If you come to Miami looking for the famous Art Deco hotels and ultra-trendy nightclubs, you’ll want to make a beeline for Miami Beach, located on a small but hopping barrier island separated from the city proper by Biscayne Bay. If you stay on the mainland, though, you’ll experience a side of Miami that can be every bit as lively and cosmopolitan.
Thriving Latino and Caribbean communities give the city a decidedly international feel. You’ll find oceanfront nightclubs blasting Latin beats, brightly painted restaurants serving up melt-in-your-mouth ropa vieja, and dozens of neighborhoods where Spanish is the predominant language. You’ll also discover that there’s more to Miami than beaches and nightlife—it’s a bustling commercial hub with shimmering high-rises, packed happy hours, and a fleet of dressed-to-the-nines professionals (among them some of the most attractive people in the US, according to Travel + Leisure) driving polished Lamborghinis.
- Little Havana is filled with family-owned restaurants and Caribbean-style marketplaces. There’s no better spot in the country to sample Cuban food, from sugary guarapo juice to tasty meat dishes and expertly prepared root vegetables.
- Little Haiti centers on a bronze statue of General Toussaint Louverture, the father of Haitian independence. The surrounding streets are lined with galleries, markets, and restaurants.
- International cinema: The Miami International Film Festival, held each spring, draws tens of thousands of people with a diverse mix of features, documentaries, and short films from all over the world. The city hosts numerous smaller film festivals throughout the year, including The Italian Film Festival and the Brazilian Film Festival of Miami.
- Downtown: Set along the shores of Biscayne Bay, Miami’s glittering downtown is filled with busy office workers by day and hip partygoers by night. It’s home to one of the city’s biggest concentrations of late-night bars and clubs.
- Brickell: Bustling professionals set the pace in Miami’s financial district, where high-rises share the skyline with luxury condos, gourmet restaurants, and posh shopping complexes.
- Design District: Fodor’s calls this vibrant enclave in Midtown “an unprecedented melding of public space and the exclusive world of design.” The five-block stretch features public showrooms, futuristic window displays, and independent art galleries.
- CocoWalk is an open-air shopping, dining, and entertainment complex in Coconut Grove. A handful of bars here stay open until 3 a.m.
Fun in the Sun
- Everglades National Park is only about an hour away by car. Take an airboat ride through wetlands, go hiking, and see alligators up close—but not too close.
- Key Biscayne: Reachable via a short drive across the Rickenbacker Causeway, this small island boasts a shallow coral reef, sandy beaches, and a pair of lushly landscaped parks.
- Venetian Pool is a historic spring-fed pool in Coral Gables that was built in 1923. It features waterfalls and caves, and is open to the public.
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: Stroll the main house and 10-acre gardens of Villa Vizcaya, an extravagant mansion built on the shores of Biscayne Bay about a hundred years ago. Modeled after a centuries-old Italian villa, it’s filled with European antiques.
Where to Stay
- For old-world elegance: A National Historic Landmark set on 150 tropical acres, the circa-1926 Biltmore Hotel incorporates Italian, Moorish, and Spanish architectural elements.
- For high-rise luxury: Amenities at the luxurious EPIC Hotel include a complimentary wine hour, two outdoor pools, and a 12,000-square-foot spa with jaw-dropping views of the skyline.
- For waterfront views: Many of the Mandarin Oriental hotel’s spacious guest rooms have private balconies overlooking Biscayne Bay; VIP spa treatment rooms and the onsite seafood restaurant, La Mar, also have water views.