Planning a weekend in Miami? Having lived in Miami, I consider myself an expert on Florida. Here’s my recommended 3-day Miami itinerary!
Miami is intoxicatingly beautiful, with wide boulevards lined with Art Deco buildings and palm trees swaying against the backdrop of lapping waves. Even so, it’s the people – largely Latin American population – that make it unlike anywhere else in the United States.
Having lived in Miami, I can safely say it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. The city is sexy, lively and welcoming, with a vibrant culture, lush tropical gardens and exciting cuisines. I’ve returned several times since and it remains a special place for me. If you’re looking for some insider recommendations, here’s my recommended Miami itinerary.
Table of Contents
- Weekend in Miami Itinerary
- Miami Itinerary Day 1: Explore South Beach
- Miami Itinerary Day 2: Venture into the Neighborhoods
- Miami Itinerary Day 3: Head to the Nearby Key Biscayne
- Day Trips from Miami
- Miami Weekend Guide
Weekend in Miami Itinerary
Miami is one of those cities that are perfect for a girls getaway or a weekend trip with your loved one. This Miami itinerary will help you make the most of your 3 days in Miami and see the best of the city while having a great time.
If you are planning to travel around Florida, please do check out my 2-week Florida road trip.Click on the links below to skip to each section:
- Day 1: Explore South Beach
- Day 2: Venture into the Neighborhoods
- Day 3: Head to Key Biscayne
- Daytrips from Miami
To help you plan your weekend in Miami, I’ve included more details:
- How to Get to Miami
- How to Get Around Miami
- Best Time to Visit Miami
- Where to Stay in Miami
- Where to Eat in Miami
Miami Itinerary Day 1: Explore South Beach
Start your weekend in Miami at the palpitating heart of the city: South Beach. This is the beating heart of Miami Beach, with its hundreds of dazzling pastel-coloured 1920s and 1930s Art Deco buildings. By day, the sun blares down on the sand and spearmint waters. By night, ten blocks of Ocean Drive become one of the liveliest stretches in Miami, as terrace cafés spill across the specially widened sidewalk.
We recommend booking a hotel in South Beach if you like being in the heart of the action (scroll down for hotel recommendations). But it is notoriously expensive — a beer in a bar along South Beach can cost as much as $20. For those on a budget, stay in Coral Gables or Brownsville near the airport.
Take a Art Deco Tour
To get under the skin of South Beach, I recommend doing an Art Deco Walking Tour. There is a protection act in place and none of the buildings can get knocked down or modified, since they were built before the 1960s. You’ll get to learn more about the history and architecture of the Art Deco and Miami Modern (MiMo) styles from local historians and architects.
Walking up and down Ocean Drive and listening to the history of these buildings is fascinating. Just a short walk away is Lincoln Road, a pedestrianized promenade lined with beautiful buildings. Collins Ave and Washington Ave are also worth visiting.
Have Dinner at Española Way
As the sun sets, head to another charming pedestrianised street in South Beach: Española Way. Designed to resemble a Spanish village, the street is flanked by colonial architecture, Mediterranean restaurants, and lush bougainvillea covered facades.
Mercato Della Pescheria Espanola Way is one of the most popular restaurants along Española Way and we highly recommend coming here for authentic Italian food and fresh seafood. Havana 1957 is a fixture of the restaurant scene here, and serves the best mojitos in Miami.
Experience the Nightlife in Miami
For your first night in Miami, prepare to paint the town red! South Beach is famous for its vibrant nightlife, so make the most of your time here and hit swanky beach clubs like Nikki Beach, or more upscale spots like LIV. Clevelander South Beach is known for throwing the best party on the beach, right in the center of it all on Ocean Drive. An alternative to the typical Miami mega clubs is Basement Miami, a trendy place with an ice skating rink, bowling lanes, DJ, and lounge seating.
Miami Itinerary Day 2: Venture into the Neighborhoods
Explore Little Havana
Next morning, take a wander around Little Havana, a vibrant Cuban neighborhood in Miami. Little Havana is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Miami, with a compelling history, distinct vibe, and magnificent food scene.
After the Cuban Revolution in 1959 lots of Cubans left the Caribbean island, with many of them coming to Miami. Little Havana is where most of them gather, together with many other immigrants from Central and South America. It is a centre of social, cultural and political activity in Miami.
Try a Cuban Sandwich
You can’t leave Little Havana without trying an authentic Cuban sandwich. Veer off the main thoroughfare – Calle Ocho – to find little Cuba cafes that serve some of the best Cuban sandwiches in Miami. Sarussi is often cited as the go-to for a Cubano. Sanguich De Miami, as the name might imply, does it exceptionally well. El Mago de Las Fritas gained great fame for the sandwich when former President Obama stopped in.
Take a Wander in Coral Gables
After a hot sweaty day at Little Havana, cool off in the beautiful Venetian Pool in Coral Gables that’s just a 10-min drive away. Created from a rock quarry, the Venetian is nearly 100 years old, and is far more elaborate than your average public pool, boasting rock caves and waterslides to explore.
Then continue your homage to Cuban culture with a drink at the Biltmore Hotel. It’s an iconic landmark of the Coral Gables district dating back to 1926 and definitely worth a visit for its architecture. Coral Gables is a quiet residential area home to the University of Miami — that’s where I went on an exchange program and met my husband!
Check out Hipster Wynwood Walls
From Coral Gables, get acquainted with a very different side of Miami at the Wynwood Walls art district, where you can admire an amazing display of street art from artists all over the world. Once an unloved industrial district, Wynwood has been transformed into one of Miami’s trendiest neighborhoods, bursting with everything from impressive street art to eclectic boutiques.
Miami Itinerary Day 3: Head to the Nearby Key Biscayne
Drive to Key Biscayne
On your last day in Miami, I recommend driving down to pristine island of Key Biscayne, just a 30-minute drive from South Beach. At the tip of the key is a 400-acre state park named Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
My favorite thing is to cycle along the scenic paths in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, as well as visit the beach at Crandon Park. Don’t forget to visit the Cape Florida Lighthouse after that. Climb the 112 steps to the top of what is South Florida’s only lighthouse for a spectacular view of the Biscayne Bay.
Have Lunch at Rusty Pelican
Since you’re at Key Biscayne, drop in at the venerable Rusty Pelican for a seafood lunch by the sea. Its spectacular view of the Miami skyline is unrivaled. While it once had a fairly-dated menu, a new chef brought the place new life about three years ago. We came here on most recent trip to Miami, and were impressed by the trendy and delicious seafood dishes.
Stop at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
On your way back to Miami, make a stop at the Vizcaya Museum, a National Historic Landmark built between 1914 and 1922. Vizcaya is one of the most intact remaining examples from this era, when the nation’s most successful entrepreneurs built estates inspired by the stately homes of Europe.
Be sure to spend some time wandering around the gardens, which resemble the layout of France’s Versailles. The sprawling Formal Gardens were designed by landscape architect Diego Suarez to feel like a great outdoor room, connecting to the main house along a North-South axis.
Get Your Culture on in Downtown Miami
From there, head to downtown Miami for a cultural experience. Downtown Miami has been given a facelift in recent years, and it’s now a cool cultural hub perfect for those looking to go under the surface of Miami.
Museum Park (also known as Maurice A. Ferre park) is a new cultural district developed on unused waste land. Here you will find the ultra-modern Frost Science Museum, which is home to a Planetarium and an Aquarium. Tickets to the Frost Science Museum start from USD $30. Learn about some of city’s interesting history with a visit to HistoryMiami, which offers several city tour options and exhibitions.
Relax at Bayside Marketplace
In the evening, enjoy some sundowners at Bayside Marketplace, an entertainment complex right by the water in Downtown Miami. It’s got a nice collection of shops and restaurants, as well as a marina where many boat tours depart from. We used to come here during our university days every weekend, mainly for the al fresco bars!
Day Trips from Miami
Do a Road Trip to the Florida Keys
You can’t come to Florida and not take a road trip to the Florida Keys! The Keys are a coral cay archipelago located off the southern coast of Florida. Make Key Largo your first stop in the Florida Keys. This cute beachside town is the largest town in the Keys with great restaurants that serve up the iconic Key Lime Pie.
Stop at Islamorada, where you can hand feed giant tarpon at Robbies, before arriving in Key West, the most famous town in the Florida Keys and the southernmost point of continental US. Visit the famous Ernest Hemingway House and the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Don’t miss these free things to do in Key West.
Go Wild in the Everglades National Park
Just an hour away from Miami, you’ll find the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States: the Everglades National Park. An Everglades Airboat Tour is the best way to experience the Everglades as the vast percentage of the National Park is covered by swamplands and only accessible by boat. Read about our experience cruising the Everglades. Note: The Everglades National Park has an entry cost of $30 per car, valid for 7 days.
Take a Ferry to the Bahamas
I know it sounds ridiculous, but you can actually visit the Bahamas on a day trip from Miami! You can actually catch a ferry to the Bimini islands from Fort Lauderdale, which is just an hour’s drive away. Book a day tour if you’d like them to pick you up from your hotel and show you around Bimini. I recommend exploring the Bimini Nature Trail, Martin Luther King Junior Memorial, and take some time to enjoy the pristine beach.
Miami Weekend Guide
How to Get to Miami
If you’re visiting from other parts of the US, driving is definitely more convenient than taking the Greyhound (bus) or Amtrak (train). Below is a timetable with the time it takes to drive here from neighboring cities.
|Distance||Duration by Car||Duration in Time|
|Orlando, FL||236 miles (379km)||3.5 hours|
|Tampa, FL||280 miles (450km)||3 hours|
|Atlanta, GA||662 miles (1065km)||9.5 hours|
|New Orleans, LA||863 miles (1389km)||12 hours|
Flying into Miami from other parts of the US and internationally is quite affordable. You can fly from Los Angeles to Miami for as little as $300 return (5-hour flight). For the best fares, we always use Skyscanner as they’ve consistently given us the lowest prices.
Flying from Europe to Florida is surprisingly cheap. We took a direct flight from Paris to Fort Lauderdale with Norwegian Airlines (10hours) for $220 one way.
How to Get Around Florida
The best way to get around Miami is by car. Miami car rental is very affordable. Our last car rental in Miami cost us $180 for a week including full insurance, which is around $25 a day. Check the current rates here. If you’re planning to do a Florida road trip, it’s best to book a car rental with pick up and drop-off at Miami Airport.
Compared to the rest of the world, gas prices in Florida are incredibly low. At the moment Florida gas prices sit at around US$2.50 per gallon (3.78L). Miami is rather spread out, so having a car will definitely be useful. [We also rented an e-bike for a day just to explore the downtown area.]
By Day Trips
If you prefer not to drive, it IS possible to visit popular spots outside of Miami such as the Everglades National Park on day trips. Our favorite site to book day tours is GetYourGuide. They consistently offer the best prices and have free cancellations and mobile vouchers.
Most day trips from Miami cost around US$60 and upwards. There are lots of boat trips and snorkel tours in Florida that are worth doing! Here are some of our recommended Florida day tours:
- Miami Star Island Boat Tour
- Everglades Airboat Tour
- Key West Dolphin Eco Tour
- Sunset Sail on a Schooner
- Crystal River: Snorkel with Manatees Tour
Best Time to Visit Miami
The great thing about Miami is that it is a year-round destination. The coldest it gets in Miami is around 60°F (15°C) in January. July is the warmest month in Miami, when temperatures can rise to up to 90°F (32°C).
Our favorite time to visit Miami is in fall between September to November. The weather is perfect around 75°F (24°C), meaning you can still go swimming and enjoy the beaches and springs without getting fried by the heat.
Where to Stay in Miami
Budget: Hudson House
It’s hard to find anything less than $100/night in Miami, so this stylish house is a rare find. We stayed here once after a long flight (it’s near the airport) and it was a great place to rest up. Hudson House is made up of several double rooms (with shared bathrooms) and spacious living area. Check the rates.
Midrange: Biltmore Hotel
One of the iconic landmarks of Miami, the Biltmore Hotel is housed in a Spanish colonial building reminiscent of yesteryears. The plush decor and lush patio reflect its history, while the interior has been completely revamped in recent years. But it’s located in Coral Gables, a lush residential area around a 20-min drive to South Beach. Check the rates here.
Luxury: Shelborne South Beach
Amidst Miami’s iconic Art Deco district stands the chic Shelborne South Beach hotel. It’s got one of the best locations in Miami, right on the beach with a huge pool and lounge area. We stayed here on our most recent trip to Miami and absolutely loved how representative it is of Miami with its yellow-and-white design and chic decor. Check rates here.
Luxury: 1 Hotel South Beach
Located in the heart of South Beach, this is one of the best hotels in Miami. The upscale property has oceanfront rooms and spacious apartments with spectacular views. It also has 2 swimming pools, including one adults-only rooftop pool. Check the rates here.
Luxury: Kimpton EPIC Hotel
This luxury Miami hotel is in the centre of the city’s financial district and offers Check rates here.of the Miami River and Biscayne . We’ve also stayed here on one of our trips to Miami, and really loved the spacious, the floor-to-ceiling windows in each room.
Where to Eat in Miami
Miami is where Latin America meets USA. This beautiful fusion is evident from Miami’s vibrant Latino food scene. You can find everything from authentic Mexican tacos to Cuban home-cooked food and barbecued Caribbean fare. On top of that, the abundance of fresh seafood in the waters surrounding Miami means there’s no shortage of excellent seafood restaurants in town!
Here are some of my favorite places to eat:
- Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant
- Rusty Pelican
- La Cerveceria de Barrio Miami
- Mama’s Tacos
- Sanguich De Miami
- El Mago de Las Fritas
Planning Your Trip to Miami
And that’s a wrap! Feel free to print out this Miami itinerary and bring it with you on your weekend getaway! I have packed this Miami itinerary with all the best things you can do in Miami, so get ready to have a blast.
Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions. Read more of my Florida and US articles to get idea for your next weekend trip:
- Florida Road Trip Itinerary
- California Road Trip Itinerary
- Arizona Road Trip Itinerary
- Utah Road Trip Itinerary
- Weekend in Seattle
- Weekend in Los Angeles
- Weekend in San Francisco
- Best National Parks in USA
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