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The Ultimate Holiday Travel Guide To Miami, Florida

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The lighthouse at South Pointe - one of Miami Beach's incredible lifeguard huts
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From South Beach to the Wynwood Walls and Little Havana, this is the ultimate holiday travel guide to Miami in Florida!

I’ll admit it. I’m an addict. My vice? COLOUR. Muted tones might be the “in” thing on Instagram, but I’m happiest when surrounded by colour. Blue skies, colourful street art and vibrant plates of food. It extends to the culture of a place too. London may be famed for its grey skies, but the culture and lifestyle is anything but dull.

And the ultimate colourful place? Well, I think I might have just found it. Welcome to Miami – a place that had me smiling from start to finish. From the murals of the Wynwood Walls and the bright lifeguard huts on South Beach, to the Cuban charisma of Little Havana and the Latin soundtrack that resonated throughout, I felt like I found my sunshine-filled happy place!

Over five days I explored as much of the city as I could, checking out cool restaurants, food tours, live music, and some of the areas that come together to make up this diverse city.

Check out my video then scroll down to find out all about Miami…

 

 

How To Get To Miami

I travelled to Miami with KLM, who have flights departing from 17 UK regional airports to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. From there it’s easy to connect to one of their long haul destinations, which include Havana, Tokyo, Nairobi, Aruba and of course MIAMI! Service is fun and friendly, and you can find some great value flights if you book in advance.

From Miami International Airport, it’s around 25 minutes to South Beach where I’d recommend staying. To get around the city, I’d recommend downloading the Uber app. It’s very reasonable and if you need convincing, you can grab a free ride worth up to £5 using this link.

Flying over Miami with KLM

Flying over Miami with KLM

What To Do In Miami

Wynwood Walls

I’d seen so many photos ahead of my visit, and this was somewhere I was dying to explore during my trip. The Wynwood Walls were created in 2009 by the late Tony Goldman, who decided to transform the area into a giant open-air art gallery as a way of revitalising it. Needless to say, it worked!

They’ve expanded to include the Wynwood Doors and Garden, with top international graffiti and street artists being invited to create new works for the area. While it’s a feast for the eyes, I’d also recommend taking a tour with Miami’s Best Graffiti Guide so you can learn about the murals and the artists behind them.

From Maya Hayuk’s alluring pink geometric patterns, to Crash’s mix of comic strips and pop art and Shepard Fairey’s Wynwood mural, there’s plenty to see.

Insider tip: There’s more to this neighbourhood than the area known as the Wynwood Walls. The incredible street art covers a distance of several blocks surrounding Wynwood, so stretch your legs and explore on your own time.

Wynwood Walls, Miami

Wynwood Walls, Miami

Checking out the famous wings on 5th Ave in Wynwood

Checking out the famous wings on 5th Ave in Wynwood

More incredible art near the Wynwood Walls, Miami

More incredible art near the Wynwood Walls, Miami

More colourful art near the Wynwood Walls, Miami

More colourful art near the Wynwood Walls, Miami

Photographing the Wynwood Walls, Miami

Photographing the Wynwood Walls, Miami

Miami Design District

Another photogenic area of the city is Miami Design District. It’s a mix of shopping, design and architecture, with a few restaurants established there too. As I passed trees covered in silver streamers, stopped to take photos of a huge tropical themed mural, and wandered a shopping street painted in luminous orange, it didn’t feel like any shopping experience I’d had before. I loved the Fly’s Eye Dome – a weird and wonderful dome-like structure in the centre of the shopping plaza, and the funky swings on the upper floor.

Enjoying Miami Design District

Enjoying Miami Design District

Miami Design District

Miami Design District

Enjoying the swings in Miami Design District

Enjoying the swings in Miami Design District

Art Deco Buildings

Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District is made up of over 800 buildings built between 1923 and 1943. While you might think of art deco buildings as being predominantly white, the Miami Beach area shows off a style called Tropical Deco. Pastel pinks sit next to pale greens and baby blues. It’s super cute and the kind of place it’s lovely to wander around taking pictures.

Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive, Miami

Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive, Miami

 

South Beach Food Tour 

One of my favourite ways to get to know a new place is to go on a food tour. Not only do you get to taste the flavours of the area, you also get to hear the stories and meet the local characters. This Miami food tour of South Beach was excellent, with tour guide Jen giving a great round up of Miami’s Latin influences, and where to find the real flavours of the city. After trawling Ocean Drive on night one and finding lots of restaurants serving up similar menus of burgers and giant cocktails, it was great to find out where to go for great local food. We sampled delicious ceviche at Colombian restaurant Bolivar, Cuban picadillo at Larios (Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s restaurant), and tasty sourdough pizza pockets at Block’s Pizza.

South Beach Food Tour with Miami Culinary Tours

South Beach Food Tour with Miami Culinary Tours

Little Havana

Little Havana is a really vibrant part of the city. With its hub on Calle Ocho (8th Street) you’ll find great Cuban restaurants to stop for a Cuban sandwich, tailors to pick up classic guayabera shirts, cafes serving traditional Cuban coffee (be warned – this stuff is strong!) plus plenty of places to enjoy mojitos. It was lovely walking through Domino Park – an area filled with oldies playing dominoes! I say oldies, as there’s an official set of rules on the walls saying you have to be over 55 to play!

Cigar roller in Little Havana, Miami

Cigar roller in Little Havana, Miami

Domino Park, Miami

Domino Park, Miami

My favourite place was The Ball and Chain – a bar with live music and dancing throughout the day. The vibe was fun, and while there were plenty of tourists stopping by for a drink or two, they were balanced by locals who popped in for a dance! While it’s a fun place to wander around, I’d recommend booking onto a Little Havana Tour with Chat Miami. Our guide Alex was Cuban and gave real insight into the area, its people and what life is like there.

Ball and Chain in Little Havana, Miami

Ball and Chain in Little Havana, Miami

Cuban dancer at Ball and Chain, Little Havana, Miami

Cuban dancer at Ball and Chain, Little Havana, Miami

Thriller Boat Trip

Looking for an adrenaline fix in Miami? This boat trip takes you to see some of the key sights including Star Island and Fischer Island plus gives you epic views of the city’s skyscrapers. All that… and it reaches 50mph! It’s a serious rush. Along with the buzz of speeding around Miami Bay (and getting a little wet in the process!) I absolutely loved seeing the houses belonging to Will Smith, The Beckhams and Enrique Iglesias. My favourite was Ricky Martin’s with his rooftop hot tub…!

Thriller Miami Speedboat Tour

Thriller Miami Speedboat Tour

Thriller Miami Speedboat Tour

Thriller Miami Speedboat Tour

 

Lifeguard huts on South Beach 

This was the perfect introduction to Miami’s colourful soul. There are lots of lifeguard huts located on Miami Beach from South Pointe onwards. After Hurricane Andrew destroyed the previous huts in 1992, a decision was made to create these. They’ve been designed by many different people, from architects and designers to artists, and range from stars and stripes to a lighthouse. I’d recommend walking from 14th Street all the way to South Pointe, then pick your favourite!

The lighthouse at South Pointe - one of Miami Beach's incredible lifeguard huts

The lighthouse at South Pointe – one of Miami Beach’s incredible lifeguard huts

Miami Beach lifeguard tower

Miami Beach lifeguard tower

Miami Beach lifeguard tower

Miami Beach lifeguard tower

Where To Eat And Drink In Miami

A Fish Called Avalon – The best meal I had in Miami! Top quality seafood, right on Ocean Drive. This is the place to go for a special meal, with standout dishes including the scallops with artichoke puree, macadamia-crusted snapper with a raspberry beaujolais beurre blanc and crab crusted grouper. The key lime pie was excellent, and it’s a perfect people-watching spot too.

Delicious dinner at A Fish Called Avalon, Miami

Delicious dinner at A Fish Called Avalon, Miami

The Ball And Chain – Little Havana’s funkiest bar, with great mojitos and live music throughout the day. You can’t walk past without having a little boogie.

Blue Bottle Coffee – Miami Design District’s hipster café (which originated in Oakland, California) is a great place to stop for an iced latte when the sun is shining!

Sugar Factory – This is the most fun, quirky, and colourful place to eat in Miami! From epic freakshakes topped with lollipops and candy floss, to rainbow burgers and huge desserts, it’s an extravaganza – both visually and taste-wise! I love theatrical meals, and the cocktails were definitely that – with dry ice coming out as it was poured! While kids will love it here, grown ups will love it just as much, if not more!

Crazy drinks at Sugar Factory, Miami

Crazy drinks at Sugar Factory, Miami

11th Street Diner – A silver retro diner right in Miami, serving all the classics (breakfasts, burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes) and open 24/7!

Bodega – This place may look like a fast-food taco store, but it’s SO much more! Head through the graffitied door, past a bank of urinals (not in use thankfully!) and you’ll end up in the cool back room bar at Bodega. I loved the speakeasy vibe, and the fact you can order tacos to accompany your cocktails!

Cocktails at Bodega, Miami

Cocktails at Bodega, Miami

Bodega bar, Miami

Bodega bar, Miami

Ricky’s – Arcade games, craft beer, cocktails, sports, and live music make Ricky’s a super cool after work spot for a few drinks. I loved the relaxed vibe; it felt like a true locals joint. I was disappointed to miss their live band karaoke on a Monday though – but, hey it’s a reason to return!

Cocktails at Ricky's, Miami

Cocktails at Ricky’s, Miami

Ricky's Bar, Miami (Photo: Ricky's)

Ricky’s Bar, Miami (Photo: Ricky’s)

Pizza Rustica – Miami’s own pizza chain is perfect if you want something filling, on a budget. A slice of their rectangular pizza pies were as big as my head…!

Coyo Taco – Mexican street food (AKA tacos!!) moments from the Wynwood Walls. What’s not to love?

Coya Taco, Wynwood in Miami

Coya Taco, Wynwood in Miami

Mango’s Tropical Café – A live show featuring singers and dancers, in a bar setting. Pop in for a drink and you’ll stay for at least an hour. With a huge cocktail menu, fun servers and plenty of entertainment (both on and off stage) it’s somewhere you have to visit during your trip!

Mango's Tropical Cafe, Miami

Mango’s Tropical Cafe, Miami

Top Hotels In Miami For All Budgets



Booking.com

Miami – Budget Accommodation

Posh South Beach This South Beach hostel is located in a boutique loft on Collins Avenue. Forget what you think about hostels – this one is super smart and has its own rooftop pool. It’s in a great spot, moments from the beach, shops, bars and restaurants. They also offer a free airport shuttle. When I checked, it was £35 for a bed in a dorm. Check current prices here.

Freehand Miami – Located in the mid-beach area, Freehand Miami is a funky hostel/hotel with communal spaces, a big courtyard, popular bar The Broken Shaker and a pool. If you want to meet people, it’s a great option, as it has a social vibe. It’s budget-friendly too, with a bed in a dorm starting at £24. Private rooms will set you back over £100. Check current prices here.

Broken Shaker Miami

Broken Shaker Miami

Miami – Mid-Range Hotels

The Shepley Hotel – This boutique art deco hotel on Collins Avenue offers large stylish rooms, a comfortable lounge area and a veranda where breakfast is served. A perfect location if you like being close to the action without having the crowds of Ocean Drive. Rooms start around £100. Read more about my stay at The Shepley Hotel or check prices here.

The Shepley, Miami

The Shepley, Miami

YVE Hotel Miami – By Bayside Marketplace and Bayfront Park, this smart hotel is in midtown, and a great option if you want to be near the action, but don’t want to pay top dollar. As it’s a high-rise hotel, the higher views have incredible views. It’s only a short drive to South Beach, the port for the cruise ships and Wynwood. Rooms start around £130. Check current prices here.

Circa 39 Miami Beach – This boutique hotel is a stone’s throw from the beach, in the mid-beach area. Décor and design are taken seriously, and there’s a bit of a traveller theme throughout, with old posters and retro furniture. There’s a great pool area too. Rooms start around £140. Check current prices here.

Circa 39 Hotel Miami

Circa 39 Hotel Miami

The Leslie Hotel – Another art deco wonder, The Leslie is one of Miami’s cutest hotels! A vision in yellow, it’s located right on Ocean Drive. A big selling point is its rooftop pool and Jacuzzi – a sanctuary from the crowds below. Rooms start aroudn £130. Read more about my stay at The Leslie Hotel or check prices here.

The Leslie Hotel, Miami

Rooftop pool at The Leslie Hotel, Miami

The Vagabond Hotel Miami – Super trendy décor and a great pool make this an appealing option, especially as rooms aren’t too pricey. If you’re looking to stay near the beach then this isn’t the place for you, but if you want a base for seeing different parts of the city, it’s perfect. Rooms start around £127. Check current prices here.

Miami – Luxury Hotels

Four Seasons Hotel Miami – Pure luxury, for those who want a seriously indulgent stay in Miami! Located opposite Biscayne Bay, this hotel has one of the most beautiful pool areas of all the hotels in Miami, plus a great spa and restaurant. It’s a short drive to the beach. Rooms start around £380. Check current prices here.

Four Seasons Hotel Miami

Four Seasons Hotel Miami

Mandarin Oriental, Miami Another top luxury hotel in Miami, the Mandarin Oriental is located on Brickell Key Island offers luxurious spa services. There’s a beautiful infinity pool, spa, butler service and top Peruvian resraurant La Mar. Rooms start around £340. Check current prices here.

Mondrian South Beach – For a different view of the city, the Mondrian is located on the waterfront of Biscayne Bay. There’s a stunning pool area with hammocks and a cocktail bar. Meanwhile inside has a playful vibe and is said to play homage to “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle” complete with a kooky floating staircase. Rooms start around £160, so it’s much more reasonable than some of the super-lux hotels in Miami.  Check current prices here.

Sunset views from Mondrian South Beach, Miami (Photo: Mondrian)

Sunset views from Mondrian South Beach, Miami (Photo: Mondrian)

Thanks to KLM for flying me to Miami for their #KLMTop10! It was one of my favourite trips of 2017. You can find out more about KLM’s routes and book your flights here. You can find out more about Miami hereAs always opinions are 100% my own.

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The Ultimate Travel Guide To Miami, Florida


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9 comments

Angie SilverSpoon 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

I’ve been twice but stuck mostly with South Beach, great to get some more tips!

Reply
Wanderlust Chloe 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

Ahhh yes, SoBe was awesome but there are plenty more parts of the city to explore! You’d love Wynwood – so colourful! x

Reply
Sabrina Chakici 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

What a fab post!! My goodness do I love Miami! We have some of the same tips 😉 http://clutchandcarryon.com/five-personal-reasons-i-love-miami/

Reply
Wanderlust Chloe 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

It’s SUCHHHHHH a fun city! I want to go back already! x

Reply
Carina Rebet 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

All I need right now to be there…just a for a moment

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Shannon Marie 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

Headed to Miami now, thanks for the advice…I really want to check out Ball and Chain. I loved the South Beach food tour! I wonder if you had the same tour guide as me! Cheers!

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Wanderlust Chloe 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

I loved Ball and Chain! My friends were there a few nights ago and danced the night away. Hope you have a great time!!

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Andra Lynn 17th July 2019 - 3:56 pm

Hi Chloe,

Wow, you have a lot of great tips for Miami! I have been to Miami a few times but haven’t explored all of it yet. I will have to check out the Wynwood walls next.

Reply
Chloe Gunning 18th July 2019 - 9:33 am

Definitely head to Wynwood – one of my faves!

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