If you’re feeling the winter blahs — or any kind of blahs, really — Miami is the cure. This sprawling city in south Florida is known for its palm trees, white sand, and azure Ocean. Everything gleams: the boats, the cars and especially the people. And it goes without saying that the food and cocktails are fabulous.
There’s no bad time to visit Miami, although the spring is especially nice. We’ll help you plan your getaway with this quick guide to the best Miami attractions, boutique hotels, and restaurants.
1. Wander Calle Ocho in Little Havana. The 1980s saw a vast influx of Cuban immigrants to Miami, who settled in the area now called Little Havana. It remains a lively center of Cuban culture, with cigar shops, art galleries, bars, and restaurants. Don’t miss Máximo Gómez Park, called “Domino Park” because of the endless games played by retirees there.1
2. Get bronzed on South Beach. You don’t have to be rich and famous to visit South Beach, but you’ll probably see people who are both (or doing a great job at faking it). Whether you prefer to bike, skate, stroll or sunbathe, enjoying the beach and its colorful inhabitants is one of the most fun things to do in Miami.
3. Cool down at Frost Science. Miami’s Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, which opened in 2017, is a super-modern monument to the natural world. There’s a planetarium with 8k projection that makes you feel like you’re flying through space; a three-level aquarium that carries you from the Everglades to the Gulf Stream; and an exhibit that lets you explore your own body’s amazing capabilities.
4. Take an architecture tour. Sleek and sweeping, symmetrical and elegant, pink and green: Miami’s distinctive Art Deco buildings are easy to admire. But if you really want to appreciate them, take a guided tour. The Miami Design Preservation League offers daily walking tours, as do other local companies. Art Deco Tours adds stops at bars for signature South Beach cocktails.
5. Step back into the Gilded Age. A century ago, industrialist James Deering built Vizcaya, an opulent estate that mimics an Italian villa. Today, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is one of the most popular Miami attractions. Wander the gardens, then admire the beautiful furnishings and art treasures in the mansion.
When you’re visiting Miami, you just can’t stay at a boring chain hotel. The city is fabulous, so your hotel should be too! Consider the Hotel Victor in South Beach, a pink-lit Art Deco masterpiece. You’ll find elegant, contemporary rooms with marble baths and private terraces.
Another South Beach standout is The Betsy. Famed for its in-house arts experiences (chamber music, literature festivals, painting exhibits) The Betsy is also the place to be pampered with luxurious rooms and high-end dining.
What if you want the Miami boutique hotel experience, but you’re on a tight budget? Freehand Miami is a chic “poshtel” that offers rates as low as $26 per night for a bunk in a shared room. The experience is nicer than you think — Freehand has a pool, an award-winning bar, and a free continental breakfast. Private rooms are available as well. Downtown, YVE Hotel Miami is a splashy, bright oasis that welcomes pets. Local restaurants even offer dog menus: as the hotel notes, “This is Miami after all.”
There’s no shortage of flashy foodie palaces. But when we’re thinking about the best places to eat in Miami, a few unique places come to mind: one new, one old and one sweet.
At Alter, you’ll find brilliantly concepted meals made from Florida’s local bounty and served in a candlelit industrial space. Choose a tasting menu and let Chef Bradley Kilgore wow your taste buds with (just to give some recent examples) parmesan ice cream and duck breast cured in sake lees and grilled over pinecones.
If you’re out late in Little Havana, dinner at Versailles is mandatory. Since 1971, Versailles has been serving every imaginable Cuban classic: ceviche, yuca, grilled Cuban sandwiches, oxtail stew and vaca frita (shredded beef grilled with onions and garlicky mojo). The menu is endless.
End your perfect day with a towering cone from Azucar Ice Cream Company. The most famous flavor is Abuela Maria: vanilla ice cream flavored with guava, cream cheese, and crispy galletas Maria. Azucar makes many more flavors that capture the essence of Miami: café con leche, platano maduro (sweet plantain), zapaticos de rosa (rose petal) and key lime pie.
Ready for a Miami getaway? Don’t forget your sunscreen — or your travel insurance. Trip insurance is invaluable even for short domestic trips, protecting you in case of covered trip cancellations, flight delays, and lost luggage. Find the plan that’s right for you!