Miami is one of those cities that I find hard to describe. It’s eclectic and overwhelming in it’s mix of excessive luxury and it’s down to earth culture depending on where you visit. Even on my first visit to the city, I fell in love with how Miami just seemed like a jumble of cultures thrown together to make this beautiful urban paradise. Since moving to South Florida, and having the opportunity to visit more often, I’ve only fell more in love with it’s quirkiness. If you’re looking for a unique sunny getaway, Miami is your city!
- Location- Miami is the southernmost city in the United States, located in Southeast Florida on the Atlantic Ocean coastline.
- Budget- $$$$$
- Language- Miami is a bilingual city, with much of it’s population speaking both English & Spanish.
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Where to Stay-
If it’s your frist time visiting Miami, I recommend staying in South Beach. It’s definitely more of a touristy area but makes a great base for exploring the city since there are tons of things to do nearby and great transportation options to to get around. Below are some great accommodation options in the South Beach area:
The Clay Hotel– Joe and I stayed here during a long weekend trip before we moved here and absolutely loved it. The hotel is located on an adorable pedestrian-only side street called Española Way, that had amazing restaurants and a lively atmosphere at night. The rooms were small but clean and the included breakfast was an added bonus! The real selling point of this hotel was the location- everything in South Beach was within 10 minutes walking distance. Price is usually around $100-$175 a night.
The Setai Miami Beach– This is my all time favorite hotel in Miami Beach! The rooms are lovely but the pool is what really steals the show. It’s a beautiful setting that makes you feel like your miles away from the hustle and bustle of South Beach. It’s the perfect place to sit back and relax! Their spa is a must and you can get great deals during Miami Spa week!
The Freehand– When I was were booking our first weekend in Miami, we were torn between The Clay Hotel and The Freehand, a boutique hostel that came with glowing reviews from a personal friend. We ultimately picked The Clay due to it’s prime location but anyone we know who has stayed at The Freehand has loved it. The hostel has both dorm rooms and private rooms depending on your preference. They also have an in-house cocktail bar, The Broken Shaker, which is known for it’s unique cocktails. Price is usually around $37 a night for a dorm bed or $99-$200 a night for a private room.
What to do-
Explore South Beach-
South Beach has something for everyone! A great way to start your first day is by walking down Ocean Drive which is the main strip in South Beach. This is the area with all of the art deco architecture and candy colored buildings that you see in pictures. It also runs parallel to the beach so you can pop over and enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean. If you don’t want to walk, Decobike has a service where you can rent bikes all over South Beach and then drop them at a number of drop off points.
If the Florida weather turns on you and it rains, don’t worry– there is a uniquely Miami rainy day experience to be had at the World Erotic Art Museum. It was fun to go and laugh at all of the raunchy art collected by a GRANDMA— yes, you read that right. Admission costs $15 and you can easily kill a few hours here.
I wouldn’t recommend eating on Ocean Drive. Everything is incredibly overpriced. On our first visit to Miami, we made a rookie mistake and ordered drinks from a restaurant that was promoting a happy hours special for buy one get one free– but they failed to mention that one drink cost $45!! Granted the drinks were huge but certainly not worth that kind of money. You’ve been warned. 🙂
Lastly, for a nice evening in South Beach head over to Lincoln Road, an outdoor mall that stretches across the entirety of Miami Beach. Mixed in with your mall favorites you can find unique stores like Dylan’s Candy Bar, a South Beach staple! After this hit up one of the many clubs in South Beach— Nikki Beach is a classic!
The Wynwood Walls area is definitely up and coming. What used to be a bunch of run down warehouses is now an amazing street art installation that has attracted art galleries and trendy cafes to the neighborhood. This is an instagramer’s dream with amazing walls of art to pose as the perfect Insta background.
Pop into Panther Coffee, an amazing specialty coffee shop, for one of their unique brews while you walk around.
Calle Ocho or “Little Havana” is the Cuban culture center of Miami. No travel guide to Miami should leave out this unique street. The street is dotted with cigar shops and delicious Cuban restaurants. Make sure to stop by Domino Park, where you can watch Cuban men while away the afternoon with friendly games of dominos. If you’re looking for amazing Cuban food, skip Versallies and go across the street to La Caretta which has more authentic food at a lower price tag!
Check out my guide on all the best places to try Cuban Food on Calle Ocho!
No travel guide to Miami would be complete without a visit to downtown Miami. It often gets overshadowed by the neighboring tourist attractions but is definitely worth a look. If you are looking to add a little culture to your Miami trip, then you can’t miss the Pérez Art Musem. The Museum has new and exciting exhibits all the time and is only $16 dollars to visit. (pssst– if you go on the first Thursday or Second Saturday of every month, admission is FREE!)
If you want to get an overall feel of Downtown Miami, catch a ride on the Metromover. This free mode of monorail transportation is a 4.4-mile loop, that stops at some of the major destinations downtown. Be sure to hop off at the American Airlines Arena to check out the home the Miami Heat!
Why Should You Go to Miami?
I feel like I used the word unique too many times in this travel guide to Miami, but that really is the best word to describe this city. It’s unlike any other city I’ve been to in the USA. I found it fascinating on my first visit and have only fallen more in love with it’s hidden gems the longer I live in South Florida. From raucous nightlife to laid back beaches, Miami truly has something for everyone.
Miami Packing Essentials-
- Cover Up & Swimsuit– Can’t come to Miami without lounging on the beach!
- Beach Bag– Who says carry-on only travel can’t be cute
- Sunglasses- Shades to protect your eyes from the strong Florida sun
- Sassy sun hat– How perfect is this hat for that “wish you were here” insta!?
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