Airport: Miami International (MIA)
Served by: American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, LAN.
Getting There By Air
From London - 8 hours 30 minutes; New York - 3 hours; Los Angeles - 5 hours; Toronto - 3 hours 45 minutes; Sydney - 18 hours.
Miami International Airport (MIA)
Tel: (305) 876 7000.
Miami International Airport is located 14km (9 miles) northwest of Miami.
ATMs and bureaux de change are located in every terminal. A full-service bank is situated on level 4 of the North Terminal.
The Metrorail is the longest elevated rapid transit system in America. At 34km (21 miles), it runs from Kendall northwards through South Miami, Coral Gables, downtown Miami and then northwest to the Hialeah district. There are 22 stations and the entire journey takes 42 minutes. Trains run approximately every 10-20 minutes and more frequently at peak hours. Exact change only is placed in the slot at the entrance turnstiles.
The trains connect to the Metrobus and Tri-Rail. Transfers to the Metrobus, at the Government Center station or Brickell station, must be purchased at the original boarding station.
Metrobus operates a comprehensive bus service with 94 routes, some running 24 hours. Blue and green bus-stop signs list the routes and destinations. Exact change is required.
Downtown Miami is served by the futuristic, driverless Metromover, an elevated, three-loop, fully automated monorail. It operates daily from about 0500 to midnight, with the outer Loop serving Brickell and Omni operating as one continuous loop from about 1900 until midnight. The Metromover is free to all travellers. It is safe, air-conditioned and it also provides unparalleled views.
The South Beach Local makes getting around South Beach a breeze. The bus runs every 10-15 minutes and is very cheap.
A monthly Metropass allows for unlimited travel on the Metrobus, Metrorail and Metromover. This pass is available for purchase from the Transit Information Center on the second level of the Government Center Metrorail station, online and at designated outlets.
The Easy Ticket enables 60 days of unlimited rides on the Metrobus and Metrorail. Buy the pass from the airport (Mercado Miami store, Concourse F), Welcome Centers and other select locations.
Firms include Metro Taxi Co (tel: (305) 888 8888), Aventura Taxi (tel: (305) 599 9999), Coral Gables City Taxi (tel: (305) 444 4242), South Miami-Dade Taxi (tel: (305) 242 7117) and Yellow Cabs (tel: (305) 444 4444). A 15-20% tip is expected.
Greater Miami traffic can be terrible; cars can come to an absolute standstill along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue in South Beach during weekday rush hour and weekend nights.
There is plenty of metered parking available in Miami but not elsewhere. Visitors should check displayed information for rates and hours of operation. The average rates for parking meters range from US$0.75 to US$1.50 per hour. Some newer meters accept Visa and Mastercard as well as cash. On weekends, parking garages fill up with shoppers during the day and clubbers during the night. Further information on locations of car parks, hours and rates is available from the Miami Parking Authority, 190 NE Third Street (tel: (305) 373 6789; www.miamiparking.com).
Major providers include Alamo (tel: (305) 633 6076; www.alamo.com), Avis (tel: (305) 341 0936; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: (305) 871 3053; www.drivebudget.com), Hertz (tel: (305) 871 0300; www.hertz.com), Global Rent a Car (tel: (305) 635 3060; www.interamerican-car-rental.com), and Thrifty (tel: (877) 871 5051; www.thrifty.com).
Hotels in Miami all have a room tax of 13% that is levied by the city. There is a wide choice of hotels in Miami, with something to suit all budgets. Whilst South Beach's coastal strip is renowned for offering upmarket, international brand hotels, cheap hotels in Miami can still be found here ranging from affordable boutique options to good value hotels housed in art deco buildings.
On top of this, it is normal to tip porters (around US$1 a bag), cabstand attendants (US$1-3 depending upon amount of people per taxi), valet parkers (US$2) and housekeepers (US$2-5 per night).
The Miami hotels below have been grouped into three different pricing categories:
Luxury (over US$200)
Moderate (US$100 to US$199)
Cheap (under US$100)
The prices quoted above are the starting rates for a standard double room per night, excluding all taxes and breakfast unless otherwise stated.
Miami River Inn
The only bed and breakfast hotel in Miami, the Miami River Inn is one of downtown's best kept secrets, overlooking the Miami River. Listed on the National Historic Register, the five restored clapboard buildings dating from 1906 face on to a charming, secluded courtyard where palms and tropical foliage shade the swimming pool and Jacuzzi. The 38 homely rooms and 15 apartments are furnished with hardwood floors, antiques, brass beds and flowered wallpaper. Breakfast (home-baked muffins and fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice) is served in the courtyard.
118 SW South River Drive
Tel: (305) 325 0045.
The ultra-luxurious Acqualina Resort, mid-way between Miami and Fort Lauderdale on a 122m (400ft) stretch of stunning Atlantic Ocean coastline in tranquil Sunny Isles, is the last word in opulence. Modelled after a Venetian palace, its 97 Mediterranean-influenced rooms and 188 lavish residences, all enjoy terrace-views of the ocean, Miami's glittering skyline or the Intracoastal Waterway. The renowned spa provides the ultimate pampering, while other impressive facilities include in-room check-in; three ocean-front swimming pools; a marine biology-based children's programme and baby butler services.
Sunny Isles Beach
17875 Collins Avenue
Tel: (305) 918 8000.
A 1926 landmark in prosperous, fashionable Coral Gables, the Biltmore Hotel is still one of the finest hotels in Miami. Handpainted ceilings, magnificent crystal chandeliers, marble Corinthian columns and the imposing 15-storey tower, modelled on Seville's splendid Giralda belltower, blend with impeccable, old-world service. The 276 luxurious bedrooms and suites have travertine marble baths, spacious sitting rooms and Mediterranean-style balconies enjoying views over the 18-hole golf course, floodlit tennis courts, Zen-inspired spa and a magnificent hotel pool. The ultimate in luxury is the 13th floor Evergreen Suite - once Al Capone's speakeasy, now the choice of presidents, world leaders and celebrities.
1200 Anastasia Avenue
Tel: (305) 445 1926.
Mandarin Oriental Miami
Situated in one of the city's most prestigious commercial districts, this 5-star waterfront Miami hotel is also convenient for the major shopping and nightlife centres of Bayside and Coconut Grove. The hotels boasts a first-class restaurant, Azul, a sophisticated cocktail bar, a luxury health spa, swimming pool, tennis courts, private beach and golf green.
500 Brickell Key Drive
Tel: (305) 913 8288.
Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
The former landmark art deco DiLido hotel, designed by Lapidus in the 1950s, is not your typical Ritz-Carlton. Located in the city's hottest neighbourhood, this Miami hotel looks more like a luxury liner when viewed from the pool deck, with two poolside wings. The 375 spacious guest rooms are decorated in bold nautical colours that accent the dark cherry furniture and sumptuous marble bathrooms. The DiLido Beach Club is South Beach's only oceanfront restaurant. By the pool you'll find a DJ, a sunset-synchronised swimming show and the world's only tanning butler. Those in need of further pampering need look no further than the city's top day spa.
One Lincoln Road
Tel: (786) 276 4000.
The Shore Club
It comes as no surprise that Miami's ultimate urban design hotel is located at South Beach. Its stark modernism and the white-on-white décor of the 325 rooms and suites is softened by lush Morroccan-inspired tropical gardens and outdoor 'rooms' to provide an oasis of cool at the heart of Miami. Rub shoulders with SoBe's beautiful people in Nobu restaurant and the Sky Bar, or chill out on the serene outdoor terraces of the Zen-like rooftop spa, and admire the remarkable 360° views of the coast and city.
1901 Collins Avenue
Tel: (305) 695 3100.
The tallest and most elegant art deco Miami hotel on Ocean Drive offers genuine style for the incurably hip, with an minimalist interior that is sophisticated, spacious and sumptuous, decorated in soft tones of white, taupe and sand. The 45 light, airy and spacious suites all have incredible views of the beach and the Atlantic, and contain complete entertainment centres. Personal Assistants cater to your every whim from unpacking luggage and bath-running to preparing picnic hampers and pet-grooming. The Coral Bar and La Marea restaurant, beside the pool overlooking Ocean Drive, is the place to see and be seen.
1220 Ocean Drive
Tel: (305) 604 5070.
Dove Creek Lodge
Situated on Key Largo's oceanside, at the gateway to the Florida Keys, Dove Creek Lodge has 14 no-smoking rooms, including 10 suites, ranging from rooms for two to luxury family-sized, two-storey apartments complete with pool table and verandah overlooking the Atlantic. Dove Creek's 14-slip marina allows guests to bring their own boat for a fee, or receive a charter-boat pickup to explore the Keys. Friendly and intimate, it is ideally situated for offshore backcountry exploring, ecotours, diving daytrips and fishing expeditions.
147 Seaside Avenue
Tel: (305) 852 6200.
Located on the edge of Biscayne Bay, south of downtown Miami, Coconut Grove is one of the city's oldest neighbourhoods, with bohemian roots. Settled by a multicultural group of Bahamians and New Englanders, the neighbourhood drew artists and intellectuals, who set up summer homes here. Today, it is a trendy district with a bustling village atmosphere, full of colourful galleries, theatres, nightclubs, fine restaurants, hip sidewalk cafés and shops.
This elegant Mediterranean-style residential district, 16km (10 miles) southwest of downtown Miami, was created by local developer George Merrick during the boom years of the 1920s. Coral Gables is best known for its art galleries, the exclusive Miracle Mile shopping street, its golf courses, fine hotels and restaurants. It also contains some of the city's finest architecture, set amid broad boulevards, canals and parkland. Some buildings are preserved as historic landmarks, including the stunning Biltmore Hotel, and the Venetian Pool, at 2701 De Soto Boulevard - the only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places, transformed from a mere rock quarry in 1923.
Downtown Miami is the the commercial heart of the city, distinguished by sleek skyscrapers, impressive government buildings and cultural centres, and edged by the Port of Miami, the world's largest cruise port. From the Bayside Marketplace, several boat excursions tour Miami Bay and exclusive Fisher Island, the address for celebrities in Miami.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
This magnificent 33-hectare (83-acre) botanical garden is located just south of Coconut Grove. It contains extensive collections of rare tropical plants, a 1,440-sq-m (16,000-sq-ft) conservatory, 11 lakes and lily ponds, and a rainforest exhibit, set among a waterfall and stream. A variety of educational programmes and narrated tram tours are available.
10901 Old Cutler Road
Tel: (305) 667 1651.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1630, Sat & Sun 0730-1630.
Admission Fee: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
This museum offers a fascinating insight into the region's past. It has a small but impressive collection of hands-on displays, archive material, historical objects and multimedia presentations, which covers 10,000 years of Florida history from the first settlers to the present day.
101 West Flagler Street
Tel: (305) 375 1492.
Opening hours: Tues-Fri 1000-1700; Sat & Sun 1200-1700; closed Mon.
Admission Fee: Yes
Linked to the mainland by the Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne combines traditional Florida-style houses with ostentatious mansions belonging to some of Miami's wealthiest residents. The beaches here rank among Florida's best - their fine sand and relatively calm seas make them a popular choice for families. Other top attractions include two beautiful parks (Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and Crandon Park) both with magnificent beaches, bike trails and nature walks. Bill Baggs is home to the Cape Florida Lighthouse, built in 1825. The small Crandon Family Amusement Center in the park has an old-time carousel, playground and outdoor roller rink.
After Fidel Castro took power in 1959, refugees fleeing Cuba settled just west of downtown Miami, in a neighbourhood known as Little Havana. Today, with its 800,000-strong Cuban-American community, this colourful district has a distinctly Latin atmosphere with its Spanish signs, Cuban coffee bars and restaurants, small cigar factories and street-side food stalls, selling such delicacies as baho (Cuban stew) and freshly squeezed juices. Monuments to anti-Castro Cubans line the streets, especially around Calle Ocho (Eighth Street), the liveliest part of Little Havana and the venue for the Calle Ocho Festival, a famous annual spring carnival - America's largest street party.
Miami Beach is located on a long slender island connected to mainland Miami by four main causeways. It comprises various coastal towns, each with its own personality - including Surfside, the upscale shopping district of Bal Harbour, Sunny Isles Beach, South Beach and Golden Beach. Miami Beach's white sands extend from Lincoln Road Mall northwards to 87th Street, with a scenic boardwalk popular with joggers and strollers, and pastel-coloured art deco lifeguard stations dotting the shoreline. A variety of watersports are available, including windsurfing, sailing, jet-skiing and parasailing. Little Havana After Fidel Castro took power in 1959, refugees fleeing Cuba settled just west of downtown Miami, in a neighbourhood known as Little Havana. Today, with its 800,000-strong Cuban-American community, this colourful district has a distinctly Latin atmosphere with its Spanish signs, Cuban coffee bars and restaurants, small cigar factories and street-side food stalls, selling such delicacies as baho (Cuban stew) and freshly squeezed juices. Monuments to anti-Castro Cubans line the streets, especially around Calle Ocho (Eighth Street), the liveliest part of Little Havana and the venue for the Calle Ocho Festival, a famous annual spring carnival - America's largest street party.
Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium
This nationally renowned museum, associated with the Smithsonian Institute, features interactive scientific exhibits on physics, electricity, light, sound and anatomy, as well as daily astronomy and laser shows in the adjacent planetarium. It also boasts South Florida's largest natural history collection and a wildlife centre that rehabilitates injured birds of prey and reptiles, and displays more than 175 live animals.
3280 South Miami Avenue
Tel: (305) 646 4200.
Opening hours: Daily 1000-1800.
Admission Fee: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Located on beautiful Biscayne Bay, the Miami Seaquarium has over 10,000 aquatic creatures on display - including crocodiles, alligators and seals, as well as fish of every imaginable shape, size and colour. Star acts include Lolita, a 7,000-pound killer whale, Salty the sea lion and TV superstar Flipper the dolphin. The in-house Marine Mammal Rescue Team also strives to preserve and protect stranded or injured manatees, dolphins and whales in the waters of South Florida. See their work in the mangrove habitat of Discovery Bay - used to rehabilitate rescued sea turtles; and the Manatee Exhibit where manatees are nursed back to health, ready for release into the wild.
4400 Rickenbacker Causeway
Tel: (305) 361 5705.
Opening hours: Daily 0930-1800.
Admission Fee: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Glitzy, glamorous South Beach (known locally as SoBe) is the trendiest part of town and a magnet for celebrities, wannabes and fun-lovers who thrive on its cosmopolitan atmosphere, designer shopping, upbeat restaurants and fast-paced nightlife. By day, a young, hip crowd cruise Ocean Drive; by night, exotic latino beats flow from the many famed dance clubs onto the busy streets. South Beach itself boasts white sands, palm trees and dazzling blue sea. However, the most striking feature here is the famous art deco historic district - over 800 buildings within 1.5 sq km (1 sq mile), all in the same streamlined architectural style, painted in pastel shades and lit with brilliantly coloured neon lights. Tours of the district are offered every morning (except Thursdays) or Thursday evening. Self-guided tour maps are also available from the Art Deco Welcome Center, 1200 Ocean Drive (at 12th Street), South Beach.
New World Center
Home to the New World Symphony, the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center is the newest addition to Miami's cultural scene. It offers more than 60 annual performances, some of them free to the public. The building itself, featuring exciting contours, natural light and a dramatic rooftop garden with sea views, can be toured on Tuesday and Thursdays at 4pm, and Friday and Saturdays at noon.Miami Beach
500 17th Street
Tel: (305) 673 3331.
The New World Symphony, America's unique orchestral academy, plays from late September to early May in the historic Lincoln Theatre. The only symphony orchestra of its kind in the world, the New World Symphony has been training gifted graduates for careers in music since 1987. Miami Beach
541 Lincoln Road
Tel: (305) 673 3331.
Gusman Center for the Performing Arts
The historic Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, a renovated 1920s movie palace, now stages a huge variety of arts events, including the annual Miami Film Festival.174 East Flagler Street
Tel: (305) 372 0925.
Music and Dance
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is home to the Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and the New World Symphony, with three separate performance facilities to present ballet, opera, theatre and symphonic music.1300 Biscayne Boulevard
Tel: (305) 949 6722.
Jackie Gleason Theatre of the Performing Arts
The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre of the Performing Arts is Miami Beach's top artistic venue, showcasing Broadway shows, concerts and dance from the Florida Philharmonic, the Miami City Ballet, the Concert Association of Florida and other celebrated productions.1700 Washington Avenue
Tel: (305) 673 7300.
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