[All content and prices updated August 2013]

Why you should add Miami to your Indie/RTW trip

By the 1970s Miami was a still-fading resort area that was barely on the travel radar anymore, but as you probably know, things changed...a lot. In the 1980s developers started refurbishing many of the dilapidated yet photogenic art deco hotels and before long Miami was cool again. The tourism boom in Miami continues as now it's one of the most glamorous cities on the planet and the hub for the rich and beautiful, particularly those in the Spanish-speaking and Latin American worlds.

  • Famous art deco buildings bask in the humid Miami heat
  • Swim in the warm Atlantic
  • Take a walk through Little Havana
  • Enjoy Cuban food in Little Havana and learn to Salsa till late
  • Hang with the locals at cafes on Ocean Drive
  • Party like never before at night. The club scene is particularly vibrant in Miami as the home to the internationally famous Winter Music Conference each March.
  • Relaxing atmosphere and perfect beaches make for the perfect combination for Miami's famous nightlife
  • Gateway to south Florida, the Everglades, the Kennedy Space Center and DisneyWorld
  • Miami's public transit system is excellent, and as long as you have the time, you don't need a car.
  • It's a great stopover on your way to Central or South America.

Indie travel tips for Miami

The City of Miami is a mixed bag of neighborhoods on the Florida mainland overlooking Biscayne Bay, while Miami Beach is a barrier island several miles across the water and connected to Miami by several long bridges. The famous beach scenes we are used to seeing almost all take place in Miami Beach, and almost all of those in the southern portion of it helpfully known as South Beach.
  • Just hang out on the beach, sipping cocktails, taking in the sun, and checking out the beauty around you - both in natural and human form.
  • There are many from which to choose, but the most famous and glamorous beaches are those in the South Beach neighborhood in Miami Beach.
    • That same area is crammed with hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs so it's an excellent place to stay if those things are your focus.
    • And Just south of downtown you'll find Calle Ocho, the disappointing-looking yet authentic hub for the Cuban ex-pat community.
  • If you've got a car you can also head south to the Everglades National Park to see some alligators and other wildlife you don't see in many other parts of the United States.
  • Or if you want something a bit more frivolous you can drive all the way down to Key West on the stunning highway that connects all the small islands jutting southwest off the coast. It can be done as a day trip, but it's a fun place to spend at least one night too.
  • Check out the mansions on the man-made Star Island.
  • Go swimming at the Venetian Pool.
  • If you are an exhibitionist, then head to the all nude beach at Haulover Beach Park in North Beach.
  • If you are a foodie, then Miami has plenty of restaurants for you. Pretty much any world cuisine can be had here.
  • Get outside Miami and explore the Keys and the Everglades.
  • Get away from the crowds at Dog Island.
  • Rent a canoe at Juniper Springs and paddle down one of the crystal clear streams.

Transportation

You'll definitely want to book a flight to Miami if you can, but you can also book a flight into Ft. Lauderdale if the Miami price seems too high. The airports are only about 30 miles apart and Ft. Lauderdale often has lower prices.

Accommodation

There are obviously plenty of hotels in Miami, and accommodations in the trendy areas are predictably more expensive than elsewhere, but South Beach is fairly compact so you wouldn't need (or want) a car there. Many of the most expensive hotels in South Beach are recently overhauled hotels from the 1920s that stand between other hotels from the same era that have yet to be refurbished. So if you look around you can find rather cheap hotels right next door to chic resorts and the main difference is the paint job and the age of the furniture inside. There are a few hostels in Miami as well, so check one of those out if your budget is limited.

Photo credits: chensiyuan