Miami Waterfront Buildings
Miami waterfront (Photo credit: Holger Detje)

Miami Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • Located in sunny Florida, Miami is a city of 400,000 people (across 55 sq. miles). 
  • The number one passenger cruise port in the world, Miami is known as a hub for onward trips to Central and South America.
  • A top destination for wreck diving, Miami used to be a popular place for pirates to bury their stolen treasure. Notable guests included Gasparilla, Blackbeard, and Lafitte.
  • Named after the Miyaimis, a Native American tribe that lived in the area.
  • Nicknames: Capital of Latin America, Magic City, The 305, The M.I.A.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: US Dollar (USD).
  • Spoken languages: officially, English. Unofficially, Spanish.
  • Best time to visit: from October to April. Tropical monsoon climate, with very hot summers.
  • Arriving via airport: the Miami Airport has a dedicated Metrobus station that connects the airport to the rest of the city via Airport Link. Airport Link is a 2.4-mile extension from the airport to the Miami-Dade public transit system. Bus fares are $2. A taxi from the airport is between $10 and $52 within the city of Miami, and Miami Beach.

WHERE TO STAY

Hotels in Miami are not cheap, but the price you’re paying usually comes with an upscale feel and classy decor. Downtown Miami hotel rooms cost between $140 and $300 a night. South Beach hotel rooms cost between $90 and $280. Miami Beach hotel rooms are between $100 and $380. South Miami hotels are by far the most affordable, at $60-$140 a night.

GETTING AROUND

  • Miami-Dade Transit provides public transit for the entirety of Miami-Dade county, with 326,000 daily riders. Bus fares are $2.00, and $2.00 for a single rail ride. Discount fares are available for students and people with disabilities. Exact change is required on all buses. Change boxes accept nickels, dimes, and quarters.
  • Taxis can be a challenge to hail in Miami, so it helps to know where the taxi stands are. They generally start at $2.50 for the first 1/6th of a mile, and $0.40 for each additional 1/6th of a mile. Most taxi companies have received terrible reviews on Yelp, so be wary.
  • With taxi services so unreliable, it is no surprise that the ZipCar car rental service is very popular in Miami. There are over a dozen pickup locations in the city.

MIAMI NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is 21, last call is never (the party goes on all night in Miami).
  • Trendy scene: Miami is a town full of bars, lounges, and clubs. Popular clubbing destinations are Downtown, South Beach, and Miami Beach. South Beach is considered one of the world’s top clubbing destinations, attracting serious party goers and high rollers.
  • Local scene: if you want to go where the locals go, check out Regent Cocktail Club, Magnum Lounge, and The Abbey Brewing Company.

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • Biltmore Hotel: This hotel cost around $10 million to build in 1926, and was constructed by the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels Corporation. There are rumours this historic building is haunted!
  • Freedom Tower: Built in 1925, this Mediterranean Revival tower was originally home to the offices of the Miami News & Metropolis. It was taken over by the U.S. Government during the Castro regime to provide services to immigrants.
  • The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: a popular attraction among tourists and locals alike, this was originally built as the winter home of James Deering, a wealthy industrialist. His heirs sold the home to Dade County in 1952, and it has been run as a museum ever since.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Coconut Grove is a historic neighborhood that has evolved over the decades. Check out the shops, restaurants, parks, and the Oldest House in Miami-Dade (still standing at its original location).
  • Miami is full of Art Deco architecture, with stunning examples seen at Ocean Drive and Collins Park. The Miami Design Preservation League offers walking tours of the historic architecture.
  • Calle Ocho, or 8th Street, is in the heart of Little Havana (directions). Take a stroll and indulge in the delicious food and bright colours.
  • Any of Miami’s numerous beaches are worth a walk, and will let you see just how closely Miami is connected to the ocean.

LOCAL WISDOM

  • Miami is home to the Cuban Classical Ballet, which has been performing on a regular basis since 2006. The troupe is led by exiled Cubans and is dedicated to preserving the Cuban traditions of classical ballet.
  • Miamians hate the amount of poverty that is evident all throughout the city, and they are aware that something needs to be done about it!
  • Tennis is huge! Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation owns and maintains over 200 tennis courts throughout the city.
  • Miami is one of the few places where roller skating is still very popular.
  • Viernes Culturales (“Cultural Friday”) takes place on the last Friday of every month. This street festival in Little Havana features delicious food, dancing, and much more.
  • Where to find good cheap eats: thanks to the city’s ethnic diversity, there’s no shortage of great food options in the city. The Food Truck craze has hit Miami, and you can find delicious and affordable eats at almost any time of day. The trucks are always on the move, but can be tracked with a free smartphone app. For up-to-date restaurant reviews and suggestions, check out Yelp.
  • Dangerous areasdowntown Miami has a reputation for becoming a little seedy after dark, while Opa-Locka, Liberty City, and Overtown are known for their gang related violence.

RECOMMENDED MIAMI GUIDE BOOKS

Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days


SEE ALSO:
Miami Travel Guide was last modified: September 23rd, 2016 by Nick
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