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miami travel guide

Welcome to Miami, USA

Introduction

Miami, Florida is the gateway to Americas south and a haven for those seeking the sun, surf and fun.

With its Latin American influences, Miami is a colourful city offering fabulous beaches, outdoor cafes and energetic nightlife. Miami is most famous for its beach, the mini metropolis of Little Havana, the calypso feel of Little Haiti and the impressive downtown area of Miami and the port. The South Beach area has some of the best preserved buildings of the Art Deco era with decorative, streamlined facades repainted in lively pastels. There is great shopping in Miami at Bal Harbour shops, Aventura Mall and Loehmanns Fashion Island.

The Miami Metropolitan Area has an estimated population (2007) of over 2.2 million. Due to the proximity of the Everglades wetland area to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Miami metropolitan area is 110 miles (180 km) north to south but never more than 20 miles (32 km) east to west.

There are many interesting places to visit like the nearby Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys. Miami is also popular as a departure port for many of the cruises sailing for the Caribbean.

Travel to Miami

Miami International Airport (MIA) is one of the largest airports in the world and located just west of the city. It is a major hub for air traffic between North America and South America.

Metro-Bus is the local city bus service that provides scheduled services to all areas of Miami-Dade County. The bus station at MIA is located on the Ground Level of Concourse E, directly across from Customs.

Metro-Rail is the mass-transit, fixed-rail system that provides direct, local transportation to areas throughout Miami-Dade County.

Metro-Mover is the Downtown-Specificfixed-rail system that provides transportation to popular locations in the Downtown Miami and Brickell areas.

Tri-Rail is a Commuter Train service that runs along Interstate 95, providing commuter service to the airport from Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The Airport Station is immediately east of the airport, across Le Jeune Road (42 Avenue) on NW 21st Street. Bus connections to the Tri-Rail Airport Station are available from the bus station. Metro-Bus also provides free shuttle bus service to the airport terminal for passengers with a valid Tri-Rail ticket.

SuperShuttle door-to-door mini-van service is available at the Airport. Shuttles operate on a shared ride on-demand basis. The SuperShuttle ticket counters are located in the Terminal or there will be a company representative standing outside selling tickets and organizing vans. No reservations are needed for outbound service from the Airport. To travel to the airport book a SuperShuttle to pick you up at your hotel (book at least 3-4 hours ahead).


Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) is 30-40 minutes north of Miami and is serviced by many low-cost airlines such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue.

Free Shuttle Bus to the nearby Tri-Rail train station. Tri-Rail trains connect West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

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Miami Transport

Metro-Bus is the local city bus service that provides scheduled services to all areas of Miami-Dade County.

Metrorail is a single-line elevated rail system serving Miami including many areas of tourist interest such as downtown Miami, Dadeland Mall, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Lowe Art Museum, Miami Museum of Science, Village at Merrick Park and many other nearby shopping areas. Coconut Grove and downtown Coral Gables can be reached via short shuttle bus from various stations. [Operates 5am to midnight]

Metromover is a free elevated people mover system in Downtown Miami which connects to Metrorail at two stations at Government Center in the central business district and at Brickell Station in Brickell. Metromover is free of charge and is the most efficient way to move around Downtown Miami.

Car rental is popular and reasonably priced in Miami. To fully experience Florida, visitors need a car. Traffic can be congested especially at peak times, but visitors used to driving in other parts of the world will not find it too bad. Most of the car hire companies are located at the airports or book a car from your hotel. Parking is usually not a problem. USA drives on the right side of the road

Miami Attractions

Miami Science Museum is one of the country's leading museums featuring many world-class exhibits, interactive one-of-a kind exhibits, laser music shows, a wildlife rehabilitation center, and a state-of-the art planetarium. Miami Science Museum is also home to South Florida's largest natural history collection, comprising over 60,000 artifacts and specimens covering zoology, geology, paleontology, and anthropology. Visit the Wildlife Center for a up-close look at exotic and native reptiles and watch as injured birds are rehabilitated at the Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center. The planetarium features daily shows, surround sound, video projection, lasers and a four-story tall screen. In addition to the main planetarium, the museum is home to the Weintraub Observatory's two powerful telescopes. The observatory operates from 8PM-10PM daily.

Miami Metro Zoo is one of the best zoos in the USA as its climate allows it to keep a wide variety of animals from Asia, Australia and Africa like no other zoo in the country. Many of the exhibits are entirely cage less and free-range. Animals are grouped according to their geographic territory and animals that live together peacefully in the wild are placed in exhibits together. The zoo is located at 152nd Street and 124th Avenue.

Coral Castle is an engineering marvel consisting of over 1,100 tons of carved coral rock located south of Miami at Homestead, Florida. Coral Castle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ed Leedskalnin built Coral Castle with his own manual labour over an almost 30-year period beginning in the 1950s. He refused to allow anyone to watch him work, leading to speculation that the castle was constructed through the use of paranormal powers. The castle is a great experience and popular with tourists. Visitors may take a 30-minute audio tour, offered in English, Spanish, French or German. [Open 8am-6pm Sun to Thurs and 8am-9pm Fri & Sat].

Everglades National Park is a vast natural swamp environment in southern Florida. Visitors can explore the park on an airboat ride, see alligators and turtles in their natural habitat and visit an Indian village.

South Beach Miami Travel is the Miami hot spot for shopping, dining and nightlife. The Lincoln Road Mall is the place for people-watching, browsing stores, boutiques, art galleries, and museums. Most restaurants offer outdoor seating so you can enjoy the ambience and beautiful weather.

Monkey Jungle in southern Miami-Dade County is a truly unique park. While homo sapiens walk through carefully constructed wire pathways, many species of primates scamper above your head, swing through trees and interact with each other in ways difficult to observe in captivity. Monkey Jungle was started in 1935 when Joseph DuMonds and his wife brought the first six monkeys to this 10-acre plot to observe them living in their natural habitat. One of the more fun activities at Monkey Jungle is feeding the monkeys.

Miami Seaquarium Miami Travel is located on the causeway between downtown Miami and Miami Beach and offers visitors an entertaining and educational experience in the beautifully landscaped park overlooking Biscayne Bay. The regions tropical climate allows for year-round outdoor marine shows featuring dolphins, sharks, sea lions, killer whales and other sea creatures. It also features exhibits of sea turtles, seals, sea lions, and Floridas Manatee.

Haulover Beach, located on Miami Beach between Sunny Isles Beach and Bal Harbour, is known around the world as Miamis only legal "clothing optional" nude beach. The beach offers traditional and nude sunbathing and is clearly marked to avoid accidents! Haulover Beach is also a fantastic surfing spot.

Parrot Jungle Island is on an island of its own, near downtown Miami and offers visitors a fun, educational opportunity to get an up-close look at tropical birds in replicas of their natural habitats.

Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve, combining Old Florida charm with exciting new exhibits and entertainment. It provides affordable family fun with thousands of alligators, and crocodiles, plus an aviary, breeding marsh with observation tower, petting zoo, nature walk, educational wildlife programs, gift shop, Florida's best train ride, restaurant, reptilian shows, Gator Gully Splash Park, and much more.

Fort Lauderdale Duck Tours provide a unique amphibious vehicle experience of Fort Lauderdale also known as The Venice of The Americas and The Mega Yacht Capital of the World. On board this tour visitors will cruise among Mega Yachts and see the luxurious mansions of the very rich and famous. On land travel through famous Las Olas Blvd, a shopper's paradise and visit Old Fort Lauderdale Village. This 90 minute adventure is fully narrated and will appeal to people of all ages.

Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral Cape Canaveral is one tour you dont want to miss. The 70 acre Visitor complex enables visitors to understand Americas space program and see where the space shuttle is launched. The Visitor center exhibits include an IMAX cinema, Rocket Garden, Robot Scouts, Universe Theatre, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration in the Millenium, Early Space Exploration, Nature and Technology. Walk through a mock up of the space station and view the mighty Saturn V moon rocket the size of a football field. The Astronaut Hall of Fame gives visitors the opportunity to ride the G-Force and jet fighter simulator or experience a space shuttle returning to earth.

Fishing in Florida is extremely popular with visitors. The region is famous for deep sea fishing especially marlin. Many tour operators are available to take visitors fishing.

Golf is very popular in Florida with many international standard golf courses, featuring scenic views of Hawaiis picturesque mountains and coastline, catering for the beginner to the professional.

Diving and snorkeling - There are many dive operators in Miami running day and live aboard scuba diving trips to the best dive spots in Florida.

Key West Day Trip Miami Travel Is a very popular tour. The relaxing Caribbean atmosphere will dissolve your cares as you leisurely discover the southernmost city in the United States. The enchanting islands of Key West will take you on a mesmerizing journey not to be missed! Definitely one of the most exciting trips you can experience in South Florida. First you stop to have breakfast before enjoying a scenic drive across 42 bridges and 32 islands to Key West. Here the Caribbean atmosphere, street artists, outdoor cafes and restaurants are just waiting to enchant you. After you arrive, you will have plenty of time to explore Key West on your own. You could visit the southern-most point in the continental US, Hemingway's house and Mallory Square - located by the historic Key West waterfront. This open-air marketplace and entertainment complex is a great place to start or end your visit to Key West.

Vizcaya Palace Museum and Gardens was originally an estate of 180 acres, designed to resemble a typical Italian villa, self-sufficient with a dairy, poultry house, mule stable, greenhouse, and staff residences. The house took two years to build. The formal gardens were not completed until 1921 due to the outbreak of World War I. The house and gardens are the creation of three architects: F. Burrall Hoffman designed the buildings; Diego Suarez planned the gardens; and Paul Chalfin was the general artistic supervisor for every phase of the project. Together they created an estate that looked as if it had been lived in by succeeding generations of the same family with each generation adding their own period furnishings of the time. All of the decorative elements were purchased by Deering on shopping expeditions throughout Europe. Nearly 200,000 people visit Vizcaya each year including some of the world's leading dignitaries such as President Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth of England and King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. In 1994, the historic Summit of the Americas was held at Vizcaya with President Clinton and the 34 leaders of the Western Hemisphere.

Miami Nightlife and Entertainment

Nightlife in Miami consists of upscale hotel clubs, independent bars frequented by locals (including sports bars) and nightclubs. Many bars and clubs are located in the hotels on Collins Ave. Most clubs require a reasonable standard of appearance to get into a nightclub. The dress code is "Miami Chic."

Miami Dining

Miami hosts many restaurants and cafes, from great value family restaurants to up-market romantic, fine dining establishments, offering cuisine from around the world with fresh seafood and contemporary cuisine being Miamis specialties. Miami is known for its New World cuisine created in the 1990's blends local produce, Latin American and Caribbean culinary tradition and the technical skills required in European cooking.

South Beach is one the most popular areas to dine out. Like many cities in Europe and Latin America, it is fashionable to dine late in South Beach, preferably after 9pm, sometimes as late as midnight.

Most hotels have restaurants and cafes providing buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner at affordable prices. Most shopping centers have a food court offering value-for-money meals. Caf chains like Starbucks and Gloria Jeans are everywhere as are western fast-food chains such as McDonalds and KFC.

Miami Shopping

Aventura Mall is a huge mall located on Biscayne Blvd featuring nation-wide chains such as JCPenney and Macys and a food court and cinemas.

Bal Harbour Shops is located on Collins Ave (on 97th Street in Bal Harbour) hosting many up-market stores including Chanel, Cartier, Fendi and Gucci among others.

Bayside Marketplace is located at 401 Biscayne Blvd (near Bayfront Park) and hosts several chain stores such as the Gap, Sketchers and Victorias Secret. The mall has gorgeous views of Biscayne Bay. Connected to public transit via Metrorail and Metromover.

Collins Avenue between 15th and 3rd Streets has many stores to satisfy all shopping tastes and budgets.

Dolphin Mall on 1401 Northwest 12th St is another popular mall with cinemas, restaurants and cafes.

Miami International Mall at 1455 NW 107th Ave has 120 stores including Macy's, Dillard's and JCPenney.

The Falls at 8888 Howard Dr is a great mall with tropical waterfalls hosting many shops including Brooks Brothers and Pottery Barn.

CocoWalk located at 3015 Grand Ave (in Coconut Grove) is an open-air mall featuring beautiful Mediterranean-styled architecture with restaurants and bars open until 2am.

Lincoln Road Mall on Lincoln Rd between Alton Rd and Washington Ave is an open-air pedestrian mall including restaurants and cafes such as Starbucks. A multiplex cinema is located on the corner of Lincoln Road and Alton Drive

Shops at Sunset Place (5701 Sunset Dr) features nationwide chains such as the Gap, Urban Outfitters, Victorias Secret, a Niketown store, as well as a large movie theater.

Village of Merrick Park located at 4425 Ponce de Leon Blvd (in Coral Gables) is similar to Bal Harbour. This mall features mostly designer stores.

Miami Hotels

Miami Travel

The high season for accommodation is between November to April because of the lower temperatures and visitors escaping the northern hemisphere winter. Spring break weeks are a busy time for locals to visit, in March and April.

South Beach is popular with many Art Deco, boutique hotels, however, the rooms can be small and expensive. Miami has many high-rise hotels north and south of South Beach on Collins Avenue, as well as near the downtown area that are very modern with good size rooms.

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Beyond Miami

Disney World in Orlando is highly recommended to all visitors but you may need up to four days to see all of it.

Universal Studios Movie Theme Park in Orlando is the number one movie studio theme park in the world. Its the only place on earth where visitors can go beyond the screen and experience all the excitement of the movies through unique rides including: Men in Black Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, Back to the Future, Terminator 2, Jaws, ET, Shrek and more.

Universal Islands of Adventure Theme Park, in Orlando next to the Universal Studios Movie Theme Park, takes visitors on a once-in-a-lifetime journey through five themed islands: The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park, Marvel Super Hero, Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon.

Universal CityWalk Entertainment Complex is located at the entrance to both theme parks and home to the best in live music, casual and fine dining, nightclubs, shopping, movies and more.

SeaWorld Florida at Orlando is one of the worlds most popular marine life adventure park with more than 200 acres of shows, attractions and habitats including Journey to Atlantis, The Ultimate Adventure Ride, Wild Arctic, Key West at Seaworld, Shamu Adventure Show and many more.

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