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Miami - Travel Tips for the Savvy Vacationer

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Worlds collide in Miami. Beach bum meets urbanite. Surfboards get stuffed into Ferraris. High fashion blends with a clothing-optional scene. To really do Miami justice, you’ll want to be flexible. From world-class dining with postcard views of the Atlantic to gems of Latin culture, you're bound to find plenty to love in this sunny coastal metropolis. To help you prepare, here are some travel tips.

Best time to travel

 

With tropical weather never averaging lower than the mid-70s in any given month and exhilarating events regardless of when you go, it's almost always a good time to visit Miami. Many thrifty travellers nab great fares during the summer low season, at the risk of a few afternoon showers and high temperatures - all while keeping a wary eye out for hurricanes. Wintertime and early spring are prime times to visit, especially for Northerners seeking respite from the cold and snow.

Not to miss

 

Miami celebrates Carnival in March with cook-offs, parades, concerts, even fishing tournaments, but regardless of when you visit, experiencing the dining, shopping, and Cuban culture of Little Havana is a must. You can bask in the sun or cool off in the waves at popular Lummus Beach. Or escape the limelight with a swim in Coral Gables' Venetian Pool, carved from a rock quarry and fed by crystal-clear springs. Animal-lovers should make a beeline to the Zoological Wildlife Foundation, while anyone who appreciates architecture and natural beauty will be in their element at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.

 

Getting around

 

It’s an easy drive from Miami International Airport (MIA) to the heart of downtown, about 8 miles southeast via the Dolphin Expressway. The Miami Trolley and the Metromover are free and a great way to see downtown. Tons of Fun Tours and Rentals can supply you with a drop-top Jeep Wrangler for a sunny cruise along the coast, and Water Taxi Miami will zip you to dozens of hot spots like Bayside Marketplace and Miami Beach Marina. Bonus: Your Water Taxi ticket will get you 10 percent off at participating local bars and restaurants.

 

Cuisine

 

Miami’s robust food truck scene lets you refuel on the go. Each wildly painted machine is a 4-wheeled purveyor of extreme cuisine or an homage to quick and fresh Latin flavors. Dozens of Cuban bakeries and ice cream parlors serve up sweet treats that are hard to find anywhere else. Miami also enjoys access to some of the freshest seafood around, and you'll find it everywhere from beach-side taco shacks to exquisite fine-dining establishments. Many come with panoramic views of the skyline and shoreline, free of charge.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Strong Latin American roots mean attitudes of warmth and hospitality, and Miami puts out a warm welcome to those seeking fun in the sun and exotic nightlife escapades. Spanish is frequently spoken, but English will get you around just fine. The city is home to pretty swanky nightlife and dining, so along with your beach gear, pack something nice for an evening on the town. Many - but not all - bars and restaurants add an 18- to 20-percent gratuity automatically, and while additional tipping is encouraged, it’s not a must.

 

Fast facts

 

  • Population: 417000
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  • Spoken languages: English, Spanish
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  • Electrical: 110 volts, 60 Hz, plug type A, B
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  • Phone calling code: +1 305, 786
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  • Emergency number: 911