Over the last 6-8 months, Miami has become a bit of a hot spot for us. It’s an amazing transportation hub, offering cheap flights to and from North America and South/Central America, but it’s also a cool city to linger in and one that’s definitely worth a stop for longer than an overnight layover.
We’ve now been to Miami at least 3-4 times and every time we visit, we discover more!We love Miami’s funky neighbourhoods, amazing architecture, great beaches, lively nightlife, and lots of good shopping.
Best Time to Visit Miami
Some may say, the weather is always great in Miami. Thanks to the subtropical climate, Miami enjoys warm temperatures ranging from 24-30°C all year around. But that’s not the only factor that affects the weather in Miami. What matters more is the level of humidity and rainfall, which can range quite significantly throughout the year.
Miami’s wet and humid season runs from May through October, with June seeing the most rainfall. Because of hurricane season, August/September end up being the most unpredictable. The beaches and hotels are the least crowded during this time of the year, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
If you want to visit Miami during the peak season, plan your trip for some time between January – April. Winter coincides with the best weather and tons of fun festivals and events, although it is also the most expensive time of the year to stay in Miami.
For the best time in Miami, push your holiday out to April or May and you’ll skip the busy spring break season with steep hotel prices but still be able to take advantage of great weather and lots of fun events taking place in the city.
Top Things to Do in Miami
A trip to Miami is synonymous with beach time, so start your visit by checking out some of Miami’s best beaches including South Beach, Mid Beach and North Beach, which are all located in Miami Beach on Biscayne Bay. South Beach is considered the best of the bunch, offering visitors not only one of the best beaches in Florida (and all of the US), but also amazing food, boutiques, and a buzzing nightlife. Stroll along Ocean Drive, one of the most famous boulevards in the city, or sit down at a restaurant and enjoy some great people watching.
For a more laid back option, head further north to Haulover Beach, a clothing-optional beach that is also frequented by kite flyers, fishing enthusiasts, and beach volleyball players.
Want some help figuring out which Miami beach in right for you? Frommer’s put together a great guide to The Best Beaches in Miami that might help you choose.
Another popular activity among Miami visitors is shopping. Lincoln Road Mall, located on Lincoln Road, between Alton Road and Washington Avenue, is a great place to start. You’ll find all the big name shops scattered along this mile-long pedestrian shopping area with some restaurants scattered throughout. The area also plays host to Sunday farmers markets, morning yoga classes, and outdoor concerts. Bayside Marketplace, a large outdoor style mall with more than 150 specialty and tourist shops, is another great shopping hot spot. If your looking for something different, then check out these other malls around the city.
But you don’t necessarily have to spend the day inside a building to appreciate art and design in Miami. One of the most iconic characteristics of Miami Beach (other than the beach itself) is the art deco architecture that’s evident in the many hotels, storefronts, restaurants and buildings that line South Beach. To take in the architecture in all of its glory, sign up for an Art Deco Tour offered by Art Deco Walks for just $30/person, or simply follow National Geographic’s suggestion for a Self-Guided Miami Walking Tour.
Wynwood Walls is another great example of art you can admire outside of the museum. The area, located just north of Downtown Miami in the district of Wynwood, is one of the largest concentrated areas of street art and graffiti in the world.
One of our personal favourite areas in the city is Little Havana, the heart of Miami’s colourful Cuban community. The area stretches from SW 12th and SW 17th Avenues along Calle Ocho just west of Downtown Miami and is filled with Cuban restaurants, cigar stands, funky shops and art galleries, and other fascinating remnants of Cuban past.
If you are a sports fan, like Max, you’ll want to check out the American Airlines Arena, home of the NBA’s Miami Heat. If there isn’t a NBA game one during your visit, check out what concerts or special events might be taking place at the venue instead.
Hanging out in Miami can be expensive, so if you are looking for activities that are easy on the wallet, consider this awesome guide to Free Fun in Miami
Where to Stay in Miami
In the initial stages of trip planning, every visitor to Miami wants to stay in South Beach (we did as well), but a quick look at hotels in South Beach will inevitably eliminate this option for a lot of people. Hotels in this area are pricey, small, and often reserved well in advance. But if you plan ahead, time your visit with shoulder season, or are willing to splurge a bit on a nice ocean view room, you’ll find the stay in this area worth the investment. Staying in South Beach means that you’ll be in the heart of the action when it comes to nightlife and entertainment options. For those happy to pay the price, here are just a few of South Beach’s Best Oceanfront Hotels to choose from.
We have never stayed in South Beach during our time in Miami, but with Uber being wildly popular in Miami, travelling from further away neighbourhoods to South Beach has never cost us more $15.
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So we encourage budget travelers to consider staying in other parts of the city. North Beach, between 24th and 192nd, is one option that allows you to still be based in Miami Beach and take advantage of ocean front location, without being too far away from the heart of the action in South Beach.
The other alternatives for budget friendly accommodation are Downtown Miami, Little Havana, and MiMo (Miami’s Modern Architectural District). This list of Top 10 budget hotels, hostels and B&Bs in Miami is a great place to start your search.
If you find yourself in Miami for only 1-2 days on a layover waiting for your next flight or your cruising departing from the Port of Miami, we suggest finding accommodation that offers free shuttles to those destinations. Almost all airport hotels will offer a free shuttle to the terminals, but only a few will pick you up from the airport and then offer you a free shuttle to the port the following day. Our favourites are:
- Runway Inn Miami – offers no frills stay with shuttles to the airport and Port of Miami
- Extended Stay America – offers apartment style rooms with free airport shuttle
- Red Roof Plus Miami Airport – another good option with airport and Port of Miami shuttles
Where to Eat & Drink in Miami
Miami is best known for offering visitors a wide variety of Latin cuisine. Everything from Cuban to Colombian can be easily found in almost every neighbourhood of Miami. With over 6,000 restaurants to choose from, you’ll find every type of cuisine on the menu, and every type of budget catered to around the city.
Choosing the best restaurants in Miami is a past time of its own. Thrillist has a great guide to Best Restaurants in Miami, splitting up their suggestions between various cuisines: Best Seafood, Best Vegetarian/Vegan, Best Sushi, Best Burgers, Best Cuban Sandwiches, and so on.
If you are staying in South Beach and don’t feel like venturing out too far, check out Thrillist’s list the Best Restaurants in South Beach or this heat map at Miami Eater that plots 38 Essential Miami Restaurants on the map that’s easy to search by location.
Of course, new restaurants are popping up in Miami on a monthly basis, so it’s always a good idea to keep tabs on what’s hot with articles like, “10 best new restaurants in Miami”.
Like everything in Miami, eating out daily isn’t going to be cheap, so if you are traveling on a budget consider popping into these 18 best spots for cheap eats in Miami or trying these 16 best under $10 meals in Miami.
Of course drinking in Miami is a past time of its own. Nighttime entertainment in the city offers everything from upscale hotel clubs, independent bars, and nightclubs. There is a myriad of options to choose from, but regardless of where you go, remember to dress to impress or you might struggle to get your foot in the door (literally).
Start the night at one of Miami’s Hottest Rooftop Bars, or check out Miami’s Ten Best Cocktail Bars. If you couldn’t score tickets to the big game in town, but still want to feel a part of the action, head to one of these 17 Best Sports Bars in Miami.
For a few really good beers, head to Max’s favourites, World of Beer, which has several locations around Miami, Wynwood Brewery or the Wood Tavern, located in funky Wynwood in midtown Miami. These are just a few of Miami’s Best Breweries and Beer Bars
For the hottest spots in town, read this article on The 10 Hottest Bars in Miami Right Now. Pick your entertainment based on the occasion, with this comprehensive guide to partying in Miami every day of the week be it with your boys, or your girls.
Having a good night in Miami requires skills, so before you head out for a night on the town, read some tips on How To Get in Miami Nightclubs (hint, it’s not always as straightforward as rocking up and enjoying the night).
How Much Time Do You Need in Miami
Most people visit Miami for a long weekend, although it is just as easy to spend up to a week exploring all the nooks and crannies of this glamorous city. We typically come for 1-2 days at a time and focus our visits on only 1-2 areas.
To help you plan out your stay, we’ve pulled up a few great Miami itineraries ranging from 3-5 days.
- Miami Weekend on a Budget by Thrillist
- Miami: Three Days, Three Ways by Southern Living
- How To Do Miami in 4 Days by Huffington Post
- Miami Itinerary 5 Day by TripHobo