A Guide to Experience Miami Like a Local

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Advisor - Nikol Limaduran
Curated By

Nikol Limaduran

  • Miami

  • USA

  • Florida

  • Beaches

  • Boutique Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Domestic Travel

  • Digital Nomad Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Coastal

  • Outdoors

  • Foodie

art display next to palm trees with blue skies
Curator’s statement

Miami is a unique destination as it stands out for being a one-of-a-kind cultural melting pot. This city brings together the best of Latin America into diverse neighborhoods that will introduce you to hints of old Cuban lifestyle, modern city hustle, and equally lure you with beautiful beach fronts and boardwalks. For those looking to go beyond the flashy scenes and typical tourist attractions, I'd like to introduce you to some equally exciting gems from a local perspective.

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Where to stay in Miami

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Things to do in Miami

pink building next to palm trees during daytime

Things to do in Little Havana

This is a good introduction to Miami because of the impact that Cuban culture and community have in the city. This strip of ten blocks is just a small example of what the streets of Havana, Cuba feel like.

Get your Salsa Dancing Fix at Ball and Chain. I recommend visiting on Thursdays to get your salsa lessons while avoiding large crowds. There are free beginner classes at around 9pm and the open floor begins at 11pm. This is also a fun place to visit on Saturdays for live music and more dancing.

All the museums around this area offer a ton of historical insights about the local Cuban culture and Cuba’s influence on Miami. Here is also where you can see old Cuban people playing dominoes in the afternoons.

Things to do in Coral Gables

This neighborhood welcomes visitors with Mediterranean-style buildings, pretty banyan-lined streets, and a walkable village-like center, dotted with shops, cafes and restaurants. Coral Gables feels like a world removed from other parts of Miami.

For a culture fix, visit Vizcaya Museum a must for a fantastic architecture and Miami history lesson, afternoon tea, and an other-worldly tour of the gardens. The Biltmore Hotel (and the surrounding neighborhood with tree-lined streets) is great areas to drive by in general. The nearby Giralda Street most recently became pedestrian-only and features local events/concerts/markets perfect for weekend afternoon strolls.

Things to do in Wynwood

This area has been getting massive attention for the art and design it has attracted from local and international artists. Pick any day of the week to explore colorful walls, underground studios and cool restaurants.

For a culture dive into the neighborhood, The Wynwood walls are the most "touristy" activity I will suggest, but definitely worth walking around this neighborhood to take a million selfies with amazing graffiti. The walls change every year during Art Basel in December, so you will see something original every time you visit.

Things to do in South Beach

Sun tanning, beach volleyball, vivacious locals and beautiful settings, South Beach is exactly what you imagine when you think of a tropical jungle. Watch the cruise ships depart the port of Miami from the southernmost point and grab dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area.

For those looking to exercise with a beautiful view, I recommend the Miami Beach boardwalk for running, for a leisure walk or biking. I suggest starting on 5th and Ocean Drive for the touristy version or around 17th going north for a more tame environment.

If you are into nature, I also recommend the Miami Beach Beach Botanical Garden. Here you can walk through a Japanese garden, take a yoga or sound bath class and enjoy a couple of hours surrounded by nature.

Places to eat & drink in Miami

wooden tables and chairs outside with a red ceiling and blue walls

Breakfast & Brunch in Miami

Panther Coffee: This is a must for a solid cup of joe! The Wynwood location is their original one and it is house to their main roaster. Ask the head roaster to explain the process (they are friendly! Believe me, I worked here for a year and we would nerd out when people asked technical questions about coffee).

Zak the Baker: The owner has received several James Beard semifinalist nods and is well-known in the local scene. Check out this laid-back cafe with a hip vibe for delicious and kosher baked goods like babka or a renowned challah bread, coffee and breakfast favorites like the Breakfast Platter.

All Day: a fantastic brunch option near Edgewater/Downtown, where any item on their menu will surely blow your mind. The Runny & Everything sandwich is one of the best bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches in Miami

Michael’s Genuine: Located in the Design District, this all-time favorite restaurant is perfect for a casual dining outing and most popular for weekend brunch.

*Bonus: If you are craving a bagel, check out El Bagel in the MiMo district. These are as close as you will get to an original New York-style bagel.

Lunch in Miami

Coyo Taco: Located next door to Panther Coffee in Wynwood, this low frills fast-casual restaurant offers reliably good Tacos. Pro-Note: There is a tequila speakeasy bar in the back of this restaurant. For mouth-watering and satisfyingly juicy tacos, make a stop at the Taco Stand.

Momosan Miami by Chef Makimoto: Offers hardy ramen options, hot sake and a beautiful setting in the less crowded side of Wynwood. Great spot to hit after a long day at the beach!

Planta and Planta Queen: Whether you visit the South Beach or Coconut Grove location, this is a local’s favorite for delicious Asian-inspired vegan dishes.

Happy Hour in Miami

Uchi: Located in Wynwood and offering one of the best happy hours in town with delicious craft cocktails and Japanese food. If you can't find a reservation, plan to arrive before 6:00pm and grab a seat at the bar.

Dinner in Miami

Lung Yai Thai Tapas: This is my favorite Thai restaurant and yes! It's in Little Havana. Guests are seated on a first-come-first-serve basis, so check Google before you venture out there. They are open for take-out and dine-in!

Sushi Garage in Coconut Grove: A great place for either a family dinner night out, a group dinner or a couple's date night as it is located in the heart of “cocowalk”, a newly upgraded shopping center in Coconut Grove. Their sushi menu is one of the best in the city and they typically have a DJ spinning tunes during the weekends.

Amal: A modern Lebanese restaurant offering traditional Lebanese dishes with a nod to old-world arabesque charm. Here you will see locals dressed up for fancy date nights and special occasions.

Amara at Paraiso: Offering some of the best views of Miami sunsets, a fantastic happy hour and Latin American fare.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out A Perfect 3 Days in Puerto Rico: Activities, Hotels & More.

Looking for more Miami recommendations? Check out my blog!

Advisor - Nikol Limaduran

Travel Advisor

Nikol Limaduran

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Miami, and part of our larger series on arts & culture travel.