48 Hours in Miami
With a Latin-American flavour, pristine beaches and glamorous residents, Miami is an exciting place to be. The region is split into two cities – Miami is on the mainland, and Miami Beach is the glamorous island connected by causeways. This is undoubtedly “one of the world’s trendiest and flashiest hot spots” (Fodor’s), and there’s plenty to see and do.
Here’s how we’d spend 48 hours in Miami…
From Miami International Airport, you can take the Airport Flyer to Miami Beach every 20 minutes for $2.35 (£1.87) each way, or the Metrobus for $2.25 (£1.79) each way (buying a reloadable EASY Card is recommended). Alternatively, taxis charge a flat rate of $32 (£25.50) to South Beach and $22 (£17.50) to the downtown area. The driver will expect a tip of $5 (£4). Be warned if you’re hiring a car – the traffic and parking are notoriously bad.
Sun’s (almost) up and it’s time to hit the beach. Make like the beautiful locals and join Third Street Beach Yoga at 7am for a sunrise stretch. Bring a towel, water and suncream. There’s no fee but donations are welcome.
From here, it’s a 20-minute walk to breakfast, but it’s worth it. The Front Porch Café is one of the best breakfast spots on Ocean Drive, winning rave reviews for its french toast, granola pancakes, and green eggs with pesto.
After you’ve had your fill, head to the Art Deco Welcome Center for a 90-minute walking tour. Ocean Drive has the world’s largest concentration of restored Art Deco buildings, which have featured on screen in the likes of “Scarface” and “Miami Vice”. Tours depart daily at 10:30am and cost $25 (£20) per person (reservations are not required).
It’s after 12pm and mojitos are the Magic City’s signature drink. Head to the Raleigh Miami Beach hotel and enjoy a cocktail floating in their rooftop pool. American film star Esther Williams famously swam here in the 1950s.
You could stay at the Raleigh for some lunch (lobster rolls, salads and pizza are on the menu), or head to the Lido Restaurant and Bayside Grill (pictured below) at The Standard hotel. With an al fresco deck, sweeping views of Biscayne Bay and brunch available until 4pm (plus healthy Mediterranean lunch options), it’s the perfect mid-afternoon stop.
The weather should be slightly cooler now, which is a good time to head to the beach, unfurl your towel and read a good book. Those who can’t lie still will be pleased to know there are plenty of opportunities to try paddle-boarding, kayaking or snorkelling along the seafront.
As an alternative to the beach, visit the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens across the causeway on Biscayne Bay. The Italian-style mansion was built in the 1910s and is surrounded by beautiful grounds (admission is $18/£14).
Miami Beach nights are a glamorous affair and many of the bar and club bouncers won’t let you in if you haven’t made an effort. So keep that in mind if you’re planning on making it a late one. A good (and more casual) place to start the evening is Bodega Taqueria and Tequila, a trendy speakeasy hidden away behind an unassuming taco shack.
For dinner, you must try Joe’s Stone Crab. This family-run restaurant opened in 1913 and has hosted celebrities including Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Frank Sinatra. Joe’s doesn’t take reservations but the wait is worth it (and there’s a takeaway window if you’d prefer not to). Be warned that stone crab season runs from mid-October to mid-May, but the key lime pie is also a must.
If you’re ready to impress some bouncers, head to the LIV nightclub (“one of the toughest velvet ropes in town to get past”, says The Daily Telegraph), or its slightly more approachable sister venue, Story. The party goes on late in Miami and most places won’t get busy until after midnight.
Time to head across to the mainland to Little Havana, and experience a piece of Miami’s Latin American heritage. Stop at Versailles for breakfast, reportedly the most famous Cuban restaurant in the city. Try the guava or cream cheese pastries and sit at the counter to chat with the locals. If you can face it at this time of the morning, they also serve a renowned Cuban sandwich, with sliced ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, and yellow mustard on Cuban bread.
Calle Ocho (Eighth Street), is the main thoroughfare in Little Havana and is lined with Spanish signs, Cuban coffee bars and small cigar factories. While you’re here, visit the Latin Walk of Fame, the Bay of Pigs Monument and Museum, and Domino Park, where retirees play endless games of the same name.
“Few cities have come so far and so fast as Miami in creating new, year-round art institutions,” says the New York Times. Central to that has been the opening of the contemporary Pérez Art Museum in 2013, but there’s also the alternative Wynwood Art District, which is home to galleries, shops and an open-air street art installation, featuring artists such as Ron English and Kenny Scharf.
While you’re here, sip a craft beer at one of the many breweries popping up in one of the repurposed warehouses – Wynwood Brewery, J. Wakefield Brewery and Concrete Beach Brewery are all worth a stop.
For lunch, head to Zak the Baker Deli, known for its artisan bread and dishes such as avocado and ricotta on sourdough toast (closed on Saturdays). Or, if you’re after something sweet, try a donut from the Salty Donut pop-up (closed on Mondays).
For your last night in Miami, get a taste for how the other half live by taking a Millionaire’s Row cruise around Biscayne Bay. Island Queen Cruises depart at 6pm and 7pm, and 90-minute trips cost $25 (£20) if booked in advance.
Afterwards, head to Lagniappe for live jazz music, and reasonably priced food and drink.
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