Miami and Orlando are famous for great weather and a wide variety of tourist offerings; theme parks, sunny beaches, and the Everglades all immediately come to mind. But these two cities each have their own unique story to tell, and have much more to offer those looking to take in some art and culture along with the sun and sand.
When making your plans to hop between Florida’s cities, consider skipping the car and shop around well in advance to find the most affordable bus routes from Miami to Orlando.
The sizzling soul of Miami is distilled into its purest form in Miami Beach. The shoreline drive of this island community is lined with all of the imagery we associate with South Florida: pastel buildings, palm trees, luxury cars, and miles of white sand.
South Beach Ocean Drive | Image via Flickr by Geoff Livingston
But Miami Beach is more than just umbrella drinks and red-hot Latin music. Art and architecture aficionados visit from around the world to take in the scene, stopping by the Bass Museum of Art, Effusion Gallery, and Art Center South Florida before taking a tour of the Art Deco building facades so often missed by the weekend nightclub crowd. The art scene in Miami Beach amplifies during Art Basel, one of the largest annual contemporary art festivals in the world.
Back on the mainland, you’ll find a selection of galleries and museums to fit any taste. Those with a preference for cutting-edge modern art should make sure to visit the Perez Art Museum Miami; those looking for a broad collection spanning the major periods will enjoy the Lowe Art Museum on the University of Miami campus. In the evening, catch a musical or a play — either a blockbuster Broadway touring show or a small, independent production — in one of Miami’s many theatre venues.
Known by some as a theme park paradise — and by others as a theme park purgatory — Orlando is actually much more. Behind the rollercoasters and fantasy castles, it’s a diverse, vibrant city with a variety of outdoor activities and cultural attractions for those looking to expand their horizons in a very tourist-friendly city.
One of the largest art collections in Central Florida can be found at the Orlando Museum of Art in the Loch Haven Cultural Park just a few minutes northeast of the downtown district. Take your time with their exhibits from Africa and the ancient Americas. The museum also supports today’s artists with an ever-growing collection of contemporary works.
Orlando Museum of Art | Image via Flickr by elvissa
Nearby, visit the Mennello Museum of American Art. This smaller public museum houses a rotating collection of American art of different periods, with indoor galleries and an outdoor sculpture garden in the park. This picturesque lakeside park is home to the annual Indie-Folkfest, a celebration of local music, art, and food. While you’re visiting Loch Haven, stop by the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre and the Orlando Repertory Theatre to see what’s playing during your stay.
On your next Florida visit, look beyond the beaches, the thrill-rides, and the gators to discover the cultural attractions that the spring-breakers and the mouse-eared families might miss.
Cory Hanson is an American travel writer specializing in North American and European travel. This post has been brought to you by Busbud. Find a full disclosure about this kind of content here.