Miami Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Labels, labels, labels Miami residents are infatuated with names -- of famous people and designer clothes. This obsession carries over to their thoroughfares as well, so remember: "avenues" run north to south and "streets" go east to west.
- Cars, cars, cars They will be everywhere, and you will probably be in one for some time. Traffic can halt your progress, so move about while the Miamians are at work.
- Flippers, Fins, and Scales Miami is home to a variety of wildlife, from alligators and snakes, to killer whales and dolphins. The famous Flipper resided at Miami's Seaquarium, which still houses many dolphins. And tour the Everglades if you want to get up close and personal with the reptiles.
Take a number of diverse cultures, add a strong dose of the arts and a splash of ocean water, and you have Miami. Looking at the fantastic art museums and the blossoming gastronomical scene, you might find it hard to believe that just a century ago, this colorful Floridian city was covered in swampland. Once developers rushed into the area, one of the most popular tourist destinations and spectacular city skylines in the country was born. Today, with South Beach before you and the Everglades behind you, you can walk through the bustling streets past historical homes with Spanish words and Caribbean music floating into your ears.
This mini melting pot has preserved multicultural neighborhoods, like famous Little Havana, as enclaves for unique traditions to thrive. United, they form an electric network -- Miami. Its reputation for vibrant nightlife and extravagant parties is realized in Miami Beach, a barrier island to the east of the mainland. Meanwhile, the down-to-earth city proper cultivates an artsy vibe.
How To Save Money in Miami
- Don't try to keep up Miami residents are probably a year ahead of you in all the trends. So, keep your credit cards safely in their holsters and shop at the mall when you get home.
- Blood-thirsty competition Temperatures climb and hotel rates fall in the hot, damp summer. And although the beaches will be less crowded, you'll have to compete with mosquitoes for the sandy terrain.
- Seek shelter inland The accommodations farther from the beaches will offer lower rates. Coconut Grove is an excellent inland option for finding cover.
Miami Culture & Customs
As a favorite getaway spot for celebrities and the well-to-do, Miami's atmosphere is slightly more hoity-toity than some of the smaller coastal cities, such as Destin or Fort Lauderdale. Visitors should be prepared to look their best, especially when dining out or partaking in the nightlife in nearby Miami Beach.
But there's another side of this town that is heavily influenced by Latin culture. A large portion of the city's population is made up of people from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Haiti. Because of this influx of immigrants, Spanish is widely spoken here -- particularly in neighborhoods like Little Havana -- and you might hear a bit of French Creole as well. Latin culture has also had an influence on Miami's nightlife scene, with many establishments featuring Latin music and dance.
Miami is becoming increasingly popular for foodies, as the high-profile chefs here blend together the European, Caribbean and Latin flavors to create fusion dishes that are uniquely Miamian. As a coastal city, it comes as no surprise that seafood is a big component of the food here.
Experts and leisure travelers recommend heading to Little Havana for a cheap and tasty Cuban-inspired dish at places like La Carreta. Other restaurants that have received high praise from recent visitors include the Oceanaire Seafood Room and IL Gabbiano, both of which are downtown.
However, the new restaurant that has people talking is Gibraltar, which lies inside Coconut Grove's Grove Isle Hotel and Spa. The Daily Beast says that Gibraltar "quickly ranks among the most romantic restaurants in South Florida" -- so make sure to bring a date.