Here’s a complete overview of all the things to do and what to see in Miami, Florida including where to eat and drink, where to stay and the various transportation options.
Table of Contents
- Things to Do and See
- Where to Eat and Drink
- Where to Stay
- Transportation and How to Get Around
Miami, Florida, is a world-famous city of over 5.5 million people that’s located on the southeastern tip of Florida. Originally settled in 1825 as the United States expanded southward and westward, Miami today is a melting pot of cultures and a city that wears many faces. It is a place that conjures up imagines of palm-tree lined streets and classic convertibles, splashy nightclubs, Cuban cuisine and drinks, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
But all of that fails to encapsulate the identify of this city and also fails to capture why so many travelers from around the world make their way to Miami each and every year. The city itself is divided into two main areas. The central metropolitan area of Miami is located on the shores of the Biscayne Bay and is home to largest number of international banks in the United States. The other main area are the barrier islands that form the Biscayne Bay and separate metropolitan Miami from the Atlantic Ocean. These islands include the world-famous South Beach and Miami Beach.
Classified as having a tropical monsoon climate, the weather is hot and humid in Miami all year round. In addition, Miami is a vulnerable city during hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Because of this, the peak travel season for this city is between the end of November and May every year.
During peak travel time, the average temperature is around 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than it is during the height of summer, when temperatures typically push toward 100 degrees. Provided one is willing to roll the dice during hurricane season and can deal with the heat, though, there are many excellent deals to be found during the summer months.
If you’re lured by the culture, beaches, glitz and glamor of Miami and are planning a trip soon, then you’ve come to right place. Below, we’re going to share everything you need to see and do while you’re there, as well as where to stay, eat and drink. With this guide to Miami travel, you’ll be able to make the most of your experience in this amazing city!
Things to Do and See
Miami is one of the most exciting cities in the United States and perhaps the world, home to a diverse culture that enjoys fun and the finer things in life. From the tremendous eateries, coffee shops and dance clubs of Little Havana, to the white sand beaches of South Beach and Miami Beach, to the trendy nightclubs and hotels, there’s something for everyone in this tremendous city.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, though, and no matter what kind of experience you’re looking to have, there are some things one must see and do when in Miami. Below, we’re going to give you the inside dirt on the places no traveler should skip when they’re in this amazing city by the sea.
Things to Do in Miami
There’s way more to do in Miami then one could ever possibly list! From catching a Miami Heat game at the American Airlines Arena to sunning on the shores of Miami Beach, there’s something for everyone here. Leaving aside the obvious, here are the things every traveler should do while visiting Miami:
Cruise Ocean Drive
When tourists think about seeing Miami, they’re often thinking of the brightly colored Art Deco buildings made famous by shows like “Miami Vice”. These Art Deco buildings are themselves concentrated along Miami’s Ocean Drive, which is home to some 800 such buildings mostly built between the 1920s and the 1940s. Picking up Ocean Drive from 5th Street should put you right in the heart of things. If you want to understand the history of this neighborhood, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, be sure to grab a self-guided audio tour from the Art Deco District Welcome Center.
Miami Beach Sunning and Swimming
Now, if you’re all the way over on Ocean Drive, then heading over to the beach is a necessity. Although all of Miami’s beaches are enjoyable, there’s just something about catching rays and swimming the surf against a backdrop of Art Deco treasures that simply can’t be beat. If you’re looking for some after-beach refreshment and food, then head over to Collins Avenue, where you’ll find plenty of establishments ready to serve what the doctor ordered for you!
Tour Little Havana
Home to the largest Cuban-American population in the United States, a trip to Miami is incomplete without experiencing Cuban culture. Little Havana, which comprises the neighborhood of Vedado and Miramar, is where many Cuban nationals settled after fleeing their native country following Fidel Casto’s rise to power in 1959. While here, be sure to sample the local cuisine, stop in at the record shops, and also to get a cup of Cuban coffee.
Shop in the Lincoln Road Mall
Considered by many to be Miami’s answer to New York City’s 5th Avenue, the Lincoln Road Mall (more commonly referred to as just “the Lincoln”) is a cultural and shopping institution in Miami. From entertainment venues, coffee shops, and top-flight stores from top-flight brands and designers, you’ll find everything here. Best of all, the whole mall is outdoors, allowing you to enjoy the Miami heat as you window shop and browse.
Take a Movie Tour
Miami is without a doubt one of the most filmed cities in the entire world. From classics like “Scarface” to more contemporary shows like “Miami Vice” and “Dexter”, Miami has longed served as an alluring backdrop for cinema and television. Multiple companies offer movie themed tours throughout the city where you can visit the famous locations you’ve seen in your favorite movies and programs. While there are a number of options for this, many travelers rate Miami Movie Tours as the best.
Ask any family that’s traveled to Miami, and they’ll tell you that the Miami Seaquarium is a must-do activity when visiting the city. In addition to regular aquarium-style exhibits, there are also a variety of shows to take in, from those involving dolphins to those involving killer whales. For those who want an even grander experience, one can sign up for a swimming with the dolphins experience, which some believe can be life-changing.
Tourist Attractions and Places to See
Miami is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, offering plenty of things to see! Those who have an appreciation for fine art will find an art scene in Miami that rivals some of the most prestigious in the world. In addition, one will find many beautiful places in the city that scream to be snapped and posted to Instagram. Below, we’ve identified the places every visitor must see when in Miami:
The Deering Estate at Cutler
Situated on over 400 acres, the Deering Estate – which is named for its former owner, Charles Deering – has something to offer everyone. There are historic homes and cottages, some of which date back well over a century, to be toured. In addition, there are beautiful grounds and mangroves to traverse, in addition to collections of artwork to be enjoyed. For a taste of the flavor of what Miami was like a century ago, this is a good place to start.
The Design District
Once known as “Decorator’s Row”, this section of the city is home to some of the most beautiful examples of art and architecture in the entire country. Here, you can visit a number of different museums and galleries, including the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Opera Gallery. The latter of which has a collection that will make any fan of contemporary art, and particularly Andy Warhol, giddy with excitement.
To be sure, many of the places in Miami are hubs of activity. That’s why both locals and travelers alike flock to the relative tranquility of Key Biscayne, which is more commonly referred to as simply “the Key”. Featuring secluded and beautiful beaches along with several parks, this is the closest one can come to experiencing the natural environment upon which the city of Miami was built.
Miami Beach Botanical Garden
Another place where people can go while attempting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city is the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Situated on a scant two-and-a-half acres, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a new world entirely while you’re here. Aside from simply seeing the beautiful plants that make up this stunning garden, you can also visit the weekly farmers markets and other events that take place here.
The Wynwood Arts District
Only a decade ago, serious people turned their noses up at the idea of “street art”. Now, many realize that street art is much more than mere graffiti and vandalism. Miami was one of the first cities to truly embrace its street artists, and this is on full display in the Wynwood Arts District, where you can see murals and pieces by some of the world’s most famous street artists, including people like Shephard Fairey.
Home to 3,000 species of wild animals, Zoo Miami is one of the best zoos in the country. If you’re traveling with little ones, then this is a must-see attraction while you’re in Miami. Now, be warned that this won’t be the largest zoo you’ve ever been to. But, what this zoo lacks for in size it more than makes up for in animal interactions. If you’ve ever wanted to get up-close and personal with some exotic creatures, then this is an excellent place to do so.
Where to Eat and Drink
When you’re visiting Miami, you’re going to spend a lot of time walking through the Art Deco District and sunning yourself on the pristine beaches. But all of that walking, sunning and swimming means you’re going to work up quite an appetite! Thankfully, Miami’s amazing food scene is there to serve.
And when the sun goes down – or when it’s five o’clock somewhere – there are plenty of stellar places to grab a refreshing cocktail, too! Below, we’re going to take a look at the places where every visitor to Miami should go for food and drink.
Best Places to Eat
If someone made a list of cities where people like to eat and to eat well, Miami would absolutely be near the top of that list. Home to a diverse culture and showing off a food scene befitting that diversity, you’ll find high-quality cuisine all over the city.
From authentic Cuban restaurants serving up spicy and vibrant dishes, to chic gastropubs, the old-school steakhouses, it’s all here. Below, we’ve listed what we believe are some of Miami’s dining hot spots, some new to the game and others tried-and-true institutions.
A trip to Miami that doesn’t include a Cuban sandwich can hardly be called a trip to Miami at all. For one of the best that the city has to offer, stop in at this establishment, which you’ll find in Miami Beach. While there, be sure to sample some of the other dishes, too. Without a doubt, this place serves up some of the best Cuban cuisine in the entire city!
When you’re looking for a surf & turf, look no further than this fancy restaurant that’s located in the Browns Hotel. Open since 2004, this establishment has quickly developed a world-famous reputation, which allows it to regularly draw in a clientele that includes the rich and famous. Believe the hype when you’re looking over the menu, because everything this place serves is top notch!
Joe’s Stone Crab
Open now for over a century (since 1913!), Joe’s Stone Crab is a Miami Beach institution. The secret’s out on this place though, and it is busy throughout the day from November to May. Not accepting reservations, you’ll have to endure the wait (which can get as long as an hour), if you want to tuck in at this famed restaurant. There’s a reason this place has been open for more than a century, though, so consider enduring the wait.
Located near downtown, you might be familiar with this establishment if you’re an avid fan of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”. Long known by locals before Guy Fieri ever stepped through the front door, this place serves up some of the freshest local seafood in the entire city, and all at a price that’s guaranteed not to break your budget.
Bachour Bakery + Bistro
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there’s no place hotter for breakfast in Miami right now than this establishment. Serving up mouth-watering sweets and savory breakfast sandwiches, there’s something for everyone inside of this swanky up-and-coming eatery. Best of all, this place is easy to get to, as it’s situated right in the heart of downtown.
Glass and Vine
Al fresco dining and Miami restaurants go hand in hand. But, if you want an al fresco experience that’s on the unique side, then making the trek to this garden-themed restaurant is well worth it! The menu includes stunning dishes that feature some of the local seafood, as well as other dishes featuring local produce and meat.
Now, if you want to fully authentic experience with Miami’s Cuban cuisine, one place that should definitely be on your list is Exquisito Restaurant. You’ll find it on the main road through Little Havana, Calle Ocho, where it has been an institution for over the past three decades. Lunch and dinner are always excellent here, but don’t sleep on the Cuban breakfast they serve up here. It’s amazing.
Best Places to Drink
Miami, as you likely already well know, is home to a bustling nightlife culture. From Latin American dance clubs to trendy, upscale bars, there are a number of different options for having adult libations in Miami.
Below, we’ve collected what we believe to be the best bars and clubs currently operating in the city. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away in one of Miami’s bumping clubs, or you’re looking to travel back in time to the Miami of the 20s or even the 80s, you’ll find what you’re looking for below:
The Regent Cocktail Club
If you’re really looking to get into the swing of South Beach, then a cocktail at The Regent is a necessity. Done up in the style of the South Beach of yesterday, this place feels like thing kind of spot Frank Sinatra would’ve popped in at while breezing through the city. If you want the full experience, then be sure to enjoy a cigar on the designated patio.
Ball & Chain
Those looking to get a feel for the Miami of the 30s should make the excursion to this bar, which is located in Little Havana. It is a loving recreation of the bar of the same name that once played host to the world’s biggest jazz acts like Count Basie and Billie Holiday. There are plenty of libations to be enjoyed here, but a stop here that doesn’t include at least one mojito is pure sacrilege.
If “Miami Vice” is the first thing you think of when you hear the name “Miami”, then you want to have a cocktail at this Upper East Side bar. This place is done up in the 80s style, but the libations served are anything but dated. Occupying the spot of one of the city’s oldest bars, The Anderson has quickly emerged as one of the hottest bars in the city.
The Broken Shaker
The discerning cocktail enthusiast who follows the careers of prominent mixologists with great enthusiasm must absolutely make a pilgrimage to this Miami institution. Started as a pop-up, The Broken Shaker now has a permanent home in a hostel known as The Freehand. Here, the cocktail menu changes daily, featuring unique concoctions and Miami classics. You’ll find it in Mid Beach.
When you’re talking about places to drink in Miami, you’re eventually going to have to turn your attention toward the city’s bustling club scene. While there’s some disagreement as to which club is the hottest right now, many a throwing their support behind Story, which is located on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. Be warned, though. This club is hot, and you might need to grease a palm or two to get through the line.
Located in the Edition Hotel, this Miami Beach club is also one of the hottest going right now. The dance floor itself is large and plays host to world-famous DJs. However, there are other things to turn your attention to here. In addition to dancing, you can also go ice-skating and even bowl a few frames. Needless to say, the wait to get in here is well worth it, because there’s entertainment to be had in 360 degrees.
Hoy Como Ayer
Those looking to get a flavor for the Latin American club scene in Miami should go to the best, Hoy Como Ayer (Today as Yesterday). Every night of the week, the rum flows freely in this vibrant dance club that you’ll find right in the heart of Little Havana on Calle Ocho. For our money, this might be the most fun you can have club-going in the entire city!
Where to Stay
As one of the hottest travel destinations in the entire world, there is no shortage of places to stay in Miami. In fact, Miami happens to be home to one of the greatest concentrations of boutique, luxury hotels in the entire world.
In the city, you’ll find many of the standard hotel and motel options you can expect throughout the United States. However, we recommend paying extra to stay in one of Miami’s classier establishments. In truth, staying at one of the famed boutique Miami hotels is just as much a part of visiting this city as is hitting the beach.
Below, we’ve collected a diverse list of amazing hotels in Miami. Situated in different areas of the city, any of these hotels is guaranteed to offer you a stellar experience. Best of all, these hotels also tend to be a bit cheaper than the crème-de-la-crème, meaning you’ll have more money in your pocket for sampling the rest of what Miami has to offer.
The Standard Spa
Those who dream of enjoying the ultimate pool scene in the ultimate pool town might as well book their stay at The Standard. The pool here is well known for the quality and excitement of its pool parties. But, it’s so much more than that! The rooms are chic and current, making it the ideal spot for the vacationing young couple, and it offers easy access to South Beach and Lincoln Road.
Thompson Miami Beach
If you’re interested in accommodations that recall the heyday of old Miami, this hotel is an excellent option. Done up in the mid-century style, this hotel features much of the luxury and amenities that you’ll find at a more expensive hotel nearby. The only drawback is the location, which necessitates a long walk or a short drive if you want to get to the Art Deco District.
For a hotel that’s centrally located in the downtown area, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than EAST, Miami. Part of a massive luxury development, the rooms of this hotel offer stunning views of the Biscayne Bay and the rest of downtown. It’s central location means that you’ll enjoy relatively easy access to Miami Beach and South Beach, as well as the hot spots in Little Havana.
This luxury hotel is also based in the downtown area and towers over nearby buildings, coming in at 54 stories. It’s located right where the Miami River meets the Biscayne Bay and offers tremendous amenities, including an absolutely gorgeous infinity pool. Like EAST, this hotel is centrally located meaning that access to much of Miami’s attractions is quite easy. Also, the rates are often lower than you’ll find at similar luxury hotels nearby.
Those who have an appreciation for the glitz and glamour of modern-day luxury hotels owe a debt of gratitude to this boutique property that was opened in nineties. Stylishly sleek and still attracting a rich and famous clientele, you’ll feel like you’re in the very lap of luxury during your stay here. Best of all, the location along Collins Avenue and right on the beach simply cannot be beat.
Best Places to Stay
As we said before, having an incredible hotel experience is truly a part of getting the Miami experience. Below, you’ll find three hotels that we believe offer the very best hotel experiences you can find in the city. Each will appeal to a different kind of traveler. The first is perfect for those who want to dive headfirst into the Miami club scene, the second offers a more romantic and intimate experience, and the last offers the very best in terms of contemporary luxury.
First opening its doors in 1954, the Fontainebleau has rightfully claimed is reputation as one of the best hotels in all of Miami. Situated in Miami Beach, the hotel is comprised of four separate buildings that wrap around an absolutely massive pool. The hotel is also home to one of the hottest dance clubs in the city, too, and it’s called Liv.
Setai Miami Beach
This smaller boutique hotel in South Beach is consistently rated as one of the best in the city. Located right on the beach, this hotel offers incredible service in an environment that’s decidedly hip. In addition to beautiful rooms, the hotel also has three different pools all set to different temperatures for different temperaments. One piece of advice: skip the hotel restaurants, and instead walk down the street and go to some of the best restaurants in the city.
W South Beach
There are incredible W hotels around the world, and the one that you’ll find in Miami Beach is one of the best. With its chic interior that practically oozes luxury, you’ll feel like a movie star while you’re staying here. Best of all, its location along Collins Avenue means that you’re only a short walk away from all the fun, excitement and shops of Lincoln Road.
Transportation and How to Get Around
With the exception of its Metromover, Miami is home to a public transportation system that’s largely underutilized. For the traveler, this means you’ll almost definitely want to consider renting a car when visiting the city.
That said, modern conveniences like Uber mean that renting a car isn’t as necessary as it once was. In fact, depending upon where you’re staying and what you might want to do, you may not need anything other than your own two feet to get around!
Below, we’re going to review everything you need to know about getting around in Miami, from arriving and departing at the airport to catching a cab between downtown and South Beach.
There are two airports that offer service right near the city of Miami. The first, and most centrally located, is Miami International Airport, which is located about 12 miles from the center of downtown. One can also fly into the Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport, which is about 30 miles from the center of downtown.
Getting from the Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport to Miami will require a car rental or a very expensive taxi ride. From the more centrally located Miami International, though, there are a number of hotel shuttles and buses that offer service to and from the airport. In addition, one can take the Metrorail to and from the airport. To read more about this option, visit this website.
Uber and Lyft
Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services are currently operating in the Miami metro area. Rates are standard for these services and vary depending upon the hour. Those looking to take one of these services to or from Miami International Airport will be subject to a $2 surcharge and will be responsible for any tolls along the way.
If you prefer to keep it old school with your taxi services, you’ll be happy to learn that there are multiple taxi companies operating in the city. In fact, you’ll likely not have to travel far in order to find a taxi stand, regardless of where you find yourself. In addition, your hotel concierge can call a cab for you, if need be. Taxi rates are standard, typically starting at $2.50 and going up by 60 cents for every additional sixth of a mile.
Public Transportation: Busses
As far as public transportation is concerned, busses are essentially the only option in Miami. Currently, the Miami-Dade Transit Authority operates some 800 buses in the Miami metropolitan area, running numerous routes that run at regular 15-minute intervals.
Bus fare is a flat $2.00, unless the bus in question is an express bus, in which case the fare is $2.35. Transfers from one bus to another cost an additional 50 cents. If you plan on using the bus regularly, you’ll definitely want to purchase an EASY card, which can be loaded up to any amount below $150 that you desire.
All of the above said, do note that the bus is not a popular travel option for Miami tourists. While it’s cheap, clean and affordable, generally you’ll only find the elderly and those who do not own automobiles using the bus system.
Public Transportation: The Metromover
In the downtown area, there’s only one form of public transportation that you’ll need to use, The Metromover. Originally built in the mid 80s and expanding since then, this monorail system offers free service to passengers in the downtown area. Currently, there are three loops that Metromover, the Downtown/Inner Loop, the Brickell Loop and the Omni Loop. In the downtown area where the Metromove operates, you’ll typically find a station once every two blocks. To read more about the Metromover, visit the website here.
Public Transportation: Trains
For the purpose of getting around inside of Miami itself, the only train option is the Metromover listed above. However, Miami does offer train service to other nearby places, some of which might be on your list of destinations to see, like Coral Gables, Coconut Grove or the Civic Center. This service is called Metrorail.
In the downtown Miami area, there are three central stations: Brickell, Government Center and the Lyric Theater. Fares aboard the Metrorail are the same as they are for the bus, with $2.00 taking you wherever you need to go. For those who are traveling light, note that the Metrorail can be an easy and cheap way to get to and from Miami International Airport.
Traveling by Foot
Rapid development in Miami has made the city one of the most walkable in the entire country. In fact, when Walk Score recently surveyed cities in the United States, it found Miami to be the fifth most walkable and rapidly gaining.
That said, the “walkability” of the city has a lot to do with where you’re staying. For example, if you’re staying downtown, you won’t be able to walk to Miami Beach or South Beach. The same holds true in reverse.
However, as long as you can get from here to there if you’re traveling a long distance, you’ll find that almost all of the neighborhoods in Miami are easy to navigate on foot. In fact, when you’re visiting places like Little Havana or the Art Deco District, you’ll find that traveling by foot is absolutely the best way to get around.