Miami vs. Florida State
White sandy beaches and turquoise waters welcome people to Miami, while the city's beauty, delicious cuisine and vibrant nightlife make them want to stay. Take a break from everyday life as the sun, sand, and surf welcome you to one of the most unique and culturally diverse cities in the U.S. Amidst the cultural diversity though, Miami is also a sports town, highlighted by one of the most storied college football programs, the Miami Hurricanes. During the 1980s, the Miami Hurricanes were one of the most feared teams in college football. Today, the passion and spirit continues as fans long for a return to the glory years of "The U."
Game day tips
If you're headed to a game in Miami to see the Hurricanes play, it's best to rent a car upon your arrival in Miami. With a number of toll roads to the stadium and around Miami, consider a prepaid toll pass. Also, set aside at least an hour to get to the stadium, as traffic can pile up on I-95. Finally, be sure to have some cash on hand as parking at Sun Life Stadium costs $30 with few options for alternate parking.
And you'll be happy you set aside that hour to get to the stadium because arriving early allows you to take in the full Miami tailgating experience, where shirts are optional and revelry abounds, jerseys let you know you're in the right place. Before the big rivalry game against Florida State, I saw tents and people for as far as my eye could see. From DJs spinning records, young and old alike dancing and plenty of partying; it was one of the biggest tailgates I've ever experienced. Before I knew it, one reveler had his arm around me inviting me over to pose for photos.
Since Florida State and Miami are big rivals, expect to hear some trash talking, as opposing fans stand shoulder-to-shoulder as they cheer on their team. You won't be disappointed with the tailgating atmosphere or the fans. Where else will you see bikini-clad people getting so excited for food and football?
Where to stay
Regardless of your travel style, there is a hotel for you in Miami. From budget to luxury accommodations, you can find a variety of different options along the coast of Miami. The Beacon and Loews offer luxury and boutique accommodations on South Beach, whereas the Best Western Atlantic Beach Resort and the Townhouse Hotel offer more affordable options.
South to Key Biscayne or north to Sunny Isles and North Bay Village, while still part of Miami, some of these destinations aren't so crowded, but they still offer plenty of comfort and amenities. For example, the Best Western on the Bay in North Bay Village offers unbeatable water views.
If you want to stay in Downtown Miami, some affordable options include the Hyatt Regency and Casa Moderna. Near the University of Miami, Coral Gables offers a number of affordable options with the Courtyard by Marriott, The Westin Colonnade, Holiday Inn and Hotel St Michel.
Find all the best accommodations for a Miami vacation with these Miami hotels from Expedia.
Where to eat/drink
With restaurants that feature internationally known chefs and jaw-dropping views, Miami is a top food destination. And whether it is comfort food, seafood or eclectic Latin American cuisine sports towns around the nation, Miami offers something for every type of traveler.
For the ultimate dining experience, enjoy waterfront views and delicious cuisine at the Rusty Pelican, Gibraltar, Red Fish Grill and the Chart House. If you love international cuisine, Miami offers food from all over the world. My favorite is Zuma, where they offer contemporary Japanese flavors. Other international cuisines you'll find here include food from Argentina, Greece, Brazil, the Caribbean and many more. For more healthy food options, try Pasha's, Go Go Fresh Food Café, or Thrive.
However, no trip to Miami would be complete without a taste of Cuba. The Cuban culture of Miami offers everything from coffee to empanadas to pasteles to ropa vieja to arepas. Notable Cuban restaurants include Versailles, Bongos Cuban Café and La Bodeguita.
For budget options, there are food trucks, cafes and diners located throughout the city. Go north of Miami to find restaurants in quieter areas of the city, such as Shucker's and Blue Collar, which were two of my best meals in Miami, but at a reasonable price.
What to do
It's hard to visit Miami and not get some beach time at some of the best beaches in the world. Hang with the crowds on the public beaches of South Beach where you can bring your own towel or rent a chair and umbrella or head south to Key Biscayne to check out some of the local's favorite beaches. Each features its own draw, such as Crandon Park with its palm trees, picnic areas, and kiteboarding opportunities, or Matheson Hammock, which has its own lagoon. Hiking trails, sand dunes and a lighthouse can be found at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
The biggest state park beach in Florida is located north of Miami, called North Shore Open Space Park. Green spaces, concerts and cafes make it a favorite among locals. For those traveling with their family, Sunny Isles Beach offers a family-friendly escape with the only pier for fishing and walking. If you need a break from the beach, rent bicycles from DecoBike to explore Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive to shop, dine and people watch in South Beach.
Museum lovers will enjoy the many options in Miami, such as Frost Museum and Lowe Art Museum. The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens gives you a tour of the Deering estate with gardens, decorative rooms and views on the water. For the history buffs, you can learn about Jewish history at the Jewish Museum of Florida or trace the roots of Miami's heritage and culture at History Miami. For a break from the museum scene, head outdoors to wander the Art Deco area or enjoy a slice of Cuba in Little Havana.
If you enjoy music and dancing, Miami's nightlife offers music from DJs around the world. Rub elbows with celebrities and dance with the crowds at LIV, Mansion, Mokai or the Wall. For those who prefer the bar and live music scene, Coconut Grove, South Beach and Little Havana give you plenty of venues to choose from.
For a break from the hustle and bustle, get outside of the city with a trip to Everglades National Park or Biscayne National Park.
There are other many fun things to do in Miami and Expedia makes it easy to find those activities and book them online advance of your trip.
Jeremy Branham lives in Sacramento, California and is a budget traveler, sports fan, and travel enthusiast. With his College Football Travel Tour, he explores the culture of college towns as travel and sports collide. Get more stories and photos from the College Football Travel Tour along with destinations, travel tips and stories, travel guides, and hiking adventures on his blog Budget Travel Adventures.