When it comes to what to see in Miami, many people think of only two things: sand and surf. But with oodles of history, culture, arts and fashion around town, you’ll spend more time off the beach than you might think.
The best time to visit Miami
To avoid throngs of tourists, book a trip to Miami between May and September. Sure, temperatures are brutally hot, but you’ll be able to score restaurant reservations more easily and relax on a beach that’s not nearly as crowded.
Many people choose to visit in the winter and spring months for the obvious reason: temperatures average in the 70s from January to April, something most people living in northern states aren’t accustomed to during that time of year.
June through October is generally considered hurricane season in Miami, but temperatures and precipitation are ideal and accommodation costs are lower than that of the cooler months.
What to pack for a trip to Miami
To take full advantage of your sunny Miami locale, pack your beach essentials—multiple swimsuits (trust us, the sand gets everywhere), books or an e-reader and lots of sunscreen.
A bathing suit cover-up will come in handy, as well as sandals and light, airy clothing. You’ll want to walk around the trendy oceanfront shops and pick up some snacks or take a break from the sun, so a cover-up and some sandals will allow you to go from the sand to the stores without having to change.
You might want to bring a light jacket for when restaurants crank up the air conditioning, and if you plan to visit during the winter or spring, pack layers — just in case.
Going-out clothes should find their way into your suitcase, too, as Miami nightlife is internationally renowned. Most women don bright colors, low-cut necklines and short hemlines, and the guys always dress to impress.
Should visitors rent a car in Miami?
Unless you’re staying in South Beach and don’t plan on traveling outside of the party scene, then you’ll definitely want to rent a car instead of racking up expensive cab tabs.
Miami is very spread out and if you want to shop, go to the beach, wine and dine, and see the sights, having your own vehicle is key.
One option is to rent a car (or a bike) by the hour with Zipcar, so you don’t have to worry about overnight parking.
Quirky local customs in Miami
Miami is known for automatically adding gratuity onto bills — this happens especially when dining on the beach. You might also notice that many times there is a “beach tax” added onto your tab as well.
Each area in the Magic City varies in regards to gratuity and taxes, but it’s always a good idea to look over the bill carefully so you don’t end up paying more than you owe.
If you plan to drive during your trip, be on the lookout for turn signals not being used when they should be. It seems almost a tradition here that most drivers don’t use their blinkers, but instead just push on the brakes and make a go for it.