Are you a traveler planning a trip to Miami? In case you are wondering, I really think you should! This South Florida destination is fabulous.
The biggest town in Florida, with its beaches, bars, parks, museums and art galleries and natural sites Miami is a great destination for a vacation, pretty much any time of year. Whether you are looking to spend a weekend in Miami basking in the sun or are interested in a longer trip around Florida, and even if you are just having a layover in Miami (which is what happened to me on many occasions) you won’t be disappointed: this city has plenty to keep you busy: there are so many things to do in Miami that I think I could easily spend a week there.
In this post, I will help you planning a trip to Miami with tips on what to consider before going, and things to do in Miami once you are finally there on vacation. You don’t have to buy Miami vacation packages to have a great holiday!
Continue reading for more useful tips for your Miami trip.
Tips For Planning A Trip To Miami
The best time to visit Miami
The first thing you need to consider when planning a trip to Miami is when is the best time to go.
I have good news for you: any time is a good time to go to Miami. Having said that, Florida, and especially Miami are amazing in the spring, before the temperatures become unbearably hot. It’s just the ideal weather to go to Miami beach and the perfect season for a Florida road trip.
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. So perhaps that may be a good time to plan your Miami trip.
A trip to Miami in the fall seems ideal: temperatures are pleasant again, still good to go to experience Miami 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 in Florida are mild, with the occasional cold-ish front.
All in all, I believe that planning a trip to Miami in October is actually the best idea.
Visa requirements for the United States
Unless you are visiting Florida from other places in the United States, you are likely required to need a Visa for your Miami trip. If you are coming from a European country, you will need an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to travel to the United States, even for a simple layover. ESTA costs only $14 and lasts for a period of 2 years, and it can be easily obtained through the ESTA website, or via iVisa.
Make sure not to make my mistake and look into getting your visa before your Miami trip. Back in 2011, when I was on my way back from Mexico, I was meant to have a layover in Miami. 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.
The airline wouldn’t let me check in unless I got a visa and I had to spring my way around the airport looking for an internet point (wifi wasn’t a thing back then) to get my visa on the spot.
Cheap flights to Miami
Despite what many travel experts say, there are no real secrets to findings cheap flights. If you are planning a Miami trip, the key to finding cheap flights for your vacation is to be flexible on the dates and by all means to start planning well in advance.
You may want to subscribes to some newsletters or Facebook pages for travel hacks. I am a fan of Fly 4 Free 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. In fact, a good travel agent may be able to help you with other tips for planning your Miami vacation.
How to get to Miami from the airport
Getting from Miami International Airport to the city and even the area of Miami beach is really easy. You can count on 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
If you love walking as much as I do one of the most obvious things to do in Miami for me would be walking just about everywhere. For longer distances, opt for the odd bus ride or, preferably, rent a bike. One of the nicest things to do in Miami is walking or biking along Ocean Drive, so definitely try that too! Uber is a good way to get around town.
In terms of public transportation, you have ample choice for your Miami trip. Let me outline the main options below.
Where to stay in Miami
A city like Miami has no shortage of good hotels. Booking.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 hotels places to stay in Miami. Coconut Grove has some excellent hotels too.
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 hotels where to stay in Miami, my mind goes straight to Miami Beach. This area has some of the best hotels (think Setai Miami Beach) and restaurants in the city; there are regular events; and Miamians love it.
Little Havana – just the name will resonate with you. You will realize how much of a Cuban influence there’s in Miami as soon as you land at the airport and hear everyone speaking perfect Spanish – not a common thing in the US! There’s a huge Cuban population in Miami.
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, with some excellent hotels; 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. Brickell where to stay in Miami if you are looking for a more historic neighborhood, and you will find some great hotels too.CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST MIAMI HOTELS
11 Unmissable Things To Do In Miami
There is no shortage of incredible things to do in Miami. From sightseeing to relaxing at Miami beach; from shopping to chilling at a fabulous hotel; from gorging on good food to sipping a cocktail and partying until the wee hours, your Miami vacation is bound to be a lot of fun.
The following are the things to do in Miami you really should not miss.
Go to South Beach
If you are a fan of the beach, you will enjoy your vacation. If you are not, I am actually not sure why you are planning a Miami trip altogether. This it to say that spending time in South Beach is one of the ultimate things to do in Miami. This is also the best place in town for celebrity spotting – so take your tabloids out and start memorizing faces!
These are the best tours of Miami that also go to South Beach:
- Private tour of South Beach and Miami Beach in vintage car
- Half day double decker bus tour and boat tour of Miami
- Splashdown: duck tour of Miami and South Beach
Visit Everglades National Park
If you are a lover of nature, one of the nicest things to do in Miami is visiting Everglades National Park, which is Florida’s largest swamp. It can be visited on one of those famous airboats and it’s a good place to spot alligators.
If you to visit Everglades on an airboat adventure, the best option is this Everglades National Park Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show tour.
Visit the Museums
Among the best things to do in Miami there’s visiting its museums. Make sure to visit the Institute For Contemporary Art (ICA), located in the Design District. The state of the art building should be enough to make you want to visit. The museum is dedicated to emerging local artists, but inside you will also find pieces of the likes of Picasso.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum, which is free to visit is located on 61 NE 41st St. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Perez Art Museum Miami is another great place for art lovers. It’s located on 1103 Biscayne Blvd; it’s open every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, except for Thursdays when it closes at 9:00 pm.
For more art, make sure to visit the Wynwood district. This is located north of Downtown and it’s a place bursting with life with bars, restaurants and shopping opportunities. More importantly, at Wynwood you will find some incredible street art!
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.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Freedom Tower is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 1:00 to 6:00 pm. It closes at 8:00 pm on Thursdays. Admission is $12.
Walk around the Art Deco district
Visiting the Art Deco district is one of the best things to do in Miami. This is a place that 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 you should miss it during a trip to Miami.
If you want to do a good Miami tour that also goes to the Art Deco district, these are some good options:
- Two-hour Art Deco bike tour
- South Beach Art Deco segway tour
- Miami South Beach Art Deco walking tour
- Private tour of Miami Art Deco, Little Havana and Wynwood by vintage car
Even if you aren’t a shopaholic, a little window shopping won’t hurt, right? And one of the unmissable things to do during a trip to Miami is shopping. Come on, indulge!
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 is 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.
These are the best cruises departing from Miami Downtown:
- Miami combo tour: city sightseeing, Biscayne Bay cruise, Everglades airboat ride
- The original millionaire’s row cruise
- Private sailing trip on Biscayne Bay
Have a cocktail
One of the best things to do in Miami is having a good cocktail. If you are a lover of margaritas and mojitos your trip to Miami will be taken to a whole new level.
Among the bars you should visit during your vacation, there are Bungalow By The Sea and Driftaway at Generator, both located in Miami Beach. For a good spot to have a drink downtown, go to Mama Tried.
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 dine is the Bayside Marketplace. It overlooks Miami waterfront and docks and is a fabulous lunch spot.
Restaurants on Ocean Drive can be quite expensive but there are some a few blocks away where it is possible to dine for less.
To try all the best food in Miami, I recommend going on a food tour in Little Havana such as this Little Havana food tour of Miami.
If there’s one thing Miami is famous for, that’s the party scene. During a Miami trip, you really have to get out and party at least once. I recommend finding a local spot in Little Havana where you can dance salsa, but if you are too shy to ask, perhaps a nightlife tour may be a good idea.
These are the best nightlife tours of Miami:
- Sip, savor and salsa! Mojito, lessons, live music and nightclub dancing South Beach
- Miami Dance Cruise
Go on a Key West day trip
I honestly think that a day trip is not enough to fully appreciate Key West (consider going on a multi-day trip instead), but if that is all you have, you may as well try to make the most of it. Several Key West day trips depart from Miami – they last all day, so be prepared to be tired once you head back. Tours usually include a boat trip for snorkeling and dolphin watching; and free time to explore on your own. You can consider this option or this one.
Go to Fort Lauderdale
Another great place for day trips is Fort Lauderdale. It’s just 35 minutes drive from Miami and you’ll find an incredible art scene, beautiful beaches, great restaurants and more.
Have you ever been to Miami? What are your recommendation to have the most amazing trip to Miami?
Are you planning a trip to the US? Make sure to read all my posts:
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