Destinations | North America

2 days in Miami Itinerary

30 Mar 2021 | Destinations, Florida, homepage, North America

Want to soak up the sun, relax at the beach and go sightseeing in Miami? My epic 2 days in Miami itinerary is all you need! In this post, I will share my tips on how to spend a weekend in Miami and nearby areas, with essential travel information to get you trip ready!

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2 days in Miami Itinerary: An essential weekend in Miami guide

Miami will always have a special place in my heart. One of my best friends lived here for over two years, and she was the best Miami guide! 

Miami was also our first ever couples trip that my husband and I went together, and this is where our love really ignited. It turned into a whirlwind love story that began in Miami and resulted in a Vegas wedding (you can read everything here)! 

Planning for your trip to Miami Travel Guide

In tropical Miami, life seems to be immersed in a permanent holiday atmosphere. The pearly white sands of Miami Beach add to this feeling, making it one of the most iconic destinations in the States. 

However, Miami has much more to offer than sun, sea and bling bling. Anyone who makes the effort to explore the city will convince you of that. Those who are tired of all the crowds can discover the natural beauty of the Everglades or the Florida Keys. 

Did you know that more than 65% of the inhabitants have Spanish descent or speak Spanish as their mother tongue. Nowhere else in the US can you find such a unique mix of Anglo-American, Cuban, Latin and Caribbean influences on this scale.

I have visited Miami numerous times, and I would go back immediately without hesitation. From lovely beaches, a buzzing nightlife, splendid shopping facilities to the most beautiful sunsets in the world, Miami will win you over in a heartbeat.

USA Travel Documents

As you know I am from Belgium. Belgian citizens need an ESTA to visit the USA, for a maximum stay of 90 days. You can apply for the ESTA online. It goes without saying that your passport should be valid for the entire duration of your stay.

Alternatively, you can also apply for a US tourist visa. Check if you require one.

 

Getting to Miami Florida

Miami is served by the Miami International Airport (MIA), which connects it to the rest of the world. Miami Airport is located about 12 minutes away from Downtown Miami (by car). 

Best way to explore Miami

By far the most convenient way to get around Miami is by car. Most of the city attractions are not located close to each other, so a car will be the most feasible. Once you are in a particular district or neighbourhood, you can surely explore it on foot. 

If not renting a car, use apps like Uber or Lyft to catch a ride to explore Miami and nearby areas. 

Uber and Lyft will be cheaper for you instead of a taxi. You should definitely install the Uber or Lyft app before your trip. Note that you only have to wait a maximum of five minutes for your driver regardless of where you are in this metropole. 

Alternate option is to use public transportation. It does take longer to arrive at a location while using a bus (from one neighborhood to another), so if you are short on time, I recommend budgeting for an Uber.

However, if you want cheaper transportation, the metro will not disappoint you. The metro provides a free monorail that connects the most important places in the center, so you can also easily move around on public transport. 

Trolleys have good connectivity within a neighbourhood. But to reach other districts, there is a fare and it starts at $2.55 USD per person.  And if you are hopping from one neighborhood to another, it doubles the time it takes to travel by car. 

If you are not keen on renting a car, or using an Uber, considering booking one of the recommended tours in this 2 day Miami guide to check off the must-see attractions.

Best time to visit Miami

Miami is best explored in the spring months, particularly from mid February through May. If you have the tropical parks on your bucket list, November to January is also a good time to consider visiting Miami.

During this time the weather is warm, and spending time outdoors is possible without extreme heat or humidity. Plus the hurricane season is absent in the winter/spring months. 

In February to April, you can also expect the winter rush to have passed, and so accommodation rates are better during the spring months, and crowd sizes are also smaller. 

Where to stay

There are quite a few neighborhoods where you can stay – Wynwood, Downtown and South Beach are popular ones. The ones listed below are close to Miami Beach, and South Beach. 

The Standard Hotel

The Standard Hotel is an adults-only hotel with pleasant rooms, a lovely swimming pool and one of the best rooftop terraces in the area which is perfect to enjoy a beautiful sunset with a cocktail in hand. Located close to Lincoln Road Mall (12 minute walk), and South Beach (a 5 minute drive). In short, this hotel has everything for a relaxing holiday.

More info and booking can be done here.

Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Prefer to stay closer to Miami Beach? Faena Hotel is ideal! It’s within walking distance to the beach where it’s all about ‘to see and to be seen’. Popular areas like the Lincoln Road Mall and the Art Deco District are 8 minutes’ and 9 minutes’ drive away respectively. 

More info and booking can be done here.

Freehand Miami

Freehand Miami is a luxury hostel that also rents out private rooms. This is a great option if you want to discover Miami on a budget! It is located about 5 minutes’ drive from Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

More info and booking can be done here.

Miami guide

Food and drinks: Miami Weekend Guide 

Miami is one of the amazing foodie places in the US. You can try empanadas, Cuban sandwiches, fritas, alligator and crab bites (and more seafood delicacies) in Miami’s epic districts and restaurants.

During my recent trip, I checked out the following places 

  • Restaurants in the Little Havana neighbourhood: In the cute Little Havana neighbourhood, you can eat authentic, and affordable food almost everywhere. You can also book a Little Havana food tour with a guide 
  • Mandolin Aegean Bistro:  Mandolin Aegean Bistro is a Greek and Turkish restaurant housed in a 1930s-era house. They have a wonderful patio seating area, which is great for late brunches outdoors.
  • Alter Miami: Head to the Alter Miami for an amazing dinner. This restaurant is located in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, and serves delicious 3 course meals!
  • Brick, Wynwood: Another Wynwood favorite. Brick is a popular bar in Miami located in a 1920s house, offering craft brews and cocktails with live music and entertainment. This is a great option for a night out in the city. 
  • Lagniappe House: Lagniappe House is another spot for dining in Miami. I love the ambience here. Perfect spot to enjoy cheese, wine and dine in a romantic setting. 

With warm temperatures (almost all year long), ice creams are a delight in Miami. There are a variety of ice cream shops offering gelato, frozen yogurt, ice cream with alcohol to sorbets. Don’t forget to try some in the city!

Things to do in Miami in 2 days

In this Miami 2 day itinerary, I recommend starting with the city attractions, and on your second (and possible third) day you can go exploring the outdoors like cruises, day trips to Everglades or Biscayne National Park (more recommendations below)

Day 1 of 2 days in Miami Itinerary: City sightseeing, tours and more

VISIT WYNWOOD ART DISTRICT (MORNING)

Start your first day in Miami by exploring the Wynwood Art district. It is perhaps one of the coolest neighborhoods in Miami! 

If you’re an art lover, you will love the hip and diverse street art on every corner and side street. Walls are covered top to bottom with fantastic, and often challenging, paintings. 

All kinds of motivational, political or peaceful messages are also sprayed onto the pavements. 

Not too long ago, Wynwood was simply a slum full of empty warehouses. Today it has become Miami’s premier artistic design district. 

The most impressive graffiti can be found on the famous Wynwood Walls: a great collection of street art spread across a sprawling courtyard. An explosion of color and shape – exploring the district is well worth the trip a few hours away from the beach.

Stroll through the neighborhood and admire all these gorgeous artistic pearls. It isn’t just about the art, though – it’s also a super hip neighborhood with nice shops and good food on every street corner.

Prefer to explore with a local guide? Book this 1 hour guided walking tour through the Wynwood neighborhood. 

 

EXPLORE LITTLE HAVANA

After exploring the Wynwood neighborhood make your way to Little Havana. Eat your heart out (brunch or lunch here), and visit Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street), the cultural heart of Little Havana. 

This area is filled with colorful Latin American art galleries, cafes and restaurants, offering Cuban coffee and cigars! 

 

ART DECO DISTRICT (LATE AFTERNOON)

From Little Havana, hop on an Uber and head to the Art Deco District.  

The beautiful Art Deco district is a protected heritage site – one of the largest in the entire US – and it stretches out between 6th and 23rd Street.

In the late 1970s South Beach was fully upgraded, and more than 1,000 buildings received a protected status. The festive shapes and pastel colors, the inviting classic neon lighting incorporated in the facades and the overall nostalgic atmosphere quickly became the showpiece of the entire city.

OCEAN DRIVE

The most beautiful strip of Art Deco hotels is located along Ocean Drive. It’s a tropical catwalk for sports cars and celebrities, where music reverberates around the clock from its many outdoor cafes and clubs, and where the city’s most beautiful and hip people parade nonstop. 

A walk down Ocean Drive immerses you in countless iconic movie scenes.

OPEN-AIR CINEMA AT SOUNDSCAPE PARK (ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY)

Here is an additional activity to add to your 2 day Miami itinerary for movie lovers. You can enjoy open-air cinema at the SoundScape Park at New World Center.

Movies are screened here weekly from 8:00 pm onwards (regardless of the weather). The cinema screenings can be spotted on the corner of 17th Street and Washington Avenue.

MIAMI HEAT FOR BASKETBALL FANS (EVENING)

Are you a basketball fan? Be sure to support the Miami Heat for an evening at The American Airlines Arena. Even if you’re not a fan, the unforgettable experience is worth the pricey tickets.

SUNSET SIGHTSEEING CRUISE 

Alternatively, you can opt for a sunset cruise in Miami. This recommended cruise is 1.50 hours long and it takes you through the Biscayne Bay, and checks off a lot of Miami prime attractions like the South Beach, Al Capone’s Mansion, and Venetian Islands.

This tour commences at the Bayside Marketplace. 

For dinner, you can head to Lincoln Road – sit, relax and enjoy the wonderful ambience of Miami! 

Day 2 of 2 days in Miami Itinerary: Everglades, Venetian Pool or beaches!

On day 2 of the Miami itinerary, you can split the day by heading to the Everglades in the morning, and then finish the day at a beach or by the Venetian Pools.

STROLL THROUGH THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE EVERGLADES

Everglades National Park makes for a great day trip idea from Miami. Known for its tropical wetlands, easy to difficult hikes, and wildlife sighting, the Everglades is just 50 minutes away from Miami.

As mentioned, there are several hiking trails that take you through the Everglades National Park. Easy trails take about 2+ hours (round trip). If you have additional time, do walk alongside countless alligators and try to spot various birds and flamingos.

For a short trip to the Everglades, you can also book a 4-5 hour day tour from Miami. That way you can explore more of the city or hit the beach in the evening. 

Many tours add airboats to their itinerary, and airboat rides, although may sound like it is a lot of fun, the loud motor sounds are disruptive and it disturbs the animals in their natural habitat. Think about the wellbeing of the alligators! 

Plus as the boats make an incredible amount of noise, your chances to spot animals on foot along the hiking tracks are much higher than on an airboat. 

Touristic places where you can hold alligators are also a no-go! 

Don’t let them trick you – many of them brand themselves as ‘reserves’, which could not be further from the truth.

Pro-Tip: Be sure to bring bug spray, as the Glades are full of mosquitoes. I was literally covered in mosquito bites from top to bottom after our visit to the Everglades. It was a funny sight for my husband enjoying all those red bites on my legs! 

Also wear comfortable walking shoes, and grab your sun protection. 

Miami guide

VENETIAN POOL

The Venetian Pool is one of the most beautiful pools in the world. It was carved out of rock and the design was inspired by the Venetian lagoons. The water of the Venetian Pool comes from natural sources – so it can be quite cold. No chemicals are added, and the water (more than 3.5 million liters in total!) is replaced every night. 

After an active day at the Everglades, the Venetian Pool will delight you!

The Venetian Pool is located in the Coral Gables district, between Coconut Grove and Little Havana. Coral Gables is a 19 km2 district with its own administration and internal rules. Address: 2701 DeSoto Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134.

The district has the allure of a suburb with lots of class. Architect, entrepreneur and founder George Merrick has a large stake in this European-looking neighborhood, with mainly Spanish and Italian elements. 

The Miracle Mile is the central street in the district, and this is where you will find beautiful Mediterranean buildings, shops and cozy cafes (great for dining as well).

More activities: If interested you can also visit the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Coral Gables District!

Best Beaches in Miami

Miami is full of beautiful beaches. On your weekend trip, you must add these beaches to your itinerary.

 

SOUTH BEACH

Most of us have a particular image of Miami in our minds, and most likely that is of the small sandy stretch of Miami Beach. South Beach is located on the southern part of Miami Beach. 

It’s truly a paradise for the senses: extensive beaches, the Atlantic Ocean as blue as can be, colorfully decorated lifeguards, pumped-up beach boys with reflective sunglasses and top models in tiny bikinis.

Other than the beaches, South Beach is known for art deco buildings, and a vibrant nightlife!  

To be completely honest, it wasn’t really our thing, and definitely wasn’t the best beach in Miami. We spent some time there, but merely to cross it off our bucket list.

CRANDON BEACH

Prefer a slightly quieter day at the beach? Head to Crandon Beach to enjoy your time without being disturbed. Don’t forget to bring food, as you won’t find any shops around.

BAL HARBOR

Bal Harbor is a small beach north of Surfside. Sports fanatics can take advantage of the ‘Vita course’ – a fitness course with various equipment. Fun fact: there seems to be more millionaires living in Bal Harbor than in any other American city.

2 days in Miami

More activities for Miami

 

Visit the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

I am not into museums, but if you wish to visit one, make sure it is the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.  It is located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, and can be easily accessed from the downtown area.

It is a National Historic Landmark and it showcases the history of Miami agricultural industrialist James Deering. You can learn about his life, his works, stroll the gardens and more. 

Kayaking among the Manatees 

Prefer something more active? Go kayaking between the manatees on the Orange River. Besides spotting Manatees, a day trip to Manatee Park is simply a super fun experience and a peaceful day trip.

Go Parasailing in Biscayne Bay

Located in the metropolitan area of Miami is the shallow Biscayne Bay. You can go parasailing here, whilst soaking in the views of the clear blue waters. 

Day trip to Biscayne National Park

Just like the Everglades you can also add a trip to the Biscayne National Park. This park is located about an hour’s drive from Miami. 

It is known for rich biodiversity and is home to coastal mangrove hammocks, shallow lagoon waters, coral limestone keys and has the third-largest offshore reef in the world.

Many travelers visiting Miami, also add a day (long weekend trip) to the Keys. Here is a guide to the Keys in Florida. 

Adding Florida Keys to extend your Miami Weekend trip

 If you have time, definitely make a trip to the Keys! 

The drive from Miami to the Keys is one of the most beautiful and iconic road trips in the United States. The road trip takes about 3.5 hours. You can also fly to the Keys  – but trust me, the road trip is worth the effort! 

The Florida Keys are a series of small tropical islands in the far south of the state, linked by an almost 200km long overseas highway. This beautiful drive to one of the southernmost islands of The States is a bucket list trip that you simply have to do by car!

Not keen on driving? The boat provides the perfect solution. The Key West Express departs from Fort Myers Beach or Marco Island, and will take you to Key West in three hours.

You can also opt for a full day tour to the Keys from Miami to catch a glimpse of the destination, but it will make for a super long travel day – 13 hours. 

 

Pro Tip if driving: Watch your speed and do not drink a drop of alcohol if you’re driving! 

We were stopped twice on our way back to Miami, and the police in America really cannot be compared to the police in Europe. They don’t joke around. Obviously we hadn’t had a drink and respected the speed limits – but it was still a nasty situation every time!

Best time to visit the Keys

The best time to visit the Keys is between March and May. During this period you should find hotels at reasonable prices. 

The Florida Keys are expensive, especially during the peak winter season, when hotel prices skyrocket. The stormy summer months are the cheapest – but the chances of visiting during a hurricane are significantly higher.

Miami 2 day itinerary

Where to stay in the Keys?  

 

Here are my top picks for accommodation in the Keys
 

Amara Key Resort, Islamorada

This classy resort has a stunning view of the pool and beach straight out of the lobby. The rooms are gorgeous with earth tones and jungle greens, making it a beautiful resort where you can relax completely. 

More info and booking can be found here.

Cheeka Lodge & Spa, Islamorada

With The Keys’ longest pier, two pools, a beautiful beach, countless activities and a spa, you won’t be bored for a second during your stay at the Cheeca Lodge and Spa.

More info and booking can be found here.

Heron House, Key West

Looking for a quieter place to stay? This adults-only hotel has the most romantic rooms. It is quite affordable and has an amazing swimming pool. 

More info and booking can be found here.

2 days in Miami

Exploring the Keys on a weekend trip

  One thing is certain – from Key Largo to Key West, you’re immersed in a tropical paradise where you can’t possibly be bored for a second. There are countless activities to do. The Everglades are located in the backyard of Key Largo, and offer a tropical adventure you simply must experience.  You can book an eco-tour to learn more about this beautiful region among the dolphins, manatees and various bird species. Go kayaking, paddle boarding or walk among the alligators!  If you have already covered the Everglades on day 2 of your Miami itinerary, I recommend exploring the Dry Tortugas National Park instead.  The view of the 19th century Fort Jefferson in Garden Key, is one of the prime highlights in the region. You can also check out a lighthouse, shipwrecks – 1875 Windjammer Wreck (in Loggerhead Reef), and sight sea turtles.  This is a heaven for those who love to go diving, and snorkeling. Many travelers also opt for an Adventure Eco Boat tour in Key West Islands

Another cool activity is visiting the home of the world-famous American writer Ernest Hemingway. His literary legacy is of everlasting value, and it’s so interesting to see where he created his work. 

The best (and cheapest) activity on the Keys is without a doubt witnessing a sunset. The sky changes from orange to deep purple, and will give you the ultimate holiday feeling wherever you are on the Keys. 

Head down to Mallory Square for the world famous Key West Sunset celebration. You can also buy a souvenir in one of the cozy shops here to remember your trip!

Lastly, you cannot leave the Keys without tasting the world-famous Key Lime Pie. There are plenty of places you can sample this delicious cake, including Key West Key Lime Pie Co.

I hope you found this guide to Miami and the Keys useful. Miami is a super romantic destination, where you can blissfully enjoy not doing anything. It’s also a perfect destination to take your children. 

 

Fancy something a bit more adventurous? Read my USA West Coast or 3 days in San Francisco blogs.

 

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