VacationWiser Guide to Miami

VacationWiser.com Guide to Miami

Miami is the essence of all that’s fashionable – the incomparable shopping, the glittering nightlife and the endless golden beaches. It’s family friendly too, with the Seaquarium and Parrot Island Jungle thrilling kids of all ages. Lodging choices abound – from the luxurious to the intimate – on Miami Beach, South Beach and more. And with the shimmering lights of the nightlife as your guide, you’ll find an endless variety of mouth-watering restaurants, vibrant discos, and trendy nightclubs.

Miami is synonymous with diversity – in its people, its neighborhoods and its attractions.  Below, courtesy of the Miami Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, is a look at some of Miami’s more popular areas.

South Beach:  Often called the American Riviera and an Art Deco Playground. Yet there's more than fine white sand and colorful buildings to South Beach's fantasyland of exuberant Deco architecture. South Beach offers an eclectic mix of world-class boutiques, galleries and stores. It's also a culinary hot spot for everything from gourmet to casual beachside cuisine. At night, South Beach comes alive with crowds ready to go out and have a world-class evening out.

South Beach is the Miami of postcards; the skyline of Ocean Drive has been featured on television millions of times, and yes, the people are as beautiful as they look on the tube. South Beach may be a world class partying hotspot, and that's not to be overlooked, but the daytime destinations on the island are as notable, and perhaps, more memorable, than the nightlife. 

Mid-Beach: 24th Street & Collins Ave.  Five-star hotels, critically acclaimed restaurants, irresistible shopping, extravagant clubs, a world-class art scene, a universe of entertainment options and, of course, the miles of sparkling beach.  Where South Beach is vibrant, bold, and adventurous, its northern cousin takes life at a slightly slower speed. From the magic of the Faena District up towards North Beach you will find a bounty of incredible restaurants, nightlife, attractions and hotels as well as amazingly walkable streets and beaches. 

North Beach: Quieter than beaches to the south, but just as beautiful. South Beach has the bustle, the energy, the vibrant sense of adventure — but only a few short miles away, North Beach has the relaxation and the escape. You will find locals and visitors enjoying the sand and surf, with plenty of space to spread out. The beach is wide and sandy, with concessions and showers. The boardwalk becomes a flat trail here and winds its way up to Surfside on a path that’s popular with runners, bikers, and dog-walkers from the neighborhood.

The neighborhood boasts a unique collection of Miami Modern (MiMo) buildings, many of which have been restored and preserved as part of the North Shore Historic District, including the North Beach Bandshell that is the place to go for music and other entertainment.  

Downtown Miami: Miami’s bustling epicenter, packed with gleaming skyscrapers, sweeping bay views, and hidden places to explore. It’s a neighborhood of layers—decades of history overlapping and colliding; tourism destinations like Port of Miami alongside local favorites like American Airlines Arena, home to the Miami Heat; century-old buildings among new pockets of young residents who call the neighborhood home.

Where its southern neighbor Brickell is modern, towering, and dense, Downtown Miami is a mix of the old and the new. It was the site of one of Miami’s earliest international attractions, Henry Flagler’s Royal Palm Hotel, which opened in 1897 along the bank of the Miami River. Today, Downtown Miami’s population has doubled in fewer than 10 years, and those new residents have brought new restaurants, bars, shops, parks, and world-class museums.

Little Havana: Little Havana is the colorful center of Hispanic culture in Miami. The area’s riddled with Latin-inspired cafes, restaurants, venues and markets that give space and a voice to all the different backgrounds that have taken root in the neighborhood. Here you’ll find locals grabbing an afternoon cortado or a fresh fruit batido, talking politics over a game of dominoes, or eating authentic dishes from all over Latin America to a backdrop of ever-present Cuban beats. 

On the last Friday of each month, Little Havana hosts Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays, a monthly gallery night showcasing the cultural arts scene of the neighborhood. Little Havana offers a taste of multicultural Miami at its best.

Other popular tourist areas:

·         Wynwood – from a neglected manufacturing district, Wynwood has transformed into one of the world’s hippest neighborhoods and the latest requisite stop while visiting Miami. 

·         Bal Harbour – fashionably fun and casually elegant, Bal Harbour is a quiet and exclusive beachside oasis at the Northern tip of Miami Beach.

·         Coconut Grove – a little Bohemian, a little Bahamian, “The Grove” is a Bayfront village where people can stroll quaint, tree-lined streets and savor a waterfront ambience.

·         Coral Gables – with its impressive arches, expansive plazas, boulevards and architecture recalling Old Spain, Coral Gables is a slice of Mediterranean.

·         Doral – anchored by one of the world’s great golf courses, Doral offers plenty of cosmopolitan pleasures.  It has become a mecca for jet-setters, designers, artists, architects, and boutique retail stores.


Where to stay in Miami

These are some of our suggested hotels in Miami.  For more information go to www.vacationwiser.com/miami.  Sample rates below are for a 4-night stay for 2 people mid-week in May.  Number in parentheses next to rates are bi-weekly prices. Number in parentheses by hotel name is Star rating.


COURTYARD SOUTH BEACH (3*)                   From $1,500 ($58 bi-weekly)

Immerse yourself in the unique Art Deco District when you stay at the Courtyard -- 1940's grandeur coupled with modern amenities.

Explore the vibrant culture on Ocean Drive, the beautiful shores of South Beach and shopping and dining at Lincoln Road Mall.

Unwind in stylish rooms featuring luxury bedding and flat-panel TVs. Start your day at The Bistro, then soak up the Florida sun

at the rooftop pool featuring spectacular views of the city and cozy poolside cabanas.


METROPOLES SUITES SOUTH BEACH (4*)     From $1,235 ($48 bi-weekly)  

The Metropole Hotel South Beach offers understated elegance and unparalleled service in an intimate, friendly, home-away from home atmosphere. While located in the heart of South Beach, The Metropole’s inviting yet private courtyard setting, and chic 1 and 2 boutique bedroom suites manage to provide a decidedly residential feel ideal for those seeking calm in the midst of the action.

DELANO SOUTH BEACH (5*)                          From $1,700 ($66 bi-weekly)


With its soaring lobby and subtle seductions, Delano is the hotel that changed South Beach forever. Delano South Beach balances eclectic details with grand public spaces that are playful, elegant, quietly theatrical and filled with all-night energy. Bianca features an inventive Italian menu offering local, farm-to-table organic ingredients, while Umi Sushi and Sake Bar provides a casual dining experience. Sip one of the infamous cocktails and enjoy people-watching at the sophisticated Rose Bar. Delano Beach Club is the ultimate in poolside luxury, serving meals and cocktails from day into night. The subterranean lounge, FDR, serves as an ideal nightlife destination. Destress and rejuvenate at Club Essentia, the roof- top wellness center where guests can enjoy traditional spa classics.


HOLIDAY INN MIAMI BEACH-OCEANFRONT (4*)     From $900 ($35 bi-weekly)

Welcome to this tropically inspired hotel, where the 1950's Miami Modern exterior blends seamlessly with vibrant contemporary South Beach style to wrap you in modern comfort.  This hotel in Mid-Beach offers you an unparalleled location, with sandy beaches as your backyard and steps away from South Beach for shopping, dining and vibrant nightclubs. Enjoy the beach or simply relax by the large pool overlooking the beach and the lush, tropical garden with its hammock oasis.


EDEN ROC MIAMI BEACH (4*)                                           From $1,600 ($62 bi-weekly)


One of the original Miami Beach hotels. A vibrant city transitions to a beachside oasis. Lush interior spaces designed for pampering and relaxation offer oversized balconies peering out at the sea and the city. Whether you're looking for a home base from which to explore Miami Beach or a serene oceanfront backdrop to unwind and escape, at Eden Roc Miami Beach your time belongs to you.


FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH (4*)            From $1,625 ($63 bi-weekly)

A Miami Beach landmark for more than half a century, the Fontainebleau completed a $1 billion expansion and renovation in November 2008, transforming the 1950s era hotel playground into one of the country's most sought-after beachfront hotel properties. 1,504 guest rooms and suites, located in two new luxury all-suite towers, as well as the two original buildings. Twelve restaurants and lounges, a 40,000-square- foot spa and dramatic oceanfront pool-scape are among the hotel's special features.

RESIDENCE INN MIAMI BEACH (3*)                   From $960 ($37 bi-weekly)

With a stay at Residence Inn Miami Beach (North Beach), you'll be minutes from Surfside Beach and close to Bal Harbour Shops.

Make yourself at home in one of the air-conditioned rooms featuring kitchens with refrigerators and microwaves.

Conveniences include coffee/tea makers and irons/ironing boards.  Take advantage of recreational opportunities offered,

including a health club, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center.


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