I flew through Miami a bunch of times, on my way to Central and South America. I have been dreaming of a trip to Miami since I have had a 15 hours layover there. Back then, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to explore: I was flying back from Uruguay to Sardinia; I felt that the trip was long enough already. Besides, after 4 full months on the road I was eager to just get home.
But the thought of going remained. Until a while ago I hoped to get more layovers, and this time I wouldn’t miss on the chance to stay. But then, I decided that this city deserves a visit anyways: there’s so many things to do in Miami that I think I could easily spend a week there.
So I am actually planning a trip to Miami, and I can’t wait to go. As I put together my itinerary, I teamed up with Expedia to share the various things I am considering in order to make the most of what is supposed to be an incredible city. Planning trips is what I like the most, anyways – and it’s only fair that I share my expertise.
The following are a series of tips that will help travelers plan their trip to Miami.
How to plan an amazing trip to Miami
Deciding when to visit Miami
I guess any time is a good time to go to Miami – I find that there typically is a great selection of things to do in any place, regardless of the season. Having said that, it looks like Miami is amazing in the spring, before the temperatures become unbearably hot. It’s just the ideal weather to go to the beach.
Summer in Miami means really hot, at times unbearably hot temperatures. That’s why summer is low season there. On a positive note, that means hardly having to fight for the best seat in the restaurant, or the best spot on the beach.
A trip to Miami in the fall seems ideal: temperatures are pleasant again, still good to go to the beach, and a good mix of people visit the city. Winter is said to be the perfect season to visit: while the rest of the US are freezing, the temperatures here are mild, with the occasional cold-ish front.
I have decided to visit Miami in November. I am busy with other work commitments until October, so a trip to Miami will be a great way to reward myself for all my hard work.
Checking out the visa requirements
I learned the hard way that even citizens of the European Union must have an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to travel to the United States, even for a simple layover. Back in 2011, when I was on my way back from Mexico, I had a short layover in Atlanta. I had not checked the small print at the bottom of my flight confirmation that said I’d be required to get an ESTA even just for transit.
Finding cheap flights to miami
I know: bloggers tend to brag about their abilities to find cheap flights. The key to do it is to be flexible on the dates. I am subscribed to a million newsletters of all sorts of travel hacks companies and I get regular updates on the best offers. The key to nail a deal is to catch it as soon as it comes. Error fares or super cheap deals don’t stay on for a long time (quite the opposite, indeed). This is probably the best way to find cheap flights to Miami.
Other ways to find cheap tickets to Miami would include monitoring the airlines (Miami is the main hub for American Airlines) and actually ask a travel agent who, through powerful softwares such as Amadeus or Galileo, is likely to find many more deals than the regular traveler searching online.
How to get to Miami from the airport
Getting from Miami International Airport to the city and even the beaches is really easy. There’s the Metrobus, the Metrorail, the Tri-Rail and the Miami beach bus, which all connect the city and the airport for fraction of the amount a taxi would cost, and avoiding the traffic. The services are regular, running from the early hours to late at night.
How to get around Miami
I love walking, so the most obvious thing to do in Miami for me would be walking just about everywhere. For longer distances, I generally opt for the odd bus ride or, preferably, rent a bike. I did it in Tel Aviv and found it is a great way to move around swiftly and fast, not to mention it is friendly to the environment. I heard one of the nicest things to do in Miami is walking or biking along Ocean Drive, and I am certainly keen to do that.
The best places to stay in Miami
A city like Miami has no shortage of good accommodation options. Expedia.com has some excellent Miami hotel choices. It’s just a matter of picking a good area to stay. I know that most visitors head straight to South Beach, where there’s bars and clubs galore, beautiful cafés and great restaurants, and the nightlife is amazing.
But it looks like there’s other fabulous places to stay in Miami. Downtown Miami has recently become one of the trendiest areas in town, with new condos and shiny buildings, elegant restaurants, fun bars and clubs, museums and concert halls.
Yet, when I think of the best places to stay in Miami, my mind goes straight to Miami Beach. This area has some of the best hotels and restaurants in the city; there’s regular events; and locals love it. I am all for getting into the local culture and way of life, so I may consider staying here.
Little Havana – just the name resonates with me. I realized how much of a Cuban influence there’s in Miami when I heard literally everyone at the airport speaking perfect Spanish – not a common thing in the US! There’s a huge Cuban population in Miami, and after my eventful trip to Cuba a few years ago, I think I’d like to see what the Cuban community of Miami is up to.
Little Havana is among the best places to stay in Miami: it’s where the Cubans who fled Castro’s regime frocked to, and they ended up shaping the city into what it is today. It’s only in the last 10 years or so that Little Havana has become a more popular place to visit and stay in Miami, but the choice of places to visit, stay and eat is very good nevertheless.
Brickell is one of the newest neighborhoods of Miami, packed with shiny, brand new buildings and giving a good idea of what Miami is shaping out to be. I think I’d love to visit, yet I’d like to stay somewhere that is a bit more historic.
The Coolest Things To Do In Miami
A city like Miami has no shortage of activities. I am already savouring the incredible combination of sightseeing, relaxing at the beach, shopping, relaxing at a fabulous hotel, going to the beach and eating a fantastic (possibly Cuban) meal while sipping a good cocktail, and partying until the wee hours.
Just reading around, I have come up with a selection of things to do in Miami that I absolutely do not want to miss. Here they are.
Go to South Beach
I am a beach girl. I grew up in Sardinia, after all, and here in my hometown Cagliari, whatever the season, whenever the sun is out, we all head to the beach for a run, a walk, a coffee, a drink and what not. South Beach would probably be the first place I’d want to visit during my trip to Miami – soaking in the sun, reading a book is one of the ultimate things to do in Miami. I have also read this is the best place in town for celebrity spotting – though mind you, I am completely ignorant of the latest gossips and can hardly recognize actors!
Visit Everglades National Park
I am a lover of nature. One of the nicest things to do in Miami is supposed to be visiting Everglades National Park, which is Florida’s largest swamp. It can be visited on one of those famous air boats (which I have only seen in movies!) and it’s a good place to spot alligators. I am in!
Visit the Museums
I love museums, especially when they give me insights into a city, in the life of a historical figure, or when there is an art exhibit. Among the best things to do in Miami there’s visiting its museums. One that I am keen to visit is Ernest Hemingway’s Museum. After reading his novels, I feel I owe it to his memory! Another place I’d like to visit is the Wyndwood Walls art exhibit.
Visit Freedom Tower
One of the places to visit while on a trip to Miami is the Freedom Tower. This is located on Biscayne Boulevard, and it is one of the city’s landmarks. It was built in 1925 and is one of the oldest sky-scrapers in the south east of the USA. It used to serve as the immigration center for the Cubans who entered the country in the 1960s – hence its name.
Walk around the Art Deco district
The Art Deco district of Miami takes visitors back to the 1930s with pastel colored buildings. Most of them are located on Ocean Drive and overlooking South Beach. There’s no way I’d miss on visiting during a trip to Miami.
Ok, I am not really a shopaholic. But a little window shopping won’t hurt, right? And one of the unmissable things to do during a trip to Miami is shopping. So I won’t say no to it. Besides, rumor has it that there’s often great sales, so I am all in for a bargain.
Take a cruise from Miami Downtown
Included in the list of things to do in Miami, there’s taking a cruise from Miami Downtown. This seems to be a good way to learn a bit about the history of the city, and to admire some beautiful villas belonging to the reach and famous.
Have a cocktail
I am hardly a drinker, but one of the things I enjoy the most when I travel is having the occasional sunset drink. I am a lover of margaritas and mojitos. One of the things I am looking forward to do during my trip to Miami (though apparently a bit pricey) is sipping an icy cold cocktail.
Miami is a fantastic foodie destination. I am all for trying the Cuban American cuisine in Little Havana, and having a sip of the delicious Cuban coffee. Another good area to eat is the Bayside Marketplace. It overlooks Miami waterfront and docks and sounds like a fabulous lunch spot.
Apparently, restaurants on Ocean Drive can be quite expensive but there’s some a few blocks away where it is possible to eat for less. And every now and then, I may be up for a splurge.
If there’s one thing Miami is famous for, that’s the party scene. I am not much of a party girl, but I guess that during a trip to Miami I will have to make the effort (ahem!) to get out and have a drink or two and dance the night away. Ideally, I’d like to dance salsa – though I am hardly a dancer. I guess that with the Cuban community in Miami finding a good salsa club won’t be hard.
Have you ever been to Miami? What are your recommendation to have the most amazing trip to Miami?
This post is written in partnership with Expedia.
Pint It For Later