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At a Glance

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.

The Essentials

When to Go

To avoid the high season and have Miami all to yourself, visit during October or in April and 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.

Getting Around

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

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

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

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.

What the Locals Know

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

GiAnna Wyatt Miami Local Expert, is a blogger, writer, and editor focusing on food, music, travel and local culture. Her passions include boutique hotels, exotic destinations, and out-of-the-box travel experiences. See her work at her website.