There are plenty of destinations with beautiful beaches, great cuisine, and world-class shopping, but Miami has all this plus a rich history of art and design and a unique fusion of cultures. Whether you are exploring glamorous South Beach or funky Little Havana, you’ll always come across something uncommon and beautiful. Go beyond the neon lights and experience the southern star of Florida like a local.

Two rows of teal beach umbrellas with a lifeguard lookout on a beach, whose coast line runs diagonal through the frame on the left side. On the right side, a couple dozen people wade into shallow, teal blue waters on a bright, sunny day in Miami, Florida.

Photo by Mia2You/Shutterstock


When’s the best time to go to Miami?

To avoid the high season and have Miami all to yourself, the best time to visit is October, April, or May: The weather is perfect and you’ll encounter fewer crowds. Winter, of course, is boom time in the city and while you’ll pay higher hotel rates than during the rest of the year, you won’t be able to resist checking the chilly temperatures back home and feeling smug. Summer is undeniably hot and the humidity is rarely broken by the tropical showers that seem to sweep through every afternoon, but you’ll have access to all the same restaurants and galleries as well as more affordable hotel options.

How to get around Miami

There are direct flights to Miami International Airport (MIA) from many airports, domestic and international. If you are driving, the city’s a straight shot down I-95, the major expressway that runs along the eastern seaboard. For a more scenic route, take A1A.

Miami has great public transportation. To access the main downtown neighborhoods, including Brickell, Midtown, Wynwood. and the Design District, you can take the Metro Mover and the city trolley for free. On South Beach, there are hundreds of cabs available 24 hours a day. Car2Go is an option that allows you to rent a Smart Car and pay as you go. For a pace that permits more sightseeing along the way, the local bikeshare, Citi Bike offers monthly, daily, and hourly rentals.

Can’t miss things to do in Miami

New Year’s Eve at Bayfront Park is a perfect Miami moment. While everyone in New York City is bundled up in Times Square, the locals of Miami crowd around the InterContinental Hotel and watch the ball drop in very different attire. You’ll sip Champagne, dance to Latin music, and sample cheesy arepas hot off the grill. For a view, you’ll have the glittering city skyline on one side and breezy Biscayne Bay on the other. Afterwards, join the dance party or walk to one of the many bars and restaurants in the area.

Food and drink to try in Miami

Miami is a culinary wonderland, with options ranging from Michelin-starred restaurants to hole-in-the-wall eateries in Little Havana. To avoid the expensive pricing at some of the city’s trendy places, visit during Miami Spice, a citywide event that takes place in the fall. You’ll get to enjoy food and drink at some of the celebrity hot-spot restaurants on a set menu for a discounted price. It’s the best way to try the top-tier cuisine that Miami is known for without breaking the bank. (During the rest of the year, eating lunch at an expensive restaurant is much more affordable than dinner, of course.)

Culture in Miami

With the wide diversity of immigrants who live in South Florida, Miami is its own unique culture. Travelers should seek out experiences such as the parties in Little Havana, Haitian celebrations on weekends, the Greek Festival, and other cultural events. Take some time to sample of the art, cuisine, music, and culture of the locals.

Due to the variety of cultures that make up the population of Miami, you’ll find festivals and community events almost all year round. The Miami New Times is the best source for entertainment in the city. One of the biggest city attractions is Art Basel in December. View original works by internationally renowned artists along Miami Beach, Wynwood, and the Design District. Gather at the Miami Beach Convention Center to view gallery spaces and exhibits. The creative vibe really brings the celebrity and the local crowd to the city. Other festivals include the Ultra Music Festival, where you’ll hear the best in EDM from the bay front in Downtown Miami. Be sure to also check out the Miami Film Festival at the Olympia Theater on historic Flagler Street. You’ll view new films within the 1920s style theater, filled with elegant statues and classic art.

Local travel tips for Miami

Miami is undergoing a renaissance. The city really emerged in the 1990s when South Beach became known for its youthful vibe and cool hotel scene. An influx of creatives has reshaped the art-forward neighborhoods of Wynwood and the Design District. Locals are increasing heading away from the beach and seeking diversions in a newly hip downtown filled with galleries, lofts, and warehouses. Over the last couple of years, more bohemian bars, restaurants, galleries, and shops have opened along the area’s graffiti-spangled streets to meet the demand.

Guide Editor

Read Before You Go
Wander diverse neighborhoods, sample excellent Cuban cuisine, and spot abundant marine life in and around the perennial coastal favorite.
Resources to help plan your trip

It can be argued that just about any day in Miami is a perfect day – but choices must be made, right? Start the day South Beach, with a stroll along the beach or the Art Deco district before grabbing lunch; spend the afternoon shopping on Lincoln Road or take a relaxing cruise on Biscayne Bay. Head downtown to enjoy dinner with views over the city and bay, followed by some late-night music and fun back in South Beach.

Miami is a cultural melting pot. Each weekend, various ethic groups gather to celebrate their heritage. Festivals vary by neighborhood, but always include ethnic music, native cuisine and cultural traditions. Miami is known for its rich culture, mostly Cubans who have come to Miami over the last 40 years. Little Havana is the primary neighborhood for Cuban Festivals. Be sure to stop at Calle Ocho for Cuban parties that last through the night.
For locals in Miami, start the day by visiting a local market where you can shop for artisan breads, fresh produce and cultural gems. Shopping in Miami is always a special experience, but locals tend to choose smaller boutiques. For those who need a lot of things, there’s also a huge outlet mall north of the city which is a day-long activity. A lot of the shopping venues in Miami are filled with restaurants, bars and entertainment, offering something for the entire family and fashionista.
Some of the best clubs in the world are in Miami. The nightlife scene is electric throughout various neighborhoods. If you’re into fist pumping, electric music and bottle service, go to South Beach. Famous nightclubs and boutique bars fill the South Florida coastline. If you prefer a cold beer and indie tunes, visit Wynwood to admire street art and gorging on late night tacos. Finally, for those who would like to sip a vintage and chat, head to Coral Gables.
Get active at one of Miami’s best parks. The downtown area has upgraded, adding more green space with views of the bay. If running isn’t your favorite activity, maybe join a free yoga class on the lawn or climb the stairs at an iconic light house. Afterwards, there are many places to stroll and watch the eclectic sites and people that Miami is known for. Watch the sun set on a park bench and take it all in!
If you only have three days in Miami, you can still get a good feel for the Magic City. Explore South Beach’s Ocean Drive and the historic Art Deco district, head to the Design District for art museums and modern architecture, take a leisurely cruise on Biscayne Bay or an Everglades tour, and groove long into the night at one Miami Beach’s velvet-rope nightclubs.
The best activities for art lovers are throughout Miami’s downtown area. There’s entertainment all over the city. Whether you consider yourself an artist yourself, of if you just appreciate creative passion, Miami’s best cultural activities cater to everyone. Try a ballet performance, a boutique movie theater, a entertaining casino night, an art-focused baseball stadium or a dolphin show. The historic theaters downtown and the secret spots on the beach will never leave you bored in Miami.
Eating in Brickell is a great alternative to South Beach. The area is growing immensely and some of the best chefs are opening their doors within hotels and shopping districts along the water. Brickell’s downtown environment has created an urban vibe within Miami’s flashy atmosphere. When dining, the options include cultural fusion restaurants with patios overlooking the water and urban areas. This is a great area to scope out a rooftop bar overlooking the entire city.
Miami’s food scene reflects South Florida’s diverse culture and international flavor, attracting some of the best culinary talent in the world (and more than its fair share of James Beard Award winners). And when the call of comfort food beckons, head to a down-home restaurant for local favorites like stone crab and fried chicken.
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