to keep up with their motto “Weird at The Beard.” It just makes sense. Their many beers and kombuchas on tap are some of the best in town, and the vibes are always friendly with rousing conversations, live concerts, and much hilarity to ensue. Plus, there’s not an ounce of that beer snob attitude you might find at many other craft breweries.
Photo by UrbanDaddy
Sage by Chef’s Kitchen – What started as a successful family-run catering business, with a community of local fans, became a home for high-level cuisine and charming comfort all year around. Their menu ranges from comforting soups, perfectly seared fish, juicy lamb burgers, and various bread puddings. But the surprise is that although the location has morphed, the quality and love in every dish has always stayed the same.
Cafe Pastis – Near sunset place, this outpost is as French as it gets in Miami. The traditional fare menu has varied little over the years, but no one’s complaining. It’s intimate and flavorful, just what you want out of your neighborhood bistro.
Roaster ’N Toasters – Many a local Pinecrest kid spent their weekend breakfast here, a portal straight to The Big Apple. It’s been a neighborhood staple since 1984 serving traditional New York style fare like house-made bagels and schmears, plus breakfast including smoked fish platters, corned beef, pastrami and Reuben sandwiches, soups, wraps and larger plates like stuffed cabbage and meatloaf.
Babe’s Meat & Counter – Babe Froman, like many now-classic Miami eateries, began as a crowd-favorite farmer’s market pop-up with juicy meats and cooked cuisine. Now, Babe’s got his own meat counter where you can buy cuts or deli goodies just the way you like it.
Apizza Brooklyn Resto + Vino – Yet another high-ranking suggestion from our passionate SoMi community, this artisanal pizzeria has some of the highest-rated ovens in town. It’s a perfect slice of Brooklyn-style pizza, complete with the love for traditional recipes with a little local flare thrown in.
Photo by Food & Wine
Sakura Sushi & Bar – Yes, yes, we know, this one’s in West Miami but it came so frequently recommended and it also sits in an odd grey zone that we thought we’d throw it in anyway. It’s a casual option with a wide range of sushi and classic Japanese fare in cozy, contemporary surroundings.