See also: Best Things to Do in Miami
A uniquely eclectic cityscape, a glamorous coastline and the bright Miami sun are some of the first things that draw travellers to the Floridian city from across the globe. But there's more to Miami than just bustling beaches and modern architectural designs; museums and performing arts venues, a burgeoning gastronomy, artsy city quarters and a rich cultural fabric tying it all together, what more can one ask for from a weekend getaway vacation?
The city is among one of the best planned on the East coast and that means that despite its relatively expensive area, no neighborhood is really off limits. And with many worthy options, choosing the right neighborhood for yourself can begin to feel like a mammoth task. But we've done the homework for you and come up with a comprehensive guide. Here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of Miami and what they might have in store for you traveller!
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The go-to choice for many first time travellers flying into the city, Downtown Miami is the quintessential city centre. The compact neighborhood is home to some of the city's biggest cultural institutions. Start your sightseeing tours from the emphatic looking Pérez Art Museum Miami (known for its exhibits on contemporary art) before heading on over to the likes of visual arts centre of MDC, the city ballet & Florida Grand Opera at the Adrienne Arsht Center and the waterside Bayfront Park.
The business centre is also home to vast shopping districts and endless dining options. While you will find malls and open air markets around most major avenues, the ones close to the Brickell station and the waterfront Biscayne Boulevard respectively are particularly popular with local residents.
Also lying by the waterfront is the 19,600-seater American Airlines Arena, which hosts basketball games for the Miami Heat among other live entertainment events. The late night games, added with the fact that most shopping venues, bars and restaurants in the vicinity stay open till late into the night, make Downtown a great place to hang out after sundown.
Besides the aforementioned Brickell Station, other such major transportation hubs of the Metrorail as Miami Central, Government Centre and Overtown/Lyric Theatre stations also lie in Downtown Miami. Hotel and accommodation options are in plenty and among some of the finest that the city has to offer.
Across the Biscayne Bay from Downtown lies the affluent South Beach. One of the most popular Miami neighborhoods, South Beach was propelled to worldwide recognition owing to its rich gastronomy and immaculate palm tree-laden avenues. While walking around the neighborhood, you are bound to come across wide ranging eateries starting from streetside cafes to take-away joints to celebrity chef restaurants, so take your sweet time choosing the right place for you!
And at the beating heart of all the bustling activity is the city centre's Lincoln Road. Major clothing brands and restaurant chains have set up shop in the vicinity, making it popular with shopaholics. Visitors also throng such venues as the New World Centre and Soundscape Park, both of which are known for hosting outdoor events such as music concerts and open air film screenings.
And if all of that wasn't enough, South Beach is also home to an arts deco district and the sprawling Miami Beach that lies adjacent to the historic centre. Between exciting beach days involving surfing, kayaking among other watersports and marvelling at the beautiful pastel-coloured facades of the arts deco housing, you are unlikely to find time for much else.
The MacArthur Causeway connects South Beach to Downtown Miami, while major roads running northward provide easy access from other parts of the island. South Beach's status as an affluent neighborhood translates into pricier accommodation options; the neighborhood then is the perfect locale for a luxury vacation.
On the opposite end of Miami Beach island lies the low-key counterpart of South Beach. Ditching the busy avenues and sporty beaches in favour of quieter, more serene seaside setting, North Beach is the exact sort of place that one looks for in a getaway vacation. Lying next to the lush Oceanside Park are the neighborhood's two major sandy strips: the family-friendly North Shore Park, with soft sand, long walking trails and eponymous North Beach, known for sunset/sunrise viewings.
But that's not to say that there's not enough modern entertainment options around North Beach. Trendy bars and old-school taverns dot the neighborhood's central thoroughfares Collins and Abbott Avenues, as do other casual pizzerias and taco shops. Also, the beach fronts here are lined with similar restaurants in addition to mixed-use spaces which serve as venues or music shows and other live performing acts.
John F Kennedy Causeway connects North Beach to the mainland, while the separate Julia Tuttle Causeway also offers straight access to Downtown. The picturesque Collins Avenue runs North-South of Miami Beach connecting the two extreme ends. Boutique Hotels housed in upmarket residential buildings and rentals in beachside apartment complexes present a pretty picture as far as your choices for accommodation go.
Next up is another affluent neighborhood, this time from mainland Miami. Coconut Grove, situated a little southwest of Downtown combines both Miami's cosmopolitan and the laid-back seaside city elements really well. Making up a large part of the city's southern coast, it is home to a few small marinas and sailing clubs; whether you take up local service providers on their excursion offers or choose to hang around the charming harbours is a choice that's completely yours!
Coconut grove is a great neighborhood for an outdoorsy vacation, with lush green spaces such as the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, city landmark with masterfully sculpted gardens centred around a palatial twentieth century complex as well as the waterfront Alice Wainwright and David T. Kennedy Parks being the major draws. The palm tree-laden streets are also extremely walkable; sidewalk cafes and historic mansions with lush patios also make for perfect spots to take in the Miami sun!
Besides the eponymous Coconut Grove station, the neighborhood is also serviceable through Douglas Road and Vizcaya stations of the Metrorail. It's also only about a 20 minute drive from most Downtown landmarks. While in the neighborhood, you should not have much trouble finding a decent mid-range hotel option.
Miami's own cultural enclave of sorts, Little Havana is all things Cuba! The neighborhood emerged as the preferred choice for Cubans immigrants, who migrated to Miami in increasing numbers during the 1960s. It wasn't long before the neighborhood became a hub for culture and politics centred around the community; today, Little Havana celebrates the rich past with iconic monuments, heritage walks and a distinct lifestyle.
Start your neighborhood tours from the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, which honours Cuban and Latin American icons. Not far off you will find the Cuban Memorial Boulevard Park and Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center, both of which outline historic events through outdoor monuments and exhibits/performances respectively. City streets in and around Little Havana also provide for an array of opportunities to immerse in Cuban gourmet delights; eateries in the vicinity of SW 8th Street and Coral are especially worthy of your time!
Little Havana lies just west of Downtown and can be accessed through the Government Centre and Culmer Stations of Metrorail. Hotels are largely concentrated around such major thoroughfares W Flagler Street and NW 8th Avenue, and offer a variety of options ranging from inexpensive dorms to luxury rooms.
Situated a little north of Downtown, Upper East Side is the largely residential district of Upper East Side. But scratch the surface of this rather ordinary looking locale, and you will be surprised to find out just how much character it packs. It is in Upper East Side, in fact, that the post-war Miami Modernist architecture is best showcased. Such iconic buildings as the Bacardi Building, New Yorker Boutique, Vagabond Motel, all of which lie on the Biscayne Boulevard are some of the finest examples of the movement's extravagant architectural designs.
Preservation projects for the Miami Modernist or MiMo historic district breathed a new life into the Upper East Side, drawing on young entrepreneurs from across the city. As it stands today, the neighborhood prides itself as one of the city's finest. Many new and innovative businesses have set up shop here and among the shopping malls, mixed-use spaces and sushi bars, indie boutiques and art studios, you are unlikely to run out of things to do.
Upper East Side lies farthest north of all the neighborhoods on the list, but is by no means difficult to reach. Biscayne Boulevard runs from Downtown, through Town Square and Edgewater into the neighborhood. When in Upper East Side, try and look for a rental apartment with a nice sea facing room.
And for the last neighborhood on the list, we bring to you the artsy Wynwood. Bold graffiti and murals lift the otherwise mundane urban scenery here; the street art is also a big part of why a thorough walking tour of the Wynwood should definitely be on the top of your to-do lists. And while you're at it, keep an eye out of the home-grown designer clothing brands and fashion accessory stores that run out of these very streets.
Some of the venues that best capture Wynwood's free-spirited and somewhat whimsical vibe are Wynwood Walls, an open air museum of sorts featuring massive street art exhibits from renowned artists; the one of a kind Selfie Museum; and The Margulies Collection, a repurposed warehouses with distinctively vintage photography and sculpture exhibits. Nightowls and Miami's Gen Z crowds also throng the bars and clubs that dot the neighborhood streets.
While there are no Metrorail stations within Wynwood, it is still fairly easy to access; North Miami Avenue, NE 2nd Avenue and other similar roads running northward connect the neighborhood to Downtown. Hotels around Wynwood can be expensive, but the neighborhood offers alternatives in the form of hostels and Airbnb options.
That's our complete list of neighbourhoods from Miami traveller. Take your pick and get packing for your next vacation; the Magic City awaits!