In looking beyond the Philippines in one previous article, we took you to Palm Springs, which is undeniably one of the most relaxing and idyllic coastal getaways in the United States. Here we’re looking at another such destination, but one on the opposite coast. The city of Miami, near the southern tip of Florida, is a spectacular place to visit no matter where you’re coming from, and is well worth a little bit of discussion.
The truth of the matter is that Miami really isn’t what a lot of people might expect in a U.S. city. A diverse population and a history of varying cultural influences has given it a unique character. Plus, it happens to be situated such that the city is virtually synonymous with some of the best beaches in North America.
1. Explore Little Havana
It might seem like the beaches should always be the first thing mentioned about Miami, but we’re starting with Little Havana. Thanks to a lot of historical ties between the city and the Cuban community, this is one of the better “Little (insert town or country)” areas in the world. There are whole lists of places to visit just in this relatively small quarter of the city, and once you’re in it you can truly feel as if you’ve left the States and entered Cuba.
2. Enjoy Miami Beach
Miami Beach more or less refers to the whole stretch of beach on Barrier Island, and encompasses South Beach, which has arguably become a more famous snapshot of beach life in Miami. It’s really unlike any other beach in the U.S., full of people and always buzzing in a way that’s difficult to describe or define. Basically it’s hard not to have a blast, even if you’re just people watching and stopping for a drink at a sidewalk cafe.
3. See The Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Essentially a sightseeing opportunity, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was once a private residence, and has now become a National Historical Landmark and a recognized museum in the U.S. It’s essentially a sprawling villa on the water, complete with its own gardens and various monuments and landmarks, and it’s really striking to see in person. With vaguely Spanish and even pre-Columbian aesthetics in places, it’s an unexpected sight in a modern American city.
4. Enjoy The Sports Scene
Between the Miami Marlins baseball team, the Miami Heat basketball team, Miami Dolphins football team, and a future soccer team to be run by David Beckham, there’s a lot of great sporting entertainment to enjoy around Miami. And on top of this, sports spectatorship is about to get more enjoyable than ever in the U.S., with the pending legalization of sports gambling. Sports betting can cover all sorts of specifics where legal and makes it easier to have a personal stake in a game if you aren’t already a fan. Florida hasn’t gotten there quiet yet, but in the near future you may just be able to bet on the teams just mentioned, which should make the games even more fun to attend.
5. Go Clubbing
Miami has an absolutely legendary club scene, which is about all that needs to be said here! Beware that this is fairly high-end clubbing, so you’ll want to dress sharply and you should be prepared to rack up a hefty bill on drinks. But it’s worth it if you like to go out at night.
6. Hang Out On Lincoln Road
If one aspect of Miami matches the clubs and the beaches in terms of reputation, it’s probably the shopping. The city ranks right up there with Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York in terms of quality shopping options, and Lincoln Road is effectively the spine of the town from this perspective. Some have referred to it as the 5th Avenue of the South, referring to New York City’s legendary main shopping avenue. The difference is that while New York is crowded and busy, Lincoln Road gives you a chance to stroll down beautiful sunlit lanes even if you aren’t looking to spend money in the shops.
7. Stroll The Bayside Marketplace
Nestled between the Bay of Biscayne and the primary marina for the city of Miami, the Bayside Marketplace is a gorgeous and relaxing shopping and eating district. Picture a block of two-story shopping and dining establishments right on the water and you get the idea. And while it’s crowded, it’s the sort of place where you can’t help but feel laid back.
8. Swim At The Venetian Pool
Built into an abandoned rock quarry and designed in a Mediterranean Revival style, the Venetian Pool is essentially the coolest public pool you’ll find in the U.S. It’s a massive spot, such that even a decent crowd doesn’t always feel huge, and it’s a beautiful place to take refuge from the hot Florida sun in some cool water. The pool is technically in the town of Coral Gables, but as this is very close to downtown Miami, we’ll count it as one of the main attractions in the area.
9. Eat By The Beach
We’ve covered this to some extent simply by recommending Miami Beach, as well as the Bayside Marketplace. But just to make it perfectly clear, there are a lot of open air places to eat right along the main beaches, and it’s a shame not to experience one or several of them while you’re there! If you’re curious about specific names, Eater has you covered.
10. Stay At A Luxury Hotel
As you might expect in a big city right on the water towering over famous beaches, there are a lot of incredibly nice luxury hotels in Miami. Some are historic and have been attracting the rich and famous for decades now, and others are a little newer and more state-of-the-art. Whatever appeals, consider splurging on some luxury accommodations while you’re there. It’s worth it when you see the amenities, oceanside balconies, pools, and other perks of most of these great hotels.