Planning a solo trip to Miami? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Located in sunny Florida, Miami is a city of 470,000 people (across 55 square 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.
- 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.
- While Miami (MIA) is a major airline hub, some airlines fly into Ft. Lauderdale (FLL). It’s a 40 minute drive between the two, so check prices for both MIA and FLL to potentially save money on flights.
- 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
- Best Miami hostel for solo travelers: Viajero Miami (right in the South Beach art deco district). Very clean and spacious, with friendly staff and plenty of events organized for guests. On-site tiki bar, restaurant, and swimming pool. Book this one ahead of time, as accommodation in Miami can get $$$$!
- Hotels in Miami are not cheap, but the price you’re paying usually comes with an upscale feel and classy decor.
- Downtown and South Beach are the best places to stay (if money is no object).
- South Miami (not to be confused with South Beach) hotels are by far the most affordable.
- 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.
- 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 rumors 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.
- If you have access to a car, be sure to check out Everglades National Park and take an airboat tour (the operators are all more or the less the same). You can also try tasting alligator meat (spoiler: it tastes like chicken).
- 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. There is no free parking at any beach – see info about municipal garages to save money on parking in Miami.
- Hidden beach gems: Matheson Hammock Park, Bill Baggs State Park (Key Biscayne), and North Shore Open Space Park.
- 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.
- Looking for a cool gift idea to bring back home? Go into any grocery store and buy some cuban coffee (brands: Pilon, Cafe Bustelo, or La Llave). It’s what the locals drink.
- 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.
- Great restaurants to check out in Miami: Lung Yai Thai Tapas ($$), Chef Adrianne’s ($$$), Rusty Pelican ($$$), KYU ($$$)
- 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 areas: downtown 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 trip duration: 3-4 days