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I’m so excited to finally share my Miami travel guide!
Mainly touted as a beach city, Miami is so much more than blue skies and sand.
It’s proximity to Latin America makes Florida an eclectic mix of cultures, with a variety of delicious food to choose from. I’m not exaggerating when I say I took my food very seriously whilst on this trip. From Cuban Sandwiches in Little Havana to the Colombian restaurant around the corner, there were so many options to choose from.
Another surprise for visitors is Miami’s unexpected artist’s scene – from Wynwood Walls, the Wolfsonian Museum in South Beach and local art galleries in Little Havana, it’s Miami’s unexpected artistic temperament that makes this city so fascinating.
In our travel guide, we’ll share our finds from our time there and our must sees and dos!
Relax at South Beach
The busiest beach in Miami, South Beach is famed amongst tourists and locals alike. Here you’ll spot locals going for their morning runs, or relaxing on the beach. If you are so inclined, you can also rent sunbathing chairs or umbrellas for your time on the beach.
We likened South Beach to Bondi in Sydney – it stretches for miles and is packed with tourists and locals on a sunny day!
Street art at Wynwood Walls
One of my favourite spots in Miami, the suburb of Wynwood has been transformed into a hub for street art. The “official” walls are an enclosed area, but if you wander around the suburb you will find street art everywhere.
Visit Miami’s Perez Art Museum
Miami is known internationally for its beaches, but one of it’s hidden sides is it’s art scene. Not on many tourists must-do lists, the Perez Art Museum is definitely a more off the beaten path attraction.
Our favourite exhibition was the Form into Action exhibition by Julio Le Parc – focusing on light and colour, the exhibition is interactive. We’re talking flashing strobe lights, a maze of mirrors to get lost in and glasses that play with your perception. I loved it so much I wanted to have a second look!
Outside the museum, there is also a hanging garden, sculpture park and swings overlooking the bay.
Visit the Wolfsonian Museum
Located in South Beach, the Wolfsonian is the building everyone recognises but hardly anyone knows what’s in it.
Not on many tourist’s lists, the Wolfsonian is worth a visit if you like art or are looking for a refuge on a windy or rainy day.
Visit Key Biscayne/ Crandon Park
You’ll need a car to get to Key Biscayne, but Crandon Park is probably the most underrated beach in Miami. The sand is softer than South Beach, and the crowds are more family friendly, and less “party”.
The beach faces out across towards Miami, so you’ll get some amazing views when visiting here.
Parking here is $5 for the day, and you’ll need to pay a small toll to enter Key Biscayne.
Take an Architecture Tour
Most visitors come for the cool bars or beautiful beaches… Or even just to people watch!
What often gets missed is an understanding of the roots of South Beach’s iconic architecture.
The Miami Design Preservation League holds daily walking tours at 10:30 AM. Tour guides are passionate about preserving South Beach’s architecture, and you will leave with a new appreciation for how this has shaped the identity of South Beach.
Visit Little Havana
Originally home to Cuban Immigrants, Little Havana is now a mix of migrants from Central America.
The main area that visitors explore is along SW 8th St, between SW 17th Ave and SW 14th Ave. Make sure you look out for the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, which is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame – stars along the sidewalk, featuring Cuban celebrities and other Hispanic non-Cuban artists as well.
Also worth a visit is the Maximo Gomez Park, a very small park where you can watch local residents play dominoes or chess. Worth to pop in and get a feel for the area and what it used to be like.
The best southern restaurant in Miami, Yardbird is packed every night. If you’d like to visit, you’ll need to book your table in advance (a couple of days if you want to be sure).
They’re best known for their fried chicken and waffles (served with spiced watermelon), which sounds like a really weird combination but is still delicious. They also have the best cocktails I’ve ever had (bourbon and blackberry anyone?!) and the most mouth watering dessert, including deep fried Oreos!
A Cuban restaurant not far from Ocean Drive, Puerto Sagua is reasonably priced for Miami Beach. Off the main tourist path, this cafe/ restaurant is great for budget conscious tourists visiting or staying in Miami Beach.
Their Cuban Sandwiches are mouthwatering and oversized – you may need to take away any leftovers for breakfast!
Azucar Ice Cream
Located in Little Havana, Azucar Ice Cream sells delicious handmade ice cream in creative flavours! Colourfully decorated, the interiors have an element of Willy Wonka… That’s if he made ice cream instead of chocolate!
Zak the Baker
A short walk from Wynwood Walls, this is a Jewish Bakery brimming with customers during lunch. Think freshly made soups, mouth-watering sandwiches and yummy sugar-free iced teas.
Definitely hip, definitely good.
Accommodation in Miami can be expensive.
If you are after budget accommodation, there are a variety of Hostels in Miami Beach; otherwise, you can find decently priced AirBnB properties. Resorts and hotels in South Beach charge a daily resort fee per night of your stay which can quickly add up. When booking, make sure to check this – you don’t want to be slapped with an additional fee upon check out! If you have a car, daily parking fees can add up and become very expensive if staying in this part of Miami.
If you’re planning on having a car for your entire time in Miami, this broadens your options, and staying in Downtown Miami or outside of Miami Beach may be more wallet friendly.
December to March is brimming with visitors from the North. This time of year is the tourist peak period for Miami and Florida more generally. However, Miami’s peak period is not as horrifically busy as other major cities like New York or London. The city is busy during this time of year, but we never had to wait long when buying tickets for museums or when eating out casually.
Let’s not beat around the bush, Miami is a major city and expenses can add up quickly. Most of your expenses here are likely to be on accommodation and food. Most of the tourist attractions in Miami are free or require a small entry fee (e.g. entry into the Perez Art Museum is $16 for adults – cheap for an art museum!)
Food can be expensive, especially along Ocean Drive and in South Beach generally. Restaurants in this area automatically add an 18 % tip (15% service fee and 3% tax) to your bill, so make sure you don’t unintentionally add an additional tip when you’re paying!
Money can be saved on day-to-day food costs by eating local ethnic food or planning in advance and bringing your own food for a picnic.
Miami is not public transport friendly in comparison to other major cities in the US. If you’re planning on exploring the Everglades or the Florida Keys, a car is a must, unless you are happy spending money on tours. This, however, will reduce your flexibility when travelling.
Most of the tourist attractions listed in this guide can be difficult to reach without a car. If you’re planning on visiting Miami without a car, Uber and Uber Pool is very cheap in Miami. An Uber Pool for 2 people cost approximately $4 USD from the Perez Art Museum to South Beach, which is comparable to public transport costs in other major cities!
Parking in Miami can be cheap – street parking or side street parking costs approximately $1.50 per hour, make sure you read signage before parking. Payment can be made by credit card to the meter (though we occasionally had problems with our Australian credit cards) or via cash (some machines take notes, others just take quarters – make sure you plan ahead!)
Alternatively, if you have a US credit card (we had problems with our Australian credit cards, though it did work with our US credit card) download the Pay by Phone app. This allows you to pay for your parking with your credit card – you can enter your number plate and a photo of your car. It’s a lot more convenient compared to paying at the meter, as you can extend your parking without returning to your car!
Are you planning a trip to Miami? Make sure you download a free copy of my Miami Budget Traveler’s Guide! Just click the link below: