The Ultimate Guide To Miami
Miami, a coastal metropolis known for its beaches and eclectic neighborhoods!
Miami, with an unbelievably diverse array of natural landscapes, cityscapes, and cultures, is one of the most sought-after destinations in the US!
Miami, located in southern Florida, tucked between the wetlands of the Everglades on the west and Biscayne Bay on the east, features a unique amalgamation of several cultural treasures and a bustling modern metropolitan city. Miami is also home to several miles of gorgeous coastline, making it one of the Nation’s top beach destinations with sparkling white sandy beaches and several lively neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive charm!
Before the European settlers arrived in the region, Miami was home to the Native Americans who lived by the Miami River, now called the Lake Okeechobee, and called themselves “Mayaimi,” from where the city got its name. Florida was later ceded to the United States by Spain in 1819, and then Julia Tuttle’s citrus plantation and Henry Flagler’s railroad sparked the era of progressive growth in Miami. Today, besides being a popular tourist attraction, Miami is also a cultural and commercial hub with several thriving industries, including travel & cruise industry, aviation, healthcare, banking, and information technology.
Undeniably, the gorgeous coastline and beaches are the city’s major draws, but Miami and its eclectic neighborhoods have a lot more to offer!
While Miami is a highly sought-after destination amongst beach-lovers and vacationers, the city also serves as a cruise ship embarkation and disembarkation port for many. In either case, when in the city of Miami, you must definitely explore the white sandy beaches, but most importantly, go beyond the beaches and see the city’s many lively neighborhoods, including Art Deco buildings in South Beach, Mediterranean-style architecture in Coral Gables, feel the vibes of Cuba in Little Havana, marvel at the colorful street murals in Wynwood, and of course, the cityscapes in bustling downtown Miami.
Here is my ultimate guide to Miami, featuring essential trip-planning information, major attractions, Miami attractions map, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants in Miami!
Planning Your Trip To Miami
Directly flying into Miami, renting a car, and staying in one of the oceanfront resorts is the best way to get the most out of your trip to Miami!
Best Time To Visit Miami: Miami, with warm weather throughout the year, is a year-round destination! However, winter is the busiest season in Miami as tourists come to enjoy warm weather and beach when most of the country is covered in snow. Spring with mild temperatures is the second busiest season in Miami, but if you plan to travel during winter or spring, you must make your lodging reservations in advance and be prepared for huge crowds. The best way to avoid the crowds in Miami is by visiting during the shoulder seasons, summer and fall, when there’re fewer crowds due to the high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall in the area. However, please know that daytime temperatures in summers are scorching hot and humid in Miami.
Time Required In Miami: With so many beaches and diverse neighborhoods, I recommend spending a minimum of three days in Miami to see the city’s major attractions. However, many people also visit Everglades and Key West on a trip to Miami but doing that definitely requires more time. Visiting Everglades would add one day to your Miami trip itinerary, but Key West requires more time, a minimum of two days. You can find more details and essential trip planning information about these places in my Key West Travel Guide and Everglades Travel Guide.
Getting To Miami: The best and most comfortable way to get to Miami is by flying directly into Miami International Airport. Alternatively, you could also take an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus to Miami.
- Flight: Miami International Airport (MIA), Miami, Florida, is just 11 miles from Downtown Miami, is the closest and most convenient airport to Miami. Alternatively, you could also fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Fort Lauderdale, Florida, approximately 26 miles from Miami.
- Train: Amtrak offers train service to Miami, with Miami Station, the closest Amtrak station to Miami located about 10 miles from downtown Miami at 37th Ave, Miami.
- Bus: Greyhound offers bus services to Miami, with two primary bus stops serving the city, the Miami Airline Terminal, located close to Miami International Airport, and another stop at 21st Street, Miami, just 10 miles from Miami Downtown.
Parking & Transportation In Miami: Most attractions and resorts offer paid parking in Miami, and there are quite a few public and private parking lots in the downtown area as well. Though Miami is known to be one of the congested cities with bad traffic, getting around in a car is really not that bad if you avoid peak hours. Though Miami offers quite a few public transportation options including, busses, trolleys, Metromover, and a Metrorail, understanding the routes and following the schedules can be confusing, so I recommend renting a car when visiting Miami.
Tours & Multi-Attraction Passes In Miami: If you’re visiting Miami or any other city in the US for the first time, I highly recommend using a hop-on-hop-off tour service and buying a discounted multi-attraction pass from Go City. While there’re quite a few tour companies that offer guided land and sea tours in Miami, here’re a couple that I have used and recommend for sightseeing – Big Bus and Duck Tours South Beach.
Lodging & Dining In Miami: Given Miami is one of the most popular beach destinations in the US, there’re numerous lodging options in the city, ranging from luxury oceanfront resorts to locally owned bread and breakfasts. The town, popularly known for its seafood and Cuban food, also offers a wide range of excellent dining options, including romantic oceanfront restaurants, charming local eateries, and fine dining venues. I have reviewed the lodging and dining options in Miami in detail in the later section of this post.
Things To Do In Miami
Miami Attractions Map
Miami can be broadly divided into two parts – Mainland Miami and Miami Beach. Miami Beach is the island city detached from mainland Miami by the Biscayne Bay and connected via bridges traversing the bay. Miami Beach is where you will find all the gorgeous beaches, oceanfront resorts, and the Art Deco Historic District. The mainland is home to several vibrant neighborhoods, including Downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Little Havana, Wynwood, and a few others.
Then there’s Key Biscayne, an island located south of Miami Beach, detached from both mainland Miami and Miami Beach, and is definitely one of the must-see places on a trip to Miami. However, with so many places to see and things to do in Miami, it’s often challenging to pick one over the other, so to help you plan your trip to Miami, I have listed all the mainstream attractions below.
If it’s your first trip to Miami or if you’re pressed for time, I recommend sticking with the mainstream attractions of the city, but if you have time, there’re a ton of other attractions and things to do in Miami, including – shopping at the Dolphin Mall, Zoo Miami, Coral Castle, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami Children’s Museum, Matheson Hammock Park, Key West, and Everglades.
Here’re the must-see places and mainstream attractions in Miami, starting with Miami Beach, the star of Miami!
Miami Beach, the main draw of Miami with gorgeous beaches, resorts, and Art Deco Historic District, is an island city detached from mainland Miami. Technically, Miami Beach stretches from North Beach Oceanside Park to South Pointe Park, but for simplicity, we’ll refer to the entire island as Miami Beach, including South Beach, Surfside, Bal Harbour, & Sunny Isles Beach.
Downtown Miami, the second most popular tourist destination of the city, is home to several skyscrapers, shopping malls, and many entertainment venues, including FTX Arena, Miami Seaquarium, Bayfront Park, Jungle Island Zoo, Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, History Miami Museum and Bayside Marketplace.
Key Biscayne, a barrier island located south of Miami Beach, detached from both mainland Miami and Miami Beach, features pristine white sandy beaches and several miles of natural parkland. Key Biscayne is a paradise for beach lovers, and it’s also home to Crandon Park, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, and Cape Florida Lighthouse.
Wynwood, located just five miles north of Downtown Miami, is a vibrant and lively neighborhood of Miami, popularly known for its Wynwood Walls. Wynwood Walls is a unique outdoor museum featuring several spectacular large colorful street murals and graffitis created by renowned artists from all over the globe.
Coconut Grove, another charming neighborhood of Miami located along the shores of Biscayne Bay just five miles southwest of Downtown Miami, is popularly known for its lavish gardens, relaxed environment, tree-lined streets and is home to the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Barnacle Historic State Park, and CocoWalk – a shopping & entertainment venue.
Coral Gables, located about three miles northwest of Coconut Grove, is popularly known for its fabulous Mediterranean architecture and is often referred to as “The City Beautiful.” The Venetian Pool is the major attraction of Coral Gables, built in 1924, the historical pool was created using coral rocks and features, waterfalls, bridges, and two historic lookout towers.
Little Havana, located four miles northeast of Coral Gables, is a dynamic and lively Cuban neighborhood featuring Cuban restaurants, bakeries, Cuban coffee & cigar stalls, art galleries, and live music venues. The most notable attractions of Little Havana include – Maximo Gomez Park, Tower Theater, and Futurama 1637 Art Building.
Lodging & Dining In Miami
I recommend staying in one of the oceanfront properties with gorgeous coastal views and access to the beach for an authentic Miami experience!
Hotels In Miami: Miami, being a popular beach destination, features many luxurious oceanfront resorts and boutique hotels. When deciding on hotels or resorts in Miami, there’re primarily two choices – oceanfront and non-oceanfront properties. I love and recommend the oceanfront resorts in the Miami Beach area for an authentic beach holiday and easy access to the beach. Here’re are my top picks for hotels and resorts in Miami –
- Ritz-Carlton South Beach: The epitome of luxury in Miami, Ritz-Carlton South Beach features luxury accommodation, contemporary decor, and fantastic coastal vistas and is a great place to spend your beach vacation.
- Nobu Hotel Miami Beach: Hugging the Atlantic Ocean, Nobu Hotel Miami Beach is a boutique resort featuring stylish and modern Japanese architecture, private pools, luxury sea-facing accommodation, excellent guest service, and quite a few dining options.
- Carillon Miami Wellness Resort: Featuring a private beach and one of the most extensive spas in the US, the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort is a sprawling beachfront property offering guest rooms and apartments and is an excellent place to stay in Miami.
- Hilton Bentley Miami South Beach: The Hilton Bentley Miami South Beach, featuring a large oceanfront property with several sea-facing suites and guest rooms, is also a great choice of lodging in Miami Beach.
- Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon: If staying in an oceanfront property is not a must for you, Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon, located right next to Miami International Airport, is an excellent choice with modern amenities and outstanding guest services.
Restaurants In Miami: Exceptional seafood, authentic Cuban food, fine dining, romantic seaside restaurants, and charming local eateries, Miami offers several excellent dining options. With so many options, it’s difficult to pick one over the other but to help you decide, here’re some of the cuisines and restaurants you must try in Miami – seafood at Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant or CJ’s Crab Shack, authentic Cuban food at Versailles Restaurant Cuban Cuisine and La Carreta, delicious Key Lime Pie in Versailles Cuban Bakery, and some Ice Cream at Azucar Ice Cream, Little Havana.
Other Florida Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Miami, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Miami. You can find other attractions in Florida in my Florida Travel Guide.
Happy feeding your soul!
Shop Travel Essentials
This is not a sponsored post, and I recommend products based on my experience. This may contain affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using my link at no extra cost to you. More Travel Accessories.