Miami beach holidays
Don’t pack too much. All you need is your swimsuit, sunglasses, some sunscreen and not much else here in Southern Florida. Miami has long been known for its fun in the sun lifestyle with white sandy beaches and hot, tropical weather all year round.
You can’t go to Miami without hitting THE hotspot of South Beach. Spend the daytime soaking up the sun and people watching on some of South Florida’s most popular beaches. At night there is no shortage of action from restaurants to bars to nightclubs.
Some of the best hotels are right here in this famous art deco strip. In fact, these gorgeous Art Deco hotels have become a tourist attraction themselves! If your budget allows, a stay at the chic Philippe Starck-designed Delano is a must. With its huge indoor/outdoor lobby, pool area complete with gauzy, white private cabanas (available with poolside dining and a butler!) and luxurious rooms, suites, and lofts, you will revel in this cocoon of cool.
Miami’s other beaches
Beyond busy South Beach, there are plenty of other beaches to choose from. Bill Baggs State Park, which is located on Key Biscayne, is home to the Cape Florida lighthouse. Here you can spend time sunbathing, swimming and fishing from the seawall.
While South Beach permits topless sunbathing, Haulover Beach, located on Miami Beach between Sunny Isles Beach and Bal Harbour, is known as Miami’s only legal “clothing optional” nude beach. If you have no desire to go ‘au natural’ don’t worry, the beach offers traditional sunbathing as well and the nude beach is clearly marked to avoid accidents.
Further north at 79th Street and Collins Avenue, you’ll find the largest state park beach, North Shore Open Space Park, a scenic spot with picnic tables, shady trees, and less of the high-rise and concrete feel you might get in South Beach. There are free concerts held at the historic North Beach Bandshell, and this beach has long been voted the best beach in Miami for its greenery and open spaces.
Besides swimming and sunning, there is a lot to do here on the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Charter a fishing boat for the day or make some new friends and swim with the dolphins! Go out on a glass-bottomed boat and enjoy all the sea life beneath you. And of course, there are tons of water sports to take advantage of like parasailing, jet skiing, snorkelling, kayaking, sailing and even the fun of a water trampoline!
Shopping and eating
This shopping paradise has it all, from malls, outlets, boutiques, antiques and more. Greater Miami’s retail landscape is a mix of classy boutiques, funky streets, upscale promenades, downtown districts, antique alleys, open-air markets and air-conditioned malls.
One of my favourite spots in Miami is Lincoln Road. This mostly pedestrian strip is chock a block with local boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, museums, and cute cafes at which to take a coffee break. Most restaurants offer a large area for outdoor seating so you can enjoy the ambience and beautiful Miami weather (and avoid the overly air-conditioned indoors!). There are foods from around the world here including a lot of Cuban, Italian, and Asian.
Coconut Grove was Miami’s first neighbourhood and remains one of its most picturesque — an area of frequent festivals, endless street life, eccentric artists and sophisticated arts. At the heart of “the Grove” is CocoWalk, a multicultural marketplace. This open-air shopping, dining and entertainment destination invokes the ambiance of a European town square amid South Florida’s tropical atmosphere, and offers something for everyone.
Ranked as one of the top five highest-grossing malls in the country (in sales per square foot), Aventura Mall in north eastern Miami-Dade County checks in at 2.7 million square feet of retail space It is anchored by stores like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s, along with more than 300 speciality retailers - including the new Louis Vuitton Aventura - as well as a variety of restaurants, a 24-screen movie theatre, and an interactive playground.
Of course, back in South Beach, a stroll down Ocean drive and stop at one of the many restaurants and cafes right on the ocean is a must. The famous News Café is a Miami Beach classic. They have a great breakfast on the patio to enjoy the views of the beach and people.
Got the family in tow? A trip to the Miami Zoo or The Miami Seaquarium is a must where you can enjoy an outdoor dolphin experience in this tropical environment. The Miami Zoo is one of the first free-range zoos in the country; the exhibits are entirely cageless.
With 1.5 million acres of swamps, saw-grass prairies and sub-tropical jungles, Everglades National Park is one of the most unusual public parks in the United States. Located on the southern tip of Florida, the park is home to 14 rare and endangered species, including the American Crocodile, the Florida Panther and the West Indian Manatee. A large portion of the park is primitive, explored only by adventurists and researchers - but visitors have ample opportunity to walk, camp and canoe.
A visit to Jungle Island offers families a fun, educational opportunity to get an up-close look at tropical birds like macaws, orangutans, and lemurs in replicas of their natural habitats.
Monkey Jungle in southern Miami-Dade County is a truly unique park. While you walk through carefully constructed wire pathways, many species of primates scamper above your head, swing through trees and interact with each other in ways difficult to observe in captivity. It’s a bit more like you are caged and they are a bit more free to roam around!
Further reading: Discover the best of the city, from beaches to architecture with our guide to the top 10 things to do in Miami.
Article written by Lisa Lubin.