Miami is one of those cities that is probably on everyone’s bucket list. With its warm sunny days, wide sandy beach, hundreds of clubs and cozy southern vibes, Miami is ideal for a winter escape when the weather in northern hemisphere is cold and dull. It is also a very frequent stopover for international flights or the starting point of Caribbean islands cruises. If you are one of those travelers who can’t stand still or if you only have a couple of days to spend, long weekend in Miami is a very good idea. In this post I will share some tips how to visit the city, where to stay, how much it all costs and 5 things to do in Miami.
Before I start, I would just like to explain that when I say Miami, I usually refer to the City of Miami Beach, which is a coastal resort city in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Together with the Port of Miami and Downtown Miami which lies in the mainland this area is considered as a commercial center of South Florida.
Where to stay in Miami
Shocking news: Miami is not cheap. Before you search for a hotel in Miami, I suggest you decide what is your main objective – price or location. The most popular neighborhoods in Miami are South Beach and Downtown, so if you want to stay here you need to open your wallet. Unless you are willing to settle in a hostel or a cheap motel (nothing wrong with that, by the way). The other option is to book a hotel a few miles from top locations and use your car, Lyft or public transport to get where you want. The prices also vary with dates – if you visit Miami on an important NBA game day or music festival, it will be hard to get a decent deal. So, plan wisely if you need to look out for your budget. We stayed in Vagabond Hotel Miami and were very happy with our choice.
Transport in Miami – how to get around
If you plan to visit Key West (which I highly recommend, just know that this is not a 1-day trip), Everglades national parks or do some shopping in the outlets, then I suggest you rent a car. Rentals are not expensive, just make sure to take the “Sunpass” – prepaid toll option and to have a valid driving license with you. Another useful tip: parking in Miami Beach is quite expensive, so try to book a hotel with free parking and use public transport to reach South Beach. It will be cheaper to take Lyft than to park there for the whole day.
Good option to move around Miami is Lyft (I hate Uber because they are totally ignorant when it comes to solving problems). You’ll pay 10 – 20 $ for average ride. With Lyft app you can also rent “motorized scooters” which is quite fun and you can pick it up and leave it almost anywhere. You need to be 18 and have a valid drivers’ license though. Speaking of “normal” scooters, renting a scooter in Miami is really expensive. It costs around 45 – 60 $ per day which is more than you pay for car rental.
Miami also has a very well-organized public transport but I won’t lie to you – we never used it, so do your own homework here.
Prices in Miami – how much will a weekend in Miami cost you
I will leave out the part where you buy your flight ticket because the price obviously depends on where you are coming from. But this list should pretty much get you the idea of how much Miami will cost you:
- Decent 3-star hotels in South Beach or Downtown: from 150 $ per night and up
- Cappuccino (Starbucks or similar): around 4 – 5 $
- Tourist meal (pasta or pizza with drink): around 15 $ per person (tips not included)
- McDonalds and Subway is a cheaper option, as always
- Fresh smoothie in the street: around 6 $
- Fresh fruits in the supermarket (this is a killer): 1 $ for one apple; 3 $ for 200 g of pineapple
- Beer: around 6 – 8 $ (15 $ in American Airlines Arena!!!!
- City bike rental (also a killer): 5 $ per 30 minutes
- Car parking in South Beach: from 25 to 40 $ per day
Miami weekend itinerary – 5 things to do in Miami
1 . See NBA game in American Airlines Arena
This was the main reason we visited Miami twice already. First time 4 years ago to see Goran Dragic play against Lebron James. This time we chose the game between Miami Heat Dallas Mavericks to see 2 Slovenes playing against each other: Dragic and Luka Doncic. A lot of Slovenes had the same idea so the atmosphere in American Airlines Arena was fantastic. If you are a fan of NBA, you should definitely go see a game.
2 . Visit South Beach
A must for everyone. If you are not much of a beach lover, at least take a stroll along the white sandy beach that stretches as far as your eyes can see. The sand is really soft and if you don’t like people, you can always find a spot to watch seagulls or waves. Can you swim in Miami Beach? Well, I have never done it because it was always a bit too cold and windy for my skinny ass. But yes, on a hot sunny day you can swim in the ocean even in winter.
3 . Shop and dine on Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive
While Lincoln road is a shopper’s paradise, packed with designers’ boutiques and casual brands shops, Ocean Drive boasts with bars and restaurants, overlooking the ocean and a road full of show-off cars. Both streets are close to each other and pretty centrally located so you will run into them eventually. Make sure you try at least one of the restaurants on Lincoln road – especially the Italian ones are fantastic.
4 . Visit Bayside Marketplace and chill in Bayfront Park
Bayside Marketplace is located along the Port of Miami, next to the American Airlines Arena. This vibrant city market is formed by two long rows of shops, open kiosks with souvenirs and the food court. When you’re done shopping, enjoy some coffee seating by the water and watch yachts and cruise ships sail in and out. Just a few steps ahead lies Bayfront Park. This urban park with sandy beach area on one side and green area on the other, is ideal chill area for everyone looking to relax and play on the edge of Biscayne Bay. The park is also home to a collection of sculptures.
5 . Take a tour and enjoy the serenity of Key Biscayne
South of Miami Beach and Southeast of Miami lies an island town of Key Biscayne with beautiful sandy beaches and parks. The island is connected to Miami via the Rickenbacker Causeway (again, if you are renting a car, make sure you have a Sunpass (1.75 $ fee) because you cannot pay in cash). The northern part of Key Biscayne is home to Crandon Park (a county park with the only public golf course in Biscayne Bay), the middle section consists of the Village of Key Biscayne, while the southern part of the island is reserved for Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park (entrance fee 8 $ per vehicle). The park is easily walkable so take your time, stroll on the beach, go to the lighthouse and grab a picnic basket. A perfect getaway from hustle and bustle.
So, this is how I combined some sports, shopping and a little bit of beach time in one long weekend in Miami. Is Miami Beach on your bucket list? What do you want to see and do there How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!