Miami…. Well, to get started, Miami is unlike any other major US city you’ve ever visited. I grew up an hour away and frequented this metropolis enough to of gotten a one bedroom apartment there! After moving away and traveling the world the best comparison I can give to Miami is like visiting Latin America. It is hot, tropical, and everyone speaks Spanish- if they are Hispanic or not. If you’re looking to have a tropical getaway without leaving the country this should be your top choice.
Miami is great for luxury travelers and budget travelers alike. There are 5 star resorts on the ocean and European style hostels downtown. There are cheap eats and world class chefs. I’m usually somewhere in between of 3-4 star hotels (on a great deal or travel points) and cheap eats with a celebratory fine dining one night of my trip.
Where to Stay
There are four areas I would recommend: South Beach- of course, Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, and Brickell. There are seriously too many hotels to name, but some of my favorites are The W, Mandarin Oriental, FountainBleau, Eden Roc, SLS, Delano, Mondrian, The Clevelander….. For hostels, I would suggest Posh Hostel. AirBNB may be a great place to look too! There are so many beach side condos in the area!
Where to Eat
La Mar, Il Gabbiano, Zuma, The Capital Grille and all fine dining restaurants that will satisfy the most dedicated foodie! For cheap eats, you have the classic 5 Guys and Pizza Rustica, or local Cuban delights from Puerto Sagua, La Palma Latin Café, or Deco Sandwich. Honestly though, any Cuban restaurant you find will most likely be delicious!
What to Do
The are endless possibilities of things to do here in Miami. I’m going to (roughly) list my favorites from top to bottom-
Art Deco Historical District (South Beach Strip) I know this sounds a little funny being my first favorite, since it’s considered a little touristy, but it’s still my favorite because it’s so picturesque and the site of so many movies… This is also where the famous Versace Mansion is. If you are interested in visiting, you can book a room or make dinner reservations here! I love taking a walk down Ocean Drive, eating at one of the beach front cafes, or day drinking at one of the many bars. It’s also within steps of my second favorite thing to do while in Miami…
South Beach & Lummus Park Tanning and swimming in the ocean are serious hobbies of most South Floridians. This long stretch of white sand beaches is so beautiful, you’ll find the locals mingling along side of you. On the weekends, you might be able to find jet skis, SUP boards, paragliding, and banana boat rentals. There usually aren’t waves big enough for surfing. If you are interested in that, check out Juno Beach about 2 hours north.
Lincoln Road Mall or Collins Ave After soaking up the sun at the beach, I usually take a trip to one of these outdoor shopping malls. Lincoln Road is closed off from cars and has a few restaurants with seating in the cobblestoned streets. Collins is just a few blocks from the beach and stretches many blocks.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens Vizcaya is one of the most beautiful places in Florida. It was once the winter home of one of the richest men from the 1910’s, but has since been donated to the city in efforts to preserve its beauty. See more information on my Vizcaya travel guide!
Wynwood Walls Located a little further inland from the salty coastal breeze is Wynwood District. This is one of Miami’s newest art districts, made famous by the incredible-and incredibly large- street art. This is a great place to spend your afternoon. There are many boutique galleries, restaurants, and bars. Make sure you visit the actual Wynwood Walls, there’s art all over this area that can be explored via walking tours.
Everglades If you travel all the way down to Miami and don’t visit the Everglades, I might be a little disappointed… This is what real Florida is like. Swampy, wetlands filled with incredible species of birds, reptiles, and more. It’s not just for nature enthusiasts! If you prefer to skip the ‘hiking’- I quote hiking because it’s all flat ground and really just walking- get that adrenaline pumping on an airboat ride searching for alligators in the sawgrass wetlands.
Biscayne National Park This park is 95% underwater. To get around, it’s best to rent or charter a boat! There are amazing dive/snorkeling spots, canoeing and kayaking, and fishing holes in the park’s boundaries.
Little Havana Miami has a strong Cuban influence in its culture and it truly has a different lifestyle than the rest of the US because of this. Although there are many amazing factors, the food it brings is my absolute favorite. There is no other place outside of Cuba, where you will find such authentic and insanely delicious foods. Every time I visit, getting Cuban food is a top priority.
Zoo Miami If you are an animal lover, then you will love Zoo Miami. This is one of the biggest zoo’s I’ve been to, so big, it’s best you rent the 4 person bicycle. This is the only zoo I would recommend visiting in Miami. The others are not friends of animals; they breed animals soley for profit and entertainment purposes and not for the benefit of animal conservation. Please, do not support these places! ( Jungle Island, Zoological Wildlife Foundation, & Monkey Jungle, etc )
Holocaust Memorial This is a unique monument for those lost in the holocaust. It is a very calming atmosphere and a wonderful place to pay your respects.
Perez Art Museum I am not a big fan of modern art, so I haven’t visited this museum, but I’ve heard great things about it. If this is up your alley, add it to your list!
Miami Children’s Museum This is a fairly new museum. I haven’t visited it either, but have heard mixed reviews…. If you have an active youngster, this would be a great place to visit when it rains. If you’re visiting during the summer, it will rain!
Sport Fishing Charter South Florida has some of the best sport fishing in the world! Out here you can catch swordfish, dolphin, grouper, to name a few.
Where to Party
I find it extremely funny that this needs it’s own subsection. Party is a serious industry in Miami. I have been all over the world and I must say that no one parties as well as Miami (even Las Vegas!). There are mega-clubs here that bring in the world’s best DJ’s every weekend. If you can get in close with any of the promoters you might just find yourself in VIP drinking champagne all night for free! Day time pool parties are also extremely popular on the weekends. It’s been a while since my Miami Club days, but I know a few of these places are still insanely popular…
LIV is probably the most iconic Miami club and I’d be shocked to see it die. It is located in the lobby of the Fontainebleau Hotel. Tickets can get very pricey depending on the night and who is playing. Sometimes booking in advance or buying a table can get you in quicker, but the best way is to have lots of ladies with you!
Story Story is also a mega club of Miami. After Mansion closed, I would have to say it’s second best. There are always big names here nightly.
Wall Lounge It can be a little harder to access more intimate nightclubs like this. Buying a table, or admission tickets in advance is often the best way to get exclusive access.
Set This place is also more intimate, but I’ve seen huge DJ’s such as Calvin Harris preform. This is way cool because you often get to interact with the DJ’s during or after their set.
Club Space Just called ‘Space’ by the locals… Space is the ultimate after hours club. They stay open until 2, 3, 4pm the next day! As long as there are people in there, they keep the music pumping. The best thing about Space is that you can start your night there, it’s always busy and you are guaranteed to get it.
Day Time Pool Parties I usually choose the pool party based on the DJ that is playing, but if that is not a priority of yours choosing a place like Hyde Beach at SLS, Delano, The W, Fountainbleau, Nikki Beach, you can’t go wrong! Remember drinking in the hot Miami sun can dehydrate you fast, especially with all that sweating going on. Don’t forget to drink a water in between ever cocktail!
Miami hosts many major events throughout the year. There are a few world renown events that you might decide to plan your trip around.
Art Basel In December, leading galleries from all over the world travel to Miami to show off their best stuff!
Miami Music Week / Winter Music Conference / Ultra Music Festival This week is jam packed with electronic music activities all day long. It’s a week long party, which typically happens in Late March. Check here for dates!
Other great annual events: Miami Open, International Boat Show, Calle Ocho, Miami Beach Polo World Cup, Miami Fashion Week, Miami Broward One Carnival, Miami International Auto Show
Day Trips from Miami
Fort Lauderdale The more relaxed, older sister city to Miami Beach. Unless, it’s Spring Break!
Palm Beach Palm Beach is known for old money millionaires- and President Trump’s winter home of Mar-Lago. There are lots of beach front mansions, luxury stores, and celerity residents. The Breakers Hotel has the most incredible Sunday Brunch that is a must- if you’re ready to drop $90/person. Worth Avenue is the premier shopping district for all your high end fashion needs.
The Florida Keys A special place in my heart. The keys are a special treat of true Florida island life. Islamorada is my favorite Key to visits. The drive to Key West is about 4 hours on a one lane road, so unless you’re determined to visit in one day, I’d suggest 2-3 days to visit.
The Everglades Depending on your love for nature, you can make a trip to the Everglades 1/2 day- 2 days long. There is a lot to explore, but most of the paved trails can be hiked in one day!
The Bahamas Yes! The Bahamas. My home away from home. You can catch a quick flight to the hundred island nation for the weekend or take the newly popular Bimini Day cruise- no passport needed if you plan to stay on the ship!
Wellington Recently called “The Richest’s Secret Playground”, this equestrian village is home to Olympic competitors in equestrian disciplines from Stadium Jumping, Dressage, and World Class Polo. This is a seasonal treat from mid-January to April.
Lion Country Safari For those who dream of going on an African Safari, but know it’s more realistic to win the lottery first- be sure to check out Lion Country Safari! I used to volunteer here as a kid and loved absolutely everything about it! Way back when, you could even drive your car through the Lion enclosure- now you have to drive around it…. But everything else, like the giraffe’s, zebras, and rhinos, can walk right up to your window! Inside the zoo park is Giraffe feeding, a small water park, and amusement rides.
I feel like I can’t stress enough how different Miami is from the rest of the US. The tropical ecosystem, Cuban influence, and island life vibe- you just have to get out here to see it for yourself!
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