The city of Miami is the seat of Miami-Dade county and may well be the Southern Florida cultural hub. There’s a vibrant nightlife, great shopping, upscale dining, and all the adventure you can imagine. Explore some advice and travel tips for traveling in Miami, so you can plan the ideal visit.

Buildings in Downtown Miami at night


Beach etiquette is serious business

What to know before you go to Miami, ahead of anything else, is that locals take beach etiquette really seriously. That means keep appropriately covered, give sunbathers their space, and don’t drink on the shore as Miami beaches are “dry,” meaning no alcohol is allowed. Finally, while it should be among the most obvious of travel tips, clean up after yourself and don’t leave trash on the beach. You’ll get called out on it by the residents. These rules are inviolable and absolute, even if unwritten.

The hours and timing are “-ish”

Like many beach communities, Miami has a very laid-back style and atmosphere. If you’re going to hit the shops or catch an early lunch, and the hours read that it opens at 8 a.m., what to know is that means it’s open at 8-ish. You’ll need to be patient and adopt the same laid back attitude if you’re going to have your best trip. Of course, off the beach in the city proper things are a bit more on-schedule, but along the beaches, it’s best to go with the flow.

Anticipate crowds

Miami is among the most popular travel destinations in the U.S. and attracts about 14 million visitors every year. Any list of travel tips should advise you to anticipate crowds. Book your hotels as far in advance as possible, especially during peak seasons, and plan your itinerary carefully after doing thorough research about when crowds are the heaviest so you get the most out of that popular beach or Art Deco District tour that looks like such a fun adventure.

When getting around, patience takes you a long way

If you’re looking for travel tips, be patient while traveling. That’s probably the biggest thing you need to know before you go. Whether you’re driving or taking public transportation, this is a crowded city and it takes a while to get from one place to another. You’ll also have to pay your way. Many roads in Miami are toll roads, so buy a SunPass, and you’ll also likely pay for parking wherever you go. Public transport is also costly, and like everything else, runs on an “-ish” schedule. You can also charter a boat or even a helicopter for a more unique way to explore.

People dining on the terrace at Doce Provisions

Doce Provisions

A little Spanish goes a long way

Miami is a very multicultural city with a great deal of Latino influence. It’s also one of the most bilingual cities in the union, and if you don’t know any Spanish going in, you may wish you knew some by the time you leave. It wouldn’t hurt to pick up a phrasebook, as many Miami residents will operate on the assumption that you speak some Spanish, and you should anticipate that you may even encounter a few locals who don’t speak English.

Cultural kissing is a thing

Other places in the U.S., when you first meet someone you’ll usually shake their hands. Don’t be surprised in Miami if, in addition to a handshake, your new acquaintance brings it in for a kiss on the cheek. It’s a very European way to greet someone, but it’s a thing in Miami and it’s important to anticipate it, and know before you go that it will likely happen at some point. If you’re uncomfortable with that, understand that it’s just the local culture.

Be ready to order fast

Just as hours are approximate in Miami, service can be sporadic. The restaurants here are quite busy and that means you may be waiting quite a while for service, food, and drinks. If you’re not ready to order your food the first time the server comes around, anticipate waiting for quite some time before you see them again. What to know is that patience and keeping that laid-back attitude going will get you the most from your visit.

Prepare for a warm climate

Travel tips should always include information about the climate, and in Miami that means warm and humid. Miami has a tropical monsoon climate with even the winter months seeing temperatures around 70°F. Typically, if you need any type of outerwear, it will be a light jacket or a thin sweater. During the months of May through October, you may see rain and thunderstorms and appropriate gear might be called for. Most of the time, shorts and flip-flops will be the uniform.

Dress appropriately for dinner

Of course, if you’re going out on the town in the evening to heat things up with that someone special or just to visit one of the tons of outstanding bars and nightclubs in the region, you’ll want to put the sandals and shorts away. People get dressed to the nines to go out on the town here, and most of the clubs you’ll want to check out have a dress code. While ripped jeans and a T-shirt with your favorite band is fine for daytime shopping, clubs mean high heels, button-up shirts for guys, and proper attire.

Evening shot of a street and buildings in the Art Deco Historic District

Art Deco Historic District

Be prepared for strong coffee

Miami has a ton of great cafés to enjoy on just about every street, but with 70% of the residents being Hispanic, and 52% of the population being Cuban, what to know before you go is you’ll get that influence in everything, and that includes the coffee you’ll drink. You’ll definitely want to try a Cafecito while you’re in town, but this Cuban espresso comes black with just a touch of sugar and it packs a punch. If strong coffee isn’t your thing, you may want to be prepared to order an alternate caffeine source or add a lot of milk or cream.

Get ready for your Miami adventure

If you’re ready to plan your trip to Miami, keep these travel tips in mind, and get ready to use this essential information. Before visiting Miami, check out the many great deals you’ll find to book your vacation on Expedia today!