Welcome to Miami

Florida’s most southerly mainland city, where a stunning tropical four mile long palm fringe white sand beach flows alongside high-rise and art deco buildings, is a haven frequented by those seeking sunshine and warmth from the chilly US northern states. We were flying in order to join them as a couple chilly Europeans too.

Miami offers not only a temperate climate but also we got a heart warming reception from the Cuban influence there. Plus its food and music help drive that latin background beat around the city.

As a base Miami provided a great place for us to explore from. It also helped us understand the resort created from virtually nothing back in the 1920s and 30s. A time when it was a swamp along the Eastern coast of the state.

From Miami a string of dozens of small islands head off south and west into the Caribbean. This archipelago of coral cays ends up at Key West. This archipelago of coral cays ends up at Key West.  A city at the very end of the line and only 90 miles from the island of Cuba itself.

Drive or be driven?

We pondered numerous ways to visit Florida from Miami. Car hire is popular.  Although  we preferred to let others drive with bus trips and the regular bus services down to this capital of the Keys.

An early morning start had us heading south on a comfortable double decker coach crossing over the dozens of tiny Keys and the iconic Seven Mile Bridge. Part of the Overseas Highway on the four-hour trip. Leaving us to enjoy the views on what is a narrow road for the US – just two lanes!

The tour allowed us around six hours in Key West. Time to check out Sloppy Joes and see where author Ernest Hemingway spent much of his latter years. But not time to join the Hemingway look-a-like contest there! Hemingway’s house was the first to have a swimming pool in the city.

Once in the Key West there are numerous walking, cycling and boat tours. You can experience tropical history, its nature and the waters around it, and be sure to snap a picture with the buoy which marks the southernmost point of the USA!

Flying over the alligators

Another highlight of Florida fairly close to Miami are the Everglades, known for its infamous reptile inhabitants – alligators. Skimming over the shallow and extensive Everglades, much of which is less than a metre deep, is a unique travel experience!

Just three and half hours further north by car, you may choose to spend a few days at places like Cape Canaveral or explore the theme parks around Orlando. Or again take an extensive full day inclusive trip with pick ups all around Miami. Heading out before 6am and returning around 10pm! 

Although it makes for a long day, it’s all done for you. Just sit back and enjoy i95 – the road that could take you to New York or even the Canadian border. In reverse that very road brought those first tourists south to Miami.

Miami of course is known for its Art Deco heritage. The largest concentration of that building style in the world.  In just one area around South Beach there are over 800 examples. Including an aluminium style diner – 11th Street Diner.

Art Deco Weekend Experience

One of the best times to experience the whole Art Deco and neon light vibe is to attend a charming long weekend event in January every year.

The Miami Art Deco Weekend will run from 12th to 14th January 2025.  Here the whole area around Ocean Drive is taken over by antique stalls, and period music, dance, parades and car shows are popular.

A very enjoyable historic weekend with numerous tours and speciality talks and lectures going on throughout the weekend.

This coming year will be the 48th year of the event. Booking early will get you a room in some of the iconic hotels that line Ocean Drive. Many of the well photographed hotels along South Beach overlook the whole weekend event. 

Even more reason to book early as soon as possible.

A latin beat is very much in the air. Certainly in areas like ‘Little Havana’ just a short ride away. Here former Cuban’s and Central Americans settled after the island went through political upheaval in the 1960s with many leaving to build new lives in Miami.

Our ears certainly rang to the arresting audio of the Cuban style music which many restaurants and bars like to play loud and proud! The heat is also very much there in latin food served all over in Miami which is well worth a try.

Cool jazz too

There are cool jazz places to enjoy too. One of my favourites was a coffee shop in the Wolfsonian Museum on 1001 Washington Avenue where its collection of art, books and design items from 1850 to 1950 are displayed.

The Jewish Museum of Florida at 301 Washington Avenue houses a collection of documents and items of the Jewish history of Florida. Like the Wolfsonian, the exhibitions are constantly updating and changing all the time.

A short walk past the museum you will find yourself in South Pointe Park and pier where you can enjoy a relaxed meal at Smith and Wollensky. Taking in the comings and goings of the busy cruise port of Miami.

Passing cruise ships negotiate the narrow entrance, along with millionaire’s super yachts and sailing craft accessing the warm waters beyond the soft white sand beach that stretches north from there.

On the beach itself the Art Deco theme continues with the timber surf rescue towers echoing that period too.

Three days before or after are perfect for Miami

Miami offers a perfect base to tour Southern Florida and the Keys and is travel practical too. It’s also well worth extending a stay either just before or after a cruise in order to acclimatise or just wind down. Leaving a cruise ship and hopping on a long haul flight or joining a cruise hot foot from the plane I think is rather risky. Better to get used to the time zone and join leisurely after just a ten minute taxi ride from South Beach rather than a fraught 9 hour flight plus a 45 minute taxi ride downtown.

Next steps

To plan a holiday to Florida, including the mesmerising city of Miami, or a cruise holiday with a pre or post stay in Miami, call Silver Travel Advisor on 0800 412 5678.


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Geoff Moore

Experienced travel writer, photographer, blogger & videographer

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