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Where to Stay in Miami: 10 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

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The City of Miami has many nicknames, including the “Magic City.” This nickname came to be in 1939 when the Miami mayor said the city transformed people “from weary into happy and contented…” When visiting Miami, you’ll likely feel this same magic too.

Located in southeastern Florida, the Miami metropolitan area lies along the northern part of Biscayne Bay. The city is famous for its warm weather, gorgeous beaches, delicious Cuban food, cultural attractions, and performing arts.

Whether you’re heading to town for a Miami Heat game at the Miami-Dade Arena, the nightlife at vibrant South Beach, shopping on Ocean Drive, or a family-friendly stay at a beachfront Miami Beach hotel, this city has it all.

We’ve compiled a list of where to stay in Miami, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly area, want to be in the middle of the city center, or plan to dance the night away with your friends.

TL;DR: Top Picks for Accommmodation

Best Areas to Stay in Miami

Miami is one of the smaller-sized major cities in the U.S., with only 35 square miles of land. Although it’s fairly small, there is a ton of fun! When you stay in Miami, there are ten major areas to consider.

While South Beach is known for the nightclubs and after-hours fun, Key Biscayne is the best area for family-friendly activities. However, if you’re looking for big-time fun without a budget, you may want to stay in Little Havana. And for luxury hotels, stay in popular Mid Beach.

  • For first-timers/tourists – Downtown Miami
  • For budget travelers – Little Havana
  • For luxury travelers – Mid Beach
  • For families – Key Biscayne
  • For nightlife – South Beach
  • For young hipsters – Wynwood

Where to Stay in Miami

1. Downtown Miami

Downtown Miami architecture and skyline
Just dance / Shutterstock

If you’ve never been to Miami, staying in Downtown Miami is a good idea. Most of the action happens along Biscayne Boulevard and Brickell Avenue, the two main streets in downtown Miami. When you stay downtown, you can access everything from shopping, museums, restaurants, and nightlife!

One of the area’s most popular Miami attractions is the 176-foot Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel, a modern Ferris wheel with enclosed gondolas. This attraction gives gorgeous views of downtown Miami, Bayfront Park, and Biscayne Bay.

Whether traveling with kids or adults, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is a hit! The Natural History Museum includes a planetarium, an aquarium, and several other sections.

Bayfront Park is perfect for enjoying the sunshine, having a picnic, doing yoga, or watching live music. This large green space is a special downtown Miami spot, with many of the city’s annual celebrations at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater. Once you’re done at the park, head to Bayside Marketplace, an outdoor mall with two levels of shopping paradise!

Head to the Miami-Dade Arena or a Miami Heat game for real heat! Formerly known as the American Airlines Arena, Miami-Dade Arena hosts concerts, musicals, and other live shows.

There are so many restaurants downtown, but if you’re looking for something small and unique, head to the River Oyster Bar on E. 7th. This upscale bistro has menu items ranging from roasted oysters and black grouper to lobster cocktails and a crab cake po’boy.

If you’re wondering where to stay in Miami, downtown Miami has some of the best things to do, like:

  • Enjoy the views from the Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel
  • Learn about the planets at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
  • Watch a Miami Heat Game at the Miami-Dade Arena (formerly American Airlines Center)
  • Have a picnic at Bayfront Park
  • Enjoy delicious seafood at the River Oyster Bar

If traveling with family or a group, you may appreciate the luxury private apartment at the Four Season Hotel, with an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. However, you can still stay in Miami on a budget with a studio apartment.

See Related: Do You Need a Rental Car in Miami?

2. Little Havana

Colorful artwork on display along the popular Calle Ocho in historic Little Havana.
Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com

Cuba’s influence on Miami is most prevalent in the 3.5 square mile area known as Little Havana. Little Havana is where many Cubans came after fleeing their homeland, giving the neighborhood its Cuban flair. This famous area is a great place to stay in Miami if you’re looking for a lively neighborhood with affordable accommodations.

The most well-known street is Calle Ocho (8th street), where you’ll feel like walking down a street in Cuba. It’s a pedestrian-friendly street where you can pop into a Cuban eatery for a delicious bite, go shopping, look at the Art Deco architecture, and feel the rhythm of Cuban life. (You may also see giant rooster statues, a symbol of power in Cuba.)

Stop by the Cuban Memorial Boulevard and Bay of Pigs Monument for some history while you’re in the area, with multiple monuments dedicated to Cuban anti-communists. One of the most prominent memorials is the Eternal Torch of Brigade 2506, dedicated to the U.S., who trained and supplied paramilitary exiles from the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba.

Stop by Cafe La Trova for a mojito, some braised mojo marinated pork shoulder, and steamed yucca if you get hungry while sightseeing. And if you have a sweet tooth, stop at Azucar Ice Cream Company for their café con leche (featuring Cuban coffee & Oreo) or mulatica (a glorious cinnamon ice cream with oatmeal cookies).

For a true Cuban experience, head to Domino Park, officially known as Máximo Gómez Park. Called Domino Park by the locals, it is a popular social spot for serious domino playing. While they don’t mind an audience, you must be a member to play.

Stop by the historic Tower Theater in Little Havana to watch new films from Cuba and movies from budding Miami film producers. This theater is one of Miami’s few spots with foreign-language films.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Little Havana, here are some of our top picks:

  • Explore Calle Ocho for the sights, smells, and sounds of Cuba
  • Visit the Cuban Memorial Boulevard and Bay of Pigs Monument
  • Try a Cuban-inspired ice cream at Azucar Ice Cream Company
  • Watch the intense domino games at Domino Park
  • See a Cuban film at the Tower Theater

Little Havana is the place to stay if you’re traveling on a budget! However, the amenities are still fantastic with these small, budget-friendly accommodations and are within walking distance of most of Little Havana.

3. Mid Beach

Aerial View of Collins Avenue in Mid Beach Miami
Monteleone / Adobe Stock

Luxury hotels line the three-mile strip of Miami Beach’s Mid Beach, which runs along the Atlantic Ocean from 24th Street to North Miami Beach. This luxury area has plush resorts, MiMo (Miami Modern) hotels, upscale restaurants, and cocktail bars.

One of the most obvious landmarks in Mid Beach is the Faena Forum, a new building showcasing modern architecture. And while having a parking garage on our list of recommended things to do may sound weird, the Faena Car Park is worth checking out!

Also in the Faena District is the Faena Bazaar, a cutting-edge shopping space. The modern and upscale shopping area has local specialty stores and brands from across the globe.

If you’d like to dust off your irons and play a round of golf, you can also do that at the Miami Beach Golf Club. With plenty of water hazards along the 18-hole course, you’re sure to work up an appetite to eat at the onsite restaurant. Stop by the Bass Museum of Art for a dose of contemporary art. This museum has exhibits both indoors and outdoors that will ignite your creativity!

You can’t visit Miami Beach without a trip to the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. This 3-acre green space is great for visiting Miami with kids or friends. Miami Beach (specifically Mid Beach) is fun for all ages, but here are our top picks:

  • Appreciate the architecture of the Faena Forum and Faena Park
  • Go shopping at the specialty Faena Bazaar 
  • Play a round of golf at the Miami Beach Golf Club
  • Enjoy modern and contemporary art at the Bass Museum of Art
  • Stroll through the Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Unfortunately, this area is not known for offering many budget accommodation options, but several studio vacation rentals are convenient and well-priced. The historic oceanfront hotel Fontainebleau Miami Beach is a solid mid-range choice. In contrast, the most well-known luxury hotel in the area is the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, a five-star hotel with an outdoor pool, fitness center, and spa.

See Related: Places to Visit in the US

4. Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove aerial view
Sebastian / Adobe Stock

Coconut Grove is a fantastic area if you want to stay in Miami but are worried about safety. This laidback area is also home to many historic buildings, with a history of settlers dating back to 1825.

One of the best things to do during the day is a trip to the outdoor shopping area called Cocowalk. This upscale outdoor shopping area has outdoor cafes, boutique shops, and even a theater in its courtyard.

You can’t miss the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a Tuscan-inspired estate that overlooks the Deering Channel. This estate is the former home of local businessman James Deering (hence the name of the Channel). The home, constructed in 1916, boasts over 30 decorated rooms and 10 acres of gardens.

If you get hungry while exploring Coconut Grove, head to Peacock Garden Cafe, a local hidden gem. The “secret garden” and delicious food will make your al fresco dining experience top-notch.

Let the kids run wild at the playground at Alice Wainwright Park, or the adults can enjoy the ocean views from the beachfront benches. This 28-acre park is a closed canopy forest consisting primarily of evergreen trees and shrubs.

If you’ve never seen a pelican, you may see one at The Barnacle Historic State Park! This 5-acre bayfront park is a step back into simpler times in Coconut Grove. One of Coconut Grove’s earliest pioneers, Ralph Middleton Munroe, built this home in the late 19th Century. Today, the historic park is perfect for a picnic, birdwatching, watching the sailboats, or walking.

Coconut Grove has the best parks, shopping, and fun attractions, but here are our top recommendations!

  • Go shopping at Cocowalk
  • Admire the architecture at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
  • Eat at Peacock Garden Cafe
  • Enjoy the beach at Alice Wainwright Park
  • See a pelican at the Barnacle Historic State Park

If you’re wondering where to stay in Miami, Coconut Grove is one of Miami’s safer and more historic areas. There are also plenty of budget-friendly vacation rentals and several hotels in the mid-range and luxury price points.

5. Key Biscayne

Lighthouse at Cape Florda in the south end of Key Biscayne , Miami
kmiragaya / Adobe Stock

Key Biscayne is uniquely located across the causeway from Miami and between two major parks, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and Crandon Park. Mangroves and sheltered beaches surround the small island and are home to the Cape Florida Lighthouse. The island is great for young families with its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful beaches.

All ages will love the island’s beautiful beaches; you can catch up on your latest book and try stand-up paddleboarding, go fishing, windsurfing, or jet-skiing. And, of course, kids will love frolicking in the water and building sandcastles.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous experience in the water, head to Biscayne National Park, where you can dive into the underwater Maritime Heritage Trail and see shipwrecks!

Like many areas in Florida, Key Biscayne has a place to dust off your irons and play golf. The 18-hole Crandon Golf Course has “one of the greatest holes in golf” (hint: the seventh hole) and is consistently rated one of the top ten courses by Golfweek.

If you’re not up to a challenging golf game, you may want to relax at Crandon Park. This park is fantastic for kids and adults, with plenty of water activities and a great learning experience at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center. You might see sea turtle hatchlings up close at the nature center! As the cherry on top, visit the Crandon Family Amusement Center with its restored 1949 carousel as the main attraction!

Regardless of how you spend your day, you should definitely end it at Randazzo’s Italian Restaurant, which offers dishes such as Snapper Puttanesca, Linguine with Clams, and Penne Alla Vodka. Make sure to have some cannoli or tiramisu to end your evening!

Key Biscayne has many fun things to do, but our top recommendations include:

  • Enjoy the beaches of Key Biscayne
  • Explore the world below the water at Biscayne National Park
  • Ride the vintage carousel at Crandon Park
  • Play golf at the Crandon Golf Course
  • Eat Italian food at Randazzo’s

The small island of Key Biscayne doesn’t have many hotels, but several vacation rentals are usually available, from studio apartments to two and three-bedroom.

See Related: Day Trips from Miami | Top Road Trips

6. South Beach

South Beach Aerial View
Mia2you / Shutterstock

South Beach is one of the more popular areas of Miami Beach, with its expensive resorts, art deco buildings, beautiful beach, and thriving nightlife. If you’re looking for a quiet place to stay with kids, South Beach is not the place, as many nightclubs stay open until early morning. During the day, the sandy beach is popular for swimming, relaxing, and surfing.

Ocean Drive is the most famous street in South Beach, with palm trees lining the road amid Art Deco buildings, beach shops, cafes, and bars. The street deadends at South Pointe and has an observation deck and a fishing pier.

If you’re interested in architecture, head to the Art Deco Welcome Center, where they can tell you where to see the best art deco architecture in South Beach. In addition, they’ve also got the Art Deco Museum, where you can see art deco exhibits year-round!

If you’re hungry for southern comfort food, head to Yardbird Table and Bar, where their drink menu is just as long as theirs. Enjoy some chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, or a brisket sandwich to cure your hangover. And if you’re in the mood for a hair of the dog, try one of their many old-fashioned cocktails, a draft beer, or a specialty cocktail.

Kids and adults will love South Pointe Park in South Beach, located at the southern tip of Miami Beach. This park has beach access, a water playground, walking trails, and gorgeous views of downtown Miami and Fisher Island.

If you need a break from the sand and sun, head to Lincoln Road Mall. While it’s an outdoor mall, you can enjoy the shade from outdoor umbrellas on the promenade and the air conditioning when you set foot inside the stores. While South Beach is known as the nightlife center of Miami Beach, here are some other things to do:

  • Have a margarita and walk down Ocean Drive
  • Visit the Art Deco Museum and admire art deco buildings
  • Eat southern comfort food at Yardbird Table & Bar
  • Take the kids to South Pointe Park for a beach day!
  • Go shopping at Lincoln Road Mall

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Miami, South Beach is definitely the place for fun nightlife and upscale accommodations. While most South Beach areas have higher prices, budget-friendly accommodations, such as vacation rentals and hostels, are available.

However, many mid-range and luxury options exist in South and Miami Beach. You’ll find that almost all hotels in this area offer an outdoor pool, fitness center, and private rooms.

7. Design District

Palm trees and building at Design District
Olga V Kulakova / Shutterstock.com

Just north of Wynwood lies the Miami Design District, one of the best shopping areas in Miami. In this area, you’ll find well-known names in fashion, like Burberry, Dior, and Gucci. So, if you’re wondering where to stay in Miami, the Design District is perfect for shopping!

You’ll recognize many fashion stores when you walk down this 18-square block, like Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi. But if your budget isn’t that elaborate, more affordable brands like Reformation and Sephora are also available. This square block has over 60 boutique stores from well-known designers.

Stop by the newly-opened Institute of Contemporary Art for some of the best up-and-coming artists and sculptors. You can’t miss the private art collections at the de la Cruz Collection and the conceptual art at David Castillo’s.

Plenty of dining options exist in this area, but one of the more popular neighborhood bistros is Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. This restaurant is known for its range of delicious food, including small and large plates.

If you’d rather have a selection of what to eat in one place, stop by the MIA Market, the Design District’s food hall. The MIA Market has roughly ten food purveyors and the mainstay bar.

And unless you suffer from Trypophobia, take some time to admire the 24-foot Fly’s Eye Dome. This geodesic dome was designed by inventor Buckminster Fuller in 1965 but was not completed until 2014. With so many things to choose from in the Miami Design District, these are our top recs:

  • Go shopping along the 18-square-blocks of the Miami Design District
  • Visit the Insititute of Contemporary Art
  • Delight your tastebuds at the neighborhood bistro Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
  • Head to the MIA Market for more dining choices
  • Stop by the Fly’s Eye Dome

 While there aren’t too many accommodations in the Design District, you can find more accommodations if you extend your search to include neighboring Wynwood.

See Related: Family-Friendly Spring Break Ideas

8. Coral Gables

Palm trees and buildings at Coral Gables. Miami
Gabriele Maltinti / Adobe Stock

Referred to as the “City Beautiful,” Coral Gables is one of the most beautiful areas in Miami. Coral Gables is known for its historical landmarks, such as the Venetian Pool and the Biltmore Hotel, constructed in the 1920s. If you want to know where to stay in Miami, Coral Gables is a great place for history lovers, but it’s also known for its restaurants, shops, and boutiques.

To start your trip, take a refreshing dip in the historical Venetian Pool, a fantasy-themed pool built out of a rock quarry. For a dose of history, stop by the historic home of the city’s founder, the Coral Gables Merrick House. You can also learn more about the area’s history at the Coral Gables Museum.

If you’re feeling peckish at any point, enjoy the all-day cafe menu at Pura Vida on the Miracle Mile. This delicious cafe has a shaded outdoor seating area and cozy indoor seating to complement its colorful light bites.

One of the best ways to enjoy the lush beauty of Coral Gables is a stop at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. This local botanic garden is consistently voted one of the best in the country and is perfect for all ages!

Several parks and greenspaces in Coral Gables are worth visiting, many overlooking Biscayne Bay. Families love Matheson Hammock Park’s sheltered beach and man-made atoll pool. This pool is flushed naturally with the tidal action of nearby Biscayne Bay. Some of the best recommendations on things to do in Coral Gables are:

  • Take a dip in the refreshing Venetian Pool
  • Enjoy history at the Coral Gables Museum and the Coral Gables Merrick House
  • Delight your taste buds at Pura Vida
  • Visit the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
  • Stop by Matheson Hammock Park for a relaxing time

If you’re wondering where to stay in Miami, Coral Gables is a beautiful and historic area with plenty of accommodations, restaurants, and shops.

9. Wynwood

Vivid mural at Wynwood Walls Miami, featuring geometric and floral patterns under a clear blue sky.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Young hipsters (if hipsters can even be considered “young”) will definitely enjoy the Wynwood area, as it’s arguably one of the most Instagrammed neighborhoods in Miami. So, if you’re planning where to stay in Miami, Wynwood has some killer graffiti art, awesome art galleries, interesting museums, great entertainment, and shops.

The highlight of this area is the Wynwood Walls, an outdoor collection of vibrant murals by artists worldwide. It’s become one of the largest open-air art museums in the country.

To see contemporary art, video, and photography, The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE is a must-do! This 50,000 square-foot warehouse space offers pieces from the Margulies Collection, consistently named one of the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors.

Now is your chance if you’ve never had lobster mac and cheese! The World Famous House of Mac food truck serves some of the best mac and cheese you’ll ever have, including lobster mac and cheese. I promise you that it will change your life. Wynwood has many food trucks to delight your taste buds, so try to visit them all!

You can’t miss the local breweries in Wynwood, including Veza Sur Brewing, J. Wakefield, Cerveceria La Tropical, and Wynwood Brewing Company. Take a break from the art and culture of Wynwood and sample some of the delicious brews.

If you want to learn more about the history of graffiti art, head to the Museum of Graffiti, which celebrates thousands of graffiti artists! Our top recommendations of things to do in Wynwood include:

  • Stroll past Wynwood Walls for fantastic murals
  • Admire the Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE
  • Stop by one of the food trucks like World Famous House of Mac
  • Enjoy a cold one at one of the four Wynwood breweries
  • Learn more about graffiti artists at the Museum of Graffiti

The Wynwood area is perfect for young hipsters, with incredibly vibrant art galleries, a cool food truck scene, and hip breweries. Most of the accommodations within walking distance of the attractions are vacation rentals, but the luxury Arlo Wynwood is one of the few hotels in the area.

See Related: Where to Stay in Key West: Best Areas & Neighborhoods

10. North Miami Beach

Trail leading to Ancient Spanish Monastery
dennizn / Adobe Stock

If you’re planning where to stay in Miami, North Miami Beach is the perfect blend of laid-back, family-friendly, and fun. North Miami Beach is between 63rd Street and 87th Street and is known for its long stretches of beautiful sand and beachfront pathways. It’s also close enough to South Beach to enjoy the nightlife if you so choose.

One of the main attractions in North Beach is the North Beach Bandshell, perfect for outdoor concerts. This open-air venue is located off Collins Avenue and has free parking after 6 pm.

Amidst the beautiful beach and laid-back vibe of North Beach is the Ancient Spanish Monastery. This Medieval monastery was built in Spain in 1141, transported to the United States in 1925, and rebuilt. A visit to the Ancient Spanish Monastery is worth it, as it’s the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere!

Enjoy a meal at Little Brazil Miami Beach, where you can taste Rio in every bite. This small, cozy restaurant on Collins Avenue is the best place for mouthwatering Picanha. Kids and adults will enjoy North Beach Oceanside Park, a beachfront park with shaded walking paths.

If you’re looking for a place to get out of the sun and sand with your kids, check out Ninja Lounge at Dezerland Park Miami. This indoor spot boasts 10,000 square feet of fun, from trampolines to elevated ropes courses and dodgeball courts.

North Miami Beach has so much to offer, but here are our top recommendations:

  • See a show at Miami’s North Beach Bandshell
  • Visit the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere, the Ancient Spanish Monastery
  • Eat delicious Picanha at Little Brazil Miami Beach
  • Stop by North Beach Oceanside Park for a stroll on the shaded paths
  • Get out of the heat at Ninja Lounge at Dezerland Park Miami

North Beach has many accommodations, most of which offer similar amenities, from an outdoor pool to a fitness center.

FAQs

What is Miami known for?

Miami is known for its fantastic nightlife, gorgeous beaches, beautiful weather, great food, and Cuban influence. In Miami, you can access ocean views, art deco buildings, delicious cuisine (including fine dining), world-class museums, fine art collections, and more.

Where is the best place to stay in Miami?

The Miami area is overflowing with attractions, accommodations, and restaurants to fit various needs, whether you stay in South Beach for Spring Break, North Miami Beach for a romantic getaway, or Biscayne Bay for a family vacation.

Where is a good area to stay in Miami near the Miami International Airport?

If you want to stay close to the Miami International Airport, you’ll either want to stay in downtown Miami or Coral Gables. Both are within a 30-minute drive of the airport and depending on where you stay, the accommodation may provide an airport shuttle.

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