Photo Credit: Getty Images | Credit: Alexander Spatari
Miami Travel Guide: Play, Gourmet, Stay & Get Away to South Florida
Florida is home to cities full of people with diverse backgrounds; however, Miami is the most culturally rich. As the United States’ mecca of Cuban cuisine, African beats and the Spanish language, this area is an amazing destination to indulge in world-renowned beaches and thrilling nightlife. There are some unique cultural museums and fun attractions to visit.
You can create your own food, wine and other cocktails on a tour or relax with a spa getaway mixed with a little exploration. Places, like Little Havana and Little Haiti, are perfect to make the trip worth it. Miami has something to offer everyone.
Miami, Florida Quick Travel Facts
- Best time to travel: March to May, late August to October
- Time zone: Eastern Standard Time (EST)
- Noteworthy: Ultra Music Festival (March), Calle Ocho Carnaval Festival (March), Miami Beach Pride (April), South Beach Wine and Food Festival (February) and Art Basel Miami Beach (December)
- Best for: Beach Getaway, Couples Trip, Shopping, Food & Drinks, Music Festivals
Play: Things to do in Miami, Florida
Salty Soul Adventures
Water activities are expected in South Florida, but Salty Soul Adventures offers more than that. With guided nature tours throughout the area’s waterways and canals, visitors can go kayaking, snorkeling, standup paddleboarding and bird watching.
They also offer educational programs, like Save Our Bees, ecological education and birding programs, around the South Florida area. You can experience water activities in a whole new way with memories that’ll last beyond your vacation.
Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi
Travelers can see another side of South Florida with a ride on the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi. It takes passengers along the Intracoastal and New River canals. There, they can see plenty of celebrity homes and other main attractions.
Dania Pointe has everything you need for shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife. The curated shopping center has popular stores, such as Ulta Beauty, TJ Maxx and Tommy Bahama. It also has grocery stores, like Sprouts Farmer’s Market, that allow you to shop for your kitchen staples on those longer vacation stays.
There are plenty of beloved chain restaurants, like Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi and Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants, to enjoy for dinner. There’s also the locally-owned Padrino’s Cuban cuisine, and the nightlife spot 14 North Dania.
Dania Beach Improv Comedy
Everyone loves to laugh, and the Dania Beach Improv Comedy is the perfect activity to do it. Plenty of nationally known comedians launched their careers from this platform and return to share their new stand-up comedy sets with the South Florida community.
With their menu full of tasty options, like popcorn shrimp with spicy aioli, guests can make it night to remember.
Better Body Spa
Ending your vacation with a spa day can be life changing. Better Body Spa in Fort Lauderdale offers everything you need for a relaxing day. The licensed massage therapists at the spa offer couples’ packages, lymphatic drainage and body contouring treatments and pre-natal massages. Skin care specialists provide everything from facials and waxing to eyelash extensions.
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Gourmet: Best Restaurants in Miami, Florida
Versailles Cuban Restaurant
If you want to enjoy an icon in Cuban cuisine, Versailles Cuban Restaurant should be on your list. Known as The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant since 1971, the eatery has become the place for important public and political figures to engage with the local Cuban exiled community.
The menu is full of Cuban culinary delights and delicious Caribbean cocktails. You could start with a classic Cuban Mojito cocktail and one of the many appetizers. An appetizer that sticks out is the Yuca Croquettes stuffed with picadillo ground beef and served with cilantro aioli. For the entree, try a deliciously rich ropa vieja served with white rice and sweet plantains. Then, finish your night with a sweet treat, like a Cuban flan, key lime pie or tres leches cake.
BLVD Bae’s is a great brunch spot to visit when exploring the Fort Lauderdale area. Located 10 miles from the Miami International Airport, this local eatery has a brunch menu that’s served all day. The menu expands to include creative starters, like Ruben croquettes with sauerkraut.
Run by celebrity partner Richie Effs and Executive Chef Barclay Graebner, this open kitchen restaurant has an indoor and outdoor seating experience that will have you coming back for more.
Red Rooster Overtown
Recently awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2022, Red Rooster Overtown showcases true American cuisine with star dishes created by Chef Marcus Samuelsson. The creamery also creates incredible desserts, like their Michelin Guide mentioned coconut ice cream and the Brooklyn blackout cake.
Red Rooster Overtown holds a world-class collection of contemporary and modern art from over 15 artists around the globe. It is called The Legacy Collection, and it celebrates the art and music in Black history.
The historic Clyde Killens Pool Hall provides a platform for local artists and musicians to celebrate their stories through live music. Cultural icons, including Aretha Franklin, Count Basie and Muhammed Ali, have visited and performed in this space.
The Red Rooster Overtown is the perfect place to witness the beautiful spirit of Miami’s diverse Black community, culinary history and eclectic style.
Chef Danny Kou has created a beloved cultural gem in the Fort Lauderdale area with Kousine Peruvian Cuisine. The gorgeous dishes are an ode to Peru. It’s no surprise the US Congress honored Kou with a Special Senate Recognition as the Culinary Director of Peru during the New York World Expo for five consecutive years.
The menu features delicious seafood ceviches and meat skewers. There is also tasty chicharrones (crispy pork belly) with fried sweet potatoes, rocoto aioli, salsa criolla and French fries.
There’s also a Peruvian and Asian fusion menu. It includes creative dishes, like Chaufa Aeropuerto with Peruvian-style barbecue pork fried rice, shrimp, an open-face omelet and a daikon radish garnish. All of this can be enjoyed as you bask in the relaxing views along the two-mile stretch of the Fort Lauderdale Beach coastline.
Vicky Bakery is a Cuban household name in the South Florida area. The family-owned business has been a staple throughout Miami since 1972 with its special family recipes that have been passed down through generations of abuelas.
You can’t leave your Miami vacation without heading to Vicky Bakery for a sweet treat, like a guava and cheese pastelito or a quick Cuban sandwich for lunch. With over 20 panaderias (Spanish for bakeries) throughout the area, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to try this iconic South Florida bakery during your trip.
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Stay: Best Places to Stay in Miami, Florida
Modern Miami Cottage
Hosted by Miami native, this cozy three-bed two-bath Modern Miami Cottage is a great place to stay close to the areas you want to explore. The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the attractions that is a few miles away from this cottage.
Travelers have access to the entire home, including the large backyard with a four-seat outdoor set and hammock. There is also a sunroom, allowing visitors to start their morning with a private backyard yoga session.
Life House Little Havana
When you want your vacation to feel like an old-school Cuban getaway, the Life House Little Havana hotel is the perfect place to stay. It has a tropical paradise vibe with a lush courtyard, library and a rooftop bar. Built during the 1920s, Little Havana began with a desire to explore this new world with a reverence for history gone by. This modern boutique hotel uses textiles, ceramics, plants and vintage furnishings inspired by the tropics of Cuba and African style.
The guest rooms have woven natural material rugs on dark wood floors and aged brass details. The features give a cozy, yet sophisticated feel for your stay in Miami. The neighborhood of Little Havana also hosts Viernes Culturales (or Cultural Fridays) on the last Friday of each month. There, the community showcases the cultural art and music scene of the area.
Maison Bleue Studio
This colorful studio is only a fifteen-minute drive from the Miami International Airport, SouthBeach and the Port of Miami. The Maison Bleue Studio was created by husband and wife duo, Line and Ron, who love to showcase their Caribbean roots.
The studio has a glamorous touch of modern and retro art splashed in their favorite color: blue. The art displayed outside of the home highlights the beauty of Black women in various artistic expressions and styles.
Get Away: Getting To and Around Miami, Florida
The major airport is Miami International Airport (MIA). It may be cheaper to fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport; however, be mindful of the traveling costs around the city.
The cheapest month to fly is September before the prices and travelers pick up during the holiday season. It’s best to monitor the weather, especially during hurricane season. A storm could affect your travel plans, activities and flights.
Renting a car is a popular option when visiting South Florida. It gives travelers the freedom to go wherever you want to without having to wait on anyone. There are several car rental companies to choose from.
Miami has public transportation systems that are affordable and convenient. Miami has a Metrorail and Metromover system. Be mindful that public transportation will take longer.
There’s also a shared bike program, which can be a fun way to get around. If you have some time and want to sightsee with travel companions, this is a perfect option for you.
Explore Miami on Foot
Exploring Miami on foot can be a delightful stroll or a long trek, depending on where you are.
If you’re near the beaches, a walk around the area can be great for shopping trips or checking out the local food truck scene. If there are more activities on your itinerary, then exploring on foot may need to be done in short bursts once you get to your destination.