Opa Locka is one of the best Miami hidden gems and is a small city about 13 miles northwest of downtown Miami Florida. The primary reason why most tourist resources (guidebooks, blogs, etc.) do not cover Opa Locka is that it is not in mainstream Miami (beaches, Everglades).
A secondary reason is that Opa Locka is on the other side of the tracks. Opa Locka is NOT a place to visit at night.
I grew up next to Opa-Locka, in Carol City (now called Miami Gardens, home of rappers Flo Rida and Rick Ross) so I feel qualified to provide some insight on how to safely visit. A visit to Opa Locka can be a highlight of a fun and memorable day trip from Miami.
McCool Travel Tip #1: visit Opa Locka ONLY during daylight hours. I recommend before lunch time; 10am to noon is a good time range.
McCool Travel Tip #2: know the escape routes. There is a minuscule chance of danger but—like anywhere else—knowing how to quickly get out of dicey situations can only benefit you.
Unlike most of Miami and Miami-Dade county, Opa Locka’s streets have names rather than numbers. Once there, be able to find Douglas Road (37th Avenue) and 27th Avenue north to the Palmetto Expressway (826)—or 135th Street west to Red Road (57th Avenue).
I really do not like to begin articles with a warning but I wanted to get it out of the way.
For more South Florida road trip fun, please read Great Florida Road Trip Stops.
On to the good stuff.
Opa Locka was founded as a themed version of Arabian Nights. More than 100 Moorish style buildings were built in 1926 but many were destroyed by hurricanes.
Some gorgeous Moorish architecture remains in Opa Locka.
A quick visit to Opa Locka Florida will make you feel, for a moment, that you are in Morocco. Usually, the weather is just as warm!
If you are feeling adventurous and want to explore more, visit historic Opa Locka airport (Amelia Earhart started here), adjacent North Regional Park (I played baseball games here!), Opa Locka Indoor Flea Market, and nearby Amelia Earhart park (wonderful bike trails).
Just do NOT visit Opa Locka alone, when it is dark, nor definitely both!
For more South Florida road trip fun, please read Fun South Florida Road Trip Drive.