A Guide to Miami

With mile upon mile of sun and sand, Miami is a meeting place for the world’s young, rich and beautiful. It’s the home of Latin American big business, and is a US fashion capital. Enjoy salsa music and feast on fresh seafood in this sultry port city.

By the numbers

441,003 (city); 5,502,379 (metropolitan)

Elevation: 6 feet / 2 meters

Time Zone: GMT -5 (GMT -4 Daylight Saving Time); Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Weather

Average Annual Rainfall: 61.9 in / 142 cm

Average January Temperatures: 68°F / 20°C

Average July Temperatures: 84°F / 29°C

Did you know?

Benjamin Green, a Miami Beach pharmacist, invented the first suntan lotion by cooking cocoa butter on a stove in 1944.

Miami is the only city bordering two national parks: Everglades and Biscayne.

District Guide

Miami’s cultural diversity is apparent from the moment you set foot on its soil and hear the rise and fall of a dozen different languages being spoken. It is an easygoing beach town, a cultural melting pot, and a 24-hour party all at once.

South Beach, Miami, Florida, United States

Miami Beach
When talking about Miami, the beach is the best place to start. In the 1940s, when vacationers began to arrive, Miami Beach was the center of the action. Although years have passed and times have changed, the beach remains a perennial hot spot. Enormous luxury resorts such as Fontainebleau and Eden Roc rise majestically against the skyline, shops and restaurants line the streets, and who could forget the miles of white sand beach?

South Beach
Once home to a number of retired citizens and struggling artists, South Beach has now risen to international fame as a popular vacation destination. Every block is packed with restaurants, bars, shops, and – of course – dance clubs, each trendier, more glamorous and cutting-edge than the last. One could spend days soaking in the sights and sounds of South Beach. Take a walking tour along Ocean Drive or down Lincoln Road, where the beautiful people come out to play. Whether it’s three in the morning or three in the afternoon, there is bound to be plenty to do.

Bal Harbour
Located on the northern end of Miami Beach, Bal Harbour is the most exclusive neighbourhood in Greater Miami. Luxury resorts sit serenely amid the lush foliage and palatial homes. No visit to this district is complete — or even begun — without a visit to the Bal Harbour Shops. Versace, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Prada are just a few of the fashion houses that have retail outlets in this shopping center. Plenty of fine dining can be found in Bal Harbour as well. If you’re on a budget, this isn’t the place to dine or shop!

Downtown Miami
Although primarily a business district, there’s a lot to see and do in downtown. Tour the design district between Northeast 36th and 41st Streets, or check out the museums at the Metro-Dade Cultural Center. Shoppers will delight in the Bayside Marketplace with its retail shops, open-air crafts market, half-dozen restaurants, and pier. The Port of Miami is next to Bayside, where you can easily find a boat to take you on a tour around the bay.

Coconut Grove
Although this bustling district is one of the oldest in Miami, it seems to just be hitting its prime. Full of energy and creativity, the Grove is as busy as South Beach, but in a different way. Instead of attracting models and bodybuilders, it draws in artists, writers, and patrons of the arts. There are hundreds of fabulous shops and restaurants crammed within this small area, most of them located on the CocoWalk.

Coral Gables
Coral Gables is a gated enclave crisscrossed by canals, just a few minutes’ drive from Downtown Miami. This small, tree-lined village is home to many of Miami’s most famous attractions, including the Biltmore Hotel, Venetian Pool and Miracle Mile. Excellent shopping and dining can be found on the Miracle Mile as well as on the side streets surrounding it.

Little Havana
This area is located west of Brickell Avenue and runs along the thoroughfare known as Calle Ocho (Southwest 8th Street). Many immigrants and refugees from Cuba have settled here, along with natives of Colombia, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries. It is in this district that you can enjoy authentic salsa music, indulge in a complete Cuban meal that’s light on your wallet, or try a steaming cup of shockingly strong café cubano in an outdoor cafe.

Key Biscayne
Though located just over the Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne might as well be 1000 miles away. Things are different on this peaceful tropical island: the pace slows down, people are friendly and matter-of-fact. If the marvellous white sand beaches and varied leisure sports aren’t enough reason to go, consider the prospect of kissing a dolphin at the Miami Seaquarium!

West Miami
West Miami is a quieter, more residential area. It’s spread out and almost impossible to sightsee without a car. Hialeah and Miami Lakes, two residential communities, are located in this area. The Miami International Airport is also situated here along with the Hialeah Park Racetrack.

North Miami/Aventura
While it may be slightly out of the way, Aventura is easy to reach even without a car, thanks to the shuttle buses that run regularly from the major downtown hotels to the Aventura Mall. The mall is well worth a day trip, as it boasts over 250 shops, restaurants and attractions. This district is also home to dozens of excellent restaurants, many of them specializing in “Floribbean” cuisine.

Broward County
While Broward County is not officially a part of Miami, it might as well be — it’s less than a half hour away. The thriving art community of Hollywood, the outlets at Sawgrass Mills and, last but not least, the decadent little city of Fort Lauderdale are a few possible destinations in Broward. The pace is slightly more relaxed than in Miami, but people are here to have fun, make no mistake about it. Enjoy the shops on Las Olas or dine in a restaurant that has its own private boat dock for guests traveling by water.

Dining and drinking

Miami takes its dining scene very seriously. People come from all over the world to drink and dine in this sunny city on the Atlantic Ocean. Restaurants here serve a wide variety of cuisine, ranging from South American to Continental to Caribbean, while the local fusion cuisine known as “Floribbean” borrows influences from all three regions.

Many of the city’s restaurants specialize in fresh, local seafood. Swordfish, yellowtail, and oysters have a place on most menus. In the autumn and winter, stone crab season takes over. At restaurants such as the legendary Joe’s Stone Crab, people wait for hours to enjoy the delicious crustaceans.

Ceviche

Many of Miami’s eateries represent the countries and regions of Latin and South America. Brazilian rodizio, Argentine churrasco and Peruvian seafood are just a few of the ethnic specialties local restaurants dish out. Dozens of Cuban eateries serve filling, tasty meals at very low prices.

Whether you’re looking for a cheap and filling meal, a gourmet dining experience or a night among the stars, you can find it in one of the districts of this splendidly diverse city.

South Beach & Miami Beach
South Beach is the epicenter of excitement and glamour in Miami. It is here at restaurants like Prime One Twelve that you’re most likely to spot a celebrity at the next table. Although many of the restaurants are very pricey, places such as the ever-popular La Sandwicherie offer a pleasant atmosphere, low prices and great food. Grab an outside table and enjoy your gourmet sandwich as you gawk at the SoBe street scene.

Although central Miami Beach is not as jam-packed with restaurants as its southern neighbour, there are plenty of excellent dining options, many of them located within the luxury hotels. At Hakkasan, located in the famed Fontainebleau, patrons can savour the delicious contemporary Chinese cuisine while enjoying the tranquil view of the ocean.

Downtown Miami
Downtown Miami is popular with businesspeople and other locals. Nightlife is more subdued here, but there’s a flourishing restaurant scene. The various steakhouses serve delicious food with a local twist. CVI.CHE 105 has Peruvian dishes on its menu and specializes in ceviche, while Soyka has American classics like burgers and fries. For those looking for something out of the ordinary, try the Asian fusion restaurant Bali Cafe.

Coral Gables
Coral Gables, a quaint village within Greater Miami, boasts a culturally rich entertainment and dining scene. Sample gourmet Jamaican dishes at Ortanique on the Mile, or try Su-shin Izakaya, where sushi is the specialty. Rustic Greek cuisine is the focus at Mylo’s, and for a classic Italian meal look no further than Caffe Vialetto.

Coconut Grove
Coconut Grove, another small and trendy community within Central Miami, boasts a number of excellent casual and gourmet dining choices. The Last Carrot is a popular vegetarian café in this area where you can get a great meal for a reasonable amount of money.

Key Biscayne
Key Biscayne’s restaurants have a different feel from any other part of Miami. The dining establishments here are characteristically laid-back and informal; most of the time, they open and close when they choose and menus can change daily. Grab fish and fries at a local spot. The Rusty Pelican has classic American cuisine and a brunch on Sundays.

Little Havana
Little Havana, located in Central Miami, has the greatest number of excellent Cuban and South American eateries in the city. Versailles, while slightly more expensive than others, is justifiably famous for its food. Another excellent choice is Casa Juancho, where diners can enjoy authentic Spanish cuisine in a comfortable and elegant atmosphere that features live flamenco music.

Aventura
The city of Aventura, best known for the gargantuan Aventura Mall, is home to a wide variety of gourmet and reasonably priced restaurants. For a classy dining experience, nothing can beat a meal at Bourbon Steak.

Entertainment

With such a diverse mix of people, it is no wonder that Miami has come to be a cultural mecca. From theatre to music to dance, Miami delivers world-class entertainment. Beyond the stage and screen, the streets of South Beach offer some of the best nightclubs in the world. At night, in any given hotspot you can let loose to the sounds of salsa, jazz, hip-hop, and techno. The different cultures that revolve around the arts and entertainment scenes blend to form Miami’s unique flavour.

Group of happy friends drinking jumping in pool sunset party outdoor - Young diverse culture people having fun in tropical vacation - Holiday, youth and friendship concept - Main focus on left man

Nightlife
Some of the best nightclubs in the nation can be found in South Beach. The ever-popular dance clubs around the Beach include the always rocking Cameo. Salsa dancing can also be found all over the city. South Beach generally carries the bulk of the dance clubs, while Coconut Grove offers a variety of live music venues. Miami’s nightlife, however, is much too diverse and extensive for such generalizations. You can always find something going on every corner.

Some of the best of the best are Story – a megaclub that oozes exclusivity, with bottle service and a line-up of underground musicians and top-notch DJs – while the Basement is a multi-room, nighttime escape with a stellar program of thrilling club nights. Then there’s the uber-glitzy LIV at Fontainebleau, – a celebrity hangout, and host to fantastic DJs from across the globe and big-name hip-hop acts on any given night. For a party on the sands, head to Nikki Beach, or try the Purdy Lounge for a cocktail by the sea. From scintillating nightclubs and glamorous bars to laid-back pubs and underground haunts, Miami has it all and more in spades.

Shopping
Shopping in Miami is an experience to be savoured. The city’s retail therapy landscape is a delightfully diverse one with everything from shopping streets lined with department stores, luxury boutiques and cafes, to sprawling malls, kitschy souvenir stalls and quaint vintage shops.

The Aventura Mall is one of Miami’s most upscale, anchored by six department stores and luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Fendi. The Brickell City Center is another popular destination for luxury shopping, while the Dadeland Mall is home to the state’s largest Macy’s. The Shops at Merrick Park and Bal Harbour Shops are other great Floridian shopping destinations.

While Miami’s malls are sure to thrill, the city’s fabulous shopping streets are the way to go for an authentic and eclectic Floridian shopping excursion. South Beach’s Lincoln Road, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue top the list when it comes to big-name brands, while Sunset Harbour is the place to be for locally-owned boutiques and hip specialty shops. In downtown Miami, you’ll come across a host of fabric shops down Flagler Street. The Design District is thronged with designer boutiques while Wynwood dazzles with a quirky mix of art galleries and hip little stores. The Miracle Mile in Coral Gables and CocoWalk in Coconut Grove are other iconic shopping locales in Miami.

Music
Miami attracts a medley of sounds and talents. Whether it’s a jazz festival, a symphony orchestra concert or the Latin beats of Miami’s own Gloria Estefan, the city’s musical offerings are never at a loss. The innovative New World Symphony showcases fresh talent. Also of interest is the talented Miami Symphony Orchestra. The New World Center is Miami’s premier concert hall, designed by renown architect, Frank Gehry.

There is also the Florida Grand Opera, which presents five productions annually, and a whole host of bars that showcase live music. At the top of the list are Gramps, Ball & Chain, Churchill’s Pub, Bougainvillea’s Old Florida Tavern, Wynwood Yard and Lagniappe, each catering to distinct tastes and genres.

Cinema
You’ll come across a fair share of modern multiplexes across the city, but Miami’s penchant for indie entertainment best shines through at its many independent and arthouse cinemas. The Miami Beach Cinematheque is one of the best, an HD, Art Deco gem built in 1927 that screens limited-release films and is a venue for several of Miami’s prestigious film festivals. The O Cinema, on the other hand, is a contemporary theatre featuring foreign, independent, art and family films. The Soundscape Cinema at the New World Center is another stellar venue, an al fresco cinema that screens movies and simulcasts of symphonies for free. Other acclaimed venues include the historic Tower Theatre and the Coral Gables Art Cinema.

Each year, Miami also hosts a slew of film festivals, the most famous of which is the Miami International Film Festival. The Miami Short Film Festival and Miami Independent Film Festival also attract much interest.

Festivals & Fairs
Throughout the year, Miami plays host to a flurry of festivals, fairs and events. From January through March, visitors and locals look forward events like to the Art Deco Week, the Coral Gables Art Festival, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, Calle Ocho, the Funkshion Fashion Week, the International Boat Show and the Ultra Music Festival amongst many others. Later in the year, the Miami Beach Gay Parade, the Miami Fashion Week, Miami Carnival and International Auto Show take center stage. The International Book Fair, King Mango Strut Parade and Art Basel round off the year in Miami.

Outdoor Activities
Miami’s sun-kissed beaches are its most popular feature; miles of golden sand littered with bronzed bodies lounging by the water. The beaches of Miami are an ideal destination for fans of water sports, as well as for those who simply want to bask in the sunshine. Miami has much more to offer besides. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the miles of hiking trails at the Oleta River State Recreational Area, embark on an airboat tour of the Everglades, sign-up for sailing lessons and indulge in deep sea fishing. Yacht charters and jet boat rides are other popular pastimes in Miami.

Museums
Whatever your interest, Miami offers a museum related to it. Celebrate the city’s intriguing past at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Take a stroll through the exquisite 16th-century Italian Villa Vizcaya and gardens. For those who enjoy the visual arts, there are outstanding collections at the Miami Art Museum, the Bass Museum of Art, the Wolfsonian, the Lowe Art Museum and the Jewish Museum of Florida.

Theatre
No matter what the season, the stage is always set in Miami. Whether it’s a Broadway road show or a local production, the audience is sure to be dazzled. In the elegant Biltmore Hotel, GableStage offers an exciting season of Florida premieres and New York hits. The Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre also offers quality productions by a talented residential troupe. The Miami Light Project – a non-profit organization that produces music, dance and theatre – has the freshest talent in town. Teatro Avante presents regular performances in Spanish. Miami’s cultural venues are as intriguing for their appearance as for the performances on their stages. Audiences have much to admire during intermission with the charming Art Deco design of the Colony Theatre.

Comedy
Good humour comes naturally in a city blessed with beautiful weather year-round. A few local clubs feature comedians that keep the visitors and locals laughing into the wee hours. The Villain Theatre tops the list of Miami’s best comedy clubs, featuring sketch shows and Chicago-stye improv that have the audience shaking with mirth. Just the Funny is another worthy contender for the coveted title of Miami’s funniest troupe. The ensemble showcases comedy of every genre, with everything from comedic songs and sketch shows to stand-up and parodies on the cards.

Other venues that also host comedians alongside musicians, spoken word artists and other performers are Artistic Vibes in Kendall, Speak! Fridays in Wynwood, the RedBar in Downtown and the Open Stage Club in Coral Gables. The Comedy Inn is another worthy contender for a rib-tickling good time.

Dance
From classical to modern to ethnic, Miami has a rich array of dance theatre. Even the most classical repertoire is infused with a certain innovative quality. The Miami City Ballet is recognized as one of the top ten companies in the nation. The company’s impressive repertoire (over 80 productions and counting) delicately blends the classical and the contemporary. For the more traditionally inclined, Ballet Etudes of South Florida performs classical masterpieces, while the thrilling performances by Ballet Flamenco La Rosa capture the passion and spirit of flamenco.

Recommended Tours

Whether you spend the day tanning on the beach or discovering the various shops and cultural attractions, there’s plenty to do in Miami.

Lifeguard tower on a sunny day at empty South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA

South Beach
Ocean Drive is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants and views that epitomize Miami’s beautiful natural surroundings. The Miami Beach Marina is a great place to spend the day. Dine at the nearby Balans. There are also many well-known museums in South Beach, such as the World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) and the Kennedy Gallery. The Holocaust Memorial is also located in South Beach.

Bayside Marketplace
The Bayside Marketplace begins to wake up around 10a, when the first sightseers depart for a two-hour breakfast cruise around Biscayne Bay and the Port of Miami. Grab a bite at the 11th Street Diner. Take a stroll in Bayfront Park, which is right next to the Marketplace.

Coral Gables
Coral Gables is well-known for the Venetian Pool, which was formed from a coral rock quarry in 1923. Take a dip in the pool in the early afternoon, when the heat of the day is at its peak. Grab a bite to eat at the café, then dry off, clean up, and head over to the Biltmore Hotel. The Biltmore is both a designated national historic landmark and a five-star luxury hotel. Dine at La Palme d’Or.

Miracle Mile
Wander down the Miracle Mile, where there is always a big event taking place. Theatre fans can see what’s playing at the Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre. Ortanique is one of the most famous restaurants on this strip.

Florida Keys
Just south of Miami are a string of islands called the Florida Keys, connected by one main highway. Waters are crystal clear and the sea life is amazing. Coral Castle is an incredible work of art that took 28 years to finish. Browse the different trees and buy some preserves at the nearby Fruit and Spice Park. Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park, located across the way on the mainland, are two of Florida’s most unique. Not far from the Everglades is the Black Point Marina, popular among those that fish and sail.

There are many tour companies in Miami that offer a wide variety of options for seeing the city, from air boat tours to eco-adventure tours.

Car Tours
Go Car Tours ( +1 888 462 2755/ http://www.gocartours.com )

Boat Tours
Island Queen Cruises ( +1 305 379 5119/ http://www.islandqueencruises.com )
Discovery Cruise Line ( +1 888 213 8253/ http://www.discoverycruise.com )
Boca Chica Key & Lighthouse Tour ( +1 305 230 1100 )
Blackbeard’s Cruises ( +1 954 734 7111/ +1 800 327 9600/ http://www.blackbeard-cruises.com )
Urban Tour Host ( +1 305 416 6868/ http://www.miamiculturaltours.com/index.php )
Miami Duck Tours ( +1 786 276 8300/ http://www.ducktoursmiami.com )
Thriller Powerboat Tours ( +1 305 373 7001 )
Heritage Tours ( +1 305 442 9697/ http://www.heritageschooner.com/heritage.html )

Airboat Tours
Everglade Airboat Tours ( +1 305 221 9888 )
Air Boat USA ( +1 305 219 1200/ http://www.airboatusa.com )
Gator Park ( +1 800 559 2205/ +1 305 559 2255/ http://www.gatorpark.com )
Coopertown Airboat Tours ( +1 305 226 6048/ http://www.coopertownairboats.com )

Eco-Adventure Tours
Miami Dade Eco-Adventure Tours ( +1 305 365 3018/ http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/ecoadventures.asp )
Everglades Day Safari ( +1 239 472 1559/ http://www.ecosafari.com/boat.cfm )
Wild Dolphin Adventures ( +1 305 296 3737/ +1 866 296 3737/ http://www.wilddolphinadventures.com )
Miami River Historical Jungle Tours ( +1 305 755 9055 )
Urban Tour Host ( +1 305 416 6868/ http://www.miamiculturaltours.com/index.php )

History

Driving down Highway 395 from Miami Beach, one can only gaze in wonder at the white skyline rising from the tropical waters and set upon the blue-pink-orange sky. It’s amazing to think that not long ago, swampland vegetation and mosquitoes dominated the area. In a short period of time, the city has emerged as a major cosmopolitan center for international business, tourism, fashion and nightlife.

Ocean Drive in Miami

Long before the trendy street cafes of Coconut Grove or the pastel buildings of the Art Deco district, the Tequesta Indians made this region their home. The Spanish built a mission here in 1567, when the area was known as “Mayaimi,” but it remained secluded and generally inactive until the U.S. acquisition of Florida in 1821. Hundreds of pioneers settled in the region around the Miami River, but growth was stymied by the lack of a speedy and efficient land route to the north.

Motivated by a vision of the region’s potential, or simply because of a desire for “civilization,” settler Julia Tuttle convinced magnate Henry Flagler to extend the route of the railroad he was building. In 1896, the completion of the Florida East Coast Railroad opened Miami to the rest of the United States, and marked the birth of a new city.

Flagler opened one of Miami’s first luxury hotels, the Royal Palm, and its success inspired others to follow suit. In the 1910s, John S. Collins and Carl F. Fisher collaborated on an ambitious real estate project that transformed a mangrove swamp into present-day Miami Beach. A decade later, George E. Merrick developed the well-planned residential area of Coral Gables with its plazas, fountains, Spanish street names carved on white stones, broad boulevards and shady oak trees. To complement the residential developments, Merrick created the elegant Biltmore Hotel, with its elaborate Mediterranean-style design.

Other individuals decided to apply their investments to their personal estates. James Deering built his exquisite 16th-century Italian Villa Vizcaya by the bay and filled the architectural masterpiece with a collection of art work.

The 1920s are widely associated with extravagant spending and ostentatious lifestyles. With the sudden property boom and influx of investment capital, Miami was in full swing in this era of abundance. Its population burgeoned, and the Art Deco movement brought a unique flavour to Miami Beach. But just as Miami began to enjoy this prosperity, the Depression and two devastating hurricanes temporarily halted progress.

In the 1940s, Miami became home to soldiers living in the city’s military training camps. Known to attract a diverse blend of people, Miami also became the residence of the outlaw Al Capone. In the 1950s, the tourism industry continued to grow. The white sandy beaches and warm climate provided the perfect setting for winter vacations. But Miami was still mainly a tourist playground and had yet to reach its full potential as a metropolis.

Following Castro’s 1959 revolution, the mass Cuban immigration has been greatly responsible for Miami’s growth as an area of international business and commerce. The first wave of political exiles included several educated professionals with a desire to apply their knowledge and skills to the city’s growth. The Cuban community developed its own economic and social enclave and fostered ties to the Latin American market. International business took Miami’s downtown by storm as the city rapidly grew into more than just a tourist town.

As with any big city, Miami began to experience problems in its transitional growth. Crime rose tremendously in the 1980s. Race relations grew tense, riots broke out, and the historic Art Deco district in South Beach was left to deteriorate. Today, however, the crime rate is down and restoration projects abound.

Miami has come a long way since the days of Julia Tuttle and Henry Flagler. As the gateway to Latin America, Miami serves as the headquarters for many international companies and is home to the leading Spanish-language media in the United States. South Beach has become one of the country’s hottest hubs of style, fashion and nightlife. The ethnically diverse city continues to attract a multitude of cultures. Miami is truly unique — a tropical paradise with a rich history, a diverse population and a “not quite in the United States” feel.

Getting there and getting around

Getting There

From the Airport
Taxi: Taxis can be found at Arrival (ground) level, just outside the baggage claim area. Metro Taxi (+1 305 888 8888) and Central Taxicab Service (+1 305 532 5555) are good options.

Shuttle: Supershuttle (+1 305 871 2000 / http://www.supershuttle.com/) van service operates around the clock and provides door-to-door access to most hotels.

Car Rental:
Alamo (+1 305 935 5140 / http://www.alamo.com/)
Avis (+1 305 379 1317 / http://www.avis.com/)
Budget (+1 305 871 2722 / http://www.budget.com/)
Dollar (+1 866 434 2226 / http://www.dollar.com/)
Enterprise (+1 305 668 3374 / http://www.enterprise.com/)
Hertz (+1 305 626 4683 / http://www.hertz.com/)
National (+1 305 638 1026 / http://www.nationalcar.com/)
Thrifty (+1 877 283 0898 / http://www.thrifty.com/)

Public Transit: Metrobus (+1 305 770 3131 / http://www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/transit/) offers a cheap alternative, but is painstakingly slow. It does, however, connect with the more expeditious Metrorail transit system.

TriRail (+1 800 874 7245 / http://www.tri-rail.com/) is the perfect choice for anyone traveling to Miami’s outlying counties such as Broward or Palm Beach or if you decide to fly into Ft. Lauderdale Airport (FLL).

By Bus
Greyhound (+1 800 231 2222 / http://www.greyhound.com/) services Miami from all points north, west and south. The downtown station is located at 100 NW Sixth Street.

By Train
Amtrak (+1 800 872 7245 / http://www.amtrak.com/) comes through Miami on a daily basis. The appropriately named Silver Meteor arrives daily from New York via Charleston, South Carolina, while the Silver Star also chugs in daily from New York but via Columbia, South Carolina. The Sunset Limited wanders into Miami three times a week from Los Angeles via New Orleans. The train station (+1 800 872 7245) is at 8303 Northwest 37th Avenue.

By Car
Interstate 95, the most direct route into the city, slices through the heart of Miami in a north/south direction. Gridlock is common during morning and afternoon rush hours. Highway 41 scenically shoots into Miami from the west, crossing the famed Everglades in the process. Services along this stretch are limited, especially for east coast driving standards, so plan accordingly with the car’s fuel.

Getting Around

Public Transit
The Miami-Dade Transit System (+1 305 770 3131 / http://www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/transit/) stands as the 16th largest public transit offering in the United States, providing passengers with a slew of options starting with its popular fleet of Metrobuses. More than 1031 buses service 107 routes, providing easy access to all of Miami’s attractions.

Metromover offers free shuttle service on an automated people mover in the downtown area only, with stops at popular destinations such as American Airlines Arena, Miami-Dade College, and the Bayside Marketplace. It consists of two loops, the inner loop and the outer loop, which run daily from 5a to midnight. Twenty one stations are stretched between the Omni and Brickell districts. Buses pass each stop every 90 seconds during rush hours, and every three minutes during off-peak.

Metrorail, an elevated rapid-transit rail system, is the perfect alternative for maneuvering around the surrounding area. With 22 miles of track it offers 22 stations (most about one mile apart), making stops in heavy traffic areas including downtown and the University of Miami. It operates daily from 5a to midnight. During peak hours each stop is serviced every six minutes and every 15 minutes during weekday midday hours.

The Tri-Rail (Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority; +1 800 874 7245 / http://www.tri-rail.com/), a double-decker train, wanders through Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties while making stops at such popular attractions as the Metrozoo, the Miami Seaquarium and the Art Deco District. Tickets must be purchased before boarding.

Electric buses offer a novel alternative in negotiating the Miami Beach area.

Car
If you are planning on limiting your movement to in and around the South Beach area, you can easily do without a car. Otherwise, a rental car is a must since most of Miami’s attractions are generously spaced. Driving through Miami is relatively easy compared to most major metropolises. The numerous drawbridges, however, can slow down movement. Most drawbridge openings last five to ten minutes.

Bicycle
If you plan to bicycle you will be gravely disappointed. Outside of Miami Beach’s boardwalk the greater Miami area woefully lacks in bike paths.

Limo
Limo Miami serves up limousine rides (+1 305 742 5900 / http://www.limomiami.us/).

Traffic Information
To find out city traffic information go to http://www.traffic.com/.

If traveling overseas, take the safety precaution of registering your trip at https://travelregistration.state.gov/, and for helpful, practical advice about traveling technicalities and safety standards check out http://travel.state.gov/.