Miami, Florida is located at the southeastern tip of the Sunshine State. The tropical climate and turquoise waters make it an ideal destination for beach-goers, but it’s also a cultural hotspot- the city’s Cuban influence is reflected in the cafes and cigar shops that line Calle Ocho in Little Havana. Miami also has South Beach, famed for its colorful art deco buildings, white sand, beachside hotels and nightclubs. With so much to do, you’ll want to hear from a local on how to spend your trip. Lucky for you, we’ve interviewed two locals! Also, if you’re flying into or out of the Miami airport and are an American Express Platinum card holder, you should check out the Centurion Lounge! If you’re unsure, read the View From the Wing review on the space (and check out their photos!)
THE LOCALS: Melissa & Nia
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST THEM: Melissa, 25, was born and raised in Miami and loves sharing her favorite places with others. Nia, 27, is Melissa’s cousin, who was born in Colombia but raised in Miami. Nia hasn’t lived in Miami for some time, but spends two weeks there every year with the added bonus of hanging out with locals!
Favorite place to stroll?
Mary Brickell Village, a shopping & lifestyle center in Downtown Miami that spans two blocks (9th and 10th Streets) of Miami Avenue. If you’re looking for a place to eat, there are tons of restaurants. Local favorites include Barú, Doraku Sushi, and Cuzco Cocina Peruana.
Best area to shop?
Dolphin Mall (these outlets are the best!) If you’re looking for local shops, head to South Beach and wander the two block loop on Sunset Harbour. There you’ll also find some of the best casual eateries like Icebox, Lucali, and modern Thai restaurant NaiYaRa. (Psst: Foodies best order the Otoro Tartare at NaiYaRa, a published Zagat restaurant secret, offered only when fresh blue fin tuna belly is available.)
Essential Miami tip?
Go to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne (a 10 mile drive from downtown Miami). There’s a beautiful lighthouse on the beach, plus bike rentals, canoeing and other outdoor activities. Morgans, Rusty Pelican, the Butcher Shop, and Georges on Sunset Place are all great places for Brunch on Saturday or Sunday. Also, Miami has cheap Hispanic food that is very different from what you would find in New York LA, or Texas. Take advantage!
People love Nikki Beach in South Beach. We prefer the Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach at 39th and Collins. We went a couple of weeks ago with my friends and had a great time. They have great food and you can order from the bar all day!
Your recommended Saturday night agenda?
Mary Brickell Village has great nightlife, with plenty of fun bars and restaurants. Blackbird, American Social and Blue Martini are all great spots. People like going out to the beach at night but we really don’t recommend it. You will have a lot more fun in Brickell!
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE MIAMI ATTRACTIONS
1. American Airlines Arena– Thumbs down…
…unless you are going to see a game or a concert. However, the area nearby, called Bayside, is good for a stroll.
2. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens– Thumbs sideways.
Vizcaya Museum is the 38,000 square foot residence of industrialist James Deering; an Italian Renaissance-style villa with formal gardens. One downside is the cost for admission ($18). Although it looks beautiful, we’ve never been there!
3. Boat Tours- Thumbs Up!
Boat tours are a fun way to be outside without dealing with too much humidity. Plus, you’re on a boat!
4. Zoological Wildlife Foundation– Thumbs Up (if you’re with kids).
5. Wynwood Walls– Thumbs Up!
If you are artsy you will love Wynwood! This is urban graffiti at its finest- a warehouse district turned hip neighborhood with rotating street art from some of the most highly regarded artists in the world. Wynwood Walls is open to the public all year round and admission is free.
Did TripAdvisor miss any top attractions:
We love Lincoln Road, a pedestrian friendly shopping street in South Beach! Also, we highly recommended day trip to Key West!!
ZAGAT’S TOP MIAMI RESTAURANTS
1. Zuma– Thumbs Up!
2. Joe’s Stone Crab– Thumbs Up! It’s a great place for drinks and food on a weekend night.
3. Il Gabbiano– We’ve never been.
4. Pascal’s On Ponce– Thumbs Up! Yum!
5. The Palm– We’ve never been, but this chain has locations around the U.S. and we’ve heard it’s popular but nothing extra special.
Did TripAdvisor miss any top restaurants:
Summertime Tips: In general, Miami is very flamboyant, so pack bright colors, prints, and designer items if possible. It goes without saying, but a bathing suit and a cover-up are essentials for a trip to Miami in the summer. For footwear, bring sandals, but you should also pack a nice pair of shoes for going out on the town; Miami nightlife is internationally renowned! The summer months are very hot, so breathable, light-weight clothing during the day is the way to go. Guys: If you have to wear a sport coat or jacket, pack an unlined one or one in a breathable fabric.
Wet Season Tips: Beginning in May and through mid-October, Miami has a wet season with temperatures in the mid 80s to low 90s F, accompanied by high humidity. The heat is often relieved by afternoon thunderstorms, but the conditions still remain muggy. A rain jacket is a good idea to pack if you plan to be walking around in the afternoon.
Wintertime Tips (December – March): The winter months are quite mild in Miami; the high averages from 75 to 77 F, though many days see temperatures over 80 F. Warm nights average near 60 F. Although the temperature is comfortable, it’s smart to pack a light jacket for when restaurants overdo the air conditioning.
Are you a Miami local? Tell us about your favorite places in the comments below!