Arts Explore Miami’s Artsiest and Buzziest Neighborhood

by Rachel Chang | March 31, 2023

With its vivid, ever-changing murals and bustling outdoor eateries, Wynwood Walls is one of Miami’s most eclectic and art-packed areas, topping travelers’ must-see lists.

But this wasn’t always the case. In the early 2000s, this area just three miles north of downtown — a once-thriving Caribbean immigrant community and the city’s garment district — had fallen into a state of neglect. Many considered the abandoned factories and warehouses eyesores. Then, in 2009, a developer came along and saw renewed potential for the edifices as large-scale artist canvases.

What is now a destination for visitors from around the world began as a grassroots project to invigorate the area by inviting muralists to transform the drab warehouse slabs into vibrant works of art. Today, 80,000 square feet of walls feature eye-catching designs by world-renowned artists. The concept not only breathed new life into the buildings but also transformed the surrounding neighborhood.

“Wynwood was an extraordinary opportunity to build a vibrant community infused with art and creativity — a place that is energized, hopeful and embracing of diversity,” says Jessica Goldman Srebnick, co-chair of Goldman Properties and curator for Wynwood Walls. And the impact has been far-reaching.

“The art scene put the neighborhood on the international map,” says artist Douglas de Castro. “When you say Miami now, everyone says, ‘Wynwood!’” He would know. De Castro is one half of the renowned Brazilian artist duo Bicicleta Sem Freio, along with Renato Reno.

In late 2022, the duo spent two weeks at Wynwood Walls working on the large-scale mural “The Rehearsal,” which features five funky characters in the middle of a jam session. “It was very easy to decide what we would do,” de Castro says of the mural. “Wynwood feels happy and super colorful, and I think the music is a very good way to find happiness.”

A mural depicting a man playing an instrument in the style of pop art

The artists, who met nearly two decades ago in graphic arts school, made their first trip to the area a decade ago and found themselves entranced by the vibe. In Wynwood, “everybody is outside painting or documenting or dancing or doing their thing,” de Castro says.

Now they’re a part of that tapestry, having made their mark both on the famed walls and on Citi Bike bicycles in Miami, some of which are custom-embellished with characters from their kaleidoscopic mural. It’s an especially fitting collaboration since Bicicleta Sem Freio means “bicycle without brakes” in Portuguese. “It’s super cool for us since the bikes are everywhere,” de Castro says. “When you’re on a bike, you appreciate a neighborhood and its surrounding areas in a different way — it’s calmer and more relaxing.”

Whether exploring the city via bike or on foot, the Wynwood neighborhood is worth a visit. Add these world-class museums, lively bars and inventive restaurants (including two of the artist’s favorites) to your Miami must-do list.

A Citi Bike bicycle adorned with the artists’ work, is parked on a sidewalk

Art (beyond the murals) in Wynwood

Museum of Graffiti

276 Northwest 26th Street

At the world’s first museum dedicated to street art, check out the main exhibition, which traces the history and evolution of the art form from the 1970s to today. Featuring 11 outdoor murals and a fine art gallery, the museum offers a comprehensive look at street art’s evolution. “You can learn about the timeline,” de Castro says. “It's nice to have a place with all that info.”

The Margulies Collection at The Warehouse

591 Northwest 27th Street

Hailed as one of the world’s leading galleries, this 50,000-square-foot warehouse turned arts education nonprofit offers a rotating exhibit of thoughtfully curated paintings, sculptures, installations and video works, including many from some of the most famous artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Keep in mind it’s open to the public only from October through April.

Bakehouse Arts Complex

561 Northwest 32nd Street 

Get up close to works-in-progress at this former Art Deco-era bakery; in 1986 it was transformed into an artists’ residence and community space with the stipulation that its galleries and indoor areas would be open to the public every day for free. With approximately 100 artists on site, projects can range from traditional painting to more experimental installations.

Nader Art Museum Latin America

62 Northeast 27th Street

Spotlighting works across the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora, this 30,000-square-foot space is made up of four exhibition rooms displaying pieces from nearly 200 artists in the Nader family’s private collection. The 9-year-old museum is also a cultural center, offering educational lectures, film screenings, music performances and other cultural programming.

Colorful building exterior with sign for 'American Bakeries Company'

Bakehouse Arts Complex — photo courtesy of Bakehouse Arts Complex

Must-visit restaurants in Wynwood

Coyo Taco

2300 Northwest Second Ave

Tacos from this popular Mexican spot were a go-to for Reno and de Castro while they were in town. They’re served with hand-pressed corn tortillas, and if you add guacamole, it’s made to order. Also on the menu: tortas, salads, burrito bowls, quesadillas and churros. Coyo Taco is an international chain with locations from Paris to Panama, but the Wynwood outpost, which opened in 2015, is the original.

Spanglish Craft Cocktail Bar + Kitchen

2808 North Miami Avenue

You’ll find some of the best fusion food and drinks at this hotspot, which melds Miami’s predominant Latin and American cultures with locally inspired touches. (Think citrusy cocktails shaken and then served in cups repurposed from camera lenses.) Try the Caribbean dumplings with a traditional pork filling plus morcilla (Spanish blood sausage) and plantain stuffing, and the Wagyu beef ravioli topped with blue cheese sauce. You’ll also want to save room for the suspiro, a delightful melding of dulce de leche mousse and passion fruit.

An image of a plate featuring two tacos with an assortment of three sauces, served alongside a drink, pickles, and lime slices

Coyo Taco — photo by Deyson Rodriguez


313 Northwest 25th Street

Only those in the know can navigate their way to this Japanese hideaway tucked behind a taco shop. With only two eight-person seatings each night, the fine-dining favorite offers an omakase menu of eight to 10 seasonal courses (hot and cold dishes, sushi and dessert) selected by the chef. A true sign of its quality: Ingredients are flown in directly from Japan.

The Salty

50 Northwest 25th Street Suite 112

This famous doughnut shop has locations throughout Florida and in North Carolina, Texas and Georgia, but the original debuted right across the street from its current Wynwood location as a pop-up shop in a 1950s camper back in 2015. Devotees are drawn to the pillowy donuts, all made on site in small batches, in unexpected flavors like guava and cheese, pumpkin spice French toast and dark-chocolate passion fruit. Try the cinnamon cereal milk latte too.

Blue fin tuna sushi is on a bubble-patterned plate

Hiden — photo by Salsa Digital

The Sylvester

3456 North Miami Avenue

For a truly Floridian experience, head to this Sunshine State-inspired cocktail lounge serving Florida-themed drinks made from local and sustainable ingredients. You’ll find fruity drinks with cheeky names (i.e. Vaxxed and Waxxxed) and unusual ingredients, like pineapple Greek yogurt or condensed milk. There’s also a pinball machine, pool table, foosball and board games, making The Sylvester a great choice for a group.

Dante’s HiFi

519 Northwest 26th Street

Kick back with a whisky or mezcal cocktail at this retro-style, vinyl listening bar where record-player music is piped into a high-tech audio system. Selections come from the resident music director’s impressive personal collection of nearly 8,500 records. And with only 50 seats, reservations are recommended to snag a 1.5-hour time slot.

Cerveceria La Tropical

42 Northeast 25th Street

Run by descendants of the family who launched the brand in Cuba in 1888, the Wynwood location of Cerveceria La Tropical opened in 2000 as a family-friendly restaurant, sleek tap room and brewery. (Take a tour with your tasting.) Pizza and games can keep kids occupied while grown-ups sample the craft beer, along with Latin-inspired fare like plantain chips with chipotle aioli dip and bread with a lightly whipped guava butter served in a beer can. After, check out the 10,000-square-foot tropical garden run in partnership with a local botanical garden out back.

Blue cocktail in a Martini glass, garnished with a slice of cucumber

Dante's HiFi — photo by World Red Eye

Rachel Chang

is a magazine editor, travel and pop culture journalist. A solo-travel advocate with a passion for uncovering untold Asian American stories, she has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Lonely Planet, the New York Times for Kids, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.