Travel Hacks for Visitors to Miami


Miami is bustling, international, energetic and colorful. There aren't too many rules here. Understanding the culture will help you blend in. Here are some tips to ensure you enjoy your trip to the max!

Transportation
Getting around by trolley is free, but the bus is exact change only. Have it out and ready.

Timing
Speaking of which, the bus is rarely on time. Don't panic, it will arrive eventually.

Life is Sloooow
It's hot and tropical, making the culture laid back and slow. Remember this when dining out, shopping or using public transportation.

Dining Out
Many restaurants will not present you your check until it is specifically asked for.

Paying Your Bill
When you do receive your bill, always check for included gratuity.

Personal Space
Is non-existent. The little old lady behind you isn't trying to steal anything from your purse, she is just trying to get closer to the front of the line.

Social Norms
Miamians will not apologize profusely for accidentally brushing your arm while walking down Lincoln Road. They won't expect you to either. Live and let live.

Safety in the Street
Like any city, biking is a popular way to commute. Be aware of tourists on bikes, as most are too engaged in the scenery to notice pedestrians.
(Insert photo of bikers)

Street Dress Code
Miami is the city of 'yes.' Anything goes. Don't, however, feel the need to wear your thong bikini while jogging. Very few can pull that off.

Beach Dress Code
Topless bathing is accepted everywhere. Whether or not it is actually legal is a different story. If you want to go full out in your birthday suit, head to Haulover, just north of Bal Harbour.

Language
This isn't the USA you're used to elsewhere. It is an extension of South America. If you order your cafecito at a local Cuban coffee shop, don't assume the employees speak english.

Coffee
A cafecito, or cortado, is espresso with tons of sugar. A cafe con leche is espresso with tons of milk. A cortadito is a mix of the two.

Weather
Rain showers generally last 10-20 minutes. If you are on the beach and the sky opens up, stick it out. By the time you pack up and leave, it will be over.

Locals
Most locals are not rampant partiers. Ask promotors for nightclub advice. Ask locals for directions. Ask other tourists what night is best at Mangos. Ask locals about the city's greatest happy hours.

Parking
Parking tickets are given out like candy. You won't beat the system. If you didn't pay for your spot, chances are it's illegal. Avoid the headache and park in a lot.

The Sun
Experience sunrise on the beach with free yoga. Enjoy sunset on the bay with half-priced drinks.
(INSERT photo of sunset over downtown miami)

Taxis
If you are in a taxi in South Beach, direct the driver to a street west of Collins Ave. You might have to deal with more stops signs, but the difference in traffic will be worth your while. If you don't have cash, ask if the driver accepts credit cards before getting in.

Bike-share
Better yet, rent a DecoBike using your credit card. Ask a local for help.

Alcohol
Alcohol is available for purchase almost everywhere, including Walgreens, CVS, Whole Foods and Publix (pronounced with a short 'u', like the Irish bar, followed by "licks".)
(Insert photo of Publix)

Cuisine
Miami's food scene is so much more than fried plantains and medianoches. From Peruvian to Italian, the city is bursting with great restaurants. Don't limit yourself!
(Photo of ceviche)

Kodak Moments
Most importantly, always have your camera ready. From breathtaking sunsets to drag shows at brunch, you never know what you are going to see in this vibrant city!
(Photo of Ocean Drive or a show at The Palace)

Bethany Platanella is a freelance writer, yoga instructor and obsessive traveler based in Miami Beach.