Here are 9 things you need to know before visiting Miami.
This list is meant to prepare you for your trip to Miami. My experience there was great, but I really wish I had been better prepared.
I didn't know much about the culture or the atmosphere. Totally winging it can be fun, but knowledge is key to having a stress-free vacation!
So, without further ado, here are the 9 things you need to know before visiting Miami!
1. The forecast is always hot and humid.
As a Floridian, I know Florida is hot in the summer (and most of the year). Still, I didn’t understand how hot Miami actually is in the summer.
Jean shorts were honestly too hot for the trip.
Ideally, if you’re a woman, you’ll want to bring a light, breathable sundress that flows in the wind!
You will be so much more comfortable without any heavy materials clinging to you in the humid heat.
If you’re a man, I would recommend packing shorts that are specially made to for hot, humid climates. These can usually be found at outdoor sport stores. Also, try packing incredibly thin T-Shirts or Hawaiian shirts. Not only will the Hawaiian shirts get you in the tropical mood, but they should be loose and thin enough to allow you maximum comfort!
Bring a hat, sunglasses or both!
Also, you wouldn’t want to miss all of the beautiful sights!
Bring and use plenty of sunscreen. Seriously. The sun is no joke in Florida, especially in the height of summer. You can burn in literally 10 minutes.
2. The Beach is beautiful but crowded.
We have all heard the stories of Miami’s legendary beaches with sand of gold and waves of blue.
Miami’s beaches are highly praised!
I can honestly say that the beach is beautiful.
The sand is soft and the water is warm and clear.
But truthfully, the beach is incredibly crowded. You can’t stretch out your arm without touching someone! (Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration...but not much.)
Granted, we were in South Beach. Maybe Mid-Beach or North Beach are less crowded?
We were smart because we hardly brought anything down with us to the beach. Had we brought chairs or even towels to layout on, we would have been walking for quite a while in order to find a big enough spot to place our things.
So, it's a good thing we didn’t want to sit on the beach and tan because there was no room for that.
We simply wanted to float around in the water in order to escape the dreadful heat.
If you go in the middle of the summer, I doubt you will want to lay out on the beach either.
Still, if you do want to lay on the beach, there are chairs and umbrellas you can rent! I believe that when you rent the chairs you rent a spot on the beach! So you don't have to wander around looking for a place to sit.
We weren’t at all interested in renting chairs or umbrellas, so I didn’t check the price. On Trip Adviser, there was no real consensus on the price of beach chairs in Miami, but you can check out the answers here. Although, like many things in Miami, I bet they are pricey. Still, I suppose it’s worth it to nab yourself a spot and save yourself from a harsh sunburn on your vacation!
3. Restaurants tend to be pricey.
This shouldn’t really surprise you. It didn’t surprise me.
However, the number of restaurants where you could spend $20+ on an entree did surprise me.
I assumed that somewhere there would be more affordable options.
While we were there, we found 2 affordable places within walking distance of our hostel: McDonald’s and Five Guys.
There may have been some other options around, but these were the only ones we stumbled upon.
Honestly, I would love to make restaurant recommendations, but I didn’t eat anywhere spectacular during my time in Miami. I also didn’t eat anywhere terrible (aside from McDonald’s).
4. On Ocean Dr., restaurant employees will constantly ask you if you want a table.
Every restaurant on Ocean Dr., at least during less busy hours, has someone standing by the entrance trying to tempt you into coming inside. They will inform you of the specials. They will offer you free items. Every. Single. Time.
My recommendation? Walk on the other side of Ocean Dr. (the side closest to the beach) unless you are actually interested in eating. This may seem obvious, but during certain times of day, the shade on the restaurant side can definitely be enticing!
However, if you don't walk on the side closest to the beach, you will be bothered relentlessly.
And if you’re super nice, you will probably end up talking to every person who tries to get your attention.
5. You can visit Miami on a budget.
Although food can be expensive, you can find opportunities to save money on sleeping accommodations.
Miami has plenty of hostels, some of which are ideally located!
Want to know my favorite hostel? Read about the Best Hostel in Miami for Budget Travelers here!
Hostels are a great alternative to Hotels, assuming that you don’t mind sharing a room with strangers or have a big enough group to rent out an entire room.
Okay, so when I say “hostel” the 2005 horror film Hostel might come to your mind. To ease your worries, I can tell you that my experience at a hostel was nothing like that!
When I was in Miami, I stayed at HI Hostel with 4 friends. Since there were 5 of us, it was cost effective for us to rent out an entire 6 bed room. There was even a private bathroom!
Honestly, the Hostel ended up making our trip much more affordable.
If you’re a solo female traveler and are worried about staying in a hostel, there are some female only hostels in Miami that you could look into. However, at the end of the day, it’s important that you feel safe! So if it doesn’t feel right, don’t book it!
If, for whatever reason, a hostel just isn’t your style, don’t worry! You can likely find some affordable hotels. You’ll just need to spend some time sifting through some hotels on different booking sites!
Check out some awesome hotel listings in Miami Beach with Booking.com!
(Disclaimer: I do receive compensation if you book a hotel through the Booking.com link provided above. However, I truly do like Booking.com site and personally use it when looking to book a hotel!)
6. Not everyone speaks English.
This took me by surprise.
I knew that many people in Miami spoke Spanish, but I didn’t realize how prominent the Spanish language was there.
Honestly, it seemed as though Spanish was the primary language and English was secondary.
No one assumed that my friends and me spoke Spanish, but we made the mistake of assuming everyone spoke English.
One night, after a few drinks, we took an Uber back to our Hostel. My boyfriend sat in the front and, as usual, tried to make pleasant conversation with the Uber driver, who didn’t speak a bit of English.
Fortunately, my boyfriend speaks a respectable amount of Spanish. He was able to converse with our driver. Despite the awkward first few minutes of our ride, our Uber driver actually ended up shared his own music with us! Yes, the music he created and sang! It was quite the experience.
My best suggestion is to not assume everyone speaks English. Instead, learn a little bit of conversational Spanish just in case you need it!
7. A lot of pretty people live there.
This is certainly something that you’ve heard about Miami: everyone is gorgeous. I can’t say that this is a lie.
There is no way to say that this is certainly accurate, but to me, it seemed as though more people in Miami were above average on the attractiveness scale than in the average city.
There was even a small park on Ocean Dr. with workout equipment where bodybuilders worked out in front of everyone.
Personally, I was worried about going to Miami. I knew the other girls would be in better shape than me and a lot of them would be prettier than me. And actually seeing all of the attractive people certainly didn’t ease my anxiety about getting in a bikini and walking around at the beach. But I did. Because hey, it’s my vacation! No need to keep myself from having fun due to a few self-conscious thoughts!
At the end of the day, we are all human. None of us are perfect. And we all have things we wish we could change about ourselves!
So, my advice to you is to be your own fabulous person and not worry about anything you may be self-conscious about!
8. Miami isn’t as southern as other Florida cities.
And I don’t mean geographically.
When you think of the south, you probably think of front porch swings, sweet tea, comfort food, and your darling Auntie.
But Miami isn’t like that. Living in the south, I am used to everyone being incredibly friendly. Not in a creepy way but in a polite way.
In Miami, I found a lot of people to be a little cold.
I didn’t have one pleasant interaction with a local while exploring, dining, or shopping. We ended up meeting the nice Uber driver, whom I mentioned earlier, but it was difficult to get him to open up to us, which may have been due to the language barrier.
Truthfully, the best people we met were from Europe! We actually ended up spending an entire night getting to know them over some drinks! Definitely a memory we won’t forget!
9. The term moderation doesn’t exist when discussing alcohol.
I don’t think I walked by a restaurant with a bar that didn’t serve drinks in at least a 32 oz size! Most places served 64 oz drinks!
As a Margarita lover, I had to order a 32 oz margarita. Literally had to. And it was amazing.
As we all know, alcohol is expensive. I would recommend finding a place that is doing 2 for 1 drinks in the afternoon. Yeah, 2 for 1 on the big drinks too! It helps make the drinks more cost effective. If you are there with someone you each get a drink for the price of 1! Just, please, drink responsibly!
The Florida sun is bright and you’ll want to protect your eyes.
Be Prepared for the Hot Weather!
You must pack clothes that will be breathable and help keep you cool! Also, don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen!
The Beach Is Crowded!
Don’t think that you’ll get a spot all to yourself! You’ll be surrounded by plenty of people. To avoid this (and the mid-day sun) try to arrive earlier rather than later.
The Restaurants Are Pricey...
It’s tough to find a good restaurant that doesn’t cost you a fortune. For the budget-minded, try sticking to eating at restaurants chains (McDonald’s, Five Guys, etc.) and splurging on other meals as you see fit.
Walk Closest to the Water on Ocean Dr.
Restaurant employees are required to ask you if you want a table, and you better believe that you will be asked at every restaurant. Do yourself a favor and walk on the side of the street closest to the beach. When you’re ready to eat, you can walk by the restaurants and listen to all the great specials.
Miami Can Be a Budget-Friendly Destination
Miami has some great hostels, which will save you tons of money on sleeping accommodations! This will allow you to spend more on food, which tends to cost more.
Not Everyone Speaks English
While many people do speak English, don’t assume that everyone does. Instead, brush up on some basic Spanish because you might need it to communicate at one point or another.
A Lot of Pretty People Live There
You’ve hear the rumors. They’re true. While walking around, you’ll notice that on average the people you see are incredibly good looking. You may not notice it while you’re there, but once you go back home and look around, you’ll realize that Miami is full of beautiful people.
Miami Isn't as Southern as Other Florida Cities
No. I don’t mean geographically. In Miami, Sweet Tea isn’t a thing and people aren’t as friendly as they are in “southern” cities.
The Term Moderation Doesn't Apply to Alcohol
You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. You can literally order a 62 oz drink. Who needs one? No body. Who want one? I do! What about you? Yeah, I thought so!
I hope you enjoyed these 9 things you need to know before visiting Miami, Florida!
Planning a trip to Miami? Find out exactly where to stay for a budget-friendly trip!
Have you visited Miami before? What was you favorite part?! Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,