Beach views, Latin American glamour, and upscale events like Art Basel and the Miami Film Festival make Miami a perennial travel destination favorite. Touted as the world’s playground, Miami visitors can enjoy tropical vistas, exceptional meals, eclectic culture, as well as glittering nightlife. For a mid-sized area of 2,000 square miles, the Magic City covers all the bases while still managing to offer good value for your vacation dollars, if you know where to look. Check out our guide to a luxe-for-less Miami getaway.
Where to Stay
In Miami, it's all about the ocean views, and luckily, dozens of properties hug the Atlantic shoreline. But here, the key is staying at a hotel in the city's trendy Mid-Beach area. You'll not only avoid hours of traffic between downtown and South Beach, but save money, too. Churchill Suites Monte Carlo Miami Beach (rates range from $260-$340 per night) offers pretty views, sleek furnishings, and a prime location, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows, balconies, a fully-equipped kitchen, jacuzzi, and two pools.
For a more luxe selection, consider Fontainebleau Miami Beach, which supplies ‘50s era elegance and buzzy lounges. With rates around $260-$500 per night, Fontainebleau's scene-y hotspots include four signature restaurants, five casual eateries, and two poolside lounges that attract all the action. Don’t miss the Lapis Spa or LIV nightclub for a rarified experience of bespoke playlists and A-listers.
Where To Eat and Drink
Whether you’re craving an authentic cubano sandwich or a multi-course dinner with wine pairings, you'll easily find it in Miami. Start with an all-out South Beach extravaganza at Red, The Steakhouse. This upscale restaurant specializes in refined classics, such as a roasted rack of lamb; a signature 40-day, dry-aged prime ribeye; and whole Maine lobster. The sides, including wild-foraged mushrooms and Brussel sprouts with pancetta, are also winners. The prices range from $30-$50 for entrees, and $16-$22 for appetizers. And, although it's on the pricier side, the big portions and quality make it well worth it. However, if you're looking for something a bit more informal, check out El Palacio de Los Jugos, which provides a casual take on Cuban classics like roasted pork sandwiches, suckling pig, and fresh tropical fruit juices in an outdoor space for just $5-$10. Haiti also adds to Miami’s flavor and Tap Tap restaurant is famous for its tasty menu of essentials like soup joumou (pumpkin soup), lanbi (conch ceviche), and stewed goat for $8-$22. The art-filled eatery is also noted for hosting Haitian cultural shows. Also, drop by Melinda’s Mezcal & Nacho Bar, located on the first floor of the Electric Pickle Nightclub, for an old-school speakeasy atmosphere and new-school cocktails, including Mezcal slushies ($8) or a Seranno Mezcalita. Cielito Artisan Pops is ideal for the steamy Miami afternoons, where handmade, locally sourced ice pops are crafted from fresh juices like tamarind, hibiscus, soursop, and dragonfruit. You can also get them dipped in toppings including chocolate, pistachios, and even cotton candy. Pop prices range from $4.50-$8.50.
What To Do
Miami is packed with lots of activities and attractions to lure you away from the beach. Stop at the Perez Art Museum (admission is $16 for adults) to browse contemporary art work representing the city’s colorful international culture. For a more organic art experience, go see the famous open-air art gallery at the Wynwood Walls. The outdoor murals reflect the visions of local graffiti artists and the wider international art community. And you can’t visit Miami without checking out the vibrant Cuban community of Little Havana. Here, stroll down the main boulevard of Calle Ocho and drop in shops, galleries, and restaurants along the street. Foodies will love the Little Havana Food Tour ($56 per person for a 2.5-hour tour).