What makes Miami so famous, some of you might ask.
Is it its huge clear water beaches and warm tropical weather? Its unstoppable vibrant nightlife? Is it its fashion scene and fine dining?
As a matter of fact, there’s a bit of each. There are plenty of charms we can award this city for, but one we must definitively highlight is its chic, well-planned, multicultural neighbourhoods.
The city of Miami is very large and is divided into several neighbourhoods, zones and districts. As it is to expect, this city is a very popular holiday destination, visited by thousands of tourists but most times people have no idea of what, when or how to tour it.
If you are planning on visiting this important destination on your next holiday, we believe it is very important for you to know a little about the situation and the city configuration. This way, it will be much more practical to organize your trip, move freely through its streets and avenues and know exactly what you want to see.
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It is possible that at first glance, Miami may seem a bit confusing city, but you will see how soon it will be easier for you to understand it.
Let’s take a look at the most important Miami neighbourhoods that are considered a “must visit” when in Miami, Florida.
As a general Idea, Downtown Miami is composed of a small group of buildings that make up the city center. Once you locate Downtown, the MIA Airport will remain to the northwest, the beaches of Miami Beach and South Beach are to the east, Coconut Grove is to the south, Coral Gables is to the west and the rest of the city is to the north.
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Best Neighborhoods In Miami, Florida, USA
This is the urban city centre. The area consists of the Brickell Financial District, Historic District, Government Center, Arts & Entertainment District and Park West.
Downtown is where the great skyscrapers and financial activity are concentrated, which is focused mostly along Brickell Avenue.
Downtown offers great entertainment options like the American Airlines Arena, where the local basketball team plays and where several music shows are sometimes held, and Bayside Market, a shopping centre with many outdoor stores, live music and good atmosphere.
You will also find the Little Havana neighborhood in the Downtown area. This is one of the most famous ethnic neighborhoods in the city.
Calle Ocho is the most popular among tourists, and although it is not advisable to visit it at night, it is worth traveling on foot during the day.
If you are in Downtown, you also can’t miss the Hollywood stars homes and beach tours of the famous. There are also boat tours that depart from here!
With so many things to do Downtown, it’s no surprise we find this the best area to stay in Miami.
2. Miami Beach
Located north of South Beach, this is the central area surrounded by the sea. At some point, it is inevitable to associate Miami with Miami Beach and South Beach as this is undoubtedly the great showcase of the most important city in Florida.
Let’s first focus on Miami Beach, a neighbourhood with restored Art Deco buildings and well known for having one of the best beaches in Miami, including the famous Haulover Beach Park or the beautiful promenade of Miami – the Miami Beach Boardwalk.
After enjoying the beach, it’s time to indulge in some classic tourist sights. For that, we go to Ocean Drive.
Ocean Drive is where you can find the most famous street in Miami Beach for its colourful and unique art deco buildings, illuminated with striking neon lights.
It is worth highlighting some points of interest in this street, such as the number 1,116 of Ocean Drive where fashion designer Gianni Versace’s 1930 mansion is located on. Yes, this is where the international fashion icon was murdered.
On a lighter note, Miami is full of beautiful people who do not want to go unnoticed; you’ll find all sorts of people on the terraces, bars, nightclubs, discos and local streets anytime of the day.
3. South Beach
Located in the southern area of Miami Beach, South Beach is the most lively and iconic area of Miami, if not the best. Everything is on the beach – the muscular bodies, skaters, clubs and exclusive pubs… All of these are gathered here. If you love the beach vibe, you’ll easily find this place one of the best places to live in Miami.
The beach of South Beach is freely accessible, which is appreciated. Although many hotels have private areas reserved for their customers, most people can still go to the beach with their towel and flip flops to enjoy the sea, salt water and sand.
You can tour the pedestrian area of Lincoln Road, visit the art galleries or take something in the many bars and restaurants you’ll find.
Fashionistas will surely want to stop by Collins Avenue to take a look at the luxury designer stores.
Escape to Eighth Street to find the most charming independent boutiques. There are also many cultural treasures at the Bass Museum of Art and the Wolfsonian-Florida International University Museum.
4. Key Biscayne
Key Biscayne is an island located southeast of Miami. To get to the island, you will have to cross the Rickenbacker Causeway, so you can get your car rental and go through the elevated road above the sea to enjoy the awe-inspiring views and the unique experience.
Here lie the quiet beaches recommended for all those who want to lie in the sun without the hustle and bustle of Miami Beach. It is also one of the best places to live in Miami, given the many locals who’ve established their residence here.
One good recommendation is to visit the Key Biscayne lighthouse. This is where you can find the island’s most iconic structure – 29 meters high, 109 steps and over a hundred years of history in the making.
It should be noted that the northern part of the island is occupied by Crandon Park, which is the “entrance” to the island. The central section is the town of Key Biscayne where you’ll also find Cape Florida State Park. Cape Florida State Park is also part of Biscayne National Park, one of the two national parks of Miami-Dade County.
5. Bal Harbour
This neighbourhood is best known for its fashion boutiques. This a rather elitist and glamorous area located between the beaches of Surfside and Haulover, with water to the east and west.
That makes the properties here very exclusive (and very expensive), with some private houses and apartments in tall buildings that only the very rich can afford. As you can imagine, the shops and restaurants in the area are in total harmony with all the luxury that surrounds them, making it one of the best places to stay in Miami (if you can afford it..!).
Bal Harbour houses elegant beachfront hotels and exquisite restaurants. It is the most modern refuge in South Florida, where current efforts are focused on raising the scale of luxury in all its operations.
It has a privileged location, as it is close enough to the action to add to the humming night activity and at the same time far enough from the hectic night of South Beach to feel like you’re in a peaceful paradise.
6. Coral Gables & Coconut Grove
Coral Gables is a very quiet and hassle-free place popularly known as the “beautiful land” or “the beautiful city” as locals call it.
Every corner in the neighbourhood retains the essence of its creator, George E. Merrick, who wanted to design a European-style precious corner. He definitely did.
The neighbourhood consists of a set of very well-decorated Mediterranean-style houses and its streets are mostly residential. Walking through Coral Gables is equivalent to walking streets with Venetian arches and pleasant squares with fountains.
All the details are taken care of: the old street lamps on the sidewalks, green areas with lakes and ponds. This is a good place to go for dinner or shopping.
A walk through Miracle Mile is essential, a small boulevard full of small and charming shops where shop windows are a work of art. One of the area highlights is the Venetian Pool.
You will find Coconut Grove right next to Coral Gables, also facing the bay. With a more bohemian, Caribbean and sailor style, this is a must see if you are around in Miami.
This is one of the favourite corners of artists and intellectuals and that has preserved that charm rich in cultural diversity.
The highlight of the Coconut Grove area (known by locals as “The Grove”) is the CocoWalk, a huge shopping and entertainment complex. In CocoWalk there are shops, restaurants and a lot of nightlife.
7. Design District
As the name implies, it is the design neighbourhood by excellence. It is an area full of art galleries, graphic designers, workshops, decoration shops, antique signature stores and even some innovative restaurants.
The Miami Design District also shines for its avant-garde architecture and little by little it has been positioning itself as the capital of “international design”, even rivalling this title with New York.
All these stores and venues are located between North Miami Avenue and 2nd Street.
Although this is a very small district, it is a very popular destination among tourists. You must definitely have to tour the area, which covers about 18 blocks, to see it.
When to visit Miami, Florida, USA
If you want to enjoy the sun and the best beaches in Miami, the ideal is to you travel from May to September. You should know though, temperatures in summer are really high so get light clothes and a lot of sunscreen.
If you want to shop till you drop, then January to June is when you’ll find the best sales and bargains.
How many days should I stay in Miami, Florida, USA?
That will depend on what you want to do. If you want to stay in the city, I recommend that you do not go more than a week. 5 or 6 days are enough to experience Miami 100%.
How to get around Miami, Florida, USA
There are three ways to get around Miami by public transport: the Metrobus (bus service system), Metrorail (elevated train) and the Metromover (a kind of buses that run on rails and are also free).
However, if you don’t want to rely on public transportation, its crowd and queues, you can always take a taxi, but take into account taxi prices here are not cheap at all).
My recommendation is to rent a car in Miami which will give you the freedom of moving around at your own pace, in total comfort and it will end up being cheaper at the end.