Miami Orientation Tour (Self Guided), Miami

The coastal sunny city of Miami is a world-class destination for tourists, being rich in sights and public venues. Take this orientation tour to explore Miami's heritage.
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Miami Orientation Tour Map

Guide Name: Miami Orientation Tour
Guide Location: USA » Miami (See other walking tours in Miami)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: stacey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
  • Ziff Ballet Opera House
  • Pérez Art Museum Miami
  • The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum
  • Ten Museum Park
  • American Airlines Arena
  • Freedom Tower
  • Bayside Marketplace
  • The Torch of Friendship
  • Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Federal Courthouse
  • Gesu Catholic Church
  • Olympia Theater
  • Bayfront Park
1
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

1) Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Miami. In 1980, it was declared a building of architectural and historical importance and was included in the Register of National Historic Places by the US department of the Interior.

The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral started as a small wooden church organized by Rt. Rev William Crane Gray in 1896. It was established one month before the city of Miami was incorporated. It was relocated to its present site in 1923. The new building was designed by architect, Harold Hastings Mundy and construction was completed in 1925. Romanesque, Byzantine and Italianate styles were incorporated into the structure and the result was a magnificent Mediterranean church suitable for the warm climate of the city. The Trinity Episcopal Church became a cathedral and the seat of the Bishop’s throne in 1970.
2
Ziff Ballet Opera House

2) Ziff Ballet Opera House

Ziff Ballet Opera House is located on a large outdoor plaza in Miami, next to other US historical landmarks. The seating capacity of this Opera House is 2,400 seats. It features a foreground and state-of-the-art technical capabilities for hosting Broadway plays and musicals. Moreover, it has an education center.
3
Pérez Art Museum Miami

3) Pérez Art Museum Miami

The Pérez Art Museum Miami is dedicated to contemporary art, reflecting the diverse cultures of Miami. The emphasis is on showcasing art from Europe, the Americas and Africa representing the three major ethnic populations of the city.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami was established in 1984 as the Center for Fine Arts. In 1996, the name was changed to the Miami Art Museum. In 2010, the construction of a new building to house the museum began in Museum Park. The new facility is designed by Swiss firm, Herzog and de Meuron. The new museum covers an area of 20,000 square feet and opened for public viewing in 2013. It is a world class repository of contemporary art and a center for visual arts information and education.

The museum has a vast collection of 20th and 21st century works from the 1940s to the present. It also hosts local, national and international temporary exhibitions of theme based modern art. Visitors and groups need to book in advance to go on a guided tour conducted by an artist or art expert for an in-depth understanding of the exhibits.

Operation hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday - Sunday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Thursday: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
4
The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum

4) The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum or simply known as the Frost Art Museum is a Florida International University (FIU) museum, founded in 1977. Since then, it has grown to achieve official recognition as a major cultural institution of the State of Florida for its unprecedented collection of Latin American and 20th century American art, its innovative exhibitions that draw on or enhance the collection, and its unparalleled service to South Florida's diverse audiences. In 2003, the Art Museum at FIU was officially renamed The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum.

Highlights from the Frost Art Museum's collection include Haitian paintings, American modern sculptures, paintings, and photographs. The Frost Art Museum’s Permanent Collection includes nearly 6,000 objects from several distinctive collections: the General Collection, the Metropolitan Museum and Art Center Collection and the Betty Laird Perry Emerging Artist Collection. The General Collection holds a strong representation of American printmaking from the 1960s and '70s, photography, Pre-Columbian objects dating from 200-500 AD, and a growing number of works by contemporary Caribbean and Latin American artists. The Museum continues to expand the collection through private donations, purchases and acquisitions.

The Metropolitan Museum and Art Center Collection, was donated to the Frost Art Museum in order to ensure its intact survival in 1989, when the Metropolitan Museum and Art Center of Coral Gables closed. This collection of more than 2,300 objects includes sculptures, photographs, and paintings by major 20th century figures, an extensive collection of American prints from the 1960s; major sculptural works; important photographs; rare Japanese Netsukes and ancient bronzes from Asian and African cultures. In support of the University’s studio arts program, the Betty Laird Perry Emerging Artist Collection comprises artworks obtained through purchase awards granted to selected BFA and MFA students graduating from the program since 1980. Numerous award recipients have continued to garner national and international recognition as mature artists.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm; Sunday: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Ten Museum Park

5) Ten Museum Park

The Ten Museum Park is the 13th tallest building in Miami and consists of residential condominium units. It is regarded as one of the most creatively designed structures in the city.

Ten Museum Park was designed by Chad Oppenheim and construction was completed in 2007. It is part of the Biscayne Wall, a series of skyscrapers to the west of Biscayne Boulevard. It stands 585 meters tall with 50 floors and 200 condominium units. The lower floors have offices and retail space. The east facing units are interlocking lofts while west facing units are shallow flats with large glass windows. More than 150 units have spectacular views of Biscayne Bay or the city of Miami. It is also located near the arts and entertainment district of the city and is eight minutes away from the airport. The exterior gives the appearance of a solid crystal block.

Amenities at Ten Museum Park include a luxury spa and pleasure garden run by the cosmetic company, Clinique that covers an area of 21,000 square feet, a café, a restaurant and 24 hour concierge and security services. All units have floor to ceiling windows and luxury fitting and fixtures. The Ten Museum Park was designed to offer the most luxurious in condominium living in the US.
6
American Airlines Arena

6) American Airlines Arena

The AmericanAirlines Arena is a sports and entertainment arena located in Downtown Miami, Florida along Biscayne Bay. It was constructed beginning in 1998 as a replacement for the Miami Arena and was designed by the architecture firms Arquitectonica and 360 Architecture. The Arena is home to the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Freedom Tower

7) Freedom Tower (must see)

The Freedom Tower is a 17-floor structure located on the Wolfson campus of Miami Dade College. It has become the symbol of freedom to Cuban refugees who fled the communist regime of Fidel Castro to Florida.

The Freedom Tower was built in Mediterranean revivalist style in 1925. It housed the offices and printing facility of the newspaper called the Miami News. The design closely resembles that of the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. It has a height of 78 meters and the cupola once had a decorative beacon. The Miami News offices relocated in 1957 and the US Federal Government used the tower as a processing center for refugees fleeing from the communist regime in Cuba during the 1960s. Jorge Mas Canosa, the founder of the Cuban National American Foundation purchased Freedom Tower and converted it into a monument for Cuban refugees in 1997. It had a museum, library, a convention center and the offices of the Cuban National American Foundation.

Today, Freedom Tower belongs to the Miami Dade University and is used as a cultural and educational center. The university has plans to house a permanent exhibition commemorating the major newspaper that was once published here and with exhibits relating to the days when Freedom Tower served as a major Cuban refugee processing center.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful photo opportunities, especially at night when the tower is lit up with beautiful colors.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Fri, Sun: 1-6pm; Sat: 1-8pm
8
Bayside Marketplace

8) Bayside Marketplace (must see)

Bayside Marketplace is a festival marketplace in Downtown Miami. It's in between Bayfront Park to the south end and the American Airlines Arena to the north. As Bayside's name suggests, it wraps along the banks of the Biscayne Bay. The entertainment complex opened in 1987, while a major real estate boom was taking place. Instead of being planned to revitalize a specific area as its sister properties had, Bayside complements an existing marina. The shopping center was frequently featured on the crime drama TV series, Miami Vice. The center attracts on average fifteen million people annually. It is served by the Metrorail at the Government Center Station, and directly by the Metromover's College/Bayside Station.

Why You Should Visit:
Restaurants overlooking the dock, many boating activities – jet boats, sunset cruises, etc... Overall, friendly and very culturally diverse.
Nice atmosphere through the day, but especially in the evenings, when there's always something going on, live, on the main podium.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Thu: 10am-10pm; Fri, Sat: 10am-11pm; Sun: 11am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
The Torch of Friendship

9) The Torch of Friendship

The Torch of Friendship is a monument located at the northwest corner of Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. It was opened in 1960 to welcome the friends and neighbors of Florida from the Caribbean and South America.

The Torch of Friendship was installed by the City of Miami to signify the city’s status as the gateway to the Caribbean. The inscription on the monument reads, ‘The Torch of Friendship dedicated by the City of Miami to the everlasting friendship of our neighboring countries.’ It has a gas fired torch installed at the top of an 18 foot pedestal with an everlasting flame that was meant to be a welcoming beacon for visitors and immigrants.

The Torch of Friendship was rededicated four years after its installation to the memory of the assassinated President John F. Kennedy. The burning candle was regarded as an extension of the candle that burns in the gravesite of the former president in Arlington. Today, the candle has stopped burning. Some believe that it was a deliberate act, while others reckon that the gas pipe that supplied fuel to the fire has been damaged. Recently, the Torch of Friendship Monument has become the venue for gatherings, commemorations and peaceful protests against national and international injustices.
10
Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Federal Courthouse

10) Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Federal Courthouse

Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Federal Courthouse is a modern courthouse in downtown Maimi. It is named after prominent lawyer and Judge Wilkie D. Ferguson who was born in Miami and made significant contributions both as a lawyer and a judge to the city and the State of Florida.

The Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Federal Courthouse was designed by the architect firm Arquitechtonica in consultation with Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum. The structure consists of two towers connected by a curved glass prism. Each tower has 14 floors and the glass prism contains the waiting rooms and circulation spaces. It has 16 courtrooms and chambers and a separate space for the Clerk of the Court. There are Grand Jury suites, rooms for pre trial services, US Marshal’s Service offices, detention cells and rooms for US attorney, the General Services Administration Services GSA and other support services. The building also has 110 secured and covered indoor parking spaces.

The Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Federal Courthouse was completed and began functioning in the year 2005. The design of the building was hailed as an excellent example of green environmentally sensitive architecture. The glass façade is designed to reflect transparency, the integrity of the court and equality before law.
11
Gesu Catholic Church

11) Gesu Catholic Church

The Gesu Catholic church is the oldest church in Miami. It was first established by a pioneer and landowning couple, William and Evelyn Wagner in 1872. The name of the church is The Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church but it is popularly called Gesu which is the Italian name for Jesus.

The Gesu Catholic Church relocated to its present site in 1896 on land donated by Henry Flagler a Presbyterian landowner. As the congregation outgrew the building, the present structure was constructed in 1925. The present church has the capacity of seating 800 parishioners. The altars are made of Italian marble and the temple has polychrome crystal leaded windows portraying events in the life Jesus and Mary brought from Germany. It was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The Gesu Memorial Church has an elementary school run by Jesuits and established in 1961. There is a canteen dining room that serves meals for the elderly through the week. The priests visit and offer their services to the sick in hospitals and convalescent homes. The church has through history welcomed members of the armed forces and refugees particularly those who fled the communist regime in Cuba and refugees from Haiti.

The interior of the cathedral has intricate mosaics depicting the six days of creation, the hosts of heaven and the Stations of the Cross. The stained glass windows portray scenes from the life of Jesus and several scenes from the Old Testament. The cathedral has a culturally diverse congregation and opens its doors to all. It has programs and outreach to help the local community in many ways.
12
Olympia Theater

12) Olympia Theater (must see)

The Olympia Theater began in 1927 as a venue where silent movies were screened. It was designed by well-known theater architect John Eberson with Moorish style exteriors and atmospheric interior design. It was also known for its perfect acoustics, simulated night sky ceiling with drifting clouds and twinkling stars and as the first air-conditioned theater in the South. Soon, talking films and Vaudeville shows were screened and it continued to be one of the last theaters to stage Vaudeville performances. In the 1970s the building suffered neglect and local tycoon, Maurice Gusman, saved the theater and the adjacent office buildings from deterioration. He gave the renovated complex to the city of Miami who named it after Gusman in gratitude. The building has undergone restoration and structural stabilization work and reopened as a modern and structurally safe theater.

Olympia Theater has a history of hosting performances by some of the best-known singers and performing artists. It has hosted performances by Elvis Presley, Luciano Pavarotti and B.B.King in addition to some of the best-known Vaudeville artists.
13
Bayfront Park

13) Bayfront Park (must see)

Bayfront Park is a large green space in downtown Miami sprawled near the financial district and the American Airlines Arena. It is located on Biscayne Bay and is the venue of many commemorative events.

Bayfront Park covers an area of 32 acres. The city of Miami acquired a strip of waterfront land from the Florida East Coast Railway and established Bayfront Park. The first designs were by architect Warren Henry Manning and it was opened to the public in 1925. In 1980, the park was extensively remodeled by the Japanese American modernist artist and landscape architect, Isamu Noguchi, who is largely considered to be one of America’s great twentieth-century artists.

Bayfront Park is now managed by a limited agency of the City of Miami, called the Bayfront Park Management Trust. It is the venue of many important celebrations like the Independence Day Celebrations and the Official New Years Eve party. There is an amphitheater in the park that seats over 10,000 people. A small open-air pavilion, called the Tina Hills Pavilion, has a seating capacity for 1000 people. In the southeast corner of the park is a monument dedicated to the astronauts who lost their lives in the tragic space accident in the 1980s.

Why You Should Visit:
Having the water right by you makes the place very special and the latest extension to the Miami River makes the area more inviting.
You can expect beautiful downtown skyline and bay views. They have live music in the amphitheater and the mood is always friendly.

Tip:
Check online schedule for the many activities that are always happening in this park.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-11pm

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