A practical guide to Miami!
What's worth seeing in Miami?
In just a few hours, you can reach the Everglades National Park from downtown Miami, see a beautiful sunset on Key West, visit the NASA centre, the theme parks in Orlando, and go to the Bahamas or Cuba.
The world's most famous beaches, a wonderful Latin American climate, theme parks and still wildlife. These are just some of the reasons why tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world come to Florida every year.
Whether you are planning to stay in Florida for a few days or several, I invite you to read the following practical information, which will certainly come in handy when planning your stay in and around Miami.
Miami and surroundings - transport
Miami is one of the few cities in the United States where most attractions are located literally within easy reach. Here, you don't even need to hire a car to get to the most interesting locations.
Straight from the airport, you can reach the city centre in less than 25 minutes. This is thanks to "The Mia Mover" high-speed train system, which, at a cost of $2.25 per person, will get you to your destination.
How do millionaires live in Miami?
Another item on the list of "places to see in Miami" are the private islands where the stars of show business have their luxury homes. With at least tens of millions of dollars in your bank account, you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and live in this unique place called Millionaire's Row.
It is impossible to get anywhere near this place without a special pass. The only chance to see how the richest people live is a boat trip to the nearby private islands.
From the aforementioned Bay Market, cruises to the "Millionaire's Islands" are organised every few hours. This unusual excursion takes about two hours. From the deck, you have a perfect view of the beautiful properties of actors, screen stars, sportsmen or businessmen. The homes of Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Phil Collins and Shakira are just some of the gems worth photographing. The owners of the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfinger brands also have their summer residences here.
An additional attraction included in the tour programme is a few minutes cruise on Biscayne Bay with a breathtaking panoramic view of downtown Miami.
Visit Little Havana
Miami is not just for the rich and famous. Less than 30 minutes' drive from the millionaires' islands are the colourful, music-filled, cigar-scented immigrant neighbourhoods of Cuba and Haiti. It's a completely different world. Here, time has stood still in the 1980s.
Tiny, colourful shops, playgrounds paved with long-cracked cobblestones and the ever-present smell of hellishly strong Cuban coffee. It's worth stopping by for the delicious flavours of authentic Caribbean cuisine. Not even the best restaurants in Miami can capture the flavour and ambience of the small local restaurants or bars tucked away somewhere at the end of the street. Fresh, aromatic food, served directly by a chef whose choppy English is hard to understand, Latin music that is always too loud, heat seeping through the windows into the un-air-conditioned interior and a cold mojito. A priceless experience.
Miami South Beach
f you're looking for giant beaches, palm trees and turquoise ocean, head to Miami South Beach. In less than 20 minutes you can go from downtown Miami to one of the most renowned beaches in the world. Whatever the time of year, conditions for fishing and active recreation are ideal. So you can choose any flight date and you won't be disappointed with the weather.
New hotels and private villas are springing up all over Miami Beach like mushrooms. This is where most of the tourist traffic starts in the winter months. South Beach has a lot to offer travellers both day and night. There are many cafes and restaurants serving dishes from around the world, as well as boutiques and luxury shops for the discerning shopper.
After dark, some of America's most famous bars and nightclubs open their doors. Employees Only, Mango's Tropical Café, Nikki Beach or Story are worth a visit during your evening strolls. Miami Beach is also candy-coloured Art Deco. Stretching along the main street of Ocean Drive, the colourful buildings fit ingeniously into the tropical ambience of the place. Here you can still hear the sonorous music of the Beatles and Frank Sinatra, and the streets are lined with elegantly parked classic cars.
A trip to Key West
Key West is described by many Americans as a Caribbean city in the United States, with its own culture, laws and idyllic life. The drive from Miami to the tip of the beautiful Florida Keys archipelago is just over three hours of very interesting travel.
En route, I recommend a stop at John Pennekamp State Park, where you can go to the nearby coral reef to snorkel, rent kayaks or embark on a transparent-bottomed cruise.
The road to Key West takes you over one of the most beautiful and longest bridges in the United States, the Seven Mile Bridge. Suspended over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, the walk across the bridge offers some of the most colourful views along the route.
Attractions in the northern and southern suburbs can also be reached conveniently and for free by a rail tram called the "Metromover" or by taking a local bus (Shuttle Bus). For a small fee (25 cents), you move around the closer and further suburbs (e.g. Miami Beach or the Cuban Quarter) without worrying about parking.
Miami Business Centre
Miami Downtown is the third largest business centre in the USA. Lovers of modern construction will find many inspiring forms and architectural solutions here.
Rafael Viñoly, the Aston Martin Residences or the One Thousand Museum are just a few of the must-see, picture-perfect gems. So it's worth the temptation to explore the centre on foot. A few minutes' walk will give you a real feel for the urban jungle.
For those who want a beautiful view of the modern city centre, I recommend a visit to Area 31. Located on the 16th floor, this hotel restaurant offers one of the best views of Downtown and Biscanyne Bay.
Shopping in Miami
Straight from Downtown, I am invited to the bay, to the marina, which is also a small shopping centre. From the aforementioned Area 31 location, it will take you just over 20 minutes of walking along the beautiful "Miami Riverwalk" to reach Bay Marketplace. This is the ideal location to combine shopping in brand-name shops (Tommy Bahamas, Guess, Victoria's Secret) with a good lunch in well-known American chain shops (Hard Rock Caffe, Bubba Gump, Hooters).
For those thirsty for relaxing with good music, I recommend taking a seat at the small stage right on the bay. Here you can listen to local artists playing exotic Caribbean rhythms.
Key West is not only a picturesque island, it is above all a paradise for nature lovers, tropical beaches, diving and water excursions. Sunny beaches with green palm trees and white sand attract crowds of tourists. Duval Street (the longest and most popular street in Key West) and its peripheral streets are lined with boutiques, art galleries, street cafes, restaurants and bars. In Mallory Square, a spectacular sunset (said to be the most beautiful in the United States) is held every night in a colourful fairground atmosphere. If you plan to visit Miami, I recommend you stay a little longer and visit Key West.
Everglades - meeting the alligators
The wild wetlands of the Everglades National Park, south of Miami, are the realm of alligators. As far as the eye can see, there's water, reeds and the occasional island or mound.