Things to Avoid in Miami

Miami is a fantastic place to visit with its sandy beaches, diverse culture, and bustling nightlife. However, there are some things you might want to avoid doing to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

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As we have been there multiple times over the last few years, we love to share our experience.

Below are our 12 don’ts in Miami:

💡Don’t forget to check the best things to do in Miami at the end of this article!

1. Pack More Than Just Casual and Beach Clothes

You might think Miami is all about the beach. So you pack lots of swimsuits and flip-flops. But that’s not enough. You might feel out of place in the city if that’s all you bring.

Fancy clubs in Miami Beach have strict rules about what you can wear. You can’t get in wearing casual beach outfits.

Downtown Miami also has cool places to eat, shop, and hang out. So you should pack some nice outfits for evenings out.

Why Pack More? Miami has different styles in different places. From beaches to nightclubs to restaurants, each spot might need a different outfit.

Quick Tips:

  • Bring a mix of casual and dressy clothes.
  • Don’t forget comfy walking shoes for exploring.
  • Always have a swimsuit, but pack more than that.

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Winter clothing: During winter, especially in January, in Miami, layering options are great for what to wear throughout the day. Long sleeves or pants may be needed in the morning hours and late evenings when the sun sets. During the afternoons, visitors can shed their layers and opt for shorts and a t-shirt.

Our recommended packing list for winter:

  • Sandals
  • Walking/Tennis shoes (depending on plans)
  • Shorts
  • Flannels or Blouses
  • Leggings/Cargos/
  • T-shirts & V-necks
  • Jeans (if wanted)
  • Light sweater or jacket
  • Bathing Suit/Swim Trunks
  • Bathing Suit Cover Up
  • Layering clothing items

During the summer in Miami shorts and t-shirts or tanks are great to wear in the mornings while the humidity levels are high. Keep a poncho handy for afternoon rain showers. During the evenings, shorts are still acceptable but pack a light sweater due to lower temperatures when the sun goes down.

  • Sandals
  • Shorts
  • Tanks & Cut-offs
  • T-shirts & V-necks
  • Raincoat or Poncho
    Sundresses
  • Bathing Suit/Swim Trunks
  • Bathing Suit Cover Up
  • LOOSE FIT CLOTHING

2. Don’t Get Trapped in Two-for-One Deals

When you’re strolling along Miami Beach, particularly the famous Ocean Drive, you’ll find it buzzing with many bars and restaurants. It’s definitely one of the go-to spots with many things to do daily and night.

However, this touristy area is also a hot spot for scams and tricky deals, especially when it comes to dining and drinks.

Whether you’re in Miami Beach or South Beach, you’ll notice plenty of enticing offers like half-price discounts and 2-for-1 or even 3-for-1 drink specials. Some places might even have pushy hostesses trying to get you in the door with these so-called “deals.”

But here’s the thing: these offers often have hidden conditions. You might find extra charges popping up on your bill later. For example, if you order a meal that wasn’t part of a discount deal, the price could be way higher than you expected.

And speaking of those drink specials in South Beach, they often don’t tell you the original price of the drinks. You might think you’re getting a bargain, but you could end up paying much more than you planned.

We once thought we were getting a good deal and ended up paying $71 for just three large light beers!

What’s the Trick? These “special deals” can fool you into thinking you’re saving money when, in fact, you’re spending more than you intended.

Pro Tips for Smart Spending:

  • Always know the actual cost of what you’re ordering.
  • Ask for menu prices or take a snapshot of them for reference.
  • Be cautious of extra charges that might be added to your bill.

So, while Miami Beach and South Beach have a lot to offer, being cautious with deals and always checking prices can save you from a financial headache. Enjoy your time, but stay smart!

3. Always Check Your Restaurant Bill

When dining out in Miami, especially on South Beach, it’s crucial to scrutinize your bill closely. Many restaurants and bars here add a service charge—basically tipping—directly to the bill.

Make sure to check so you don’t end up tipping twice, as there’s usually a blank space on the bill for an extra tip.

But don’t worry, it’s not like this everywhere. For example, when we visited a great Mexican restaurant Downtown, the service charge wasn’t added, so we tipped separately. Just stay aware!

Why is this important? Checking your bill carefully can save you from unnecessary expenses. Imagine spending an extra $22 on a meal that already has a service charge; it can quickly add up!

Extra Tip: If you’re unsure whether a service charge is included, don’t hesitate to ask your waiter for clarification.

4. Don’t Expect Amazing Service

It’s no secret—Miami doesn’t always offer the best service at restaurants and bars. We’ve had some hit-or-miss experiences. On South Beach, for example, expect to wait a bit longer for your food or drinks. No biggie, it’s Miami, man!

However, this isn’t true for the entire city, just certain spots. So, if you’re expecting excellent service, you might want to temper your expectations.

Why is this so? Miami’s bustling tourist scene might contribute to the inconsistent service. Staff at busy spots may be overwhelmed, leading to longer wait times.

Pro Tip: It might be a good idea to plan ahead. If you’re dining at a popular spot, perhaps make a reservation to minimize your wait time.

5. Don’t Fall for Bottle Service

Bottle service at cabanas, bars, or clubs might seem like a VIP experience. But honestly, you’ll save a lot more money if you just order drinks individually.

You’re in Miami to relax and have fun, not to splurge unnecessarily, right?

Why Avoid Bottle Service? Bottle service often comes with a hefty markup. You may end up paying two or three times the normal price for a bottle of liquor.

Tip: If you’re with a small group, ordering individual drinks is usually the more economical choice.

6. Don’t Plan on Buying Alcohol After 8 PM on South Beach

If you’re thinking of buying alcohol from CVS or Walgreens after 8 PM on South Beach, think again. Stores stop selling alcohol at this time to encourage spending in bars and restaurants.

So, if you want to save some money, make your alcohol purchase earlier in the day.

Why is this so? This is a rule designed to boost business for local bars and restaurants.

Shopping Tip: Make sure to check the local rules and regulations around buying alcohol so you don’t get caught off guard.

7. Don’t Mistake South Beach for Miami

South Beach is not technically in Miami; it’s a part of Miami Beach. To get to South Beach, you’ll have to cross a causeway from Miami.

Fun Fact: Miami has more to offer than just South Beach. Places like Little Havana and Coral Gables are must-see spots!

Why Visit Other Areas? Little Havana offers a rich Cuban culture, Coral Gables is known for its Mediterranean-style architecture, and Coconut Grove offers a bohemian vibe. Each area has its unique charm and is less touristy compared to South Beach.

8. Don’t Think Miami Is Just a Party City

Miami is not a 24/7 party city. Sure, parts of South Beach get wild, especially on weekends, but Miami has a lot more to offer.

You can visit museums like the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, or even relax in areas south of 5th Street that offer a more laid-back atmosphere.

There are tons of other exciting things to do for the whole family. Check our tips at the end of this article!

More to Explore: Consider visiting the Wynwood Walls for a taste of Miami’s art scene or the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens for a bit of history and beautiful scenery.

9. Try to Avoid the Summer Months

July and August in Miami are super humid. It’s almost like you’re melting. If you can, plan your trip between November and May when the weather is more bearable, and the temps are slightly lower. .

However, any summer month can be great as well. It all depends on your personal preference. We visited during July and August quite often and loved Miami during this time!

Why Avoid High Humidity? The extreme humidity can make outdoor activities quite uncomfortable, not to mention the potential for heat-related health issues.

10. Don’t Drive in Miami

If you’re considering driving in Miami, you might want to reconsider. Traffic is a big pain point, even for locals. In fact, Miami is the second-most complained about city for traffic right behind Los Angeles.

But it’s not just traffic that’s a problem; finding a parking spot can be equally frustrating. These are the two main issues that even have Miamians leaving their cars at home.

People who live in Miami often opt for public transportation or use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, especially when going to places like downtown Miami or South Beach. That’s because parking in those areas is not just hard to find but also pricey.

Why Opt for Public Transport?
With its limited parking spots and the risk of expensive parking fees, taking public transport or using ride-sharing apps makes more sense in Miami.

These options are generally quicker, more convenient, and easier on your wallet than trying to navigate the congested streets and expensive parking lots.

Pro Tips for Navigating Miami:

  • If you must drive, be aware that valet parking might not be as fancy as it seems. Often, they’ll park your car in a regular garage but still charge you a premium for it.

So, when you’re visiting Miami, leave the driving to someone else. It will save you money, time, and a lot of unnecessary stress. You’re on vacation, after all!

11. Don’t Forget About Safety

When you’re having fun, it’s easy to forget about safety. But remember:

  • Don’t leave your bag with valuables unattended on the beach.
  • Use Uber or Lyft at night instead of walking long distances.
  • Sun protection is a must, all year round.

Why is This Important? Safety should always be a priority, regardless of how relaxed or fun the environment seems.

12. Don’t Skip Out on Cuban Culture

Miami is rich in Cuban culture, so don’t miss out on this part of the city. Places like Little Havana offer great food, drinks, and atmosphere. Whether it’s trying a Cuban sandwich or enjoying some music, the Cuban influence adds a unique flavor to Miami that you won’t want to miss.

Don’t Miss: From the lively street performances to the delicious Cuban coffee, Little Havana is a cultural gem that provides a different kind of Miami experience.

So there you have it! Miami is a vibrant and diverse city with lots to offer, but knowing these ‘don’ts’ can save you money, time, and potential headaches. So go out there and have a blast, but stay smart!

Best Things to Do

As we mentioned, Miami is not just a party city. These are the most exciting things you can do during your visit:

Airplane or Heli Tours

You will love this airplane flight tour! It’s an incredible journey to view Miami and Miami Beach from a breathtaking bird’s eye view. We did this one three so far!

Review from a customer: ‘Just excellent, the special pilot, brings confidence, humor, and experience. Felipe, the guide, is more than attentive and willing to coordinate everything perfectly and adjust to the client 100%. An unforgettable experience and more than recommended.’

You will see from above (it’s jaw-dropping):

  • South Beach, North Beach, and Haulover Beach
  • Biscayne Bay and its famous lighthouse
  • Colorful Boca Chita and Elliot keys
  • The Miami Seaquarium
  • The Bayside cruise port
  • Skyscrapers of downtown Miami
  • Islands with celebrity homes
  • The Art Deco District and Ocean Drive
  • The incredible Everglades
  • The Vizcaya Mansion and Gardens
  • The Miami Marlins Stadium
  • The Hard Rock Casino
  • Stunning Cayo Brickell
  • The Venetian canal and islands
  • Stiltsville homes hovering above the water
Everglades

Mornings and evenings will be the best time to spot animals due to rising water levels in the afternoons. That’s why we recommend a tour from Miami which starts at 9 AM:

Boat Tours

The city of Miami, especially Biscayne Bay, is filled with various different boat tour opportunities for everyone. If boats aren’t your thing, jet skis (South Beach Jet Ski Rental) are also available as an alternative.

You can also float by Millionaire Row and Celebrity Island for views of some of the most beautiful homes in all of Miami, owned by famous celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal and P.Diddy. We highly recommend checking out this tour for a must-do activity:

There are also sunset tours, city tours, and boat tours all over the area of Biscayne Bay. Sunset tours are great for group trips, and a superb way to end a day of exploring:

Water Sports

The abundance of water sports available in Miami is unmatched. You can take part in kayaking/canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, kitesurfing, swimming, snorkeling, diving, and jet skiing all over the city of Miami.

Since Florida has some of the bluest waters in the state, Key Largo Marine Sanctuary has some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the country.

Great for beginners, and seasoned SUP lovers as well, Crandon Park has calm waters and little distractions, and ideal conditions for stand-up paddleboarding.

Wynwood Arts District

A personal favorite activity of ours is the Wynwood Arts District. This outdoor street museum is filled with street art, graffiti, and art installments that are unique, beautiful, and historical as well. There are guided tours available if you are interested in learning about the history.

It is also the ideal place to get the perfect new profile picture as there are dozens of backdrops available for social media lovers.

Little Havana

This is a ‘must see’ if you are a lover of food. Little Havana offers a little taste of Cuba right in the middle of Miami. It is a very walkable neighborhood and there are guided walking tours daily as well.

While you are here, don’t forget to stop by Versailles restaurant; Miami’s most popular Cuban restaurant dating back to 1971.

Museums

Miami has a museum for every type of traveler. The city is home to history, science, art, and interactive museums for visitors of all ages. These are great activities for those rainy days during any season.

If you are a lover of music, head downtown to the Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday evenings for live music. If history is more your cup of tea, you may enjoy the Vizcaya museum and gardens, with history and facts dating back to the 19th century, and beautiful views. Additionally, and great for kids, The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is not only a museum but also a planetarium and aquarium.

Save the 3 Best Activities