A guide to Miami’s neighbourhoods

Florida’s cosmopolitan seaside city offers something to suit every vibe, from Cuban sandwiches to Chanel, finds Alice Barnes-Brown

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South Beach

Why go?
Miami’s capital of cool sits at the southern tip of the Miami Beach barrier island. Packed with art deco buildings in pastel shades and with two miles of pristine beach, it’s the perfect base for visiting a host of art galleries, restaurants and boutiques, while still offering plenty of opportunities to stretch out on a sunlounger. Plus, for clients who enjoy clubbing, the nightlife here is a favourite of the rich and famous.

What to do
To get acquainted with the area, recommend the Art Deco Walking Tour run by the Miami Design Preservation League, which operates daily at 10.30am ($35). Setting out from their headquarters on Ocean Drive, it’s a fabulous way to learn about South Beach’s glitzy past.

A local historian guides the group around some of the most Barbie Dreamhouse-like hotels, restaurants and shopfronts – with a visit to a few finely detailed interiors, which they might not get to glimpse on an independent wander.

Speaking of shops, the Lincoln Road outdoor shopping district is where to go for Miami fashions – think pastel hues and day‑to‑night summer styles.

If simple pleasures appeal more, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a tropical oasis that is home to a variety of Floridian and Caribbean plant species. It also hosts quirky events such as perfume-making workshops and tai chi sessions among the palms.

After sunset, check out a showing at the Rooftop Cinema Club or simply take a stroll along Collins Avenue and hop between the hotel bars.

Mid Beach

Why go?
More residential than South Beach, Mid Beach has Cuban cafes and eye-catching architecture aplenty, as well as golf courses and local restaurants to discover.

What to do
Since opening in 1923, the 18-hole Miami Beach Golf Club has attracted pro golfers and high-profile amateurs alike. Calm though it might seem, 17 holes have water hazards, so it’s a more challenging course than it first appears.

Steps away, the monolithic, 1,504-room Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel has also seen its fair share of celebrities. It was a haunt of Frank Sinatra, when the crooner used to winter in Miami.

If clients want to spot celebs, the LIV nightclub hosts top DJs and performers on Friday and Saturday nights.

Wynwood

Why go?
Once filled with abandoned warehouses and discount clothing stores, edgy Wynwood became a blank canvas for street artists in the late 20th century. It’s now home to more than 70 galleries, studios and performance spaces, plus a growing collection of designer outlets and trendy hotels.

What to do
Head for Wynwood Walls street-art museum (pictured), where walls, floors and even old subway carriages are adorned with artworks. Displays change regularly and give artists from diverse communities a voice.

For those keen to see art ‘in the wild’, the 60-minute Wynwood Buggies tour takes groups around the ‘hood in a golf cart to see prominent works – and perhaps meet the artists who painted them.

Downtown

Why go?
Miami’s central business district is dotted with modern museums. The waterfront Riverwalk and Baywalk boulevards lead past Italian and Mediterranean dining options, as well as serving as a gateway for boat trips to Miami’s islands.

What to do
The Pérez Art Museum displays contemporary sculptures, photos and paintings inside a glassy gallery and on the grassy Miami Harbour shores.

Next door, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science (pictured) offers interactive meteorological exhibits and the chance to watch palaeontologists at work.

Brickell

Why go?
Miami’s ‘millionaire’s row’ is just across Miami River from Downtown, but is also convenient for exploring the city’s leafier suburbs, such as Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove.

What to do
Brickell City Centre has high-end boutiques ranging from AllSaints to Chanel for a dose of retail therapy. Though visitors may leave with empty wallets, they can fill their bellies with cheesy Cuban sandwiches at Marabú or Japanese-Latin fusion sushi at Pubbelly. Or they can whizz up to Sugar on the 40th floor of the East hotel for a daiquiri with a view.

A cultural fix can be found one Metrorail stop south at the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens (pictured) – a Venetian-style pile designed around the owner’s eclectic antiques collection.

Little Havana

Why go?
About 70% of Miami’s population is Hispanic. From the 1960s and 1970s, when migrants from Cuba arrived en masse, Little Havana sprung up as the heart of the community, and Calle Ocho still serves up tropical beats, minty mojitos and Cuban coffee from takeaway windows.

What to do
Clients can start at the Bay of Pigs Monument (marking the US government’s failed invasion of Cuba in 1961) and wander westwards along the Tamiami Trail. They’ll notice the Gloria and Emilio Estefan street art (a 2022 addition) and the feral roosters that roam the streets – a product of cockfighting being a once-legal Cuban pastime. Dominoes now take the place of animal entertainment, and travellers can watch locals play at the petite Domino Park.

The Ball & Chain nightclub is a staple Miami hotspot and the city’s best place to learn some sensual salsa steps.

Book it:
Ocean Florida sells a five-night stay at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach from £855 per person, based on two sharing a Double Ocean View room. The price includes flights departing on selected dates in November.
ocean-florida.co.uk

Tui offers seven nights in a Premium Twin Room at the Yotel Miami from £958. The price includes flights on October 21, transfers and luggage.
tui.co.uk

Gold Medal sells a four-night stay at the Hilton Miami Downtown from £1,129 per person, based on two sharing a King Room. Includes flights departing March 17, 2025.
goldmedal.co.uk

Where to stay
The minimalistic Loews Miami Beach (pictured) occupies a prime position near the top of Ocean Drive. Despite the sophisticated vibes, the hotel is family-friendly, with a great kids’ club and daily banana boat rides. Rooms start at $289 a night.
loewshotels.com/miami-beach

For a city stay, the Hotel Indigo Miami Brickell is a compact yet colourful choice. The nearby stations give easy access to the Metromover monorail and Metrorail trains. Rooms from £131 per night.
ihg.com/hotelindigo

The Biltmore (pictured) in sleepy Coral Gables opened in 1926 and is a National Historic Landmark. It’s a veritable temple to Spanish Revival architecture, with a palm-draped courtyard, a vast pool and a spa that exceeds 1,100sq m. Rooms cost from $299 a night.
biltmorehotel.com

How to sell Miami

Janine Bailey-Hague, agency sales senior travel consultant, North America Travel Service

“Make sure clients experience Little Havana. If they take a guided food tour of the district, they can sample the area and learn as they go. A visit to Everglades

National Park (pictured) is a must, as it’s only a little over an hour’s drive from Miami. The Unesco World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve offers travellers the chance to see manatees, crocodiles, many endangered birds and even the elusive Florida panther. South Beach is very vibrant – but not right for everyone. Key Biscayne island has a family feel, with great beaches, while Downtown has more of a city vibe, especially from Monday to Friday.”


Top tip

The best time to visit is between December and May to avoid the summer humidity. February is the driest month, while March and April bring festivals, from Music Week to Miami Beach Pride.

Pictures: Shutterstock/Sean Pavone; Visit Florida; Miami Visitors Convention Bureau/Taylor Richards Glenn; Patrick Farrell; Vizcaya Museum & Gardens; Shutterstock/Willowtreehouse; Dr_Flash

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