If you’re planning a trip to Miami in the coming weeks or months, you face a decision regarding what area of the city you’ll stay.
Each area of Miami has its own unique personality and vibe, as well as its pros and cons.
You also want to stay closest to what you’re most interested in because Miami traffic can be notoriously challenging and even dangerous. Miami is often ranked as one of the most miserable places to drive in the country, so if you think you’re going to be zipping around the city easily, think again.
With that in mind, the following are a few of the best areas for tourists.
Miami Beach isn’t technically part of the city, but the barrier island is part of Miami-Dade County. It’s what most of us think when we think quintessential Miami.
It’s a hub of culture, nightlife, and food. There’s a major Latin American population in Miami Beach and you can see that influence prominently.
The beachfront is beautiful, and highlights include Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road.
There are many hotels, including sprawling, resort-style options like Loews Miami Beach Hotel.
South Beach is also the southern end of Miami Beach but takes on a life of its own. South Beach is very party-centric and can get raucous.
If you stay in South Beach, there will be many people-watching opportunities, and the atmosphere is young and trendy. You can walk around South Beach easily on foot, and if you want a ride, cabs are easy to find in the area.
Downtown Miami has what you would expect to see in the central business district of a major city, but also historic structures, museums, and theaters. There are shopping and entertainment too.
You’ll definitely get that big city feel if you stay downtown, as opposed to a classic vibe that you could get elsewhere in Miami.
Brickell is a neighborhood that’s technically part of downtown, and it’s the city’s Financial District.
There are cafes and restaurants, and a lot of high-rise condos where you can book short-term rentals.
In Brickell, you’ll see a lot of young professionals, and there are some rooftop bars in the area too.
Downtown is around 20 minutes by bus from South Beach. If you plan to use public transportation rather than renting a vehicle during your trip, Downtown may be best for you.
Coconut Grove is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Miami, and it’s located on Biscayne Bay.
There are waterfront restaurants and cafes located on side streets. The Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is in Coconut Grove, as is The Barnacle Historic State Park.
If you want a high-end lodging experience, consider the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, a five-star hotel.
Coral Gables is possibly one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Miami if architecture is your thing.
There are mansions and tree-lined streets, along with plenty of history. It’s home to the Biltmore Hotel and the University of Miami.
Coral Gables is quieter and calmer than a lot of other parts of Miami and, in particular South Beach.
Even so, there’s a lot to do. For example, there’s Miracle Mile, which is a shopping street. There are green spaces and art galleries too.
Key Biscayne is at the south end of Miami Beach, east of the city. The island town is connected to Miami by the Rickenbacker Causeway, and it’s located between Crandon Park and Bill Bags Cape Florida State Park. You’ll find beautiful beaches, mangroves, and tropical forests in this area, making it great if you’re looking for natural beauty.
You can access the Florida barrier reef from Key Biscayne, and there’s the Cape Florida Light that may be worth visiting.
Finally, there’s the Design District, which some might describe as up and coming. The Design District is located a few miles north of Downtown Miami.
It’s where you’ll find style everywhere, from boutiques to restaurants. It’s home to the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Locust Projects.
Renting an apartment may be the best option in the Design District.
There is something for everyone in Miami, and what you may be surprised to discover is how different every neighborhood can feel from the next. You may find that you love the quiet sophistication of Coral Gables more than the wild South Beach atmosphere, for example.