An enticing combination of warmth, fun in the sun, breathtaking landscapes, and cultural diversity make Miami, Florida one of the most highly sought-after tourist destinations in the United States and even North America, attracting students for Spring Break, couples for honeymoons and romantic weekend getaways, families escaping their hometown winters for a much-needed vacation, and seniors keeping warm post-retirement.
Situated on Florida’s southeastern coast, Miami is nicely nestled between the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean, with a growing population nearing 400,000—although the larger metropolitan area boasts a population of almost five and a half million.
The beaches and water-based activities are some of the biggest draws of Miami. If you’re into sun-soaking, Miami’s gorgeous beaches are difficult to resist. You will, however, find yourself among a throng of other like-minded sun-crazed beach bums, especially if you venture out in the winter. Some of the best beach spots include Ocean Drive on South Beach, Virginia Key, and Key Biscayne.
If you want to do more than simply soak up the rays, take a leisurely stroll along the shorelines, or go for a nice invigorating swim, Miami offers plenty of water sports and activities, such as beach volleyball, fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, parasailing, boating, and windsurfing. You may even want to have your hand at the water scooter.
The beaches of Miami are also popular spots for parties, dances, and even for television and film shootings. Many tourists choose to spend an entire day there, starting off with relaxing on the white sands, then moving onto swimming and other water or beach activities, after which they enjoy a beach-based night party, and then end with a fireside gathering and perhaps a romantic moonlit stroll for two along the shore.
Miami also offers a flavorful taste of Latin America, with its tropical climate, Latin American cuisine, music, and sensational nightlife, large Hispanic population (almost half), and the use of the beautiful Spanish language as much as English.
Cuisine is a major feature in Miami, with an exotic mix of Caribbean, Cuban, and Latin flavors. A succulent variety of seafood is available, such as crab, lobster, and oysters, and exotic fruits such as mango and coconut are practically staples in Miami.
Miami is also a music lover’s paradise, with a wide array of “Latinesque” nightclubs and music clubs, offering musical stylings from jazz, blues, and rock to rap, salsa, and rumba. If you want to experience the city life, check out the newly redone Lincoln Road Mall, which comes alive in the evenings with its many nightclubs, music clubs, cafés, theaters, and galleries.
But Miami is more than just soaking up the rays, indulging in edible ethnic delights, and partying Latino-style. Little Havana is a Latin-American art museum offering a glimpse into Miami’s rich Cuban-based history and culture.
Other places to check out during your time in Miami include the Art Deco District, which is close to Ocean Drive beach and its nearby cafés; Coral Gables, where you can take in some fantastic architecture and other historical sites such as the Biltmore Hotel, dip into the brilliant Venetian Pool, and enjoy a gourmet meal; Coconut Grove, known for its nightlife; Collins Avenue, which boasts a variety of ancient hotels and other sites; Bal Harbour, Bayside Marketplace, and Sunset Place, for a great shopping excursion; the famous Fairchild Tropical Garden; and for art and history museums and art gallery lovers, be sure to check out the Miami-Dade Cultural Center as well as the Miami Design District and Wynwood Art District.
Most tourists, visitors, and guests arrange to visit Miami during the winter—which is generally the best time to come on down—but if you’re under a limited budget, consider travelling during the off-season, between April and October. During these months, you’ll find better deals, lower rates, and special discounts you’d be hard-pressed to find between November and March. Just be prepared for intense heat and humidity—which will likely result in more than one thunderstorm during your stay.