Miami, Florida, is a playground for vacationers in search of white-sand beaches, Latin flavor, bold art deco, and a palm-tree filled city skyline. Located in Southern Florida, Miami invites visitors to experience the Cuban flair in Little Havana, art galleries in the Design District, and the inviting beaches along the Atlantic shore.
The hotels in Miami are as diverse as the city’s culture. With Expedia, vacationers can reserve cheap Miami hotel deals in a variety of spots from the party scene in South Beach to the laid-back community of Coconut Grove.
For the vacationer who wants a spot in the center of all the glitz and glamour of Miami’s world-famous nightlife, the Miami hotels in South Beach may offer the ideal oceanfront lodging. Guests drawn to the entertainment in SoBE often rate the accommodations here among the best Miami hotels.
Meanwhile, the Miami hotel deals in areas such as Coconut Grove feature luxury boutique accommodations, which may provide slightly more peaceful getaways. Coconut Grove, home to The Barnacle Historic State Park and the Coconut Grove Playhouse, presents a calm escape from the hype of the beach scene.
Travelers booking flights to Miami on Expedia have the option of landing at the Miami International Airport or the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, which is located just north of Miami. Both airports offer a free shuttle to the Tri-Rail Station, where visitors can catch trains or bus transfers to their boutique hotels downtown or their hotels near the airport. These airports also provide taxi service for direct transportation to downtown and beach destinations.
Vacationers planning to drive to the palm tree coastal city often take I-95 if they’re traveling from the north, I-75 from the midwest, and US Highway 1 from the south. However, travelers can also ride charter buses into Miami as there are both Greyhound and RedCoach bus terminals near Miami International airport.
Whether you use your own car or a car rental service, driving is one of the easiest ways to get around Miami. However, cars aren’t absolutely necessary for those vacationers planning to stay in Miami Beach as many of the restaurants, shops, and hotels are within walking distance of one another in this hot spot.
For those who choose the carless route, the Metromover offers free transportation around downtown, while the Metrorail is an affordable rail system providing convenient access to 23 different stations in the area, including the Miami International Airport, Coconut Grove, and South Miami. Miami also provides the Metrobus, which services the major attractions, such as the beaches, malls, and entertainment in the area.
Things to Do
South Beach belongs on every Miami vacationer’s must-do list. Many know it for its ravishing nightlife scene with dazzling Miami hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants, but by day it offers inviting sandy beaches and enticing shops and boutiques on Espanola Way, Lincoln Mall Road, and Washington Avenue. While visiting SoBe, don’t miss out on the opportunity to take an Art Déco tour of the neighborhoods to admire the impeccable architecture, decor, and designs of the hotels, restaurants, and buildings, and learn about the history and role of art in Miami over the years.
While Miami’s beaches and art deco tours offer some captivating views, under the water is where you can find the most fascinating views of all. The Florida Straight, which is the world’s third largest barrier reef, and the only barrier reef in the states, runs from the water just off the shores of Miami out to the Dry Tortugas. This must-visit barrier reef presents some of the best snorkeling sceneries in the country, featuring colorful coral, tropical fish, and marine life. Snorkel around in the company of manatees, bottlenose dolphins, nurse sharks, and stingrays in this underwater paradise. Kick your fins from shore at snorkeling spots such as Pompano Beach Dropoff or book a boat excursion for snorkeling experiences further off shore.
For additional wildlife observation, but this time above the water’s surface, hop on an airboat and tour the Florida Everglades during your Miami vacation. These airboat tours present you with the thrilling opportunity to glide over some of the only remaining wetlands in the U.S. Learn about the early beginnings of the Everglades and witness the wetland’s flora and fauna, with extremely up-close encounters with gigantic gators. While you may not want to dip your toes into these waters, the airboat rides offer safe and educational tours of this unique wildlife preserve. After an adventure like this, head back to your luxury hotel and relax in your gator and critter-free room.
Visiting the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is another popular thing to do in Miami for those travelers who have some additional time to experience the city. The property was once businessman James Deering’s estate, but now it is a public landmark where visitors can tour the masterfully designed villa. Miami vacationers can marvel at the Italian Renaissance influenced designs and Mediterranean Revival architecture, mixed with Baroque elements and more modern accents of the early 20th century. Wander the immaculate gardens and artistic landscape, complete with orchards, sculptures, fountains, and subtropical plants. This aesthetically pleasing museum provides vacationers with an alternative to spending the day at the beach or shopping the boutiques.
Arts & Entertainment
From tip toeing elegant ballerinas to drum bellowing tribal beats, the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts in Miami welcomes some of the finest talent from around the globe to perform on its stages. As the second-largest performing arts center in the U.S. and home to the Florida Grand Opera, the Adrienne Arsht Center features touring dance companies, ballets, concerts, and theater productions. While the Adrienne Arsht Center may be grandiose, Miami offers a vast selection of other performing arts centers, including the Coconut Grove Playhouse, New World Center, Ring Theatre, and even an outdoor venue, the Bayfront Park Amphitheater.
Miami also features a number of art galleries for an introduction to the city’s art scene. The Miami Art Museum in downtown presents contemporary work with collections by Purvis Young, Frank Stella, and Kiki Smith. Meanwhile, the Frost Art Museum on the Florida International University campus exhibits 20th American and Latin American art. Additionally, every winter, the Art Basel sets up in Miami with paintings, installations, sculptures, and photographs from around the globe. Each year, art aficionados, artists, and collectors gather at this spectacular art display to experience some of the finest art in the world today.
Native Americans lived on the Miami land prior to the arrival of the first permanent settlers in the early 17th century. The disputes over land between the natives and new settlers led to the Second and Third Seminole Wars. Following the wars, in 1891, Julia Tuttle, a widow, migrated to the Miami area and eventually convinced Henry Flagler to construct a railroad line to the southern area after the location was the only spot to remain unscathed by a freeze, which froze the citrus crops elsewhere in Florida. After the railroad’s construction, Miami officially became a city in 1896. Tuttle is now regarded as the “Mother of Miami,” while Miami remains the only major U.S. city founded by a woman, forever instilling the concept of girl power into this seaside resort.
Miami experienced a prosperous boom into the 20th century; however, the Great Depression, both World Wars, and the devastating Great Miami Hurricane hit the city hard. Despite these setbacks, Miami has continued to move forward, grow, and flourish through the ages becoming a top beach destination in the U.S. Sun bathing by the shore soon became a popular pastime, and sun worshippers everywhere have pharmacist Benjamin Green to thank for his invention of sun block in Miami Beach in 1944. Into the 2000s, Miami embarked on a “Miami Manhattanization” effort, building five star hotels and high-rise structures, which led to the creation of one of the largest skylines in the country.
The Dolphins, Miami’s professional football team, is one of the oldest NFL teams in the south. The Miami football team, often referred to as “The Fins,” have won two Super Bowl Championship titles since they joined the NFL in 1970. The team’s quarterback, Dan Marino, who played for the Dolphins from 1983 to 1999, was head of the pod as he is said to be one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Marino further added to the team’s stardom in the 1994 film, “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” when he starred with funny man Jim Carrey in the movie, which immortalized the team’s dolphin mascot.
The Miami Heat is another prominent Miami sports team, which is on fire as it three recently won three league championship titles, one in 2006, and two consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013. The NBA team heats up the court in the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference and has burned the competition with ten division titles and four conference titles. Reserve a luxury 5-star Miami hotel in downtown, cheer on the Heat and high-five Burnie, the fireball mascot, to round out a sport fan’s dream vacation.
Fondly referred to as America’s Riviera, Miami serves up a nightlife scene fit for aristocrats and royalty. Though Miami’s after-hours crowd may show more skin and more interest in clubbing than the nobles who once frequented the city’s French counterpart, Miami in no way lacks the similar glamorous appeal. Miami features night clubs with Latin flavor, lounges where the Rat Pack used to hang, and haute dance floors for the nights which turn into mornings.
South Beach is undoubtedly Miami’s hottest club scene with a soundtrack of international DJs of and electronica music. This coastal spot boasts European-inspired clubs, pool side bars, and glitzy cocktail lounges. Do realize some of these hot spots strive for celebrity status, so expect cover charges, guest lists, and red velvet roped lines. For the best chances of skipping lines and catching the bouncer’s eye, leave your flip flops, cargo pants, and beach cover ups back at your boutique hotel, and pull out your dress shirts and stilettos instead.
It’s said Miami’s new world cuisine was invented by some of the most legendary chefs in the city. This contemporary fare is a unique blend of Latin spices, Caribbean flavor, African infusion, and American influences, which is representative of Miami’s diverse culture and now symbolic of the Florida city’s gastronomy scene. In addition to this heterogeneous cuisine, Miami is also well regarded for its authentic Cuban cooking. Little Havana, after all, is a little slice of Cuba, famous for serving up traditional chicken and lamb stews, paella, and strong Cuban coffee.
While hotels aren’t generally regarded for the fine dining options, this city is an exception, as some of the Miami resorts offer the best restaurants with some of the epicurean world’s most celebrated chefs on the scene. Meanwhile, there are nearly 3,000 other dining options in Miami, from waterfront dining to food truck noshing. Choose from the open-air cafes popular in the Coconut Grove neighborhoods, the artsy diners in the Design District, or the upscale restaurants in Downtown.
While the beaches in Miami are undeniably alluring, the shopping in the area is just as tempting. When it comes to Miami, visitors often split their time between relaxing in the sand, pampering themselves at the hotels in Miami, and grazing the shops and boutiques. This vacation destination is unique in that it doesn’t focus on those gimmicky beach souvenirs, but rather it draws its attention to pleasing those in search of fine art galleries, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and high-end luxury retailers.
Collins Avenue Shopping District provides a convenient shopping venue for vacationers straight off the beach. Only one block from the ocean, this area is a fashionista’s dream come true. Meanwhile nearby Aventura Mall, Dadeland Mall, Miami International Mall, and Dolphin Mall all together boast hundreds of stores, from brand-name retailers and department stores to specialty shops and factory outlets. For haute couture and luxury labels, visitors peruse Bal Harbour Shops, while Lincoln Road and Espanola Way are home to the more unique and offbeat art galleries, vintage shops, and chic boutiques.
Some vacationers arrive in Miami with the expectation of a lawless beach party, however, there are in fact strict laws governing the beach and surrounding city for the safety of the locals and visitors. For example, it is prohibited for beachgoers to consume alcohol, build fires, grill food, and set off fireworks at all times. However, the city does have some leniency in the form of sunbathing. While topless sunbathing is illegal in most beach areas of the United States, women are allowed to freely sunbath in this manner between 1st Street and 16th Street in Miami. The Florida city also features one legal clothing optional beach at the northern end of Haulover Beach for sun worshippers looking to avoid tan lines.
While Miami is often associated with glitz, glamour, and celebrity status as it welcomes and entices party goers and night owls, vacationers are often surprised when they learn the city offers plenty of kid friendly neighborhoods and activities for the entire family to enjoy. The hotels in Miami aren’t just for the club crawlers and romantic couples, in fact, some of them offer kid activities and programs during the day and even babysitting services in the evenings so Mom and Dad can explore the nightlife like old times. And the restaurants are not only for those with trained pallets or sophisticated taste, there are plenty of pizzerias and burger joints serving up child approved grub and have kids’ menus available, too.
Personalities & Culture
Miami’s culture is a diversified mixing pot with a variety of different influences. It is home to the largest population of Latin Americans outside of Latin America itself. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to hear Spanish spoken freely around the city. What’s more, Haitian Creole is another prominent language heard in in Miami as there is a vast collection of Haitian immigrants in the area as well. Though it’s not uncommon to hear these dialects, many of these speakers also know English as well.
While Cuban cuisine and the sound of native Spanish speakers certainly represent aspects of Miami culture, visitors will also soon realize the beach by day and clubs by night way of life is just as part of the culture as well. Set sail on a cruise to Miami to witness vacationers taking topless sunbathing and beachside lounging seriously, and when the sun set, it’s high time to frequent the hottest clubs in town. Though not all visitors engage in this lifestyle in Miami, it is certainly one prevalent aspect of the culture.
Weather & Climate
Miami is one of those destinations where it seems like any time of the year is worth a visit. In the height of winter, temperatures usually hang around the 60s and 70 degrees Fahrenheit range, making it the ideal spot to escape cooler weather elsewhere. As for the summer, temperatures often rise to the high 80s and low 90sF, which makes the refreshing Atlantic Ocean call your name. March, April, and May are comfortable times to visit, but this time of year does tend to attract Spring Breakers, so the beachfront may get crowded.
Though Miami doesn’t experience bone-chilling temperatures, do realize June through November is hurricane and tropical storm season. Because of the hurricane risk, you can find cheap Miami hotel deals during this time, while other vacationers often decide to purchase travel insurance in case a hurricane plows through. If you manage to dodge a hurricane during this season, do expect summer showers, which often roll in during the afternoons, but they usually don’t last into the evening. Though when in doubt, pack an umbrella!
Whether you visit Miami in the heart of the summer or the dead of winter, the nightlife is sure to keep things hot and steamy while the pool decks and ocean offer refreshing relief from the warmer temperatures, regardless of when you visit.
Need some more ideas for your next trip here? Our Expedia Viewfinder bloggers have recommendations for your next visit. See some of their latest blog posts below about what to eat, where to drink, what to see, and what to do.