Miami is an adult’s playground, with sun, surf, luxury hotels, award-winning restaurants, and nightclubs open well into the evening. As the biggest city in Florida, you can expect that there’s plenty to do on your weekend in Miami and there’s always a festival or event going on.
Settled by the Spanish in the 1500s, Miami is a major cruise port and is the last stop before you get to the Everglades. It’s broken up into many neighborhoods, the most well-known being downtown Miami, where you’ll find the central bus station, and Miami Beach, home to South Beach and Collins Avenue. But the majority of our recommendations are in Miami Beach.
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What to Do in Miami
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens– Tycoon John Deering made his home outside of Miami in 1916 but only spent the winters at his lavish waterfront retreat. Today the mansion and gardens have been restored and turned into a museum. Admission is $15 for adults, which includes the house and grounds. 3251 South Miami Avenue
Wynwood Arts District– A former factory district has become one of the city’s cultural hotspots, full of art galleries, restaurants, and nightlife. The monthly art walks regularly bring in locals and visitors, but if you’re not in town for an event you can still wander around and see the commissioned works of street art covering every building. You can also take a free tour every Sunday with Wynwood Mural Tours, which are operated by a fellow artist and go by bike or go on the Wynwood Art Walk and Mural Tour. 404 NW 26th Street
The Wolfsonian-Florida International University– This art museum is a part of Florida International University and has a collection of pieces from the 1800s to the present. Their exhibitions focus on the power of art in terms of propaganda posters and other works. Admission is free every Friday from 6-9 pm but otherwise $7 for adults. 1001 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach Botanical Garden– Free to visit, this lush botanical garden is a short walk from Lincoln Road Mall. It features over two acres of plants native to South Florida as well as those from around the world. Sculptures and artwork are spread throughout the grounds. 2000 Convention Center Drive
Tours- No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a tour for it. Big Bus Tours covers all the highlights in the city on a double-decker open-air bus. Miami Beach Bike Tour visits the city on two wheels. The Miami Beach Food and Art Deco Walking Tour goes to some of the city’s most beloved restaurants.
Millionaire’s Row Miami Sightseeing Cruise shows off the houses of the city’s rich and famous. The South Beach Panoramic Night Segway Tour shows off the Art Deco neighborhood all lit up.
Day trips- Miami is located well for further exploration, including to the Florida Keys and the Everglades. If you brought your passport, you can even take a ferry to Bimini.
The Go Miami Card is a good way to see the city’s attractions at one price.
Where to Eat in Miami
Islas Canarias Restaurant– It’s in an unassuming strip mall, but it was as authentic as they come and I may have been the only non-Cuban in the restaurant. I ordered a lunch portion of arroz con pollo, which was large enough for at least two meals and came with a side of plantains and bread. 13695 SW 26th Street, (305) 559-6666
Versailles – Another Miami staple is this Cuban restaurant. They’re open daily from 8 am into the early hours of the morning for a strong coffee and hearty food. They have both a full-service restaurant and counter service bakery. 3555 SW 8th Street, (305) 444-0240
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar– The South comes to South Florida at Yardbird, where you can get cocktails in Mason jars and heaping portions of fried chicken and biscuits. 1600 Lenox Avenue, (305) 538-5220
Juice and Java– For cleaner eating, check out this Miami Beach restaurant for acai bowls, wraps, and juices. Later in the evening, they also have organic wine and beer. 1346 Washington Avenue, (305) 531-6675
Twenty Seven Restaurant– Located at the Freehand, Twenty Seven serves Caribbean-inspired food. Come by for brunch and split a pitcher of mimosas with friends before hanging poolside. 2727 Indian Creek Drive, (786) 476-7020
Dolce Italian– Inspired by Italian films, this restaurant inside the Gale Hotel serves classic fare like Neopolitan style pizzas, fresh house-made pasta, and cocktails like Aperol Spritz. 1690 Collins Avenue, (786) 975-2550
News Cafe– A favorite of Gianni Versace, this European-style cafe has mostly outdoor seating. It’s also open 24 hours a day, making it great for people watching. The food is nice too with breakfast all day. 800 Ocean Drive, (305) 538-6397
Where to Stay in Miami
Freehand Miami– Designed by a famed interior design firm, this stylish hostel will make you forget about those European backpacker experiences. Even the bunks are plush and it has a popular pool, restaurant, and award-winning cocktail bar. (Read our review) 2727 Indian Creek Drive
The Catalina Hotel– Located a short walk from both the beach and the shops and restaurants of Lincoln Road Mall, this mid-range hotel has great amenities. Guests have access to two pools and daily happy hour. (Read our review) 1732 Collins Avenue
Circa 39 Hotel– This colorful property is another mid-range boutique ideally located near the beach and restaurants. Guests have access to the onsite pool as well as beach chairs a few blocks away. (Read our review) 3900 Collins Avenue
Life House Little Havana– For something a bit different, stay in Miami’s Cuban neighborhood. This chic and modern guesthouse has a rooftop pool, cafe, and rooms with top of the line toiletries. 528 SW 9th Avenue
The Sagamore– This beloved art hotel is located in one of the Art Deco buildings with over 100 rooms and suites. The property is surrounded by restaurants in nightlife and puts on art exhibitions in their gallery as well as work in guest rooms. 1671 Collins Avenue
Camping- You can even find camping in the greater Miami area at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne. Larry and Penny Thompson Memorial Park is located near the zoo and has campground and pavilion facilities.
Rentals- Airbnb is another option for local experiences is staying in homes. Get $20 towards your first stay by using this link.
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Getting Around Miami
Certain parts of Miami are walkable, specifically South Beach and Little Havana. If you’re looking for a way to get around once you’re in the city but the distance is too far to walk, you can rent bikes from DecoBike, a Miami-based bike-sharing program similar to Citi Bike in New York.
There are dozens of locations in both Miami Beach and downtown Miami where you can insert your card and retrieve a bike to use for the day. Simply put it back in one of the stations when you’re done and it will charge your card. Bikes have baskets and LED lights, but not locks or helmets.
You can choose from monthly memberships or day and weekly passes for visitors. A 30-minute pass for a quick ride across town is $4, while a full day pass is $24. Note that you will be charged $4 if you are late to return the bike.
Miami is a standard stop on most Florida road trips, especially as it’s a jumping off point for trips to the Keys and the Everglades, but driving in Miami isn’t for the faint of heart. Much of Miami Beach is a parking nightmare, as there are metered spots and small lots, but nothing more long term.
Many hotels don’t have onsite parking and you have to fend for yourself. If you find a place to park, I recommend that you keep your car there and find alternate ways around town. The tolls coming in and out of Miami are another reason to avoid driving if you can avoid it.
If you still need a car to get around, you can rent from Zipcar or one of the many rental agencies at the airport.
Yellow Cab and Super Taxi are among the recommended companies to use, especially if you’re coming in from the airport. Ride share and taxi apps Uber and Lyft both have cars in Miami. Uber offers UberX, the budget option where drivers are in their own cars, as well as UberXL for large parties.
The main depot is downtown so you may have to change buses there. Each ride costs $2.25 for each method of transportation but you can also use the reloadable EASY card, which works on all of them.
Metrorail runs in two tracks from Palmetto to Dadeland South, with stops at Vizcaya and Miami International Airport. Metromover is a smaller scale electrical rail line that connects Omni with the Financial District and makes a loop around downtown.