Miami is rated within the top ten summer vacation destinations. While it might be true that the first things that pop into mind are mile-long beaches and a constantly festive atmosphere, Miami is a cosmopolitan city that offers to tourists a lot more than a relaxing holiday at the beach. Still, if you want to go there to just lay in the sun, avoid the period from June to September because the heat and the humidity make it pretty hard to breathe. Also, most people believe they need a solid budget to spend a week there, but it is a place that you can fairly enjoy even with a lower income. Its diversity makes everything possible.
The reason why most people go to Miami is to spend their summer vacation basking in Florida’s sun. The most famous beach in town is South Beach, which is the southernmost end of Miami Beach. Aligned by luxurious hotels and palm trees, the vast beach is never crowded – it is so long and wide that it can always accommodate a few more people. Walking down the beach you can have a peek in some of the hotels’ gardens – the areas are restricted, so unless you are a guest of the hotel, you are not allowed to have a stroll inside. Of course, a backpacker such as me has no business there. I preferred to spend the day struggling with the huge waves and the roaring ocean. If you like water sports, surely you will find plenty of opportunities.
Early in the mornings, you can see a lot of people jogging or roller-skating along the coast. During the day the priority is to get that perfect skin tan we are all jealous of when we watch sun-tan lotion commercials. As the sun sets, the open-air events and festivals start. The party never ends at the beach.
For those, looking for a less-populated, more private beach, a good place is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State park on Key Biscayne. Part of its romantic atmosphere is due to the 1825 lighthouse overlooking the beach.
The second thing Miami is most famous for after South Beach is nightlife. The street you must remember is called Ocean Drive and it runs along the beach. The district is known as Art Deco National Historic District. There are dozens of bars and restaurants to match everyone’s taste and budget: Latin – The Mango Tropical Cafe, Chinese – China Grill, Mediterranean – Espanola Way, to name just a few. A note for freshman students: wait to hit 21 before going there, otherwise, you will regret it! The neon-lit avenue at the beachfront is one of the most widely recognized images in movies and TV shows, and the area itself is known for the 1930s hotels. One of the legendary landmarks – The Clevelander – is also situated there.
Miami is also famous for the famous people you can spot there. Well-known TV stars and sports figures have their residencies at Star Island, whereas other luxurious villas, accessible only by ferry are located at Fisher Island – the gateway to the Carribean. If you want to stalk a celebrity you will have the chance to do that at the numerous marinas or at Lincoln Road Mall.
For those who prefer dining and shopping, there are several open-air pedestrian areas, such as the Espanola way, or Bayside Marketplace just across the bridge from South Beach. You can explore renowned houses, such as fashion icon Versace’s former home, which is now turned into a private club.
If you are into yachting you will be delighted by the sights between downtown Miami and South Beach. The Coconut Grove and Dinner Key Marina are some places that offer boutiques and fine dining along the waterfront – expensive spots.
Animal-lovers will find the major attractions astonishing – the Miami Seaquarium and the Parrot Jungle Island. At the Seaquarium, as the name suggests, you should definitely visit a dolphin show. The place is located along Biscayne Bay and it is a good idea to plan at least half a day to enjoy the shows. It is not merely a tourist attraction, but it is also involved in protecting animal and marine life. Another must-see spot is the Parrot Jungle Island. The best part of it is that the parrots fly free – they are not caged. The exotic birds with their vibrant colors remind you of images you’ve seen on National Geographic or Discovery magazines.
The event calendar of Florida’s most popular resort is always full, regardless of the season. The thronging bustles of the high season ensure a particularly festive atmosphere, whereas during off season you can enjoy somewhat more peaceful events. Check online what’s up in town before you go, because you wouldn’t like to miss a concert by your favorite band just about a few blocks away. And I’m not talking solely about nightlife – there are all sorts of shows, from art and fashion to golf and yachting.
As I have given you a hint before, Miami is not exclusively for the rich. There are tours you can arrange yourself that will cost you nothing or almost nothing. Depending on your interests, you can either set for a movie-scenes tour or visit Ernest Hemingway’s house. There are plenty of online tour guides that will help you do that as quickly and efficiently as possible, given the length of your stay and leisure time you can set for yourself.
A fact that is a little less well-known about Miami is that it is a plastic surgery hub. Miami is the home of numerous highly respected plastic and cosmetic surgery practices, which are renowned across states. Therefore, a large number of visitors arrange “beauty vacations”. I have not used any of those services personally, but quite a lot of my acquaintances have relatives of friends who have done beauty tourism there and who are very content with the results. There’s hardly a better option if you would like to keep your family busy while you are having a few procedures. Of course, you need careful planning in advance, because top surgeons’ schedules are filled months ahead.