As our city continues to grow, there are so many great local spots rising up that it’s becoming so hard to keep track. For self-proclaimed Culture Crusaders like ourselves, we’re constantly on the look out for the Miami treasures that can’t be missed by both residents and tourists alike. If you had 24 hours in this city, where would you go to get the “real” Miami experience? Where would you tell a friend to go? Let our Editor, Pola Bunster, take you around must-see spots in her hometown.

Alright, in a perfect world, you’d get here early(ish) on a Saturday morning completely refreshed and ready to explore. That means you’d need little to no decompression time so you can kick it off with popular in the morning to avoid the crowds. I’d start in Wynwood to get those breathtaking mural photos out of the way, while enjoying classic tastes like The Salty Donut or Zak the Baker for an energy booster. You’d grab coffee, peruse Wynwood Walls, and maybe rent a bike to take it all in that much faster.

Photo courtesy of Wynwood

Next, I’d hop in the car (whether it’s ride sharing or not, you can’t see Miami without a car…no matter how long you’re staying) and head to something low-key for lunch like Coconut Grove. The charming historical neighborhood is perfect to get the tropical escape feeling many travelers come to Miami in search of. Step into The Barnacle Historic State Park ($2 donation) or drive by the majestic stone compound at Plymouth Congregational church to glimpse the city’s past. Grab lunch at a Bunster family favorite like Lokal, the hidden gem of Shore to Door Fish Market, or if it’s a Saturday–the Grove Farmer’s Market.

Photo courtesy of Lokal

As the afternoon heat begins to take a turn, you have to catch the last few hours at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in South Miami. Hop on the tram for that refreshing breeze and see the expansive 83-acre garden with its forests, groves, and art installations to tune out the hustle and bustle. Stop by Pinecrest Wayside Market on your way back for the famous strawberry shake and a fresh coconut. Watch the sunset at The 19th Hole Bar & Grill at The Biltmore Hotel overlooking its world-class golf course.

Photo by Miami New Times

From there, and after freshening up, I’d spend the night in Little Havana so you can really experience Miami’s true vibrant cultures. It might be known for its Cuban influence, but the neighborhood also has some of the most delicious Mexican and Latin American food in town. If you have time, Lung Yai Thai Tapas is an experience in itself. But I’d suggest heading to Taquerias El Mexicano for dinner and hopping right up to the second floor for slinky cocktails at Los Altos in a speakeasy-style environment. Ball & Chain is a definite must, especially if you head there during Viernes Culturales where the whole area is transformed into a festival for Cuban Culture.

Photo courtesy of Los Altos

After dinner, I’d head back to the Wynwood/Downtown area for some disco getdowns either at Electric Pickle (before it closes), a robust calendar of electronic music and live bands at Gramps, or Lagniappe in Midtown for a more chill, jazz-fueled nightcap. End your night (or early morning) at The Corner where interesting conversations will definitely await.

Wake up and head to the beach early; 3rd street is a personal favorite. Grab a sandwich from La Playa Market, a local gem, or pop into The Betsy Hotel for a coffee. Before your flight home, make sure to take in some cocktails at Broken Shaker, recently voted the best bar in the country. The mid-beach oasis is an absolute Miami treasure, it would be an insult not to visit it when down here.

Photo from Pinterest