We stayed in Mid Beach, renting an affordable one bedroom apartment on the main floor that walked out to the beach. We would recommend staying at a hotel or condo in South Beach if you’re planning to spend lots of time down there, the time and money going back and forth isn’t worth the savings of the cheaper condo rental. South Beach is more expensive, but comes with the popular night life and restaurants. If you want to be within the action South Beach is the place to be! We opted to cook healthier breakfasts and wanted a kitchen in our unit, this meant looking in mid beach for more affordable condo style accommodations.
We found that South Beach and Mid Beach were very similar when comparing the beach fronts. The main difference was the crowd, we found there was a younger crowd in South Beach, while Mid Beach is more family focused. Head to the South if you want to party or play volleyball, and stay in Mid if you want to relax. Fun fact: Promoters use aerial banners to promote for clubs, so while you’re relaxing on the beach, you’ll catch a glimpse of at least one.
Nikki Beach at South Beach is the place to check out on Sundays for the party. Otherwise its an overpriced restaurant with average food but has a portion that extends onto South Beach where you can rent beach umbrellas and chairs, which is nice if you don’t want to lie directly on the sand. ($10US per beach chair and umbrella). Great place if you want a different type of beach day with service right on the sand. Also has a great lookout point at South Point Pier beside Nikki Beach.
Miami is known for its glamorous hotels with amazing pools to relax (and party) by. Some great pools to check out are Nautilus, Hyde at SLS, Loews and Fontainebleau.
We attended an awesome DJ set at Nautilus, we loved the pool, the decor (great photo ops) and vibe that Nautilus had to offer. We had the best time partying by the pool, took a dip in the water, kept the drinks flowing and really enjoyed the music while dancing poolside.
Hyde Beach at SLS Hotel is a luxe hotel lounge, with poolside brunch and cocktails. Good news: you don’t have to be a guest here to go to the back and enjoy the amenities if your ordering food/drinks poolside. Unless there is a special event happening, then get in line and be ready to pay for entry.
Loews offered more of a family oriented vibe and looked like a high end resort pool with great restaurants, a spa and service. We would highly recommend staying here for a relaxing weekend in Miami.
Fontainebleau located in Mid beach has a variety of pools to choose from with different experiences. They offer cabanas at the day club, a beach and pool chairs, they have a family pool and poolside bars. We got to catch a day time party happening at the Glow Bar with everyone with a drink in hand and having a great time. (This hotel is also home to the ever so popular club LIV and many great restaurants.)
Miami has many different neighborhoods to explore. We rented Vespas and drove around all of Miami to ensure we got a taste of each unique area. (Be cautious of Vespa rentals, they aren’t always reliable and support is only covered in specific locations.)
Wynwood is a must see, it is plastered with unique and colorful graffiti with a specific location called Wynwood Walls which hires artists from around the world to paint within this area and create awesome street art (perfect place for photos). This area is expanding and the street art is slowly continuing down side streets and back alleys. Step outside of the main areas and you’re not in the best part of the town.
Brickell is downtown Miami, with lots of tall residential and office buildings, Brickell reminded us of Downtown Toronto but with palm trees, trade full suits and ties for golf shirts and slacks.
Lincoln Road is the perfect location for a little bit (or a lot) of shopping, eating and people watching. It is an outdoor mall for pedestrians only in South Beach just a short walk from the ocean.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a must do in our opinion. We didn’t know exactly what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised. The grounds are gorgeous and huuuge, the gardens are lush and there is so much character to the landscape. We spent the afternoon here strolling in the gardens and taking lots of photos of the greenery and intricate designs.
Design District is where all the high end shopping is located, we walked around and checked out all fashion, art and architecture. You’ll find duplicate stores of the biggest brand in the world. Valet parking everywhere for your luxury vehicles and complimentary umbrellas in case it rains.
Coconut Grove is Miami’s oldest neighborhood with a bohemian flair, we stopped by here to explore the laid back atmosphere, sidewalk cafes and boutiques. It had a very slow and relaxing family friendly pace.
Pine Tree Drive has stunning luxury homes, we enjoyed driving down this street to see these amazing waterfront estates. They truly were huge mansions with luxury yachts bigger than most homes parked in back. Make sure you check on the backs of the home from across the canal on Collins Ave (that’s where you get the view of the yachts).
Within South Beach we highly recommend walking down Washington Avenue, Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive, these streets have lots of popular hotels and restaurants (but beware, don’t eat on Ocean Drive – it is overpriced and a tourist trap). To see the rest of Miami we recommend renting Vespas and driving around to each different neighborhood like we did, we found we were able to explore a lot in one day and were able to stop as we pleased.
Nobu is located in the Eden Roc / Nobu hotel in Mid beach. Serving delicious Japanese inspired dishes with a touch of Peruvian influence. We found Nobu to be delicious (we loved the Yellowtail Jalapeno) but very pricey, perfect for a date night with your significant other.
Located in South Beach Joe’s Stone Crab is rated one of the best restaurants in Miami. With an adorable patio (and a more formal dress code – men no swim shorts or tank tops), this restaurant serves fresh stone crab daily with lots of different dishes with seafood. We had the classic stone crab claws which was so fresh and tasty along with the lobster mac and cheese. Definitely a must eat while in South Beach.
YardBird, located in South Beach YardBird is Gordon Ramsay’s take on Southern cuisine, we had the famous chicken and waffles here which were undoubtedly amazing, one order was enough for two people to share along with a smoked chicken salad which was also EXTREMELY tasty (and not healthy at all). YardBird is a fantastic upscale Southern joint that doesn’t make you feel gross and sluggish after your meal. Another must eat while in Miami.
L’Audree is a french macaroon shop, we had to stop at in Lincoln Road Mall, these macaroons are to die for, L’Audree is worth checking out anywhere in the world. The Macaroons are rich and tasty reward to enjoy while walking all of Lincoln Road.
Peacock Garden Cafe is a cozy brunch spot we found that has a lush terrace and a great vibe, we really enjoyed this hidden gem in Coconut Grove. The food was outstanding and the atmosphere was awesome.
Mr. Kream is a hip hop inspired ice cream shop in Wynwood, super cool place to check out if you are a hip hop and icecream fan!
Salty Donut is the newest trendy donut shop in Wynwood, with a different selection of 12 donuts each day, arrive early to ensure you get your pick!
Although we weren’t planning to check out the nightlife in Miami much while we were there, that quickly changed. We ended going to some great (and some not so great) bars and clubs. When the sun goes down and the adventuring is done, its hard to stay away from the South Beach nightlife.
Our faaavorite was Ball and Chain, a local Spanish lounge located in Little Havana. This venue had a great patio, and awesome salsa music. We highly recommend checking this place out if you want a more authentic Miami experience.
We also went to Story Nightclub located in South Beach, it is a neon light nightclub offering face and body painting with a dance floor and has lots of famous DJ’s performing, we saw Axwell ^ Ingrosso.
One nightclub worth mentioning that we stopped at on a pub crawl was VLive, located on Ocean Drive. We didn’t know anything about this club before we arrived and were very surprised. This nightclub was a normal bar / club at the front, with open doors and a patio and at the back it was a strip club. Side note: Consider doing a Pub Crawl, interesting to make more friends and experience multiple bars for the price of 1 cover charge and usually they give you some sort of open bar or cheap drink options.
Day Trip – Key West
To get away from the high energy and craziness of Miami Beach we took a day trip to Key West, Florida. The bus ride was 3 and a half hours from South Beach to Key West, leaving early in the morning you were able to see the beautiful views along the way on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and catch some extra sleep before your full day of adventure started. We walked around Duval Street known for its famous Duval Street Pub Crawl to check out the local businesses and find a quick bite to eat. We then did a snorkeling trip, sailing on a catamaran for one hour and enjoying the stunning views and water Key West has to offer, we then geared up for a dip in the water to check out the underwater life. While the marine life wasn’t outstanding and sadly our go pro decided to malfunction right then we still really enjoyed swimming and exploring (and holding hands while snorkeling). After snorkeling we walked up Greene St and got some famous Key Lime Pie from the Key Lime Pie Factory and went to check out some of the famous attractions in Key West. We saw the Ernest Hemingway House, Southernmost Point Buoy and The Key West Lighthouse. The vibe in Key West is so different from Miami Beach, very laid back and much more calm. We highly recommend coming to Key West if you’re doing a trip to Miami, its definitely worth spending one night at.
- Use apps like Uber and Lyft to get around easily, you can use Lyft Line and get around for as low as $2.50US
- Miami has a have a free trolley that you can use to ride up and down Collins (CollinsLink) Avenue rather than spending money on a taxi or Uber/Lyft
- Different hotels provide the option to rent beach chairs and umbrellas on the beach for the day
- The clubs in Miami do not allow men to wear shorts
- Avoid tourist focused businesses like Hot Wheels, we rented Vespas from them for the day and 2/5 of ours broke down
Thanks for reading,
M & B