Typically in this column, we cover how to spend seven days in a particular state. However, some states pack too much of a punch to cover all at once. When we last visited Florida, we discussed a week-long itinerary for the Florida Keys. North of the Keys sits its gateway, Miami, with beaches, culture, cuisine, and nature that deserves its own lengthy visit. Here’s how to spend seven days in the spicy city of Miami, Florida.
Day 1: Neighborhood Matters
The month in which you visit Miami can determine the type of activities you wish to partake in during your stay. During the rainy season, AKA the summer months, there is a higher chance of hurricanes and tropical storms making landfall, potentially raining out beach and pool plans for a few days. In late winter and early spring, however, drier weather patterns and ideal warm temperatures make for the perfect opportunity to settle into your accommodations on South Beach or Mid Beach (just be wary of rowdy spring break crowds). If you’re interested in a tropical beach vacation, make a beach hotel, resort, or condo rental be your home base. If you’re more interested in getting a taste of Miami’s culture, nightlife, and shopping, I highly suggest settling into the busting Brickell or artsy Wynwood neighborhoods of Miami. Brickell carries prime shopping, upscale dining, and offers premium water views. Wynwood is an art and graffiti-lover’s dream, holds one-of-a-kind eateries, and is home to some of Miami’s best nightlife. Renting a car is optional, based on how confident of a driver you are in somewhat crazy and chaotic driving conditions. Depending on the area and time of year, parking can be pricey and problematic, making Uber or Lyft a competitive option with half the hassle.
Day 2: Explore Tourist Hotspots
Visitors have likely heard of attractions such as the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame near Downtown Miami, Little Havana, the Wynwood Walls, and South Beach’s Art Deco buildings along the beach. Consider your interests and spend a day knocking tourist must-sees off your bucket list, especially if beach weather is less than ideal. Various tour companies also offer walking and luxury car tours of Miami that cover some of Miami’s biggest sights in an organized, pre-planned fashion to take the pressure off visitors who are wary of navigating the hectic traffic.
Day 3: Key Biscayne
For a more peaceful beach experience than South Beach, head down to Crandon Beach on Key Biscayne with ample parking, hiking and birding trails, and white sand for relaxing. Locals often visit Key Biscayne beaches to escape the urban chaos, while nature lovers enjoy the various coastal birds present on shore. Golfers can play at Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne, while bikers can take a scenic route down Fossil Reef Bike Trail. Another positive? There’s even a Starbucks on Crandon Boulevard for beach goers in need of a morning or afternoon pick-me-up before returning to the craziness of Miami.
Day 4: Water Sports
There are a plethora of water adventures to embark on in and around Miami, even for beginners with no experience in kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, or jet skiing. Go with a guide or find affordable kayak and SUP rentals around Biscayne Bay. Vanessa at Nature and Paddleboard Adventures takes experienced and first-time stand-up paddleboarders through canals and mangroves to see birds, fish, and manatees before stopping at Sandspur Island (also referred to as “Raccoon Island”) to make nice with friendly island raccoons. To book these highly-rated adventures, visit naturepaddleboardadventures.com.
Day 5: Visit the Everglades
It wouldn’t be a true trip to south Florida without seeing Everglades National Park. Rental car users will have no issue making the somewhat lengthy trek to the Everglades for an airboat tour and the opportunity to see wildlife such as alligators, snakes, and maybe even an elusive panther. No rental car? Tour companies often offer pick-up and drop-offs from Miami to the Everglades, although these tours tend to be a bit pricier than organized tours starting at the Park. Travel sites such as Viator.com or Tripadvisor.com are great resources for finding the perfect Everglades tour.
Day 6: Pick a Pass
What’s great about the various hotels and resorts in Miami, Miami Beach, and South Beach are the option for non-guests to purchase day passes to pool and beach clubs with beach chairs, pool access, spa access, and convenient dining options. Passes range anywhere from $30 to $100 per guest, depending on the location. Adult day passes for Eden Roc’s pool and beach access are $60, but allow for a luxury experience for those staying inland looking to spend the day by the water. Looking for a rooftop pool without heading across the causeway? Hyatt Centric Brickell’s luxurious rooftop pool can be accessed for $40 per adult in a convenient, centrally-located location. Visit resortpass.com to peruse the various day passes Miami hotels and resorts have to offer.
Day 7: Depart Miami
Since traffic can be heavy and unpredictable, head to MIA (Miami International Airport) much earlier than expected to catch your flight home. Since MIA is one of the nation’s busiest airports, keep in mind the fluctuating wait times for airport security and check-in, as long lines can also slow travelers down. Don’t be surprised if tropical storms or rain showers cause flight delays or cancellations, as tropical conditions can be unpredictable for vacationers.