Of all American dream destinations, one in particular seems to continually capture the imagination of wanderlusting tourists: the eternal beach city of Miami, Florida. Nicknamed ‘The Magic City’, the mere mention of Miami alone is enough to conjure up all sorts of sun-drenched, tropical-infused imagery; but the real thing is even better than your wildest dreams. It’s also massive, so you want to plan your visit a little before you get there. The BUCKiTDREAM way isn’t the normal way: it’s about taking it to the next level, so with this handy guide, we can help you make the most of Miami.
You don’t want bland or par-for-the-course on your dream trip. You want to dodge the tourist traps and capture the most memorable, unforgettable experiences you can. To save you hours of slugging through tedious, badly-written travel blogs, just turn to BUCKiTDREAM, where you can be inspired by other people’s dream trips, as well as collecting ideas for things you might like to do on your own. BUCKiTDREAM even features a handy planning tool, so if you see anything you know you definitely can’t miss, simply log it in your planner so you don’t forget.
Here’s our dream list of Miami experiences, where you’re sure to find at least a few things that take your fancy and will put that BUCKiTDREAM planner to good use!
Airboat through the Everglades
Hit the swamps in style with a jet-propelled airboat. The Everglades are a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the city, and if you’re into nature-spotting, this is a truly amazing tour; we loved the educational and eco-friendly vibe of this tour, but there are loads of alternatives available. Just watch out for the alligators!
Perfect Your Tan at South Beach
If you’re going to be seen anywhere in Miami, make sure that it’s at South Beach. Blend right in with the locals and take advantage of the plethora of beaches that line one of Florida’s most iconic destinations. If you don’t fancy getting sandy, hit one of the many pools that are dotted around the city – you don’t even have to get in the pool (but if you’re going to, get in this one, it was our absolute fave!) – all you need do to look like a true Miamian is lie by it. There are several stunning rooftop pools available in SoBe, and plenty of ground level ones too…but don’t forget about the biggest pool that’s free for everyone – The Atlantic Ocean!
Visit the Bahamas for a Day
Not as outlandish as it sounds; the nearest island is only about fifty miles from Miami’s coast. Hop on a super fast boat and skip over to a Bahamian island for the day or just catch the no-frills ferry from Ft. Lauderdale to Freeport that runs every day. Don’t worry; you can still make it back to the strip in time to hit the clubs in the evening!
People-watching on Lincoln Road
If there’s a better place to test the upper limits of your credit card, we can’t think of one; this pedestrian-friendly shopping Mecca attracts folk from far and wide and its colourful milieu is ideal for a spot of people-watching, not least the fabulous street performers that entertain passersby in between Scotch & Soda and Forever21. Tuck into the Oprah-endorsed ‘The Bomb’ chocolate cake at Icebox Café and window shop to your heart’s content.
Strap on a Water Jetpack
There’s all kinds of aquatic fun to be had at AquaJet and we made sure that we enjoyed every second of it, including a water-propelled jetpack, which will shoot you thirty feet above the surface! Head over to Edgewater and the Venetian Islands where there are a couple of vendors ready to take you sky high…
Visit Jungle Island
Jungle Island is home to some stunning wildlife, including their most famed residents, the parrots. Kids and adults alike will have an unforgettable day at this tropical resort, so it’s appropriate for BUCKiTDREAMin’ families and solo travellers.
Scuba Dive the Artificial Reefs
Take advantage of Miami’s crystal clear waters, and go exploring one of their ten native artificial reefs, which cater for every customer, from beginners to seasoned snorkelling pros. Quick tip: make sure that you see official certification from whichever vendor you go with, then you can relax and enjoy the wild and wonderful world of one the ocean’s finest reefs.
Marvel at the Neptune Memorial Reef
If you want a really unforgettable reef experience, head to Neptune. Part underwater graveyard, part artistic monument to Atlantis, the Neptune Memorial Reef is a sixteen acre installation, the largest man-made reef ever built, where people can chose to have their remains cremated and interred forty feet below the ocean’s surface, while making a somewhat poetic statement with the contrast of fire and water. Whether you have a personal reason for visiting or are just wanting to appreciate its beauty as we were, the memories you make here will last an eternity.
Miami is no stranger to the rich and the poor, so when it comes to accommodation, you can certainly find something to suit your needs. And hey, if it comes to it, you can always sleep on the beach; it’s certainly hot enough!
High-end: The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort screams wall-to-wall money. Situated at the very Northern tip of Miami Beach, this resort features some stunning views and alluring amenities. Be warned though, this place is a little dreamy paradise in itself; you may never want to leave.
Medium: A surprisingly affordable boutique hotel, the EPIC Miami is located among the high rise buildings of downtown Miami. This is a great location to feel like you’re right in the centre of things, and with it’s own rooftop pool and stunning seafood menu, the EPIC truly lives up to its name.
Budget: Hostels, hostels, hostels. Miami is home to a collection of cool hostels, and seeing as most of them come with their own pool, you won’t feel like you’re dressing down. Tip form the locals: Try the Posh South Beach for a comfy, modern base in the heart of the city.
Food and Drink
You may have noticed that there’s an aquatic theme to a lot of this guide, and that ain’t going to stop anytime soon. Surrounded by the freshest waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Miami’s speciality is, of course, seafood. You can’t go far in the city without passing a seafood restaurant, and there are some seriously good ones out there. Joe’s Stone Crab regularly tops the Best Of lists and for good reason; hipsters should flock to Able & Baker to get wrap their Instagrams around the stunning Japanese-inspired cuisine at this fresh and funky speakeasy. We loved the fact that Captain Jim’s Seafood Market Restaurant catch their own fish daily and you can enjoy their haul in the informal dining space, or buy it from the open market to take home later. There’s literally nothing fresher.
Izzy’s Fish and Oyster is a new kid on the block that’s already building a serious reputation among locals, serving up some of the best seafood in Miami. Other delights of the sea that can be sampled in the magic city are sushi, with a number of world-class Japanese restaurants available. If fish isn’t your thing, or, like us, after six days straight on a piscatorial diet you crave a change, you can always grab one of the country’s finest steaks at Michael Mina’s mouth-watering Stripsteak.
Drinks and Nightlife
Miami is a well known party destination, and the nightlife of the city does nothing to dampen that reputation. This is a city that stays up late; the locals eat late, drink late, party late. If you can’t beat ’em, you better join ’em! The choice of clubs and bars on offer is pretty overwhelming, and just by stepping out of your hotel door when the sun’s down, you’re likely to happen across a good spot.
However, the endearingly-named Do Not Sit On The Furniture is a fine place to head if you’re at a loss. After only two years in operation, DNSOTF captures that true underground spirit that constantly eludes some other clubs on South Beach, and the party rages on until the early hours. And remember, if you’re sitting, you’re not dancing.
When it comes to bars, a favourite native pastime is sipping a cocktail by a pool. If you can find a bar that can provide you with that, you’ll find yourself right at home in no time at all. If you’re looking for something a little more classy, The Regent Cocktail Club is an upmarket affair with a charming old-world feel and a side of live jazz.
Tips and Culture
Don’t think that the summer is the only time to visit; the temperature in Miami is pretty golden all year round, so late-November can be just as opportunistic as mid-July.
Miami has a strong Latin influence and has done for many years, so don’t be surprised or intimidated if you suddenly start getting spoken to in Spanish. It’s not the hardest language to wing anyway; just go with the flow. Also, don’t forget that Miami time is a little to a lot more relaxed than normal time. Again, just go with the flow. The temperature and temperament of the city doesn’t encourage getting stressed or upset. Dinner is usually later than you’d expect, almost Italian; don’t be surprised to find yourself eating at 8 – 10 pm.
Make sure to tick this one off your bucket list when you’re down in Miami. Appropriately ending with an aquatic-themed once-in-a-lifetime experience, this is one dip you won’t want to miss. The Venetian Pool in the City of Coral Gables is the stuff dreams are made of. Created from a coral rock quarry and featuring an array of waterfalls and rock caves, this ancient, beautiful pool is like no other in the country. It’s fed by pure spring water, and filled and drained daily. The decor ain’t too bad either. Make sure you don’t leave Miami without taking a dip!
Now that we’ve got your imagination fired up, make sure to jot down the things that catch your eye in your BUCKiTDREAM planner, then get on to booking your trip to Miami; at the end of the day, it’s up to you to find out why they call it ‘the Magic City’.