Late in 2021, my sons were in a sailing regatta in Miami’s Coconut Grove. Two days after Christmas, I was given a special holiday present from one of the coaches.. I tested positive for Covid on the PCR test that was required in order to return to Canada. All 4 other people in our AirBNB were fine but I knew I would be spending 14 nights alone. In the sun. Without any responsibility. Every Mom’s dream until you have to pay for the hotels and are forced away from the kids!
Lining up for covid tests each day, I quickly tested negative, but still had to wait the full 14 days since my positive test to return to Canada. I was to have knee surgery shortly after, and if I had returned sooner I would have had to do a further 14-day isolation. What an incredible opportunity to truly get to know the city! Once negative, I hotel-hopped so that I could truly immerse myself in various neighbourhoods.
Miami is a bustling city in Florida, known for its beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and diverse culture. With a population of over 463,000 people, Miami is home to many distinct neighbourhoods, each with its unique character and attractions. Here is an overview of 14 of Miami’s most popular neighbourhoods, along with a few recos from my time there.
So.. this was my first stop and freshly squeezed OJ was my vice during the time there. South Beach is perhaps the most well-known neighbourhood in Miami, and for a good reason. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, along with a vibrant nightlife scene, high-end shopping, and world-class restaurants. Visitors can take a stroll down Ocean Drive to see the iconic Art Deco architecture, visit the trendy Lincoln Road Mall, or party the night away at one of the many clubs and bars. During a conference several years ago I had the chance to attend a party at the Versace Mansion, now a popular restaurant. Don’t miss it if you have a big budget!
Located just west of downtown Miami, Little Havana is a neighbourhood steeped in Cuban culture and history. Visitors can explore the vibrant Calle Ocho (8th) street, where they will find colourful murals, cigar shops, and plenty of delicious Cuban food. Often there are vintage cars parked on the street. Little Havana is also home to the historic Tower Theater, which shows both Spanish and English-language films, as well as the Cuban Memorial Boulevard, a park that honours Cuban-American veterans.
Wynwood is Miami’s art district, known for its colourful street art, galleries, and trendy restaurants. The neighborhood is home to the Wynwood Walls, a series of murals painted by artists from around the world, as well as the monthly Art Walk, where galleries stay open late and visitors can enjoy live music and food trucks. Wynwood is also home to many popular restaurants, such as Zak the Baker and Joey’s Italian Cafe. My budget hotel was close by to the north, but I absolutely can’t recommend it as it was terrifying. Best stay in Midtown or the Design District if you want some proximity.
Coral Gables is a wealthy residential neighbourhood known for its beautiful architecture and high-end shopping. Visitors can stroll down Miracle Mile, a tree-lined street filled with upscale boutiques and restaurants, or explore the historic Venetian Pool, a public swimming pool built in 1923 that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Coral Gables is also home to the University of Miami and the Biltmore Hotel, an iconic landmark that has hosted many famous guests over the years. There was great shopping, and several side streets for parking. It’s also very close to the Miami airport.
Coconut Grove is a bohemian neighbourhood known for its lush greenery, laid-back vibe, and waterfront views. This is where my boys sail three times per year, so of all the neighbourhoods I am most familiar with this one. Visitors can explore the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a stunning Italian Renaissance-style villa built in 1916, or take a walk through the Kampong, a botanical garden that is home to over 1,000 species of tropical plants. Coconut Grove is also home to many popular restaurants and bars, such as the iconic Monty’s Raw Bar and the trendy Spillover. A new addition to the waterfront is the Bayshore Club, which is stunning for an Aperol Spritz.
Stay: Hotel Aria
Eat: taco Tuesday at the Sandbar, Monty’s, Burgers at LoKal. Glass & Vine has a great happy hour
See: Grab a scooter and whip down the waterfront, grabbing coffee at Fresh Market
Shop: Aqua Bendita for swimsuits
Downtown Miami is the city’s commercial and financial centre, home to many of Miami’s tallest buildings and largest corporations. Visitors can take a stroll down Biscayne Boulevard to see some of the city’s most iconic buildings, such as the Freedom Tower and the Olympia Theater. Downtown Miami is also home to the Perez Art Museum, a contemporary art museum located on the waterfront, as well as the American Airlines Arena, which hosts concerts and sporting events throughout the year.
See: The Miami Heat
Brickell is a densely populated neighbourhood in downtown Miami known for its luxury high-rise buildings and thriving business district. Visitors can explore the Mary Brickell Village shopping center, which is home to many popular restaurants and shops, or take a walk along the Miami Riverwalk, which offers stunning views of the city skyline. Brickell is also home to many popular bars and nightclubs, such as the rooftop lounge at the East Miami hotel.
The Design District is a trendy neighbourhood known for its high-end shopping and architectu
re. Visitors can explore the many luxury brands that have opened flagship stores in the area, such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, or visit the Institute of Contemporary Art, a museum that showcases cutting-edge art exhibitions. The Design District is also home to many top-rated restaurants, such as Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Mandolin Aegean Bistro.
Midtown is a diverse neighbourhood located just north of downtown Miami that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Visitors can explore the bustling Midtown Miami shopping center, which features many popular retailers and restaurants, or visit the sprawling Margaret Pace Park, which offers stunning views of Biscayne Bay. Midtown is also home to many popular bars and nightlife venues, such as the popular Wood Tavern.
Miami Beach is a separate city located on an island just east of Miami and is home to many of the city’s most luxurious resorts and hotels. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, or take a stroll down the iconic Ocean Drive to see the art deco architecture and neon lights. Miami Beach is also home to many popular restaurants and nightlife venues, such as the famous LIV nightclub at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel.
Located just north of downtown Miami, Little Haiti is a vibrant neighbourhood that celebrates Haitian culture and history. Visitors can explore the colourful murals and street art that adorn the walls of many buildings in the area, or visit the Little Haiti Cultural Center, which hosts many cultural events and performances throughout the year. Little Haiti is also home to many popular restaurants and bars that serve traditional Haitian cuisine, such as Leela’s Restaurant and Tap Tap Haitian Restaurant.
Overtown is a historically black neighbourhood located just west of downtown Miami that has undergone significant redevelopment in recent years. Visitors can explore the Historic Lyric Theatre, a restored art deco theatre that now hosts many cultural events and performances, or visit the Black Archives, which celebrates the contributions of African Americans to Miami’s history and culture. Overtown is also home to many popular restaurants and nightlife venues, such as the popular Copper Door B&B and the Gibson Park Community Center.
Miami is a diverse and exciting city that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in art and culture, nightlife and entertainment, or simply soaking up the sun on the beautiful beaches, Miami’s many neighbourhoods are sure to impress. From the iconic South Beach to the trendy Wynwood and the historic Little Havana, each neighbourhood has its unique character and attractions that make it worth exploring.