Where to Stay in Miami: Best Areas

where to stay in Miami

Are you wondering where to stay in Miami? Let us help you to figure out which neighborhood is best for you! Some of the best areas to stay in Miami are South Beach, Bal Harbour, Downtown Miami, Wynwood, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne or Coconut Grove.

When it comes to beach vacations, Miami shines brightly as a top pick. One reason is the city’s welcoming spirit, embracing all types of travelers. As locals represent numerous cultures, they’re very accepting of different lifestyles.

Moreover, Miami’s attractions have widespread appeal. Does your wish list include sumptuous food, classy shops, and soothing scenery? Check them off! Do you yen for thrilling adventure, culture, or outdoor sports? You’ll have countless options.

But, to actualize your wishes, you must choose where to stay in Miami as your “home base.” Each neighborhood has a unique personality and features to explore. Plus, lodging types and rates vary widely. Reading this blog will facilitate your decision. Of the nine communities profiled below, you’ll find the ideal one!

Where to stay in Miami ? Best areas to stay in Miami

1. South Beach

Where to stay in Miami ? Best areas to stay in Miami

This partying town is favored by A-list celebrities, models, and students on spring break. Known locally as “SoBe,” it pulsates south of Miami Beach, sharing its border at 23rd Street. You don’t need a car to survey the area since many restaurants, hotels, and night clubs are short distances apart. If you’d rather not walk them, consider bus service as an alternative.

Aside from its swinging nightlife, SoBe is famed for its pastel-hued art deco buildings. To learn about their fascinating origins, take a walking tour from the Art Deco Welcome Center.

The most popular beach area is Lummus Park, peppered with street vendors, bicyclists, buskers, runners, bodybuilders, and fans of water sports. Further inland, a broad pedestrian walkway runs parallel to the shore, changing to a boardwalk at 21st Street. For fewer crowds, visit South Pointe Beach, distinguished by its lifeguard towers, painted in dazzling colors and amusing designs.

For boutique shopping and al fresco dining, head to pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Road Mall. You’ll encounter cuisines of every kind! Come nightfall, the party scene awakens at dance clubs, hotels, restaurants, bars, and lounges.

Generally, lodging is pricey in South Beach. However, if you don’t mind the no-frills, communal atmosphere of a hostel, you can stay in the area at low-cost. Another option is booking a rental through Airbnb. Still, since the neighborhood is noisy, for the average traveler, sleeping is easier north of 23rd Street.


2. Bal Harbour

Where to stay in Miami: Bal Harbour

This upscale village lies north of Miami Beach, hugging the Atlantic coast for about a mile. For a peaceful and private beach experience, it’s a choice place to stay in Miami. That’s because only residents and hotel guests can access the pristine sand and gentle surf.

Approach the waterfront at 102nd Street, via the Beach Path, lined with pretty pavers and lush landscaping. Only a town-issued key card will give you passage through the locked gates.

The community was designed with the well-heeled in mind. Its centerpiece is Bal Harbour Shops, housing over 100 high-end boutiques and designer stores. Equally impressive is the indoor landscaping, including airy palms, lavish plantings, alluring fishponds, and bubbling fountains. Chic cafés and elegant restaurants invite shoppers to leisurely dining.

If you’re an art lover, consider subscribing to the town “Art Access Program.” You’ll gain free admission to 18 cultural venues, such as galleries, museums, and private collections. At the very least, catch the rotating installations on the Beach Path and inside the Art Museum Miami.

Note that you won’t find any fast-food eateries in Bal Harbour. The best-rated establishments beckon from within the mall and waterfront resorts, offering both casual and fine dining.

Generally, the most affordable rates are found at 3-star hotels. While less posh than luxury properties, the service is likewise commendable, according to guest reviews.


3. Key Biscayne

Where to stay in Miami: Key Biscayne

A magnificent bridge connects Miami Beach to Key Biscayne, situated seven miles offshore. This enchanting island has two state parks, ideal for nature-lovers, expert golfers, and sports enthusiasts.

Perched at the northern end is family-friendly Crandon Park, offering kayaking, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, tennis, biking, golf, and beach volleyball. At the Family Amusement Center, take a spin on the carousel or skate the outdoor roller rink. For tykes, there’s a colorful playground.

At the Nature Center, an enthusiastic guide will lead you through the mangrove swamp on raised boardwalks, pointing out nesting sea turtles. Or, take the seagrass tour, armed with a bucket to gather starfish and urchins for close examination. Then, inside the Center, peruse the hands-on exhibits and art gallery.

At the island’s southern tip is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, with its eminent lighthouse. Your reward for tackling the 100+ steps will be stunning views of the beach, jetty, forests, and shimmering ocean waves. Alternatively, walk or bike the nature trails meandering through the park.

Regarding Key Biscayne accommodations, most are house rentals with only a few hotels. For island transportation, take advantage of Freebee. Similar to Uber, Freebee provides on-demand car service, hailed through its smartphone app. However, unlike Uber, Freebee cars are electric, and ride-sharing is free!


Read also: Best places to stay in New York, best places to stay in Boston, best places to stay in Wahsington DC, best places to stay in San Francisco

4. Downtown Miami

Stay in Miami: Downtown

An optimal way to appreciate the Miami skyline is by taking a cruise from the downtown docks. You can either sail Biscayne Bay or the Atlantic Ocean. While breezing by the skyscrapers, look for a yellow one called Freedom Tower. The former Cuban Assistance Center is now a museum of art and design.

Nearby, you’ll see a rotund, white structure, the American Airlines Arena. This immense stadium hosts professional baseball games, concerts, musicals, family events, plays, and other sports competitions.

Downtown’s most visited attraction is Bayside Marketplace, a two-story outdoor mall with a festival atmosphere. Over 150 shops line the waterfront, along with choice eateries. Meanwhile, talented local musicians entertain shoppers from onstage.

A fabulous cultural venue is the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Here, you can see a Broadway hit, jazz concert, orchestral event, or classical dance performance. Also delightful are the comedy acts and children’s shows.

Speaking of kids, if you’re vacationing with them, schedule time at Jungle Island and the Miami Children’s Museum. Freebee is a fun way to get around town.

For relaxing in a gorgeous setting, head to Bayfront Park, facing the turquoise waves of Biscayne Bay. The park’s amenities include a small beach, playground, rock garden, art sculptures, monuments, and amphitheater, staging concerts and holiday celebrations year-round.

Another haven with superb bay views is Ferré Park. After being refreshed, walk its promenade, leading to two outstanding museums. One is the Perez Art Museum Miami. Its contemporary artworks are spellbinding! The Frost Museum of Science is likewise captivating, with its awesome planetarium shows and aquarium displays.

Most downtown lodging is less than a mile from the docks, affording breathtaking skyline vistas. Hotels predominate, ranging from budget to luxury properties.


5. Little Havana

Best areas to stay in Miami: Little Havana

Located west of downtown, Little Havana is a tight-knit community of Central Americans and Cuban Americans. In the 1950s, when the first wave of Cuban immigrants fled to Miami, they settled here, occupying the area’s bungalows and cottages. Now, tourists flock to the ‘hood to relish its ethnic food, public art, and music. For daytime exploration, consider a guided tour, such as the Little Havana Food Tour or Miami City Tour with Little Havana.

If you’d rather mosey independently, start at Calle Ocho, the hub of activity. Famed eateries on this route are El Pub and the Versailles Restaurant and Bakery. The Azucar Ice Cream Company serves gourmet ice creams and sorbets in fruity flavors, such as Mango, Guava, and Key Lime Pie.

Annually in March, there’s the Calle Ocho Music Festival, a week-long street carnival, showcasing Hispanic food, music, art, and dance. The third Friday of each month features Viernes Culturales. This huge block party honors local establishments, including galleries, shops, bars, and restaurants. Simultaneously, artists play music and dance on a central stage.

Ball and Chain is a bar and concert hall, restored to its 1930s glory. At that time in Miami, black musicians and singers were banned from performing after midnight. However, the Ball and Chain took the shunned artists under its wing, presenting them after-hours. This courageous endeavor launched the careers of Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Chet Baker. Today, the bar plays all types of music while serving cocktails and tapas.

Come evening, Little Havana echoes the party vibe of South Beach. Regarding after-dark safety, Little Havana is less risky for tourists than in prior years. Still, avoid the area during late evening, particularly east of 17th Avenue, where gangs congregate. Furthermore, book lodging in one of the other Miami neighborhoods profiled here.


6. Wynwood

Areas to stay in Miami: Wynwood

Does gazing at artwork stir your soul? If so, a cool place to stay in Miami is the Wynwood Art District, north of downtown. Here you’ll be wowed by the outdoor murals, gallery pieces, and private art collections. The centerpiece is Wynwood Walls, created by an urban developer 11 years ago.

The vision of Tony Goldman was to transform abandoned warehouses into huge “canvases” by inviting gifted street artists to paint over the existing graffiti. Furthermore, he pictured a park-like setting for the murals by adding specimen trees and boulders. In this way, he sought to revitalize the warehouse section of Wynwood.

Currently, Mr. Goldman’s legacy thrives at Second Avenue through the work of talented artists from 16 countries across the globe. Wynwood Walls is a mural plaza, formed by warehouse facades. Over the years, the installation has expanded to include the sides of neighboring buildings. The latest addition is the Wynwood Walls Garden, framed by four murals. The public art rotates regularly.

If possible, schedule your stay in Miami to span the second Saturday of any given month. This way, you can experience “Art Walk,” when local merchants turn the area into a block party under tents. Hosts include galleries, restaurants, boutiques, craft vendors, and a legion of gourmet food trucks. Kids have a blast in the Paint Zone! Meanwhile, local DJs treat guests to a range of music genres. Each Art Walk runs from 6pm to 10pm.

Wynwood is also notable for its Fashion District, starting at West 5th Avenue. Formerly aging factories are now museums, dance halls, apparel stores, markets, and cafés. Descendants of Puerto Rican immigrants own most of the businesses. Accordingly, residents call their town “El Barrio,” translated “the neighborhood.”

Wynwood offers charming lodging, such as house rentals, hotel apartments, studios, and suites. Generally, rooms are well-appointed, and prices are wallet-friendly. Freebee service is available.


7. Coral Gables

Where to stay in Miami: Coral Glabes

This picturesque city has many scenic, historic, and cultural attractions. The Old Cutler Trail invites leisurely walks and biking on paved pathways, offering glimpses of stately mansions. Throughout the trail, the arms of mighty trees create a sheltering canopy. Along the way, stop at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. There, you’ll be enchanted by its fragrant breezes, magnificent blooms, gurgling stream, and wondrous butterfly garden.

The Miracle Theatre is a flashy art deco landmark, featuring plays, concerts, musicals, stand-up comedy, classic movies, and children’s shows. Another grand building is the stalwart Coral Gables Museum, constructed of white coral stone. The former police and fire station now displays contemporary art. Additionally, the museum sponsors tours of the city’s noteworthy buildings, plazas, fountains, and gardens. Choose from three tour types — pedestrian, bike, and canoe!

The Venetian Pool is a former rock quarry, its chlorine-free water supplied by artesian wells. The public swimming complex includes a grotto, cave, bridge, diving island, two rock towers, enormous boulders, and gentle waterfalls. The steps of the garden terrace lead into the pool, spanning four to eight feet in depth. Between the Spanish-themed architecture, aqua water, and vivid foliage, the setting truly feels European.

Miracle Mile is the city’s famous shopping district. Along the boulevard, you’ll find spas, salons, bridal shops, art galleries, book stores, boutiques, and other specialty shops. Interspersed among them are eateries of every type imaginable. Navigating downtown is fun, courtesy of the quaint, air-conditioned trolleys. Amazingly, the service is free! Another transportation option is Freebee.

Coral Gables has multiple types of lodging, including house rentals, boutique properties, and historic hotels, some located near Miracle Mile. In most cases, rates are reasonable.


8. Coconut Grove

Stay in Miami: Coconut Grove area

This quiet, laid-back neighborhood faces the sparkling waters of Biscayne Bay, about five miles southwest of downtown. Abbreviated “the Grove,” it’s ideal for water sports. Additionally, the community is rich in green space, jogging trails, and bike paths. For a novel way to tour the town, board a 15-seater party bike. While pedaling alongside your comrades, the “bike pilot” will share snippets of the Grove’s history and top attractions.

Peacock Park offers a range of outdoor activities, including basketball, softball, kickball, and soccer. The playground equipment is anchored in sand, making for soft landings. Inside the Recreation Building, you’ll find ping-pong and foosball tables. On the boardwalk, revel in the soothing breeze while watching the sailboats pitch and bob. Do you love doing yoga? If so, take the free classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights, from 6pm to 7pm.

A half-mile from the park is CocoWalk, the Grove’s outdoor mall. with its numerous restaurants, department stores, boutiques, cafés, bars, and the multi-screen movie theater.

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens will astound you with its grandeur! The manor is the former winter home of James Deering, a businessman who sought to preserve the Grove’s tropical forests. Now, the 34-room mansion displays his extensive art collection, procured while he traveled abroad. Also on view are his opulent décor and vintage furnishings.

Equally stunning are the spacious formal gardens. Many sections feature pretty fountains and pools, while others showcase interesting sculptures. At the villa’s entrance, turn around to see the awesome expanse of Biscayne Bay.

Coconut Grove has lodging to suit every budget. Most hotels are either 3-star or 4-star. While the Grove is pedestrian-friendly, free trolley service is available daily, connecting with the town’s Metrorail Station. Freebee also operates daily, starting at 11am.


9. North Miami Beach

Where to stay in Miami: North Miami Beach

This serene neighborhood is a half-hour drive north of Miami proper. Called “NoBe” by locals, it’s favored as a good place to stay in Miami by vacationing couples, and families.

Oleta River State Park embraces Biscayne Bay, offering rentals of paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes. You can also rent a bike, exploring the numerous park trails with both easy and challenging routes. The sheltering pavilions are perfect for enjoying picnic meals.

Attend a thrilling concert at the modern North Beach Bandshell. Between its open-air seating and starlight overhead, the ambiance is magical! If you have young children, they’ll love Enchanted Forest Park, encompassing a butterfly garden, nature center, playground, and pony rides.

For a hefty dose of retail therapy, head to Florida’s largest shopping center, Aventura Mall. You’ll have three levels to browse, including big-name department stores, luxury boutiques, designer clothing shops, enticing confectioners, top-notch restaurants, and a 24-screen movie theater.

Poised throughout the mall are 20 eye-catching sculptures and art installations. Among the most striking is Slide Tower, soaring 93 feet, at the mall entrance. Coiled around the tilted structure are two narrow slides. At designated times, mall visitors 50″ and taller can ride the tubes free of charge, for 15 seconds of heart-thumping fun.

For the least expensive lodging, North Miami Beach is the best place to stay in Miami. Choose from resorts, motels, boutique hotels, and house rentals. Also available are cabin rentals at Oleta River State Park. Public transit options are buses and free trolleys.


Freebee Details

If Freebee is new to you, here’s further information. Freebee vehicles resemble golf carts, except they hold either five or nine riders, secured with seatbelts. Jaunts are brief, designed to connect with other forms of mass transit, such as trolleys, buses, and trains. The cars lack air-conditioning and move leisurely, up to 35 mph. Many South Florida cities have adopted Freebee, and the service is ever-expanding to include more.

Multifaceted Miami

Among beach destinations, Miami is a multifaceted gem. As you can see, each locality has a distinct ambiance and noteworthy activities. Here’s a summary of area highlights that will help you decide where to stay in Miami:

  • South Beach – best place to stay in Miami for swinging parties, celebrity sightings, and art deco buildings
  • Bal Harbour – exclusive beach access and upscale lodging
  • Key Biscayne – best area to stay in Miami for sports enthusiasts and families
  • Downtown – thrilling museums, cruises, and sporting events
  • Little Havana – Hispanic cuisine, culture, and music
  • Wynwood – best place to stay in Miami for dazzling Art Walks, public art, and Fashion District
  • Coral Gables – amazing theater, public pool, and shopping
  • Coconut Grove – fantastic community park, shopping, and historic manor
  • North Miami Beach – serene beachfront, extensive shopping, and outdoor sports

Miami sparkles with beauty and fun year-round!

Photo: Shutterstock

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