Introducing the city
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With a coastal location in south-east Florida, Miami and connecting Miami Beach are renowned for their devastatingly glamorous urban edge.
With a nickname like The Magic City, it's no wonder Miami abracadabras nearly 16 million visitors to its Latin-American inspired clutches every year. Yet, it shouldn't be considered anything other than justified given the attractions on offer in this Floridian gem.
With a rapid population growth in the last 100 years, almost 6 million people now reside here. Where beach-living meets city life, glamour meets grit; Miami presents a selection of contradictory combos that marry to ignite the infamous Cuban vibes that the city is known for. Miami Beach is actually its own municipality but it all merges as one. It's here where the iconic Art Deco District resides, not to mention super-chic South Beach, Ocean Drive and a range of top resorts, restaurants and nightclubs.
Yet don't think this is just a city for the cool-cats; sports fans, families and budget backpackers will find something here too. And once you've tasted the magic of Miami, you won't want to leave.
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When Should You Visit?
If you you're going to Miami to party, the best time to visit is during Spring Break (March/April). Otherwise, wait until May when temperatures are still bearable before the summer months.
Miami experiences warm to hot weather all year round with even the coolest month of January seeing an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. In the height of summer temperatures can reach upwards of 30 degrees Celsius. July is the hottest month of the year. The wettest months of the year are September and October. Hurricane season is between June and November, although August - October are considered the most probable months for them to occur.
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Travioor top tips
- Only a short drive from Miami you'll find the Everglades National Park. Home to alligators, crocodiles, snakes and more, this incredible national park can be explored on an airboat tour.
- If you're planning on visiting a lot of attractions while in the city, consider purchasing a Go Miami Card from Viator, which gets you discounted entry to 33 attractions and tours, as well as discounts at many restaurants and shops.
- In Miami Beach and South Beach, a bicycle can be a good and cheap way to get around and is a very popular activity along the boardwalk. In the city of Miami, public transport is very good. Taxis can be expensive. Alternatively, renting a car is actually a little cheaper here than in other major US cities (visit Easycar for more details) - be sure to cruise along Ocean Drive.
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Food and drink
Foodies will feel right at home in Miami. This is a place where world-class cuisine is never too far away. Given its culture and history, you'll also find some of the best Caribbean and Latin-American food scattered along the Miami shore. Many talk of an emerging 'Florribean cuisine'. In South Beach it is considered fashionable to dine after 9 p.m. and there's a wide selection of stylish and expensive eateries to explore. Ocean Drive is another area known for its lavish range of restaurants. Alternatively, you don't need to break the bank to enjoy the food here; there are plenty of budget options available across the city too with some cool spots in Little Havana.
Cuban staples are usually the talk of the town and two you should try are a frita (the Cuban take on a hamburger with matchstick potatoes) and a Cuban sandwich. As for the drinks, cocktails are popular with some of the best variations of the mojito and pina colada in America. The nightlife here is regarded as up there with the best in the world and you'll find everything from swanky cocktail lounges and rooftop bars to huge nightclubs and budget bars. The most desirable nightlife scene is located near South Beach.
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Back in the mid-16th century, a Spanish explorer was the first to make European contact with Miami and in the years that followed it was claimed by the British and the Spanish. Many years later in 1896, Julia Tuttle (the only woman in history to conceive a major US city) had successfully convinced Henry Flagler to expand the Florida East Coast Railway to Miami and Miami as we know it today was officially born, taking its name from the nearby Miami River.
During the early 20th century, migrants from the Bahamas and an array of African-Americans came to work in Miami and made up a considerable proportion of the city's ever-growing population, although this came to a halt when a severe hurricane struck in 1926. After the city had recovered, it became increasingly popular with people from the north of Florida, mainly because of the growing reputation of Miami Beach's Art Deco District. The Cuban influences in Miami can be traced back to 1959 when Cuban refugees came to South Florida. They continued flocking to Miami up until the late 80's during a spell which also saw an influx of immigrants from other countries.
Today, Miami is recognised as one of the world's most desirable destinations with a unique Latin-American culture. Although it has seen a few hurricanes cause billions of dollars worth of damage, it has always managed to rebuild itself as a desirable hotspot.
Although English is the official language of Miami and almost everyone understands it, in many areas of the city, Spanish has become the predominant language and you could easily get by in Miami if you only spoke Spanish. To fully embrace the Latin-American culture here, you could learn some basic Spanish like the examples below:
- Hello: Hola
- Thank you: Gracias
- Please: Por favor
- Excuse me: Disculpe
- Do you speak English?: Habla usted Inglés?
Need to know
Get The Low-Down
- Miami has an international airport.
- Traffic can be heavy in the main areas.
- A 15-20% tip is usually given in restaurants and a $2 tip for drinks in upscale bars.
- Check the dress code of clubs and bars before arriving.
Find out about the visa requirements for the U.S.A here.
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1. South Beach
Relax in the day on the glamorous sandy beach before partying in the trendy clubs during the evening at super-chic South Beach.
2. Miami Seaquarium
If you want to swim with dolphins or experience a sea-trek reef encounter visit the family-friendly Miami Seaquarium.
3. Zoo Miami
Visit an array of endangered species at the Miami zoo - the biggest zoological garden in the whole of Florida.
4. Art Deco District
View the pastel coloured architecture in the Art Deco District and be sure to experience the structures along Ocean Drive.
Shop, dine and enjoy the daily live entertainment at Bayside Marketplace - a large outdoor-style mall.
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