Miami travel guide. Learn when to go, where to stay, what to eat, things to do, and so much more with this extensive guide.
This is one of the most popular destinations in the United States, and for very good reasons, too.
Miami’s popularity stems from its colorful culture, beautiful attractions, world-class beaches, and a dynamic blend of art, nightlife, and international cuisine.
As a result, this guide presents Miami tourism, neighborhoods, day trips, and even an example 7-day itinerary.
So, if you’re planning a trip to this gorgeous destination in Florida, get your pen and paper out, as I will share a ton of info with you.
Table of Contents
Over 20 million people visit the Miami area every single year, and travelers flock to this destination for many reasons.
First of all, Miami has an array of tourist things to do, including a multi-city stretch of 35-mile (or 55-kilometer) long beaches.
Of course, South Beach, the lively Ocean Drive, Little Havana, Jungle Island, the Wynwood Walls, and the Design District all add to Miami’s allure.
Meanwhile, Miami acts as a neutral ground for Latin Americans.
As a result, the city is a welcoming environment for meetings, shopping, business, cultural exchange, and economic collaboration.
For instance, global Spanish-language television networks like Telemundo are based in Miami.
So, Miami-based shows like “La Reina del Sur” (The Queen of the South) are huge across South America.
Likewise, Miami-based talents like Ricky Martin, Gabrielle Union, and others are global megastars.
Similarly, the city’s diverse groups mean an eclectic of foods. For instance, cuisines like Cuban and Haitian have become an integral part of the city’s culture.
Finally, Miami has positioned itself as a Spring Break destination, with major events drawing in millions of students and families each year.
So, your Miami travel will expose you to a ton of tourism!
Pre-Trip Miami Travel Basics
For your Miami travel, a flight will probably be your way to enter the country.
A passport is not required if you’re a U.S. citizen, but non-U.S. citizens should check visa requirements.
Of course, those from visa-waiver countries, including citizens of the European Union, do not require a visa.
Meanwhile, Miami International Airport (MIA) is the primary gateway, connecting the city globally, including nonstop flights.
A taxi from MIA to South Beach typically costs around $35-$45, taking approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic.
Likewise, you have the choice to go on a ridesharing cab, take a direct (nonstop) bus, or rent your own car.
Also, Miami operates in the Eastern Time Zone (ET), which is about the same time zone as New York City.
The official currency is the United States Dollar (USD), although foreign credit cards are widely accepted, provided they are in newtork (Visa, Mastercard, etc).
Similarly, there are a ton of ATMs across the Miami area, but you will need to make sure your bank is part of a U.S.-accepted network.
For example, Allpoint, MoneyPass, New York Currency Exchange (NYCE), Pulse, and STAR are part of the U.S. banking network.
While travel insurance is not mandatory, I would highly recommend getting one for unforeseen circumstances.
Ensure your coverage includes medical emergencies because it’s expensive to go to the hospital in the United States.
Finally, speaking a little Spanish will be very helpful in many areas of Miami, where a large population of Spanish-speaking people live.
Best Time to Visit
Spring, from March to June, is an ideal time to visit Miami. This is a period characterized by warm temperatures and minimal rainfall.
Also, the good news is that this is considered the “shoulder season” when it isn’t as expensive to visit.
Summer, from June to September, brings high temperatures, humidity, and occasional afternoon thunderstorms.
Personally, I don’t like Miami this time of the year. Humidity can be as high as 75%, which sucks because you sweat like crazy.
Fortunately, this is also considered the “low season,” which is when tourism is least active.
Fall, from September to December, marks hurricane season, with increased rainfall and the possibility of storms.
I would highly discourage you from visiting this time of year if you can avoid it. Honestly, it would be horrible to make plans only to cancel because of a storm.
Winter, from December to March, offers pleasant weather, with mild temperatures and low humidity, making it a popular time for tourists.
By far, this is the busiest season for tourism, known as the “high season.” So, budget travel isn’t the best for this period.
So, the success of your Miami travel can depend on the weather, your own personal interests, and more.
Where to Stay in Miami
South Beach stands out as the prime choice as a place to stay for your Miami travel since it has everything you need.
This area has a lively atmosphere and pristine beaches, and it also has convenient access to Downtown, Little Havana, Little Haiti, and other key attractions.
Mid-Beach is an alternative. This is a relaxed stay with a mix of Art Deco and modern architecture.
You will enjoy pristine beaches, oceanfront dining, and a more tranquil atmosphere compared to South Beach.
Then, there is Downtown Miami. Staying in this area means a true urban experience with modern skyscrapers, cultural venues, and waterfront views.
If you love a dynamic hub for business, entertainment, and exploration, Downtown Miami might be for you.
Of course, staying in Wynwood is a youthful and artistic experience. You will be surrounded by high-end boutiques, avant-garde art galleries, and trendy dining options in a stylish, modern setting.
Plus, Wynwood is home to the famous graffiti walls, giving you a chance to snap a bunch of selfies.
On the other hand, Coral Gables is a sophisticated stay with Mediterranean Revival architecture, tree-lined streets, upscale shops, and fine dining.
If you love an elegant and tranquil residential experience, Coral Gables is for you.
Meanwhile, I absolutely love Little Havana. Staying in Little Havana gives you a cultural immersion with lively streets, vibrant murals, and authentic Cuban cuisine.
If you want to experience Miami’s famous Cuban culture, this is the neighborhood for you.
Finally, there are a ton of neighborhoods to choose from – all the way to the ones in Fort Lauderdale. So, choose where you think you will enjoy most.
Food in Miami
The food in Miami is incredible, ranging from Floridan, American, and global flavors.
Florida’s cuisine, therefore, reflects a mix of influences due to its diverse population.
For instance, seafood plays a significant role, with fresh catches like grouper and stone crab being local favorites.
“Stone Crab Claws” is a popular dish with succulent claws in mustard sauce for a unique and flavorful seafood experience.
Of course, Cuban cuisine is prevalent in Miami, and this has flavorful dishes such as “Ropa Vieja,” which is a shredded beef cooked in a savory tomato-based sauce with onions, bell peppers, garlic, and aromatic spices.
As you will see, Cuban cuisine blends Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences. You really must try this during your Miami travel.
Likewise, Haitian cuisine is found in many areas, and it comes with dishes like “Griot” (fried pork).
Haitian food is flavorful and diverse, and it typically features bold spices and a mix of African, French, and Caribbean influences.
Beyond local fare, Miami also has diverse international cuisines. You will find Italian, Indian, and Mexican restaurants.
Italian restaurants are scattered across the city, and these places tend to serve authentic pasta and pizza.
Similarly, Indian eateries offer a variety of curries and spices, and you will choose between vegetarian and non-vegetarian spots.
Of course, Mexican establishments offer tacos and enchiladas, and you will even get regional variances in restaurant choices.
What I love about Miami food is that you can enjoy something “exotic” and still celebrate the seafood culture of Florida.
For instance, you can get seafood pasta, fish curry, or shrimp tacos at Italian, Indian, and Mexican joints.
So, Miami’s food culture mirrors its cosmopolitan atmosphere with a global gastronomic experience for residents and visitors alike.
When travelers think of Miami, they think of a beautiful beach, but Florida has more to offer!
As a result, Miami caters to a diverse range of travelers with its array of attractions. Whether traveling by yourself, as a couple, or even as seniors, you will find your groove.
For example, solo travelers are able to explore the colorful street art in Wynwood, indulge in yummy food in Little Havana, or relax on the serene beaches of Key Biscayne.
If you want a hot date with a local, you might head to the Latin bars, Haitian lounges, or even cowboy events.
Of course, couples are able to enjoy romantic walks along the iconic Ocean Drive, explore the gorgeous flora of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, or go on a Biscayne Bay sunset cruise.
If you’re traveling with kids, Jungle Island is a family-friendly adventure, and the Miami Seaquarium has gorgeous marine life.
For seniors, the Pérez Art Museum Miami gives you cultural experiences, while the serene Miami Beach Botanical Garden provides a tranquil retreat.
If you absolutely love nature like I do, you will want to head to the southern tip of the island of Key Biscayne.
You will find Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
This is a tranquil coastal retreat that has pristine beaches, a historic lighthouse, scenic nature trails, and opportunities for water activities.
So, yeah, your Miami travel is going to be fun!
Miami Day Trips
Escape the hustle of South Beach with amazing day trips nearby. For example, explore the unique ecosystem of the Everglades National Park.
This is just a short drive away, where airboat tours offer glimpses of wildlife, including the famous alligators.
Then, you can take a scenic drive to the colorful neighborhoods of Little Havana and Little Haiti for cultural immersion and authentic cuisine.
For instance, stop in front of colorful eateries and get something small… so you can make multiple stops!
Of course, the historic Coral Gables, with its Mediterranean Revival architecture and green landscapes, is a charming setting for a day excursion.
Walk around and feel like you’re in a tropical version of Tuscany, including a gelato in hand.
Meanwhile, Key West is several hours away and will give you a taste of Caribbean charm and watersports.
By the way, the drive to Key West is so beautiful since you will be traveling on a long bridge with narrow lanes surrounded by the water.
For a laid-back coastal experience, visit Fort Lauderdale and its picturesque beaches and canals.
So, yeah, these day trips are diverse experiences, allowing you to discover a mix of culture, nature, and history that is part of your Miami travel.
7-Day Miami Itinerary
How long do you need to enjoy a Miami travel? Personally, I think a dynamic 7-day trip is enough.
First of all, start with three days in the heart of South Beach. Immerse yourself in the iconic Art Deco architecture along Ocean Drive.
Likewise, relax on the sun-drenched shores and explore the colorful street art of this beautiful area.
For instance, Lincoln Road is a great way to take a walk across South Beach since it goes from Collins Avenue to Alton Road.
During your stay there, you may also indulge in the diverse culinary scene, from Cuban food in Little Havana to seafood along the waterfront.
On day four, take a scenic drive to the historic Coral Gables and also visit Little Haiti and maybe even Mid-Beach.
Day five should be an adventure in the nearby Everglades National Park, experiencing the unique ecosystem with an exhilarating airboat tour.
For the sixth day, I think you can explore the Pérez Art Museum Miami or the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Miami is a host not only to Art Basel but also to Miami Art Week, Art Miami, and so much more!
Conclude your trip with a relaxing day trip to Key West on the seventh day, where Caribbean charm, watersports, and stunning sunsets await.
So, this 7-day itinerary gives you a well-rounded experience of Miami.
What to Avoid
While Miami is a fun destination, there are a few things to be cautious about. First of all, avoid leaving valuables unattended, especially on the beach, to prevent theft.
Be mindful of traffic and pedestrian signals, as Miami’s crazy streets can be challenging to navigate.
Of course, certain neighborhoods may have higher crime rates, so I would encourage you to research and exercise caution, particularly at night.
Be cautious of wildlife, especially in natural areas like the Everglades, where encounters with alligators are possible.
Meanwhile, during hurricane season (August to November), stay informed about weather updates and potential evacuation notices.
Also, please avoid confrontations and disputes, maintaining a respectful and tolerant attitude, especially in culturally diverse neighborhoods.
So, yeah, by staying aware and taking necessary precautions, you can have a safe experience for your Miami travel.
You discovered the ins and outs of Miami travel with this comprehensive guide.
For instance, you found insights on the best time to visit, ideal places to stay, yummy dining options, and a myriad of activities to engage in.
Plus, you found valuable information on Miami’s tourism scene, suggested day trips, and even a sample 7-day itinerary.
So, go ahead and plan your trip to the gorgeous Miami area.
AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.
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