Known for its beaches, party crazy Ocean drive and Cuban culture, Miami is very unique compared to other places in the United States of America.
You feel like you are in America but at the same time not. I was surprised by what I really enjoyed in Miami was not the South Beach and you will know after reading along.
Miami has been the trickiest destination that I have travelled to so far. This place has very notorious weather in summer and not cheap in the winter months. Because of its proximity from states like Philadelphia and New York, it is always flooding with tourists.
We found good deal with Norwegian for a one way flight to Miami International Airport which is closer to the city. You can also check Fort Lauder International Airport from your destination if the flights are significantly cheap. The reason is the distance from the airport to the city. Also check 48-24 hours before flying, as Miami has hurricane season in summer months and things get pretty bad. We reached 24 hours after our original arrival as the flight got cancelled due to technical issue. Tip: fly with home country airline. Example, if you are flying from Europe chooses Air Europa or British Airways if flying from United Kingdom.
Miami has majorly three areas where you can stay in hotels/bnbs/apartments.
Brickell – Financial district of Miami
It is more like Manhattan in New York or Green Park in London. It is expensive to stay here but if you like to stay in posh places then this is your option. The only sightseeing closest to this area is Bayside Market. It is more like a big indoor and outdoor mall with various brands like GAP, Guess, and Micheal Kors to food chains like Five Guys, Burger King etc. There are also many stalls which sell handicraft items, souvenirs, beachwear, etc. The main attraction is the celebrity boat. Sold by many different companies, Celebrity boats is a concept of a guided tour of houses of celebrities like David Beckham, Serena Williams, Ricky Martin to name a few around the Islands near Miami. Tip: Check Groupon for the cheapest one few days before you plan to travel as they require prior booking. You can also buy the ticket at the counter for $28 per person discounted to $25 pp if you ask for the same.
As the name suggests, South Beach is the place where the party never stops. Closer to the beach and the famous Ocean Drive, this is an option for those who love to go to beach every day. The reason I say that is one it is very expensive to stay here generally $200/night and there nothing much to do except for beaches, clubs, shops and restaurants. So if you just want a relaxing holiday by the beach South Beach is your best option for accommodation in Miami.
Most of the chain hotels like Hilton, Best Western, and Hyatt etc are located a few miles away from the Miami International Airport. The advantage to stay in any of these hotels is the location. If you are planning to go to all the suburbs of Miami like Brickell, Little Havana, South Beach, Everglades etc then it works out cheaper to stay in this area as everything is half an hour to an hour drive. Public transport in Miami is not that great except for free trolleys on the Miami Beach which run every few minutes up and down the island. Also the cost per night of hotel near Airport is one third of cost to stay near the beach. Most of these hotels provide free airport shuttle which you will use twice and save a good amount of money on Uber/Lyft.
Moving around Miami is a bit difficult if you are not driving. Public transport takes double the time and is not very frequent. It also is not cheap. So for two people like us, it was more convenient and economical to commute by Lyft pool. Also remember to check promo codes of Lyft and Uber. We got $10 off our first 10 rides. So we roughly would spend $10 – $20 on average to travel from hotel to the beach or Bayside.
Rental car is the best option in Miami. You can hire a car for $40 – $50 if you are non US resident or $20 – $40 for a US resident. It is easy to drive and navigate using Google maps and roads are pretty wide. Remember to get your IDP before travelling. Also book using online portals for discounts and cashbacks. We used Avis and the service was good. One thing to check is the time of return of the car. We booked for 10 pm return but found out at the centre that it is 6:30 pm return as the place closes at 7pm.
There are too many blog posts about what to do in Miami for a day to a week. So I am going to avoid writing too much. But here is the list of things we did:
Everglades (must do, should consider hiring car and Groupon for vouchers)
Celebrity Boat ride
You might a lot more to do depending on the location and interests. Do your research before you go as Miami is not cheap especially in summer. Also the heat does not help. It gets up to 34 degrees celsius during the day and you would want some indoor activities in the afternoon so plan ahead. Hope you enjoy your holiday in Miami!