Difference between revisions of "Miami Beach"
Revision as of 16:47, 28 July 2014
Miami Beach is a city in Florida. This small barrier island near Miami was originally cleared of mangroves in the late 1800's to make way for a coconut farm, and was later incorporated as a city by real estate developers in 1915.
Although tourists generally consider Miami Beach to be part of Miami, it is in actuality its own municipality. Located on a barrier island east of Miami and Biscayne Bay, it is home to a large number of beach resorts and is one of the most popular spring break party destinations in the world. Because of its length, it is generally broken up into two or three districts, with South Beach being the more popular by far.
Miami Beach has been one of America's pre-eminent beach resorts for almost a century. The city has a rich history as a trend-setting center of arts, culture and nightlife, from the world famous nightclubs of the 1950s to the rich cultural life of today's South Beach. Today, Miami Beach is a major international entertainment and cultural destination, with stronger entertainment, production, and arts communities than ever. As a world-class destination, Miami Beach offers several kinds of lodging options. The visitor can stay in a normal hotel or choose from a variety of Miami Beach vacation rentals, including beachfront condos.
Often referred to under the umbrella term "Miami", the City of Miami Beach is actually a separate municipality on a barrier island connected to Miami by a series of bridges. Miami Beach has a large Latin American population, and Spanish is often used along with English for day-to-day discourse, although English is still the language of preference. There is also a smaller Haitian community, and many signs and public announcements are in English, Spanish, and Creole.
Despite occasional cold snaps, Miami Beach is known for its generally warm, muggy weather. Located just above the Tropic of Cancer, Miami Beach has a subtropical climate, with dry, warm winters and springs, and hot, humid and rainy summers and falls. Miami Beach, due to ocean breezes, has lower humidity and heat than inland areas in South Florida, and also does not get as cool as inland South Florida during cold spells.
For more information on travel to the Miami area, see Miami#Get in.
Miami International Airport (MIA) is the closest airport, but Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) is only around 40 minutes away (depending on traffic).
The Miami Metrorail and Metromover do not include Miami Beach, but you can take the J or 150 Bus, both of which connect to the Metrorail, from Miami International Airport. To Get to South Beach, transfer to a southbound C, L, or S bus. The fare is $2.25 for the local and $2.65 for the express. If you get the 150, you can also transfer to the South Beach Local at the last stop. From Fort Lauderdale Airport, you can take the #1 Broward County bus to Aventura Mall for the Miami-Dade S bus. 
By car, take one of several causeways across Biscayne Bay. The Julia Tuttle Causeway (I-195) in Mid Beach and the MacArthur Causeway in South Beach are the largest, and both connect to the airport and to I-95. Car rentals are the most convenient form of transportation for visitors, but taxis, while expensive, are available at almost any time and place.
Miami Beach's main drag is Collins Avenue, a beachfront road that has been called "Millionaire's Row" on account of its high-end properties. Other major roads include Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive for shopping, and 41st Street, Mid Beach's main road. Renting a car is probably the most convenient option, especially for getting around the greater Miami area. Keep in mind that Miami Beach is very crowded, and Miami-area drivers are notorious. Be particularly careful around South Beach, where most of the partying happens and drunk and/or high drivers are a possibility.
Although taxis can be expensive, they are available pretty much whenever you need them. They say there's no such thing as a free ride, but that's exactly what SWOOP Miami  (+1 305 409-6636) is. Supported by advertisements, the SWOOP taxi is a six-passenger white electric golf cart that will pick you up and take you anywhere within South Beach — no fee or fare required, although the drivers will gladly accept tips. Call ahead to be picked up within 15 minutes, anytime between noon and 2AM daily. Unfortunately, though they have "Miami" in the name, they won't go outside the South Beach district.
The main routes you need to know are the 120, which starts in Downtown Miami, crosses the MacArthur Causeway, and runs up Collins Avenue all the way to North Beach; the 115/117, which runs in a loop around the center of the island west of Collins; and the 150, which runs from the airport to South Beach. A good choice is the South Beach Local, which operates in a loop from 19th St to the southern point of Miami Beach for only 25 cents.
Transportation within the Miami Beach area is generally good. Numerous buses run up Collins Avenue, which is the main street in the area. There are numerous buses connecting Miami Beach/South Beach with Downtown. However, connections to areas off the island generally aren't too good, and buses run fairly infrequently. See this map for more info.  
By golf cart
South Beach Decocarts, 1000 5th St, +1 786 383 2278  is the newest addition with stylish Eco-friendly golf cart rentals. Hourly, daily and weekly rentals are available. Each Decocart can fit 4 adults (great for groups) and requires a driver's license. It can hold shopping bags and other items you won't be able to transport with a bike or scooter. Decocarts also offers trendy E-Bikes that don't require a license.
Miami Beach has become more bicycle friendly in recent years with the addition of new bike paths and bike lanes, although not as comprehensive as other major cities. Notable additions to the biking and pedestrian infrastructure include the paved "Beach Walk" which runs parallel to Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue and is directly on the beach, plus the new South Point Park along the bay. In Miami Beach and South Beach riding is permitted on sidewalks, which luckily are wider than average. That said, it doesn't stop many people from trying to utilize bicycles (including locals) to get around town. Pedestrians and drivers tend to be tolerant of bikers and willing to share the right of way. However, be prepared to slow down and go on foot, particularly on the congested streets closer to the beach. Absent heavy auto traffic, South Beach is biking bliss.
There are better attempts at bike-friendliness in the South Beach district, where most of the bike rental shops are located. Lummus Park and Lincoln Road Mall are great for bikers, and have plenty of bike racks throughout; meanwhile, if you are trying to go north or south, go a few blocks west and take one of the roads less traveled. Meridian Ave is a good choice: plenty of interesting Miami-style houses to see and a local park. If you didn't bring your own bike, bike rentals will run about $8/hour or $30/day (or 24-hour time period).
- Beach: Miami Beach features warm, clear and calm waters all year long, with soft golden sands, palm trees and skyscapers right on the coastline. Also, cool breezes from the ocean may make the weather more tolerable for you.
Miami Beach is a fashionista's paradise, with strips dedicated to designer, from Versace to Missioni, from Vivienne Westwood to Chloe. Don your most comfortable shoes and indulge!
Those without a budget head to Bal Harbour Shops (9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour) where the locals shop at the Versace boutique.
Many international cuisines are to be found, with a heavy leaning towards Latin foods, particularly Cuban cuisine. Some Cuban cuisine to try includes a sandwich cubano (Cuban sandwich) and a cafecito (literally it means little coffee, but compares to a strong, sweet espresso).
Most of Miami Beach's nightlife is concentrated in South Beach, but there are still a few places along the rest of the beach. If you go inland, Miami's nightlife will be centered on Coconut Grove. "Cuba Libre" is a popular drink, known to the rest of the world as plain old "Rum and Coke". Also popular is the "Mojito", a sugar/mint/soda-water and rum drink.
Do your homework when booking a hotel in South Beach. Nearly all of the hotels have a restaurant, at least a small one, out in front of the hotel. That appears to be what gets the hotel a three-star rating. However in many cases, the hotel by itself is far from three-stars. Read reviews from other travelers before booking or you might be very disappointed.
The cost of services in hotels can be pricey just like hotels elsewhere in the world but you can seek out local services within walking distances or online such as the neat Oliom, . Oliom.com laundry service for hotel guests via your smartphone. Since you can pretty much walk or bike to anywhere in South Beach, trying out local services is the best way to get a feel of the place.
Emergency telephone number for fire, police and rescue emergencies is 911.
The main area code for Miami Beach is 305, with an overlay of the 786 area code.