Far from being a centralized metropolis, Miami is a collection of neighborhoods spanning many largely unwalkable miles. Most visitors spend time in Miami Beach, a barrier island that runs parallel to the shoreline and is connected by causeways to the mainland. South Beach, the epicenter of Miami's restaurant and nightlife scenes, is the island's southernmost tip; to the north, Mid-Beach and North Beach stretch with endless condominiums and towering hotels. To the south lies another island, the largely residential Key Biscayne.
Back on the mainland, Downtown Miami is the city's financial zone, where towering skyscrapers dissolve into neighborhoods such as Brickell, the Design District, and Little Havana, home to Calle Ocho and the beating heart of Miami's exile Cuban community. Coral Gables and Coconut Grove, are where you'll find the University of Miami and some of the city's most beautiful Mediterranean architecture, are south of downtown.
WHEN TO GO
The winter months are the most popular in Miami; the temperatures are in the 70s and 80s with low humidity and cool nights. There's also more of a social scene, particularly in early December, when hordes descend for the annual Art Basel Miami Beach art show, and around New Year's Eve, when there are wall-to-wall parties in South Beach. When the rates go down at even the most posh hotels, the summer season is a bargain. But prices include choking humidity and the occasional risk of a hurricane (especially high from June to November).
HOW TO GET THERE
Miami International Airport services both domestic and international carriers and is seven miles from the city's downtown area and about ten miles from the beaches. It's chaotic, crowded, and perennially under construction, so some regulars prefer to fly into Fort Lauderdale airport instead—it's about half an hour's drive from South Beach. Amtrak also has service into Miami from up and down the East Coast and cross-country. The train station is located at 8303 N.W. 37th Avenue in Miami.
Metrobus, the local bus service, runs throughout Miami-Dade County, offering 100 routes, some running 24 hours a day. The county also operates Metrorail, an elevated rail service that runs along a 21-mile track from South Miami and Coral Gables to Northwest Miami, but it generally doesn't go to most places that visitors would (including, inexplicably, the airport). Somewhat more useful is the 4.5-mile elevated rail called Metromover that circles the downtown area and connects with Metrorail at the Government Center stop. In general, though, the best way to get around is by taxi or rental car. Rental-car agencies have offices at the airport and throughout the city, particularly downtown and in Miami Beach. Also, with the exception of Coconut Grove and South Beach, this is a driving city, not a walking city.
Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau
701 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2700
Tel: 305 539 3000