Explore Miami

Miami Travel Guide

Miami may be the retirement capital of the United States, but there is nothing old fashioned about this bright, brash playground city that shines under the sunny Florida skies. This coastal city was a sleepy holiday town until the 1920s, when the 'in crowd' decided to make it their own. The town bloomed into a fun seaside capital and was blessed with a legacy of Art Deco architecture, particularly along South Beach, which has been carefully preserved. During World War II the forces came to town when Miami was an important military base. Today, apart from being a favourite holiday Mecca and sunny spot for retirees, it is also the gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America.<br /><br /> Miami's large Cuban community adds to the atmosphere in the sultry neighbourhood of Little Havana. Trendsetters hang out in Coconut Grove, while sun lovers strew the miles of white sandy beaches. For families there are entertaining attractions like the Seaquarium and Metrozoo. The nightlife is sophisticated and varied. The city also gives easy access to Florida's popular Gold Coast resorts and attractions, as well as the natural wonder of the Florida Everglades.<br /><br /> No wonder Miami is America's favourite holiday destination and the hub of a vibrant cruise ship industry, its port jammed constantly with sleek passenger liners. North of the city, the miles of beautiful sandy beaches on the Gold Coast are hemmed in by southeast Florida's major tourist resorts: Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach and Palm Beach.<br /><br />

Miami Science Museum

Address: 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL. Miami

Admission: $28 (adults); $20 (children 3-11 years old). Free for infants up to two years old. Open daily from 9am to 6pm.

Telephone: (305) 434 9600

Nothing is staid or boring in Miami, least of all its museums. The Miami Science Museum, officially called The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, contains more than 140 exhibits, all designed to be hands-on and interactive, coupled with live demonstrations and collections of rare natural history specimens that make discovering and learning a great deal of fun. The Wildlife Center boasts more than 175 live reptiles and birds of prey, and the adjacent Space Transit Planetarium provides more thrills with projected astronomy and laser light shows. The whole family is bound to enjoy a visit to this science centre and the trip should prove educational for all ages. Please note that the newly renovated and relocated museum is now officially open.<br /><br />

Miami Seaquarium

Address: 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway Miami

Admission: $44.99 (adults), $34.99 (children aged 3 to 9). Daily 10am-6pm (box office closes at 4:30pm).

Telephone: (305) 361 5705

At least half a day is required to fully enjoy south Florida's premier attraction. The Seaquarium is world-renowned for its marine life shows and attractions, including performing killer whales and television aquatic star and dolphin, Flipper. Another favourite star is the sea lion Salty and his colleagues, who amuse and amaze with their antics. It is even possible to arrange close encounters with some of the animals. The Miami Seaquarium is set in a tropical paradise boasting wonderful views of the city - an extra perk for those who can drag their eyes from the animal shows. Visitors should be sure to check the official website for a schedule of show times before planning their day.<br /><br />

Vizcaya Villa

Address: 3251 South Miami Avenue Miami

Admission: $18 (adults), $6 (children 6-12). Free for children under 5. Other concessions available. Daily (except Tuesdays) 9:30am-4:30pm; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Telephone: (305) 250 9133

Lovers of antiques revel in visiting the magnificent 34-room Vizcaya bayfront villa, built in the Italian Renaissance style in 1916 as a winter retreat for wealthy industrialist James Deering. The grand mansion took hundreds of artisans five years to complete, and the formal gardens, which surround the villa fronting on Biscayne Bay, took even longer to lay out. Today visitors can tour the villa and grounds, enjoying the original furnishings and décor in a variety of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococco and Neoclassical styles. Vizcaya Villa gives visitors a taste of the best of Europe in the heart of Miami, melding cultures very pleasingly.<br /><br />

Spanish Monastery

Address: 16711 West Dixie Highway Miami

Admission: $10 (adults), $5 (children, students and seniors), Free for children under 5, other concessions available. Monday to Saturday 10am-4:30pm; Sunday 11am-4:30pm. The monastery sometimes closes for special events so it is best to phone ahead to confirm they are open.

Telephone: (305) 945 1461

Miami boasts the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere - but there is a catch. Dating from 1141 the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux in North Miami Beach is a hugely popular tourist attraction, although not quite indigenous to the area. The monastery stood originally in Segovia in Spain, but in the early 1950s the medieval building was bought by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, disassembled, shipped to Miami, and rebuilt on its present site. Time Magazine called the project the 'biggest jigsaw puzzle in history'. The fascinating medieval complex is a joy to explore, and the fact that it seems out of place in Florida only makes it more magical. Guided tours are available for groups of 15 or more.<br /><br />

Coral Castle

Address: Miami

Legend has it that unrequited love led a Latvian immigrant to spend 25 years single-handedly carving a castle out of rock between the Florida Keys and Miami, on the South Dixie Highway. The amazing monument to the man's determination has been called America's Stonehenge and has been featured in numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Visitors are awed by the castle, which also contains affidavits from neighbours testifying to the fact that the builder had no assistance with his mammoth task. The creator, Edward Leedskalnin, once proudly showed visitors around the castle himself, but now an audio guide does the honours. This quirky attraction is fascinating to visit and fun for the whole family.<br /><br />

Everglades National Park

Address: Miami

The vast Everglades National Park that spans the tip of the Florida peninsula, 35 miles (56km) southwest of Miami, has been described as a 40-mile-wide (64km) slow-moving river of grass, interspersed with shallow wetlands. It is the only subtropical preserve in North America, containing temperate and tropical plants. It also boasts dozens of endangered species that find a home in this natural habitat, like the swallowtail butterfly, American crocodile, leatherback turtle, southern bald eagle and West Indian manatee. The best way to explore the park is by canoe; although private operators also run rapid air-boat tours, which are popular with thrill-seeking visitors. The park has been accorded several honours including its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance.<br /><br />

Lincoln Road Mall

Address: Miami

Admission: 10am-11pm seven days a week.

A pedestrian promenade lined with palm trees and colourful art deco buildings, Lincoln Road Mall is a great haunt for locals and foreigners. Once called the 'Fifth Avenue of the South', this lively seven-block shopping district serves up big name labels like G.A.P. and Banana Republic but also houses the renowned Regal Movie Theatre and the Lincoln Theatre, home to the New World Symphony. Considered one of the best people-watching streets in South Beach, take refreshment at one of the string of sidewalk cafés or soak up some local culture at the many art galleries along the mall. The Farmers Market on Sundays is the best place for fresh vegetables, fruits, juices, homemade breads and flowers, and on weekends Antique vendors display their wares along the sidewalk. At night, street performers take to the mall, entertaining passersby.<br /><br />

Wolfsonian Museum

Address: 1001 Washington Avenue Miami

Admission: $7 (adults), $5 (seniors, students and children aged 6-12). Free admission after 6pm on Fridays. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 10am-6pm; open until 9pm Fridays; noon until 6pm on Sundays. Closed Wednesdays and some public holidays.

Telephone: (305) 351 1001

A vivacious collection of art and design pieces depicting popular culture from 1885 to 1945, the Wolfsonian is the amalgamation of a long-term pursuit by eccentric heir and collector, Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Housed in the original warehouse used as a storage facility for the 70,000 pieces, visitors can pick through the origins of graphic and industrial design in the hotchpotch of distinctive propaganda art from Germany, Italy and the United States, and the remarkable industrial design pieces from modern German design to Bauhaus. A haven for lovers of good design, the Wolfsonian is chock full of artistic treasures. Not to be missed is the über cool Dynamo café and museum shop.<br /><br />

Jungle Island

Address: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, FL Miami

Admission: Adult $39.95, children $32.95. 10am-5pm every day of the week.

Telephone: (305) 400 7000

An offshoot of Parrot Jungle, which was established in 1936, Jungle Island is a new complex offering an exciting array of wildlife from parrots and macaws to crocodiles and penguins. You can witness over 200 parrots at the Manu Encounter, the world's only aviary replicating the clay cliffs of Manu, Peru and at the Parrot Bowl, a gaping amphitheatre, you can be entertained by the clever antics of cockatoos, parrots and macaws. Look out for the rare albino alligator and 21-foot crocodile at the Serpentarium. The waterpark featuring the 168-foot Hippo Slide, with an exhilarating 40-degree drop is also a favourite. The theme park is full of fun and interesting animals and offers many shows.<br /><br />

Biscayne National Park

Address: Miami

The Biscayne National Park can be seen from downtown Miami, but the city and the park offer vastly different treasures for tourists. The coral reefs and tiny islands of this water sanctuary are home to an abundance of wildlife, and even a couple of awe-inspiring pirate shipwrecks. Biscayne is a great camping, boating and swimming spot for families and provides a nature sanctuary right on the doorstep of Miami for those who need a break from the glitz and bustle of the city. The park offers many fun outdoor activities and there are a variety of boats and water craft available for hire - check out the official website listed below for more details.<br /><br />

Crandon Park Beach

Address: 4000 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne Miami

A family holiday in Miami wouldn't be complete without spending some time on the beach. Aside from providing a beautiful sample of Florida's famed sand and sea, Crandon Park Beach also has an Amusement Center with a carousel, a roller rink, a splash fountain and a playground for kids to enjoy, making it a very good option for families on holiday. The Crandon Park Gardens are beautiful to see, and there are a few picnic spots to enjoy as well. The beach itself is long and spacious, ensuring that it seldom feels crowded, and there are plenty of picturesque palm trees providing shade. The water deepens very gradually so that the shallows are extensive and safe for kids.<br /><br />

Gold Coast Railroad Museum

Address: 12450 S.W. 152nd Street Miami, FL Miami

Admission: Adults and Children age 12 and up $8.00. Children age 2 to 11 $6.00. Children under age 2 enter free. 10am-4pm on weekdays, 11am-4pm on weekends.

Telephone: (305) 253 0063

Kids will be delighted by the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, which offers train rides, toy trains to play with, and interesting model train exhibits. The museum's railroad car collection includes President Roosevelt's historic Ferdinand Magellan carriage. In March each year there are Thomas the Tank Engine rides for children. Model train building sessions take place between 10am and 2pm on weekdays, and between 11am and 4pm on weekends. Tours are conducted at specific times each day and cost a small additional fee - check the official website listed below for details.<br /><br />

Miami Childrens Museum

Address: 980 MacArthur Causeway Miami, FL Miami

Admission: Adults $18. Florida residents enter for a discounted price of $14. Children under 1 year old enter free. 10am-6pm daily.

Telephone: (305) 373 5437

The child-sized exhibits at the Miami Children's Museum are both colourful and interactive. Kids can explore the museum's simulated hospital, supermarket or fire station, playing with and moving anything they like. The Mt. Michimu rock-climbing wall offers a fun, physical challenge for older children. The museum ensures that there's always something going on to entertain visitors and many fun activities and play areas are always available. For safety reasons, children are not allowed into the museum unaccompanied by an adult, and adults are not allowed into the museum unaccompanied by a child. The Miami Children's Museum is the perfect family attraction for a rainy day in the city!<br /><br />

Miami Beaches

Address: Miami

The beaches in Miami are world-famous; some for their stunning settings and some for their stunning sunbathers. Crandon Park Beach is good for children, with the playground and carousel as well as picnic areas and restrooms. Haulover Beach Park also has good facilities like volleyball and tennis courts, a golf course, concession stands and picnic tables, but parents should be aware that the northern end allows nude sunbathing. Hobie Beach is the best place for windsurfing in Miami, while the sandy beach in Oleta River State Park is popular for boating and kayaking. The central Miami beaches have good facilities, like concession stands, showers, lifeguards, walking trails and beach chair and umbrella rentals, but tend to be the most crowded at peak times. Topless sunbathing is allowed in Miami Beach.<br /><br />

Calle Ocho

Where: The streets of Little Havana, with the street party centring on the Orange Bowl Stadium,Miami

When: 11 March 2018

Claiming to be the biggest street party in the world, and undoubtedly the biggest Hispanic bash in the United States, Carnaval Miami offers two weeks of concerts, parades, family entertainment, sport, art exhibits and ethnic food, culminating in the massive 'Calle Ocho' street party and parade. Organised by Little Havana's Kiwanis Club in aid of needy children, Carnaval in Miami attracts a million fun-lovers who swarm through 23 city blocks. More than 40 stages are placed on intersecting avenues, from which emanate merengue, salsa, pop and Caribbean music. Food kiosks line the streets, and four blocks are devoted entirely to children's entertainment. For more information check out the website listed below.<br /><br />

Coconut Grove Arts Festival

Where: McFarlane Rd, South Bayshore Drive and Pan American Drive in Coconut Grove,Miami

When: 17 - 19 February 2018

The charming village of Coconut Grove, south of downtown Miami on Biscayne Bay, becomes the setting for a premier outdoor fine arts festival during February each year, attracting more than 150,000 people to view the works of more than 300 contemporary artists, ranging from photography and sculpture to jewellery, painting and woodwork. Visitors can meet and chat with the artists, sample delicious cuisine, and enjoy live entertainment and music. The impressive variety of art on show is complemented by a fun, festival atmosphere and even if you don't buy anything the Coconut Grove Arts Festival is a great day out. Check the website below for more details.<br /><br />

Ultra Music Festival

Where: Bicentennial Park, 1075 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami,Miami

When: 24 - 26 March 2017

The Ultra Music Festival is an outdoor electronic music festival, held annually during the Winter Music Conference in Miami, Florida. The festival has grown so much in recent years, that it has become one of the highest-grossing music festivals anywhere in the world - and a veritable Mecca for electro heads everywhere. Consisting of 16 stages, involving over 300 DJs, and with an expected attendance in excess of 150,000, tickets are bound to be scarce on the ground. Book tickets as soon as possible (sometimes they sell out in minutes), be sure to book accommodation early as the festival attracts many international visitors, and stock up on plenty of sleep!<br /><br />

Spring Break

Where: Various beach areas and resort towns around Florida,Miami

When: Between February and April annually

The notion of students misbehaving a little during their time away from their books is, of course, not unique to the United States of America. However, the ritualistic fervour with which American students celebrate their Spring Break - a once-yearly, socially-sanctioned Bacchanal of binge drinking and wild partying - is something that foreign visitors to Florida, and especially those travelling with children, might need to prepare themselves for. Ever since the 'Fort Liquordale' days of the 1980s, Florida has been a notoriously popular destination for Spring Break revellers; and these days, the presence of MTV film crews and internationally-renowned DJs and musicians on many of the Sunshine State's beaches, only adds to the generally debauched atmosphere. Although Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, St Petersburg and Miami's South Beach still draw thousands of students, Panama City Beach has become the new epicentre, with about 400,000 carousers expected every year. You'll either love being in Florida during Spring Break or hate it; but either way, visitors should prepare themselves for an uncommonly festive holiday period.<br /><br />

Azul

Address: 500 Brickell Key Dr, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami

Food Type: Fusion

On entering Azul, guests will be impressed by the sophisticated atmosphere created by copper-burnished walls, silk-covered chairs and a white marble open kitchen - floor to ceiling bay views won't go unnoticed either! The menu offers a unique fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, with still more international influences. The raw tuna with caviare, crab, avocado and Asian sauces is excellent, as is the Moroccan lamb. Open for dinner Monday to Saturday, reservations recommended.<br /><br />

Palme dOr

Address: 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables Miami

Food Type: French

Voted as the best restaurant in south Florida, Palme d'Or offers glamorous dining at the prestigious Biltmore Hotel. Specialising in Nouvelle French cuisine, the menu offers tasting portions; patrons can sample the array of flavours, textures and taste sensations which Palme d'Or is renowned for. Try the slow-braised beef effilochée with polenta and parmesan, or the wild mushroom cassolette. This excellent dining experience is complemented by attentive service and live music. Open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner. Reservations recommended.<br /><br />

Joes Stone Crab

Address: 11 Washington Avenue Miami

Food Type: Seafood

A Miami institution, Joe's Stone Crab has burgeoned since its humble beginnings as a sidewalk vendor in 1913. Renowned for its stone crab claws, a plethora of scrumptious side orders include Joe's famous hash browns and cole slaw, creamed spinach, grilled tomatoes and fresh salads. Don't forget to try Joe's famous mustard sauce and the appetizing seafood bisque (there is also a selection of other seafood, steaks, ribs and chicken to choose from). Note: Joe's is only open during Stone Crab season, from October to May. Open for lunch from Tuesday to Saturday, and dinner all week.<br /><br />

News Café

Address: 800 Ocean Drive Miami

Food Type: Cafe

The South Beach breakfast establishment, News Café, offers a superb oceanfront setting, outside seating and an international newsstand - ideal for that first coffee of the morning. With a plethora of breakfast options, patrons can tuck into Eggs Florentine, buttermilk pancakes, or try the Middle Eastern combo (a hummus, tabouli salad and grape leaf platter). Their burger and fries or smoked salmon bagel are also great. The ultimate lure of News Café is that they're open 24 hours a day, and breakfast can be ordered around the clock.<br /><br />

Señor Frogs

Address: 3480 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove Miami

Food Type: Mexican

Señor Frog's appeals to college students and young people because of its trendy atmosphere and affordable menu. It's known for a rip-roaring good time, potent margaritas and a mariachi band. The food at this cantina is cheesy and tasty, if not exactly authentic. A specialty, the mole enchilada with 14 different kinds of mild chillies mixed with chocolate, is flavourful and unique - a definite must! Portions are huge and served with rice and beans. Open daily for lunch and dinner, reservations not accepted.<br /><br />

Timo

Address: 17624 Collins Ave, Sunny Isles Miami

Food Type: Mediterranean

Timo is a hip and happening restaurant in Sunny Isles, owned by executive chef Tim Andriola. The restaurant is a trendy Italian Mediterranean establishment popular with North Miami Beach locals. Specialties worth trying are the wood-fired rock shrimp pizza, or the herb-roasted chicken. Timo's atmosphere is laid-back and casual, making it the ideal place to enjoy any kind of occasion, from a business lunch to a romantic candle-lit dinner. Open for lunch Monday to Friday and dinner all week. Reservations required.<br /><br />

Red Fish Grill

Address: 9610 Old Cutler Rd Miami

Food Type: Seafood

Located at the edge of the saltwater lagoon lies the Red Fish Grill, surrounded by the magnificent setting of the tropical Matheson Hammock Park. The ambience of the restaurant, reminiscent of Old Miami, makes it an ideal place for a romantic dinner. Red Fish Grill offers delicious seafood dishes that won't disappoint - try the Chilean sea bass, or the mahi-mahi with spinach, sweet potato and blue cheese. Open daily for dinner and closed on Mondays.<br /><br />

Miami's nightlife is ! The South Beach streets pump with clubs and bars, and there's plenty of partying and live music in the Design District area. Downtown Miami hosts a few trendy venues and Coconut Grove is also a popular party zone. With everything from cocktails and comedy shows to lounges and nightclubs, one night in Miami would never be long enough.<br /><br /> Visitors to Miami might like to start their evening at one of the many cocktail bars, or perhaps the Dan Marino sports bar and restaurant. Visit Greater Miami for flamenco or cabaret shows, or even a drag show! There are also various comedy performances out there, including stand-up, sketch and improvisational comedies.<br /><br /> Miami dance clubs and lounges tend to offer a sultry Latin beat, while nightclub music ranges from Afro-Cuban or rumba rap to indie rock and electro-pop. These clubs are prevalent in downtown Miami and Little Havana, as well as west of the Bay area. Mansions and SET in Miami beach are two of the trendiest clubs, and Ocean Drive is also a great venue for club-hopping.<br /><br /> Many nightclubs and bars in Miami seem never to close and even the most energetic of party animals will find the city's nightlife opportunities inexhaustible.<br /><br />
While Miami may not have too many iconic souvenirs for tourists to work into their budgets, it sure does have a lot to offer the discerning shopper!<br /><br /> Miami's Lincoln Road Mall is a wonderfully unusual shopping mall: a pedestrian promenade lined with palm trees and colourful art deco buildings, home to big name labels like G.A.P and Banana Republic. For another 'open mall' experience, The Falls not only has all the usual shops but also a fantastic seating area near the waterfall.<br /><br /> For elite shopping, few places measure up to Bal Harbour Shops, with stores include Tiffany &amp; Co, Prada and Saks Fifth Avenue. Miracle Mile is one of Miami's top shopping locations, hosting over 170 upscale shops and 40 gourmet restaurants within walking distance of each other.<br /><br /> On the waterfront, Bayside Marketplace offers a variety of shops, restaurant and entertainment just moments from downtown Miami. Espanola Way is a quirky, amiable street in Miami Beach filled with stalls selling local arts and crafts on weekends. U.S. 1 Discount Mall is an air-conditioned flea market in Cutler Bay with over 200 vendors ready to satisfy all consumer desires, from belly piercing to tailoring.<br /><br /> A Sales Tax of seven percent is built into purchase prices; as sales taxes are set at state level, there is no way to obtain a refund from the federal government for non-US visitors. With something for everyone, and then some, Miami is a great city to blow a big wad of holiday cash in.<br /><br />
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