Miami Beach is where a mix of cultures, residents and travelers mingle. A wide variety of people – including waifish models, amateur architecture critics, distinguished seniors and sun-seeking families – enjoy the renowned shores of “America’s Riviera.” North Miami Beach is where you’ll find the kid-friendliest beaches and the most affordable restaurants and hotels. Less than 10 miles away are the galleries, museums and theaters of Greater Miami.
And then there’s South Beach. This popular southernmost neighborhood proves that Miami Beach is more like two cities – a family-friendly vacation when the sun is shining and a super-chic metropolis come nightfall. If want to keep up with the Joneses, you’ll have to flash your AmEx black card at the high-end stores, schmooze at the cutting-edge fusion restaurants, dance at the energetic nightclubs and relax poolside at the art deco-style hotels. But the rich and famous aren’t the only ones who will enjoy their time here. More laid-back travelers can relax along the sands of Haulover Beach or Lummus Park, learn a little more about architecture on an art deco tour or even try their hand at fishing off of the South Pointe Pier. Another must-do? Window shopping and strolling along the Lincoln Road Mall. And you can’t leave Miami Beach without chowing down on tasty cuisine and enjoying cocktails at a rooftop bar.
How To Save Money in Miami Beach
- Weekdays are cheaperMiami Beach doesn’t see many business travelers. Thus, the hotel rates dip during the weekdays.
- Get the early bird specialHere, this means that you should arrive at your bar or club of choice before they begin charging a cover or raise it. Check the bar’s website earlier that day for the specific time. Also, because of cover charges, bar hopping is a luxury that many cannot afford.
- Enjoy the outdoorsMany of the area’s outdoor activities are completely free to see. Stroll through the Lincoln Road Mall, saunter down Ocean Drive or sit and watch cruise ships roll in from the South Pointe Park and Pier.
Miami Beach Culture & Customs
Miami Beach is a city of immigrants, with one of the biggest Cuban populations in the country. A large number of Miamians speak Spanish as their first language and it can be heard everywhere in the city. The Cuban culture has, in turn, also influenced the city’s music, architecture and food.
The city also has a thriving gay community, whose focus is in South Beach, especially between 11th and 12th streets. If you’re in town in March, stick around for the Winter Party, an event for the LGBT community that draws thousands of visitors every year. Miami Beach Gay Pride is also a big annual event, held in April.
Miami Beach Dining
The streets of Miami Beach are lined with high-end dining establishments teeming with the smells of Peruvian, Cuban, Caribbean, Asian and American cuisine – sometimes all at once. What other cities call “fusion” has a name of its own in Miami Beach: “Floribbean.” Prepare to be impressed with its taste and the relatively cheap prices. The South Beach area does have its share of moderately priced eateries, but the most affordable options are tucked away on the side streets. When it comes to meals, some signature Miami Beach dishes visitors should try include stone crab, ceviche, empanadas, Cubanos and pastelitos.
Seafood lovers swear by Joe’s Stone Crab, saying the fish, shrimp and stone crab served here are succulent. The only caveat is that this eatery doesn’t take reservations and because it’s so popular, there’s often a wait (well worth it, though, according to visitors). Las Olas Café gets high marks for its tasty traditional Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, plantains and authentic café con leche. Many of Miami Beach’s best hotels are also home to some of the area’s best restaurants. OLA in the Sanctuary Hotel offers Latin American dishes while Hakkasan in the Fontainebleau Hotel plates Cantonese cuisine and dim sum. What’s more, several top chefs operate restaurants in Miami Beach that are lauded by visitors, including Scott Conant’sScarpetta (also in the Fontainebleau) and José Andrés’ The Bazaar(located in SLS South Beach).
To taste the best of Miami Beach and beyond, you should consider attending the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. The four-day event, held every February, draws the biggest celebrity chefs and cutting-edge recipes.