They are not the biggest, or the richest, but these churches are historical and beautiful. Some are even in the Registry of Historic Places. Whatever your religion, it matters not. Everyone can appreciate incredible stonework, guilded archways, breathtaking stained-glass work and manicured gardens. And these churches offer it all, come worship or come gawk. Either way, you’re welcome to visit.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church
16711 W. Dixie Highway
North Miami Beach, FL 33160
(305) 945-1461
www.spanishmonastery.com

This is one of the oldest buildings in the entire Western Hemisphere. So what’s it doing in the young city of Miami? It’s an amazing story that begins when this medieval Spanish monastery cloister was built in the 12th century (between the years 1133-1141) in the province of Segovia, in Spain. In the 20th century, newspaper moguel William R. Hearst purchased it and it was dismantled and shipped in crates to New York, then eventually reconstructed as an Episcopal church in North Miami Beach. Its gothic arches and guilded ceilings are reason enough to visit.

Related: Top Spots For Literary Landmarks In South Florida

 Plymouth Congregational

(Source: plymouthmiami.org)

Plymouth Congregational Church
3400 Devon Road
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
(305) 444-6521
www.plymouthmiami.org

A mere 21 years after Miami was officially incoporated as a city, the building of the Plymouth Congregational Church was constructed. The year was 1917. However, the church’s parish dates back to the late 1880s. Of course, it was just an old, wooden school house back then. The church you see today was built in only 14 months, and even more amazing, it was built by one man, Felix Rebom. He must have had divine intervention because according to church records, his only tools were a hatchet, a trowel, a plumb line and a T-square.

Cathedral of Saint Mary
7525 N.W. 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33150
(305) 759-4531
www.thecathedralofstmary.org

It was 1929 when 14 men and women began the task of forming a new parish in the Little River area of Miami. One year later in 1930, the ground-breaking ceremony was held and the first mass was celebrated in a wooden structure on that very spot. This church is so beautiful that a visit to its interior is worth the drive from anywhere. The bronze bell in the bell tower weighs over two tons. The stained-glass mural that depicts the life of Mary is breathtaking and its open cupola dome of gold and blue anodized aluminum has practically stopped traffic for years.

Church Of The Little Flower
2711 Indian Mound Trail
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 446-9950
www.church.cotlf.org

With 60 lanes, a game room that includes air hockey and the latest video arcade attractions, plus 16 billiard tables, everyone can enjoy dad’s special day at this South Florida institution. On Father’s Day, Bird Bowl is open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. and if you show up before 10:30 in the morning, you can take advantage of deals like buy one hour of bowling and get one hour free. Late birds can enjoy the same offer after 9 p.m. Bring a pair of socks and you’ll be good to go. When hunger strikes, the onsite restaurant serves up wings, sandwiches, pizza, burgers and salads. Bird Bowl even serves breakfast and kids’ meals starting at only $2.99.

Piney Grove Baptist Church
4699 W. Oakland Park Blvd.
Lauderdale Lakes, FL 33313
(954) 735-1500
www.fbcpineygrove.org

In 1904, this historic church was called Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church and there were only 11 members. Seven years later, the church was sold, another lot was purchased and a new church was built – on the wrong lot. So, they bought that lot, too. And all was right with the world, and still is 110 years later. And if you like good old-fashioned, raise-your-hands-up, give-you-goosebumps choir music, there is no better church near Miami.

Related: Top Choirs In South Florida

Jill Martin is a family travel expert, appearing on numerous television and radio shows. She spent five years as the VISIT FLORIDA Family Insider, has penned children’s books, and is the creator of Sunshine Brain Games – trivia cards about Florida. A Miami native, Jill resides in Redland. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.