On the southeastern tip of the otherwise conservative state of Florida, Miami does everything with a unique multicultural flare.
With its mix of sunny beaches and skyscrapers, vibrant Caribbean and Latino immigrant culture, endless nightlife, and happening gay scene, spend holidays in Miami and you will see that the city is a place where cultures come together ... more often than not to party.
Book a flight to Miami today and let the heat go to your head. In this town, the eccentric is not out of the ordinary, it’s a way of life.
From around 500BC until Spanish contact in the 1500s, the area around what is now Miami was home to the native Calusa people. The name of the city itself comes from the Calusa name for the region, “Mayami”.
Spain lost possession of Florida to the British in 1763, though regained it after the American Revolution and in 1819 sold it to the United States. After the Civil War and two wars between the US Army and the Seminole Indians, investors began flooding the area. Leading the way was Julia Tuttle, the wife of a wealthy businessman, who conceived the city of Miami as a resort town and convinced others to invest. The first railroad reached Miami in 1896.
In 1915, Miami Beach was established. Though nearly destroyed by a hurricane in 1926, the city bounced back with new buildings and neighbourhoods in 1935.
World War II expanded Miami’s economic and population growth as a major outpost against German submarines. Cuban immigration boomed with the Fidel Castro’s rise to power in 1959, forever transforming Miami into a bilingual city with strong Latino and Caribbean connections. Miami became hugely important in the international world of finance and its rapid population growth earned it the nickname “The Magic City”.
Racial tensions in the 1990s and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 caused a “white flight” in Miami’s non-Latino community, emptying out Caucasian populations and making the city the largest in the United States with a Latino majority.
Enjoy this museum that offers historic artworks from Spain. Enjoy the beautifully maintained garden.
Housing the history of the Canary Islands, this museum is actually a complex of three different museums.
Explore this sanctuary for endangered and rare animals, including tigers, crocodiles and the Komodo Dragon.
Enjoy this popular park and beach that offers beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Explore this up-and-coming neighbourhood that offers local galleries, museums, and trendy shops.
Bayside offers quaint shops, restaurants and galleries overlooking the Bay of Biscayne.
Take your little one to this popular museum. This museum has over 56,500 square feet of space that offers an abundance of hands-on exhibits.
Wynwood is a section of Miami that offers the cuisine, art, and cultural attractions of immigrants from the Caribbean.
Take your kids to the Miami Seaquarium to learn about all of the exotic sea life in the area.
Visit this historic Cuban neighbourhood that offers food, shopping, and cultural attractions.
See Miami’s Cuban and Latino culture in all its glory in the neighbourhood known as Little Havana. Through thick cigar smoke old men play dominoes on sidewalks in front of friendly storefronts and Caribbean restaurants, while Latin beats play in the background.
The Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) festival is held the last Friday of every month along Calle Ocho (Eight Street), where musicians, artists, galleries, and restaurants come together to give live performances, show art exhibits, screen films, and offer Latin and Caribbean cuisine tasting to tourists and locals alike.
Every March Little Havana hosts the Calle Ocho Festival, a huge block party that is part of Miami’s Carnaval celebrations, where different ethnic communities parade their countries’ flags, music, and food.
Take a break from the partying and enjoy more natural pleasures like Miami’s Fruit and Spice Park.
Located 35 miles south of Miami in the Redland community, this 37-acre tropical botanical garden park is a tribute to this lush and fertile area and features over 500 varieties of local and international fruits, spices, herbs, and nuts.
But don’t just look, taste! After a tour, sample everything the park has to offer.
Miami Beach might be wild, but it is nothing in comparison to the wilderness of the Florida Everglades, the subtropical wetlands that stretch 160km long and 97km wide.
Tour them at Billie Swamp Safari Wildlife Park where an airboat takes you through 2,000 acres of untamed Everglades preserved by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
On the way you’ll see alligators, bison, water buffalo, and ostriches in their natural environment.
Take the day or spend the night in a traditional Seminole house or “chickee” and stay up listening to traditional campfire stories.
This popular restaurant serves authentic South American dishes in a romantic, upscale atmosphere.
A favourite for locals, this restaurant serves American fare with local ingredients.
Zuma offers exquisite contemporary Japanese cuisine in a casual atmosphere.
South Beach stretches from 14th Street and Collins to 1st Street. A playground of the rich, the area offers shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Visitors can enjoy and learn about local tropical birds in their natural habitat.
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The weather in Miami is subtropical and is generally warm year-round. Summers can be blazing hot, with an average temperature of 37Â°C. Spring is considerably cooler, with an average temperature of 33Â°C. Travellers tend to visit Miami in the high season, which starts from September to December. These months are cooler and more comfortable. The average temperature in the fall is 24Â°C, while the average temperature in the winter is 21Â°C.
Whether you’re into sunbathing and celebrity watching or ocean swimming and exploring, Miami has a beautiful turquoise beach for you. The flashiest of these is South Beach, a hub for Hollywood stars and sculpted beach bodies, lined with hundreds of restaurants, shops, and clubs. You will also find a concentration of Miami’s gay population, colourful lifeguard posts, and European tourists taking advantage of legal topless sunbathing.
For a bit more private beach time try the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, the Oleta State River Park that features 15 miles of bike trails, or Virginia Key Beach. Clothing is “optional” at Haulover Beach, which also has great surfing.
Don’t just admire the pristine waters of Miami’s beaches from the shore – take a swim! Snorkel through a coral reef and feast your eyes on tropical fish, or scuba down to a number of sunken freighters and even an army tank off the coast of Miami Beach.
Surfers around the United States agree that Miami Beach is one the top spots to catch a wave. There are numerous places from which to rent equipment and take lessons in both surfing and scuba diving, like the South Beach Dive and Surf Center or the South Beach Surf School. Or rent a sailboat from the Aquatic Rental Center in Key Biscayne and tour the barrier islands.
Despite its dress code of minimal beachwear, Miami is a fashion hub. For high-end shopping, head to Aventura Mall or the upscale Bal Harbour Shops where you’ll find shops like Coach, Diesel, and Miss Sixty, and luxury department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, in addition to many fine restaurants and cafes.
Lincoln Road in Miami Beach offers a more bohemian open-air shopping experience. It is great for people-watching as well, and will tantalize all palettes with its diversity of eateries.
There will be no going to bed early in the city known for its vibrant nightlife. Dance at one of Miami’s many clubs like The Vagabond in downtown, where each night a different DJ brings you a unique mix of their best.
The funky and down-to-earth Purdy Lounge in Miami Beach features hip hop, reggae, and dancehall music, with cheap drinks and no cover charge. For a more relaxed evening and great beer, head to The Abbey Brewing Company near Lincoln Road or Clarke’s Irish Pub that offers excellent pub food like shepherd’s pie and mac ‘n cheese.
Take a day-trip to witness a labor of love. Using his own two hands and over 1,100 tons of coral rock, Latvian-born Ed Leedskanlin built Coral Castle for his girlfriend over the course of 28 years.
30-acres of legit monkey business, Monkey Jungle features orangutans, gibbons, guenons, spider monkeys and nearly 100 Java monkeys. Javas are notoriously skilled divers when it comes to foraging along the riverbanks and swamps, so be sure to stick around for entertaining mealtimes.
Consistently rated as one of the top 10 zoos in the country, Zoo Miami is one for the bucket list. Meet white Bengal tigers, Komodo dragons and black-necked storks. Other showstoppers include Tropical America with jaguars and anacondas, Wings of Asia with 70 rare Asian birds in a free flight area, and a virtual African safari.
Take a day-trip to Biscayne Bay to discover 70 rooms of art and historic collections, acres of Italian gardens with statues and fountains, a native rockland hammock and breathtaking views of Key Biscayne and the skyline. The new 90-minute audio tour makes for perfect self-guided visits.
Home to 3,000 exotic animals and 500 species of plants, the 18.6-acre theme park delivers you deep into the heart of a lush island with aviaries, jungle trails, a petting farm, Serpentarium, and shows with African penguins and talking parrots. Other famous residents include a high-wire riding Cockatoo, and a liger cat.
Catch a crocodile smile with a trip to the Alligator Farm, which includes an exciting Everglades airboat tour with every admission. Meet thousands of alligators, crocodiles, caimans and snakes. The cherry on top is delivered hourly in the form of informative wildlife shows, snake shows and feedings.
Take a tour by foot, airboat, canoe or Hummer ride through saw grass prairies, subtropical jungles, mangrove swamps, and the waters of the Florida Bay. Discover the totally exotic plants and animals of the Florida Everglades, including the endangered American alligator and Florida panther.
See another wild side of Miami. Set against a picture-perfect skyline, Seaquarium features marine animal shows, and loads of opportunities to see killer whales, dolphins and more. Get an even closer look (and a good soaking) in the “splash zone” or count on some good laughs at the sea lion show. Lucky or not, you might even get picked to be part of a show.
Snowbirds, celebs and locals flock to the beautiful beaches, insane nightclubs and sultry lounges, all drenched in Latin flavor. Cover up with little more than sunscreen and head to the beach, shop for haute couture on Lincoln Road, and refresh at a spa before hitting the all-night party.
Book a hotel in Miami today to experience all of the luxury, convenience and style that the city has to offer.
Enjoy a view of Miami Beach from your hotel room at the South Beach Marriott hotel. Situated on trendy Ocean Drive, the hotel blends in perfectly with its art deco lobby, Deco Blue restaurant, and spacious rooms fully equipped with boutique-style amenities. Take a dip in the heated infinity-edge pool with an expansive view of the ocean. A personable concierge staff will direct you to some of the best dining, shopping, and activities in town.
Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach hotel has been a favourite resort and spa for celebrities and politicians alike since 1956. Swim in one of four pools and savour Italian cuisine and fine wine of Cabana Beach Club, a hotel restaurant. With oceanfront views from its contemporary suites and amenities like an indoor meeting space, Starbucks cafe, and a marina, a stay at Eden Roc is a classic and timeless Miami experience.
On the private island of Grove Isle of the Biscayne Bay lies the small elegant Grove Isle Hotel and Spa. It features a 500-metre spa complete with a salon, a meditation room, a swimming pool, a fitness centre, a yoga platform, and outdoor massage areas. Each room has a view of the bay and a mix of British Colonial and island style.
For superb service and a peaceful stay, head to Sea View Hotel located on the Atlantic Coast of the Bal Harbour Village. With cosy and clean bedrooms, a gorgeous pool area, and friendly staff, this hotel is an outpost of relaxation with class and taste.
For the maximum freedom and ability to explore the city and its surroundings, consider car hire in Miami. Many hotels also offer their own airport shuttle services or the Super Shuttle fleet located can take you to Miami Beach for $32 or Key Biscayne for $40.
Miami is known for its rude drivers so get a map and plan your route. The city is on a grid system divided into four areas: Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. Flagler street divides North from South and Miami Avenue divides East from West.
Getting around the city is easy with the Metrorail, which services downtown Miami, Hialeah and Kendall. The Metromover is also an option – an elevated track that traverses downtown and the Brickell and Omni business districts with individual motorized cars. Metrobus operates 60 routes throughout Miami-Dade County, and the commuter train Tri-Rail has stations throughout Dade and Palm Beach counties for those going farther out.
When taking a taxi, make sure that is legitimate: the words “taxi” or “cab” or both along with the company’s phone number must appear on both sides of the vehicle, and there should always be a metre inside displaying the fare.
For tourist information, the Greater Miami Convention and Vistor’s Bureau is located at 701 Brickell Ave, Suite 700, in downtown Miami. For telephone assistance call (800) 933-8448.
Mai Tardi (63 Northeast 39th Street), a modern though casual Italian restaurant located in Miami’s Design District, blends a chill atmosphere with great food for a pleasurable dining experience. Come for the thin-crust pizza, of which there are twenty kinds, the cured meat platter, or signature dishes like the seafood lasagne. Sit outside and enjoy the mosaic-tiles, modern furniture, and oak trees of the restaurant’s handsome patio.
When in Miami, eat Cuban food. Las Culebras is a friendly Cuban-Spanish cafe with a knockout menu and reasonable prices located in Coconut Grove. Dishes include the classic rice and beans as well as the more exotic chickpea and chorizo tapas, alligator, vaca frita, palomilla a la balsera (pork and yuca filled steak), goat stewed in Coca-Cola, and sautéed frogs legs. With big portions and great service, Las Culebras is a place to experience and taste an essential part of the city’s culture.
Eating at Tap Tap (819 5th Street) is nothing less than an experience in the culinary Haitian heritage of Miami. Located in South Beach, the spot is a tribute to home cooking from Haiti complete with colourful murals and tables. Appetizers include pumpkin soup, grilled goat, and herring-stuffed avocado. For the main course try the fried fish in lime sauce, shrimp in coconut or Creole sauce, or stewed goat with okra. Come on a Thursday or Saturday when there is live jazz and sip a Soley, the house cocktail made with passion fruit juice and Barbancourt rum.
There are no compulsory vaccinations to visit the United States in general, but boosters for standard vaccinations are recommended, including: tetanus, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, and measles. For people planning to stay for extended periods, a Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended as well.
The tap water is fine to drink in Miami.
Assaults are infrequent in Miami, but visitors should follow common sense precautions. Do not walk alone at night, in poorly lit areas, or in neighbourhoods with which you are not familiar. Do not wear flashy jewellery or objects that may draw attention to you, like MP3 devices or cell phones. Do not accept offers of food or drink from strangers.
Another tip is to make a photocopy of your passport and travel documents to keep with you in case you lose the originals or they are stolen. You can ask your hotel concierge about the potential of storing valuable items in a safe in your room or in the hotel itself.
When driving, make sure to obey the speed limit, as enforcement in the United States is stringent and fines for speeding can be steep.
Call 911 in case of an emergency, a free number from any payphone.
Miami experiences frequent hurricanes, especially in June through the end of November. Stay attuned to weather reports for up-to-date information.