Florida may be one state, but it also has very different experiences within it – from the capital Tallahassee and the Panhandle in the north; to Orlando and its theme parks including Disney World; Miami with its Art Deco buildings, lifestyle and great beaches; the Everglades and its alligators; historic St Augustine and Jacksonville to Key Largo and Key West. All are special places in their own right.
To help you find you way – we have set down some information below on what we think are some of the best things to see and experience in Miami.
Miami is a vibrant, tropical, trend setting exciting mix of beaches, palm trees, sunshine, in-line skaters, bikinis, boardwalks, people, marinas, art deco and high rise buildings, great food, bars, clubs, hotels and nightlife. It is a great place to have fun, enjoy the atmosphere and maybe pick up a suntan too, or learn some Spanish.
Miami is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Americans and Canadians to head to for a tropical holiday on the mainland, and many conventions and sporting events are held here too bringing millions of visitors to Miami.
The Miami International Airport (MIA) is about 6 miles from downtown, and a further 8 miles or so to Miami Beach. At the airport you will find hotels, shopping, hire cars, taxis, blue super shuttle buses (www.supershuttle.com Tel: 305 871 2000). See if you can pick up a GoMiamiCard – which gives you discounts to some of the main attractions in Miami – see www.smartdestinations.com/miami Tel: 866 637 8817.
Miami is the biggest cruise ship port in the world too – with 8 passenger cruise terminals (B, C,D,E,F,G,H,J ) all located along North Cruise Boulevard off North America Way in Port Miami on Dodge Island. Around 4.8 million passengers a year take cruises from here, and on the other side of the island there are the Cargo Terminals. There are Parking Garages near the Terminals and Taxis and Shuttle buses also service the Terminals too (See www.miamidade.gov/portmiami Tel: 305 347 4800).
Fort Lauderdale also is a big port city too, around 23 miles north of Miami and many of the Cruise ships also enter and leave from Port Everglades (the Port’s name) from one of the Berths that are here. Tampa too, on the west coast of Florida also has many Cruise liners berthing there too. (See Tampa on this website).
The City of Miami is located on the East coast of Florida on the Atlantic Ocean, with Downtown Miami, Little Havana, Little Haiti, the Design District and other suburbs fanning outwards on the west side of Biscayne Bay (The Bay). Miami Beach is on the east side of the Bay on a long sandy strip of island land that stretches north and south along the Bay, with a number of crossings/causeways from Miami Beach to other Bay islands and to Miami downtown. Almost everywhere you look there is water – the ocean, the Bay, the islands, canals, swimming pools, lakes and marinas, while on land you have a mix of high rise city buildings lining the foreshore of the Bay, marinas, condominiums, hotels and other buildings. Palm trees and long roadways like Biscayne Boulevard run along beside the Bay itself and Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach run along the beach front that faces the Atlantic Ocean.
There are a myriad of hotels from luxury, classic, trendy to basic as well as B&B’s and apartments to stay – with the biggest number being in South Beach (SoBe) in Miami Beach and in Downtown Miami, but there are also lots more at around the airport and spread out throughout the city and up and down the coastline.
There are beaches all along the coastline – so choosing one to go to will depend on which beach your is closest to your hotel, and whether you want to find a beach with lots of action and people, or a quiet beach away from the crowds. The beaches in Miami don’t have much surf, but the beaches themselves and their white sand are a playground of activity.
South Beach (SoBe) is probably the heart of the action – between 1 Washington Avenue and 21st Street, but then Central Beach runs from 21st Street to 46th Street, with a boardwalk running along it up to 48th Street, which is then North Beach which runs to 78th, and then North Shore runs to 87th. In most cases the further you are from South Beach the quieter it will be. Other beaches to check out are Bal Harbour Beach, Sunny Isles Beach, ones on Key Biscayne and in Coral Gables.
Staying in SoBe puts you in the heart of the action, but also the most expensive hotels are located here too. Here in SoBe you will find the wide white sandy beach which stretches for miles, as well as the Art Deco buildings built in the 1930’s, for which Miami is famous, with over 1000 of them stretched out along Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. Head to the Art Deco Welcome Center (near cnr. 12th Street and Ocean Drive) and take a walking tour. Along Ocean Drive you will also find cafes under the street umbrellas that line the street, diners, restaurants, bars, hotels and boutiques and of course people watching makes for an interesting day. There is both glitz and glamor here, both day and night, and always something to eat, drink, do and see.