Miami's Sports and Entertainment Events: Must-Attend Extravaganzas in the Magic City
Updated: Sep 21, 2023
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The city of Miami is a hotbed of nightlife and entertainment in a melting pot of Caribbean and other worldwide cultures, with sunny beaches and an alluring atmosphere that make it a top tourist destination throughout the year. Whether you’re looking for major tourist attractions like the Rolling Loud music festival or you want a more authentic taste of what life is like in the Magic City, here are some of the must-see events and attractions to keep in mind when looking for something to do, whether you’re visiting Miami or a native of the city.
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First, I’ll start this article off with an honorable mention. Miami’s extravagance reminds many visitors of Las Vegas, and those comparisons could become a lot closer in the next couple years as the state of Florida works to legalize sports betting. The city’s predisposition for opulence (take a look at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, built in the shape of a massive, ocean blue guitar) fits right in with the gambling lifestyle, and adding sportsbooks to the mix will add a new layer of fun to the entertainment once the booming industry is able to finally get running in South Florida. Destinations like the Hard Rock Casino are already intriguing because of the unique architecture they sport, even before you get started with the games, and as the betting economy continues to expand, one can only imagine what kinds of attractions we’ll see spring up next.
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Getting started with the rest of the list, one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for the authentic South Florida experience is Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. The sprawling district covers roughly 3.5 of the 36 square miles of land area in the city, with more than 76,000 residents as of the 2010 census (meaning that more than one out of every six Miami residents calls Little Havana home). The neighborhood gets its name from the capital of Cuba, located a little over 250 nautical miles from Miami. South Florida has more than 1.2 million Cuban expats or people with ancestral roots in Cuba, and Little Havana is one of the best ways to experience Cuba’s diverse culture without jumping through the hoops that it takes to actually visit the secluded island.
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Whether you’re looking for nightlife, delicious food, the iconic Cuban coffee and cigars or the vibrant street art, Little Havana has something for everyone, the beating heart of the Magic City. As time has gone on, the neighborhood has grown to encompass more Latin American cultures than just those of Cuba: now many people hailing from Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico reside in the area too. You can spend days wandering the neighborhood aimlessly, or you can go to specific events like the Viernes Culturales/Cultural Friday or the Calle Ocho Festival, a massive fiesta held each March.
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When it comes to sporting events, Miami has a range of professional teams. Each of the Big Four North American sports calls the Greater Miami area home: the Miami Marlins of MLB, the Heat of the NBA, the Dolphins of the NFL and the Panthers of the NHL.
If you’re staying in Miami itself or relying on public transportation to get around, the Marlins and Heat make the most sense (depending which time of year you visit) as both their home stadiums are within the city itself. The Heat provide consistent championship caliber basketball under the tutelage of coaching wunderkind Eric Spoelstra, while the Marlins have a young team brimming with talent on the verge of completing a lengthy rebuild. It’s hard to imagine Latin American culture without baseball, after all, which makes the Marlins an excellent choice for the culturally-inclined.
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The Panthers made a run to the Stanley Cup Final this past season, falling just short to the eventual champions (just as the Heat did in the NBA Finals), so if you want to see some snow in South Florida (and have a rental car, brought your own, or have the patience for a lengthy trip on public transportation), you’ll have to travel further afield to Sunrise. The Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes (of college football) play roughly half an hour north of the city in Miami Gardens, while CF Inter Miami of MLS is shaking up the soccer world after reeling in one of the greatest players of all time, Lionel Messi, to suit up for them.
Inter Miami, similarly, plays all the way up in Fort Lauderdale despite calling the Magic City home: the opportunity to see Messi play is a chance like no other, but there are some hefty logistics to balance in order to do so.