Planning a Trip to Miami, Florida

By James | Last updated June 4, 2024

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Miami is a very popular tourist destination, and for good reason. That’s why we’ve put this guide together to help you plan a trip to Miami. Having visited Miami many times, we’ve used our experience to help future travelers plan their best Miami getaway.

Miami is located in south-eastern Florida on the Atlantic coast. Over the years, it has spread from the mainland onto a series of barrier islands, including Bay Harbor Islands, Miami Beach, Fisher Island, and Key Biscayne. It is part of Miami-Dade County, the most populous state in Florida, with over 3 million residents.

Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale lie to the north of Miami. Coral Gables is to the south, and the vast expanses of the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades National Park are to the west.

Miami is a multi-cultural city with a strong Spanish influence that dates back to the earliest days of the Spanish colonization of Florida. The majority of people living in Miami are not from Florida initially.

2nd Avenue in Miami Florida, Shopping
2nd Avenue in Miami, Florida, Shopping

Large Cuban (Little Havana) and Haitian (Little Haiti) communities are mixed with many Europeans, Americans, and Canadians who have fled south to take advantage of the year-round warm climate.

Planning on Getting to Miami

Miami has two international airports (Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport), good Interstate access, Amtrak train and Greyhound bus services, and the World’s busiest cruise port.

Miami is about a four-hour (230-mile) drive from central Florida/Orlando and a three-hour (150-mile) drive from Key West.

Read more about getting to Miami.

Getting Around Miami by Car
Getting Around Miami by Car

Getting Around Miami

Like many large Florida cities, Miami has a public transport system, but the car still rules supreme, particularly if you wish to get to some of the more outlying areas.

The local transit authorities operate the Metrobus service, which has over 100 bus routes, the rapid transit Metrorail train service, the commuter Tri-Rail service, and the free Downtown Metromover overhead light railway service. The newest is the Brightline rail service from Miami to West Palm Beach, which will eventually expand to Orlando and Tampa.

In addition to ordinary taxis, several water taxis can be used to get places or take a tour.

Miami Yacht on the River
Miami Yacht on the River

Places To Stay In Miami

Miami offers a range of accommodations, from chic boutique Art Deco-style hotels to 5-star luxury resort hotels like the Miami Beach Acqualina Resort & Spa, Viceroy Miami, and Mandarin Oriental Miami, with plenty of choices in between.

Things to do in Miami

While Miami does not have the blockbuster allure of Orlando’s theme parks, there are still plenty of things to do in Miami. From world-class museums and art galleries to the Miami Seaquarium, Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Everglades Alligator Farm, Jungle Island, Miami Metrozoo, and Monkey Jungle. Of course, the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades National Park are nearby.

If you plan on visiting more than one attraction in the Miami area (or even going to the Kennedy Space Center), it might be worth considering a Miami Go Card or Miami Explorer Pass. These multi-attraction, multi-day tickets can save you money on the regular gate prices. If you’re looking for a Miami vacation for couples, you have many options, including the classic tourist areas to explore, beaches, shopping, places to eat, and so much more.

Eating in Miami

Miami is renowned for its restaurants and cuisine, and Zagat publishes several annual guides on its restaurants: Zagat Miami, South Florida Restaurants, and Zagat Miami Beach Restaurants.

Nightlife in Miami

You only have to watch an episode of “CSI Miami” to realize what fantastic nightlife Miami offers, everything from jazz clubs to hot nightclubs and comedy shows.

Shopping in Miami

Miami boasts several exclusive shopping malls. For everyday shopping, there are malls like the Dolphin Mall and Sawgrass Mills, but for upmarket brands like Tiffany and Prada, there are Bel Harbor Shops.

If the plan is approved, the largest mall and entertainment complex in the Western Hemisphere, the American Dream Miami mega-mall, could be coming to Miami in the next few years.

How many days do you need to travel to Miami?

Depending on your journey to Miami, planning for a long weekend is usually enough to see all the sights and visit the beaches, restaurants, and main tourist spots. Once you’ve had 3 to 4 days in Miami, you may want to start venturing out of Miami to places like Fort Lauderdale or the Everglades.

Planning is key to making the most of your time there. If the weather is nice, you may want to plan an afternoon or two at some of Miami’s finest beaches. On a rainy Miami day, there are plenty of indoor places to explore, such as the shopping malls and the galleries. If you’re a fan of boats, taking a tour of the waterways is a great way to see the sights and expensive houses owned by celebrities.

Miami Visitor Numbers

Miami welcomes over 24 million visitors each year to soak up the glamour and glitz, the wonderful weather, beautiful beaches, fantastic architecture, museums, restaurants, shopping, and renowned nightlife.

About half were domestic travelers, and just over five million were international visitors. The busiest months are December/January and March/April. The quietest month is September.

Read more about Florida tourism statistics.

Miami Climate and Seasons

One attraction to southern Florida and Miami, in particular, is the weather. Miami enjoys a sub-tropical climate with year-round sunshine. Most rainfall, including thunderstorms, occurs during the summer and early autumn (fall) months. Coupled with the rainfall, though, is high humidity, and hurricane season runs from June to November.

The highest temperature recorded was 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lowest was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, just below freezing.

This climate means Miami has different seasons compared to northern Florida. The high season in Miami, usually warm and dry, runs from December through March/April when hotel room rates rise. During the low season, from June to August, you can expect to pay 30% to 50% less for your room.