Miami for these nerdy brooklynites!
February 3, 2015 12:39 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I want to go on vacation this spring. We're thinking Miami! We'll spend about a week, probably in mid-march. We'd love your opinion on all things miami. Where to go, where to stay, and are we going to be able to do this when we don't drive a lick? We've never been to south florida. What should we do?!

We sort of missed our honeymoon- so this is going to be a week of glorious new city exploration. Lend us a hand?

1. We were thinking of staying in one of the hotels in miami beach, and spending a lot of time in the arts district. Any recommendations with that?

2. Uber looks like it's up and running, and it looks like there is some sort of public transportation- I know it's considered poor, but are we going to be able to get around at least a little without driving ourselves?

3. We love animals and would love to go to see things like the zoo and farms- but again no driving. also we're very sensitive to animal treatment. Any attractions we should see or steer away from?

4. We love love love guided tours, history museums, culinary tours. We're more day-time people and not so much with the nightlife. We'll want to do maybe one really romantic night with dinner.

Is there anything we forgot? is there a particular part of the beach that's better? can we rent beach umbrellas? What else should we know about or need to see? should we spend a whole day in a certain neighborhood? is there anything that's absolutely not worth it at all?
posted by Blisterlips to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I was in Miami in November and used Uber 3-4 times, and cabs 3-4 times. There were always cabs available, but only a few took credit cards so it was important to carry cash. I didn't have any issues with Uber drivers, but might have been lucky.
posted by elvissa at 1:05 PM on February 3, 2015

It's worth bearing in mind that spring is maybe not the greatest time to be in a Florida beachside hotel unless you really like to party.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:10 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you totally set on Miami? Are you sure it won't be over spring break?

In about the same amount of time, you can get to Costa Rica and easily hire drivers -- so many amazing animals, cool towns and culinary adventures!

Uber: I can't remember which options are available in Miami, but I've always had much better experience with the actual black car drivers, rather than UberX.

Walking tour: Art Deco Private Walking Tour - Miami Beach looks awesome. A friend did it and said it was really worth it and fun.
posted by barnone at 1:11 PM on February 3, 2015

Used to live in South Beach back in the 90s. I still go back once in a while. Stay in South Beach. Find a hotel near or on the beach and Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, which is approximately 17th St. Lincoln Road is excellent, walkable, tons of restaurants, boutiques and other shopping. It's still a little seedy on the east end, but becomes very, very nice as you walk west… though it has become far more corporate in the last 10 years or so. Great movie theater at the far west end if you get a rain day. Between beach-going and Lincoln Road, you could easily spend a few great days without a car.

DO NOT STAY ON OCEAN DRIVE. It gets crowded with jerks, noisy and completely obnoxious, especially on the weekend, especially in the spring. You can and should walk by and see it, easy stroll from 17th ST., but DON'T STAY THERE. Fun to see and experience, then get away.

Personally, if it's just a week, I'd skip the car and take cabs which are everywhere or just walk around South Beach. You could get a car for a couple days and do day trips, but keep in mind Miami traffic is horrible and if it's a honeymoon, I'd just chill and check out all the glamor hotels on the beach, the funky clubs, bars and shops.

Have fun.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:14 PM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh - and are you comfortable on bikes? Miami has the DecoBike program. You can get hourly rentals or sign up for the $35 monthly pass, which gives you unlimited 60 minute rides. You could even get the 1-day pass and take the bikes to a fun destination.
posted by barnone at 1:15 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you prefer not to drive or do you not drive at all? That's a big difference.

I normally tell folks to stay at the Hyatt House Miami Airport (don't freak, it's really well situated and you don't hear planes.) I don't suggest it if you don't have transportation.

If you're planning to stay in Miami Beach, I suggest staying more towards Lincoln Road, it's the northern part of South Beach, but Lincoln Road is a fantastic pedestrian mall with shops, cafes, bars and great people watching. So the Delano, Lowe's, Ritz-Carlton. Although it's near nothing (except my friend Nini) the Fountainbleau is pretty great. There are cabs out front.

The Airport Flyer is a city bus that goes from the Airport to South Beach, it's only $3.25 per person, so use that to get to the beach from the airport. You will save ALL KINDS of money on a cab. It stops at Lincoln Road.

Talk to the concierge at your hotel about things like airboat tours of the Everglades (I lived in south Florida for 15 years and all I can say to that is HELL to the NO. But people love them.) You can get to Miami Seaquarium (FLIPPER!) by taking a bus to the Brickell Station, then taking route B. Might take you 90 or so minutes. Zoo Miami is another option. There's apparently a Zoo Bus, so check that out.

If you like houses, check out Vizcaya, you can get there by Metrorail. It's close to Coconut Grove, so if you're into that, walk around Miracle Mile.

If you want to do something goofy, go down to Brickell Blvd, ride around on the Metromover. Check out Mary Brickell Village. My favorite restaurant there is Perricone's (not quite there, but a stone's throw away.) Do this in the day! Brickell is full of office buildings and big hotels that cater to the cruise lines. At night it gets creepy.

I would suggest avoiding Bayside. As mi sobrina Michi says, "What, are you in middle school on your first date?"

My favorite breakfast in Miami is toasted Cuban bread (done in a panini press) and cafe con leche. No particular place. Just walk around until you see a group of old dudes in guayabeda shirts yelling jovially at each other, clustered around a window. Order your food at the window.

If you're up for an adventure, I am insane for El Palacio do los Jugos. It's a dump of a dive, it used to be just juice and sandwiches, but now it's juice, sandwiches, hot food bars, desserts, and it's open air with electric fans. I go to the 27th Street location, across from the body shop. Again, I recommend day light, it's not unsafe, it's not even sketchy, it's just you may not be comfortable. It helps to know Spanish, but it's not essential. You can point and smile. It's cash only.

MeMail me if you want more stuff. I'm full of stuff. I'll be in Ft. Lauderdale in April and I'm already thinking of fun stuff to do (and seeing all my friends of course!)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:40 PM on February 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

Here are my favorite recommendations for Miami hotels:

Ritz Carlton South Beach
The Loews South Beach

All great properties!
posted by kdern at 2:15 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really enjoy the wynwood walls just wander around the neighbourhood.
Also I always go to versailles for cuban food There may be better, fancier, cheaper etc, but its good, accessible and an institution.
posted by captaincrouton at 3:11 PM on February 3, 2015

Miami is awesome. Make sure to venture further than the arts district though! My favorite place in Miami is the Fairchild Botanical Gardens. It's not to be missed! I also usually enjoy the Wolfsonian.

Eat some good divey Cuban food!
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:05 PM on February 3, 2015

The Earth-n-us farm is an amazing place both to visit and to stay. They have some inconsistent community events (although the Thursday night vegan potluck seems pretty regular) but you can drop by pretty much any time during the day to say hello to the animals and check out the gardens. You will definitely meet some interesting/cool/weird people as well. There is also relatively easy bus access to the beach and arts district via either city buses or, if you're feeling adventurous, privately owned jitney vans.
posted by justjess at 9:01 PM on February 3, 2015

I showed my best friend who's from Miami your question and she gave me some suggestions for you:

"I would say they should stay in one of the art deco hotels north of Ocean Drive, where Collins Ave goes back from the ocean a bit - it's not as party crazy times up there, and the hotels are really beautiful.

Another option, not out at the beach, is the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables - old, gorgeous, completely luxurious (quite pricey) beautiful pool.

As for restaurants, they should go to everything that is owned by Michael Schwartz. He has a restaurant by the pool at SLS hotel which is awesome and completely beautiful, and then Harry's Pizzeria and the Cypress Room (and Michael's Genuine but that's similar to the South Beach one) in the Design District. All of the restaurants are really good - kind of hipstery new American with local ingredients. Zuma is also a great place for fancy Japanese/Sushi foods and excellent cocktails - it's also kind of a see and be seen sort of place (but my family still likes going there so they're not obnoxious about it).

For tourist attractions, I like Vizcaya, which is a beautiful home/mansion built in the early 20th century and it's meant to look like an Italian villa.

They should also just enjoy the beach/pool, because that's what people come to Miami for! If they get tired of their hotel pool, then the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is really pretty.

As for transportation, there is almost none that goes out to the beach. I think there might be a bus, but the public transportation in Miami is terrible. They can't expect to rely on that. I don't know anything about Uber in Miami.

They might want to check out Books and Books - an excellent bookstore. It has a branch in Coral Gables and a branch somewhere else (don't know exactly where).

Also looking at the comments now - they should NOT take an airboat ride in the Everglades if they care about the animals as they claim."
posted by ferret branca at 7:23 AM on February 7, 2015

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