Miami Beach Travel Guide

USA  #2 in Best Nightlife Cities in the U.S.
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Miami Beach Area Map

Neighborhoods

Miami Beach is a barrier island that is separated from the mainland by the Biscayne Bay. Several causeways connect the two.

From celebrity models to senior citizens and families with kids, the South Beach area is the most well-known, most popular and busiest part of the city. Three main roads run parallel to the shoreline. The hotels and trendy restaurants of touristy Ocean Drive are closest to the water. To its west is Collins Avenue (or State Route A1A), home to a range of more affordable hotels and a large collection of high-end shopping spots. The largest and most popular nightclubs are located farther west along Washington Avenue. You'll find the Art Deco Historic District's distinctively pastel-painted hotels, nightclubs and retail shops – about 800 of them, in fact – from about 5th to 23rd streets, along Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue

A few blocks south of Lincoln Road, between the 14th and 15th streets, is the Espanola Way Historic District. A historically Spanish village, the small area is filled with shops and restaurants housed in Mediterranean-style buildings from the early 20th century. Espanola's southwest neighbor, Flamingo Park, has plenty of green space for walking and tennis and basketball courts for those who want to work up a sweat, as well as a playground for the kids.

Miami Beach's North Shore – located along Collins Avenue – offers a comparatively quieter and less chaotic coast. The main feature here is the North Shore Open Space Park, which has clean beachfront and green space.

Farther north along Collins Avenue are several other neighborhoods, such as Surfside, which have a distinctly quieter and more family-friendly feel with fewer parties. The accommodations here are also a bit more cost-effective. Sandwiched between Surfside and Sunny Isles is the Bal Harbour suburb, which is best known for its exclusive gated communities and posh open-air shopping mall.

If you're looking to avoid the crazy crowds of South Beach, head a little more than 12 miles north along Collins Avenue (Route A1A) to Sunny Isles Beach. Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracostal Waterway, this small town makes a great daytrip – or even a good home base – for Miami Beach visitors.

Although Sunny Isles Beach is often overlooked by Miami and Miami Beach travelers, this tiny town has plenty to offer. Its golden stretches of shoreline beckon to sun-seekers, while a variety of local and chain eateries are sure to satisfy any appetite. Golfers can aim for par at nearby Greynolds Golf Course and history buffs can head to the Ancient Spanish Monastery (originally constructed in the 12th century). And although the nightlife isn't as reputed as it may be in South Beach, night owls will have no trouble finding ways to occupy themselves through the wee hours of the morning. But the party doesn't always stop at sunrise: To see a livelier side of Sunny Isles Beach, visit in November during the vibrant Sunny Isles Beach Jazz Festival. 

Miami Beach is generally a safe city for visitors. However, as with most major tourist destinations, pickpocketing is the biggest concern, particularly during the chaotic nighttime and along busy Washington Street. Walk in groups at night and avoid any unfamiliar territory. If you have a car in town, keep valuables hidden so your vehicle is not made a target for a theft.

When swimming, stay near a lifeguard station and watch for the flags, a system that follows the same pattern for beaches across the state. Green means the water is calm, while yellow signals some moderate surf conditions (ie: riptides may be present). Purple signifies the presence of marine animals like jellyfish. Note that you are forbidden from entering the water when a red flag is raised.

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