When most people think of where to stay in Miami, they picture a cruise port or vibrant South Beach where beautiful people come to soak up the sun. While that is part of the city, it’s just a fraction of it. This is a destination that’s steeped in multiculturalism, with Caribbean and Cuban influences that can be seen in its diverse culture, cuisine, and music.

    The neighbourhoods in Miami have many different personalities, with many distinct areas of the city, each of which offers something unique. If you have only a limited amount of time, you won’t be able to explore them all, but this list will help you choose which to put on your Miami itinerary.

    Where are the best places to stay in Miami?

    1

    Little Havana

    Miami’s vibrant Cuban heart

    Little Havana covers the most famous 3.5-square-mile area in Miami where many Cubans fled when escaping their country. Today, it’s a lively Cuban community with unique art galleries, outstanding eateries, and colourful murals.

    The main drag is Calle Ocho (8th Street) where the aroma of tobacco wafts from the many cigar shops – it will make you feel as if you’re in Havana, Cuba. It’s best as a destination to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere, discovering the great art and enjoying the street performers. In between, pop into a bar for a tasty cocktail or one of the many enticing restaurants for some authentic Cuban fare. They say you haven’t really been to Miami unless you’ve visited Little Havana.

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    2

    South Beach

    The place to see and be seen

    Choose to stay in Miami’s South Beach if you’re looking for a glamorous beach visit. It’s where to go for people watching, including celebrity spotting, and enjoying spectacular palm-lined beaches with pristine white sands, sidewalk cafes, and late-night lounges. The nightlife starts and ends here, with clubs staying open until 4 am. On the weekend, nearly every hotel and resort pool transforms into a wild, Vegas-style pool party.

    While soaking up the sun on the beach is popular during the day, you’ll also want to check out the impressive Art Deco architecture with tours available through the Art Deco Welcome Center. Don’t miss the chance to dine in one of Florida’s most famous restaurants either – Joe’s Stone Crab has been an icon here since 1913.

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    3

    Wynwood

    Miami’s arts district

    Wynwood is a trendy community north of downtown, a former warehouse district with lots of Instagram-worthy photo-ops. Colourful street art can be found on nearly every building and there’s an intriguing array of art galleries, like the Pan American Projects. In between, you’ll find world-class museums, boutiques, fantastic bars, and eclectic eateries. Wynwood is also a popular place for couples to stay in Miami. 

    You might take a tour for an overview of it all and then sit down for a margarita and some carne asada tacos at Coyo Taco. After dark, you’ll find plenty to do, with the Brick and Wood Tavern among the top spots offering hip hop, R&B, and Caribbean music, as well as a life-size game of Jenga, a long list of creative cocktails, and more than 50 craft beers.

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    4

    Downtown Miami

    Gleaming skyscrapers and stunning bay views

    There are plenty of reasons to stay in Downtown Miami, including a waterfront along the Atlantic with marinas and offshore islands backed by gleaming skyscrapers. Among the most popular neighbourhoods in Miami, It’s modern and culturally rich, filled with museums, galleries, theatres, and event venues, along with an endless offering of world-class restaurants and bars.

    The Olympia Theater is the city’s historic performing arts centre, hosting everything from live jazz to Broadway productions. From here, you can head to the docks and hop on a cruise to sail across Biscayne Bay or out into the ocean for an amazing panoramic view of the Miami skyline.

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    5

    Brickell

    Miami's financial district and current hot spot

    Brickell is the trendy place to be for shopping and nightlife in Miami. Bordering Biscayne Bay south of the Miami River, during the day it attracts shoppers to high-end stores like Emporio Armani and Saks Fifth Avenue in the multistorey Brickell Centre. A walkway connecting the complex offers a spectacular view of the river and the high rises. Open-air Mary Brickell Village is a few blocks south with shops, restaurants, and drinking establishments, some of which host live music.

    The Blue Martini is a popular place to be with an outdoor patio and live music, while El Tucan will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a movie set, reminiscent of old Havana, offering dinner and a lively cabaret.

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    6

    Miami Design District

    A luxurious fashion district

    Design District is a trendy area of Miami just north of Midtown and Wynwood. It was an 18-square-block area of abandoned warehouses that one man saw as a blank canvas to transform into the city’s hub for culture, art, culinary, shopping, and entertainment.

    Locals and visitors alike can enjoy free events like the Miami Design District Performance series, a twice-monthly public concert. But there’s a lot more to do, with everything from public art installations to fill your Instagram feed to art galleries and over 130 upscale interior design, fashion, and furniture stores to explore.

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    photo by John Martinez Pavliga (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Midtown Miami

    A signature Miami neighbourhood and major creative hub

    Miami’s Midtown is one of the top creative hubs in the south-eastern US that has been drawing in filmmakers, artists and other creative types for decades. The impressive street art earned it a reputation as a living gallery and when the Midtown Miami Mall opened, the boom began and hasn’t stopped.

    It has an electric culture with something insanely quirky to discover on every block. It’s the epicentre of the city’s craft food and drink movement with everything from hip coffee shops and bakeries to sausage makers and breweries. Enjoy the monthly Art Walk, multiple galleries, and an independent cinema along with a more laid-back, artsy alternative to South Beach nightlife.

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    8

    Coconut Grove

    A top spot for romance, nature, and dining

    Coconut Grove or ‘The Grove’, as it’s often referred to, is located just east of Coral Cables, providing easy access to Biscayne Bay, dazzling scenery, and a laid-back atmosphere.

    It’s a place with fashionable boutiques, charming outdoor cafes, and mouthwatering restaurants that are ideal for a romantic date like the Peacock Garden Café with a secret garden setting and alfresco dining. Peacock Park is a fabulous place to enjoy an evening stroll, connecting to the boardwalk on the marina, while Barnacle Historic State Park is ideal for picnicking and birdwatching during the day. Keep an eye out for pelicans, herons, cormorants, doves, and more.

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    9

    Key Biscayne

    An oasis of nature just minutes from Downtown Miami

    If you rent a car you can visit Key Biscayne, a barrier island linked to Miami via 2 bridges and the Rickenbacker Causeway. It offers peace and quiet along with breathtaking scenery despite being so close to the action in the city. Enjoy beautiful beaches, marine life, and nature along with attractions like the Miami Seaquarium and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

    The park covers the southern third of the island and from atop its historic 1825 lighthouse, one can enjoy jaw-dropping views, including glorious sunsets over the bay. Swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking on the over 1-mile stretch of sandy beachfront are just a few of the other popular things to do.

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    10

    Coral Gables

    Magnificent Spanish architecture and a garden-like setting

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    Coral Gables, known as “The City Beautiful,” is one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Miami. It's filled with lush greenery, flowers, and trees that give it a gorgeous garden-like appeal.

    Developed in the 1920s, it’s home to impressive Spanish architecture with the Biltmore Hotel and an iconic landmark resembling the Giralda, stunning Seville Cathedral’s famous bell tower. Take a stroll down Miracle Mile to enjoy lunch at one of many tasty restaurants, browse the enticing little boutiques and pop into the renowned independent bookstore, Books & Books. Don’t forget your bathing suit as you won’t want to miss a refreshing dip in the fantasy-themed Venetian Pool that was built out of a rock quarry.

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    K.C. Dermody | Contributing Writer

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