../ Angus Lam / Blog

Miami travelogue 2022

Miami is the eighth largest city in the U.S. by MSA population, but is the third most popular U.S. city for international visitors. It's a top vacation destination due to its geography in the tropics as well as its proximity to the ocean. Anecdotally, Miami is New York's canonical winter destination to escape from the cold, and Florida the default retirement destination on the East Coast.
Alongside the entertainment that is expected of its accessibility to the idyllic beaches and parks, it's a modern city with unique character, diverse population, intricate history, and extravagant energy. Respectfully loud electronic music bumping in cafes early in the morning, color liberally used on buildings throughout the city, luscious green spaces with local fauna around the city, and establishments balancing their decor between tastefully moody and playfully camp.
Miami and generally south Florida is interesting from a linguistic perspective too. Miami is a city with 69.4% of its population identifying as Hispanic or Latinoย and 63.6% of people surveyed speaking Spanish at home. The city's long standing immigrant history and language usage manifested in a new Miami English dialect (Detailed Languages Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over for Counties: 2009-2013), accompanied with vowel and consonant shifts, prosody, and calques. Additionally, its dialect is closer to Midland English rather than the Southย despite being geographically the southern most point of the continental U.S..

๐Ÿ”— How to read

This isn't intended to be a comprehensive travel guide, but more like an outline to as an attempt to explore Miami beyond what is canonically known to tourists. I looked for places and restaurants that add outsized character or cultural representation to the experience of the city, but it's not an encompassing list of everything to do.
This was initially written prior to the trip with the help of online resources and revised during it, so I don't claim to be an expert. I hope to revisit this in the future and make modifications that can cover most of what Miami can offer within just a few days of visiting. The themes I seeked out are: historical and modern architecture, a perfect beach day, art, museums, and Latin American and Haitian influences.

๐Ÿ”— Public transportation options

I generally don't like to travel with a car unless it is absolutely necessary. These are in descending process of elimination, as in if I can't take the first option, I'll go down the list until one makes sense.

๐Ÿ”— Stack rank of tourist activities

Each of these groupings should be roughly one day's worth. I'd visit these places in the order from top to bottom, then if you're staying for more days, revisit the parts that stood out, or pick a random place from notable mentions.

๐Ÿ”— 1. South Beach

South Beach and Ocean Drive is probably most iconically known as the Spring Break destination. Beaches of pale white sand against clear-ish bluegreen ocean water, and blocks of beachfront restaurants and bars. It's also known for its colorful art deco architecture, landing it a spot on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

๐Ÿ”— 2. Downtown Miami, Brickell, Little Havana

Downtown and Brickell are Miami's modern high-rise area. Take the free Metromover around to take in Miami's take on skyscrapers. Scattered around the area are a few fun historic buildings. Nearby is Little Havana, the historic neighborhood of the Cuban diaspora, filled with Latin-inspired restaurants and establishments.

๐Ÿ”— 3. Design District, Wynwood, Little Haiti

Slightly further uptown is a few different neighborhoods that offer different vibes. The Design District is filled with MoMA-esque high fashion art galleries and big name designers (Christian Louboutin, Burberry, etc.). Wynwood offers a relatively laid back hipster art experience, complete with street murals and graffiti art. Little Haiti is the historic Haitian immigrant neighborhood that offers cultural and artistic experiences.

๐Ÿ”— 4. Virginia Key, Key Biscayne

These smaller offshoot islands have cool public parks and beaches, great for a day of leisuring and outdoor activities. Depending on your fitness tolerance or interest, this might be a shorter day, so consider hopping back to nearby downtown to do more exploring.

๐Ÿ”— Notable mentions

If for some reason you ran out of things to do, here are some more excursions that seems interesting but were too far away to make a comprehensive car-free, ridesharing-minimal day of activities.