After living in Miami for 13 years and spending 11 of those years on South Beach, I feel qualified to give you a comprehensive travel guide for Miami, complete with places only locals know about.
I will separate this guide into South Beach and the rest of Miami, also known as “Mainland Miami”.
If you only have a couple of days I would suggest just visiting South Beach. If you have a week, you will want to see more of the city.
Miami’s South Beach
South Beach is the most famous part of Miami and the part often seen on television.
It is the southernmost part of Miami Beach which stretches from 1st street to 40th street. It’s glamorous, wild, and beautiful with stunning hotels along the beach and historic art deco buildings.
From Miami airport it is only 11 miles and takes about 20 minutes without traffic.
Things To Do in South Beach, Miami
1. Check Out the Beaches
No visit to Miami is complete without seeing the turquoise glittering beaches.
The southernmost beaches are the party beaches. Further north and close to the upscale hotels, the beaches are calmer and quieter.
2. Go for a Drink on Ocean Drive
Ocean Drive is Miami’s most iconic street, probably because of all the movies it featured in, and therefore one of the must-sees on a trip to Miami Beach.
3. Go to the New World Symphony
Get some culture in your life and enjoy some beautiful music at the New World Symphony.
Or at least just come by and gawk at the stunning architecture and gorgeous landscaping complete with interesting arty structures.
You can bring a blanket, some food, and a picnic or simply lie under the stars and listen to the symphony from the state-of-the-art outdoor speaker’s screen as the symphony performs inside.
Things to Do in Mainland Miami
1. Explore Wynwood
This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Miami.
Wynwood is an artsy, gritty neighborhood that is home to many art galleries and boasts impressive murals on the walls. The famous Wynwood Walls attract quite a bit of attention.
2. Visit the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
This Italian-style villa was once the winter home of James Deering, It is now a museum with gardens and a National Historic Landmark. It is a lovely place to visit on a nice day.
They also host a number of events including a Halloween and New Year’s Eve party. And they also do High Tea on the Terrace from time to time. You can check their calendar for event information.
3. Go to the Everglades
The Everglades is a two million acre wetland ecosystem that reaches from central Florida, near Orlando, all the way south to Florida Bay.
South Florida was at one time mostly Everglades but construction has aggressively encroached on this river of grass that is home to hundreds of animal species including the endangered panther.