Roughly 24 hours in Miami (or South Beach?) - Help me decide?
June 18, 2018 11:18 AM   Subscribe

We will be taking a cruise that departs from the port of Miami in the spring, to celebrate a big wedding anniversary. The cruise line recommends two hotels, a Marriott in South Beach or the Four Seasons downtown, for pre/post cruise stays. We'll be flying in the day before the cruise (early morning) and will have roughly 24 hours in town before we board the ship. I see us having two paths - which would you recommend?

Keeping in mind one huge caveat - I kind of feel like we're two middle aged pasty nerds who are in no way cool enough to pull of anywhere in Miami... so with a grain of salt...

1) Staying downtown, but not at the Four Seasons. We tend to like interesting/quirky places to stay (our last chain hotel stay had a door to the rooftop garden and honey from on site beehives), and I'm not sure the Four Seasons is that. Plus from what I've read, most of what we'd be interested in doing on that side of the Bay would be in the Wynwood area (art, walking around to breweries). So if we stay on that side of the bay, where would you suggest? And what else should we do?

2) Staying at the Marriott in South Beach. Or someplace amazing that you know about? We'll be spending plenty of time on the ship and our ports enjoying sand and sun, so the beach isn't a huge draw beyond having a balcony. I suspect if we stayed over there, we'd go to the Wolfsonian and then in general enjoy the architecture. (Is the Lincoln mall worth the uber?)

Or 3) you tell me. I'll be honest and say that Miami isn't a place I'd ever envisioned going to, so I'm open to your expertise and suggestions. We won't be renting a car, though I've read how car-centric the area is. We'll basically have the afternoon/evening of the day we fly in, and the morning before we board the ship, to enjoy a city I know nothing about (though I have read the previous questions here on Ask). I'd be down with a small boutique hotel, but am open to a splurge for one night since this is a "round number" anniversary celebration.
posted by librarianamy to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (5 answers total)
Bear in mind that the cruise line recommends those two hotels because of some sort of revenue-sharing business deal. Although I'm sure they are both lovely, there is nothing magic about those two places, and there are a ba-JILLION hotels in Miami. (I personally like the Kimptons, but those are only one choice of many, many good ones.)

Don't stress yourself out too much about trying to cram in sights in a city that's not really on Your List, especially the day before you leave on a cruise. Look at the city's online event calendars ahead of time, pick *one* thing that looks fun on the evening/night of arrival, and plan to do that. Choose a really nice hotel close to that event and plan to enjoy the hotel amenities as much as you can ... sleep late on embarkation day, get a room service breakfast, maybe go the spa or the pool. Pay a lot for that one room-night if you want, and really get what you're paying for!

It sounds like you're meh about Miami itself to begin with, so don't make yourself run all around the morning before you go to the cruise terminal. Let your day begin in a gentle and leisurely fashion, and make the transition to the ship in a calm state of mind. Start your cruise on the vibe that you want to have while you're sailing!
posted by mccxxiii at 12:02 PM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would stay somewhere on collins in south beach (i like the shore club but i am highly biased) just to have that South Beach Experience before it's destroyed by climate change.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:34 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you decide to stay on South Beach, my favorite hotel there is the Z Ocean Hotel. They have rooftop suites that have a private patio with hot tub on the roof, perfect for relaxing. It's walking distance from lots of great restaurants and bars. I agree with mccxxiii that getting a nice place and chilling out is better than chasing all over town to see the sights.
posted by Daily Alice at 1:16 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

The closest hotel to Wynwood is the new Hampton on Biscayne at about 35th Street. It's a bit of a hike, but there is a trolley bus that runs between 6 or 8 and 11 that will get you there or a Lyft should only be $5. You can easily walk to Midtown or the Design District from the hotel. There's also a Hilton and a Hyatt a bit further south that provides the same trolley access and are close to Metromover if you want to go downtown or to Brickell, but there is less stuff within within walking distance.

Whether to stay out on the Beach or on the mainland depends more on what you want to do than anything else. If you want to spend most of the day on the beach, stay out there. If you just want to go spend a few minutes there to dip your toes in the water, there's a bus that stops maybe two blocks from the Hampton that will take you across to a spot just south of the Fountainebleu and similar options at the others.

Any of these options put you reasonably close to Wynwood, the Frost Museum, and the new art museum in the Design District, so you shouldn't want for things to do and won't spend more than 5-10 minutes transiting between them except between 4 and 5:30-6ish, when crossing 36th can get a bit slow in a car.
posted by wierdo at 6:48 PM on June 18, 2018

Brickell area is very cool, art galleries and good food and such, very walkable and close to the port (short taxi ride). South beach also has some cool spots, I used to love walking down Espanola way after dinner at Hosteria Romana (seriously good Italian). South beach by the water can be an overwhelming club scene late at night but the people watching can't be beat any time of day. If you have time to see the coral castle its not to be missed but a bit tricky to get to if you don't hand a vehicle from what I recall.
The museum scene has seriously stepped up its game downtown in recent year, there's a bunch of art museums and a whole park of museums downtown on the water that are worth a visit.
posted by danapiper at 8:34 PM on June 18, 2018

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