The most famous city in America’s sunshine state is also one of the world’s busiest cruise ports. It’s the number one departure port for Caribbean cruises and offers both a wealth of beach experiences and cultural attractions.
6 hours in… Miami
The most important thing to note when visiting Miami is that it’s really two cities – Downtown Miami and Miami Beach, so it’s important to know which one you’re in and which attractions you want to see. The port of Miami is located on an island which is conveniently situated between the two, so it’s possible to see a little of both if you plan your time in port well and bus-based excursions are a great way to do this.
Let’s face it, you can’t think of Miami without thinking of beaches and South Beach, located in Miami Beach, is the go-to place for that quintessential Miami experience. Walk along Ocean Drive and the Boardwalk beneath palms and past lively bars and sweeping sands where all manner of beach activities are in progress and you’ll be experiencing the Miami you always imagined – we guarantee it. South Pointe Park meanwhile, is a good part of South Beach to head if you want to soak up the atmosphere while escaping the crowds.
Also located in South Beach and something which features on most bus tours is the city’s celebrated Art Deco District, which forms a huge part of the Miami vibe and is a great place to spend time. Architectural buffs will love it all the more and there’s a story behind every building, so if you want to explore it to its full extent, specialist architectural tours are available.
If you’re returning to Miami for the second time and have made the most of South Beach and the Boardwalk, then you really should take an excursion out of the city to the Everglades, where you can enjoy an exhilarating airboat tour of what is the USA’s largest sub-tropical park. See the famous Florida crocodile and much more fauna besides on what is a must for both nature-lovers and thrill seekers. In keeping with the natural theme, the Zoological Wildlife Foundation is another fantastic place to visit, where you can get up close and personal with the animals and learn all about how they are cared for. Zoo Miami offers a more traditional zoo experience, while those who favour flora shouldn’t miss Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
If you find yourself in Miami Beach again but you’ve not ventured away much from the sand itself, don’t miss Lincoln Road. It’s a people-watcher’s paradise and a great place to take a load off and enjoy a drink or a snack as well as to indulge in some retail therapy. Another of Miami’s iconic neighbourhoods is Little Havana, historically home to the city’s Cuban population who left their homeland in the wake of the Cuban revolution. It’s a vibrant area and a real slice of the island on US shores.
Can’t keep away?
The further you explore, the more you’ll realise that there’s much more to Miami than sun, sea and sand. One of the most popular attractions with those seeking a moment of reflection or who just want to see for themselves South Beach’s most poignant landmark is the Holocaust Memorial, which is an informative and sobering tribute to the six million people who lost their lives. Its natural historical companion is the Jewish Museum of Florida, which is a must if you’ve an interest in the state’s Jewish history.
Miami certainly boasts an artistic side too and Wynwood Walls is novel and interesting place to visit whether you’re a fan of urban art or not. It has an atmosphere all of its own, and street artists have been encouraged to paint the walls and buildings of several blocks. It’s home to some great restaurants and cafes too. It would be wrong to say the Perez Art Museum offers a more conventional experience for art lovers as it’s an original piece of architecture in itself but if you like your modern art, then make sure you pay it a visit.
Don’t even bother!
By all means, enjoy Ocean Drive but try not to eat or drink there! Miami knows how popular this location is with tourists, something which is reflected in the inflated prices. Venture further inland and you’ll soon find somewhere cheaper to grab a snack.
If Ocean Drive can be a drain on the wallets of Miami Beach visitors, the Bayside Market place is Downtown Miami’s tourist trap. It has a good atmosphere to be sure, but you’ll certainly pay over the odds for an all-American burger.