Every city has those great attractions that you can read all about highlighted in the Zagat guide, and they are in there for a reason. They are great attractions for the city, but you will also find that a city is so much more than just tourist destinations. Every city has weird and wonderful secrets that are well worth exploring, and Miami is no different. If you are looking for something that doesn’t have a well-beaten trail in Miami and the surrounding area, give these obscure attractions a visit.
Neptune Memorial Reef
Visiting a cemetery for reasons other than mourning can come off as a bit morbid, but cemeteries can be glorious as well. The Neptune Memorial Reef is one such glorious resting place located 40 feet beneath the ocean. Created by the Neptune Society, a cremation company, they built an underwater place of resting built to model the mythical lost city of Atlantis three miles off Miami’s Key Biscayne. Divers are welcome to explore the area and its fantastic underwater statuary. Furthermore, the whole area has become an artificial reef for local marine life. There are plenty of great spots around Miami for diving, but none quite like this. If you have your own boat, you are welcome to take it out there for a dive or visit a local dive shop to book passage.
Did you always enjoy the monkeys at the zoo? Well, Miami has an attraction for you. The Monkey Jungle is packed full of primates, but it is a little different than what you are used to. Instead of the monkeys being cages – you’re the one that is caged. The Monkey Jungle is a 30-acre wildlife park that was established in the 1930s as a way not to show off monkeys for entertainment, but to study endangered monkey species in a semi-natural habitat. Florida does have the climate that most of these primates are used to. With over 400 different primates of 30 different species, they have free run of the place while visitors walk through caged tunnels to view them.
Sample Wine at Schnebly Redland’s
The Napa Valley, Miami is not. However, there are still some good wineries in the area, but none more interesting than Schnebly Redland’s. They don’t really attempt to be classical in their wines, instead, they specialize in artisan and experimental. It is the only place you can sample the first avocado wine, for example. If that is too daring, they have more tempting flavors like passion fruit, coconut, or mango. The winery has tasting platters that are really quite affordable and a pretty nice restaurant if you want to make a meal of it.
There was once a heyday for Jai Alai in the United States, but it is so long over that most people probably don’t remember it. However, while the game is still popular in other places like Latin America or Southeast Asia, it has become more of a novelty here. Miami is one of the few places you can still see this lightning-fast game played. Attached to the Casino Miami, Jai Alai features performances of what is called the fastest game in the world (and perhaps the most dangerous) every day. Having a casino so close is a pretty good bonus as well. Head on down and enjoy this rapidly fading sport before it disappears completely from this part of the world.
The Burger Museum
There are a lot of great museums in Miami, but this one is the tastiest. Located in Miami’s Magic City Casino, the Burger Museum is – as you would expect – a shrine to the enduring life of the hamburger. With over 3,000 artifacts, this museum documents the early days and growth of popular burger-slinging fast food spots as well as some failed ones, such as the Burger Queen chain. You can watch the evolution of the burger and all those who sell it through all these great little treasures.
Get Beaten With Leaves at a Russian Banya
Stressed out? You should relax in the traditional Scandinavian way. Skip the expensive and ineffective luxury spa day and get beat with some scented leaves at the Russian & Turkish Baths. This spa is modeled after the banya, or spas in Russia and the surrounding area. In it, you enjoy a hot steam, then get (lightly) smacked with oak leaves to help relieve stress and detox. If that’s not really your idea of pampering, they also have Dead Sea salt scrubs, regular non-stick beating steam rooms, and Swedish showers.
Enjoy the Laundry Bar
Combine fun and chores you need to get done at the Laundry Bar. This unique establishment takes the dream we all had when we were young college kids and makes it a reality. Essentially, they are a laundromat that serves cocktails. Start your laundry at 7 AM, but you can’t start ordering drinks until noon. Still, if your washing machine is having issues, this is a good alternative until you can get it fixed.
Visit the Wat Buddharangsi Temple
It is amazing how one minute you can be in South Florida, and the next you feel like you are in Southeast Asia. Yet, that is what happens when you head to the Wat Baddharangsi temple. This Buddhist temple is tucked technically outside the city limits where things turn into more farmland than city lights. Yet, there is no finer place to find an enduring calm, and that is what those who built the temple knew all too well. You can come here for the architecture and the statuary, but you can also head down for a lesson in meditation as well.
Eat at Barton G
Do you have a sense of whimsy that you would like extended to your food? Then Barton G’s is the place you want to eat. This restaurant is as delicious as it is interesting. With dishes like lobster pop tarts and the less whimsical tomahawk cut steaks, there is something for every level of whimsy here to make sure everyone leaves satisfied.