Some honest thoughts on Miami

PARTY IN THE CITY WHERE THE HEAT IS ON. Or something. While the heat is most definitely NOT on here in blustery ol’ Blighty, I thought I’d share some musings on my visit to Miami back in August. Mostly to remind myself that the sun does indeed exist and will one day hopefully return to my life.

Miami, to me, doesn’t really feel like a ‘doing things’ city – and packing in as much as possible is kinda my holiday style. To be honest, the main draw for most visitors are the amazing beaches and buzzing nightlife. And those are probably my least important things when I’m travelling. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are things to do – if you have money. Which alas, I definitely did not. Unable to scrape together the cash to even get out to Little Havana, I spent the last of my funds on a burger and a couple of Mang-o-Ritas. I almost regret nothing.

But, regardless of my initial thoughts, such a famous city deserves a visit, and it was definitely somewhere I’m glad I got to check out. We had a day and a half to spend in the city, and to be honest, when I arrived I wasn’t feeling in a ‘going out’ kinda mood. So instead, I mostly had a pretty laid back first evening after walking around and getting a feel for the South Beach area, where our hotel was located.

My first thoughts on my first hours in Miami were pretty mixed ones, if I’m telling the truth. Compared to some of the other, wonderful places I’d been, it fell kinda flat for me on first glances. We went out for a very average dinner, and the attitude we recieved in the restaurant and in stores as we browsed was very brusque – far from the warm hospitality we’d encountered in the Deep South. I didn’t feel as comfortable walking the streets as I had in Nashville or San Francisco. Perhaps it might have been different if I’d visited a different area of Miami, such as Little Havana, but my first impressions of the South Beach area is that it didn’t particularly impress me at all.

The next day, feeling refreshed and resisting the urge to have a binge-watching Supernatural session (the new season on US Netflix was basically my first evening sorted…) to explore a bit more.

Miami South Beachclay-hotel-miamiwhat-to-do-in-miami-2

And, y’know, be a bit of a beach bum. Because duh. Who goes to Miami and doesn’t go to the beach? We stayed at the Clay Hotel, a short walk from the vast stretch of soft, lovely-on-the-feet white sand. As part of our stay, we got our own sun loungers and towels reserved. Neat.

After grabbing a couple of ‘Mango-Ritas‘ – which are seriously perfect for beach drinking, FYI – we took a perch on our loungers and basically chatted away and watched the world go by. I didn’t even move to go swimming. Just. That. Chilled. I couldn’t have done it for longer than an afternoon, but it was actually nice to rediscover that I do know how to relax. Sometimes.

The Art Deco buildings along Ocean Drive, just moments from South Beach, are pretty cool to just walk around and drink in. History time: it was actually the first 20th-century neighbourhood to be recognised by the National Register of Historic Places, and the quirky, pastel buildings with original features are definitely super awesome to check out.

Miami Art Deco BuildingJetskiing in Miami

With a doubt one of the coolest things I did on my trip was hopping on board a jet ski and whizzing around on the open sea. On our second day in Miami, after chilling at the beach, we headed to one of the local jet ski hire vendors (there are plenty around along Ocean Drive) and hopped in a taxi to the bay for some high-adrenaline fun. I couldn’t actually afford it myself, and was originally just going to chill and watch.

But when I was offered the chance to jump aboard as a passenger, hanging on for dear life? I jumped at the chance, obviously. I’ve always wanted to jet ski, and oh boy, was it fun. And fast. So fast, in fact, that when we got back to the jetty, another couple who were out with us actually commented on how speedy we were. HA. The jet skiing cost around $60 for half an hour – which is definitely pricey, but SO worth it for the views and how stupidly fun it was.

miami-art-deco-diner-2 miami-art-deco-dinerWhere to eat in Miami

After getting back on dry land, we’d definitely worked up an appetite. Earlier in the day, a little diner had caught my eye, so we went to check it out. 11th Street Diner is an all-American classic diner…in an old railroad car. Which is pretty ace from the outset, but inside, the food was just as awesome. A big loaded burger with all the trimmings and some crispy chips down, it was a pretty decent ending to our day in Miami. (you can read more about it from my post about the best meals I’ve had in America…)

Oh, and we also strolled past Miami Ink and I fangirled a bit. Ha. Finally, it was time to head to the airport, so we did what all the locals seem to do – jumped in an Uber. As we had quite a bit of time to get there, we decided to go with UberPool to make it a bit cheaper. And as a result, we ended up doing a lot of driving around picking up other passengers and hearing a little insight into their lives.

So my honest thoughts on Miami? There were some fun things to do, but it’s maybe not the best city to visit on a budget. And after my two week trip, I was definitely on a budget. It didn’t feel as friendly or welcoming as other cities I’d visited, but the beach was a good place to relax and people-watch (FYI, there are some v. good looking people to be seen on South Beach).

I probably wouldn’t go back as it’s just…not my vibe. But I’m still glad I went, and if you like beaches, shopping and nightlife, it’s a good shout for a laid back holiday experience.

Previously on my East Coast USA trip: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia | Sightseeing on Two Wheels in Washington, D.C. | Falling in Love With Nashville | An Hour in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame | Exploring New Orleans | Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Check out the full TrekAmerica Atlantic Dream itinerary.

  • Although Miami looks like a lovely place to visit, it has never been somewhere I have wanted to go to, such a shame you did not find it as enjoyable as you had hoped x

    • It’s never been hugely high on my list but was definitely curious!

  • This was really interesting to read; I’ve always fancied Miami for the retro glamour of the place but I’m also not a beach/going out kind of person on holiday! Perhaps one to pass through rather than stay for a while, thanks for the tips! πŸ™‚ xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Life, Travel, Italy

    • You’d definitely enjoy the art deco area then, the buildings are really lovely!

  • Em

    I have never been to Miami and to be honest it’s not somewhere I would probably go, it sounds like you had much more fun and enjoyed the relaxed vibe of San Fran, however the beach looks amazing and has made me crave some sunshine ASAP!


    • I could totally do with some sun right now too! San Fran is definitely one of my fave places too πŸ™‚

  • Love that diner, it reminds me one we have in Minnesota. I’m actually not a huge fan of Miami either or Hollywood beach. Both are really nice for some warm weather in the winter months and have nice things to offer but not really my style of traveling and to be honest I have never met so many perverts and felt like I was always wandering through meat markets, just a saying – because people were always inviting you to private parties or orgies parties which is totally not our scene. It really is more of younger generation spring break kind of place for beaches and boozing and hey we like going on the booze just not there. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you were able to find some fun things to do, I imagine there is more to offer than when I was there.

    • I definitely get what you mean about feeling a little uncomfortable about attention at points – although probably less than most, as I’d just spent two weeks camping and was rocking the faded orange hair, no makeup, jeans, trainers and a limp from wearing bad shoes look. Not my strongest indeed! Definitely think it’s great for a certain kind of traveller, but not quite me!

  • I always thought that Miami would be quite pricey and I guess I was right, glad you think so as well. Still at least you gave it a shot and were not there for too long. It is always fun to explore.

    • Definitely – I still don’t regret going there, I like to be able to make my mind up about places and try to always go in with an open attitude!

  • Hannah Latoya Bond

    Looks like you had a great time. I’ve been to Florida but never been to Miami x

    • Florida was lovely – we went to Orlando and Destin as well, the weather was insanely hot though!

  • I do have miami on my list of places to visit in the states but for me I like most tourists would be about the beaches than anything else. I am not one for night life so this would be epic for me

  • Really interesting to know that it might not be the friendliest city on the map – Glad you stuck with it. That beach looks incredible. Well done you for braving the jet skis!

  • Laura

    great to read a very balanced and honest review of a place as I feel as though theres the temptation to dress everything up with social media these days! xxx

  • Going out on the water on a jet ski did sound super fun. I’d probably consider a short trip to Miami some day.

  • everinmay

    ok your whole trip is now on my reading list as I am desperate to explore america and in particular nashville! So glad I found your blog and your pictures are beautiful πŸ™‚ xx

    • Aw thankyou lovely! Hope you enjoy reading!

  • I’m not sure about Miami, I feel like there are so many other cities to experience in the States x

  • Melanie Edjourian

    It’s so gloomy here so to see a beach is great. I would love to visit Miami as I haven’t been yet. It’s a shame that the were not as friendly as expected

  • Wow those photos are gorgeous. I would kill to visit Miami one day. That beach look amazing!!

  • Kira L Curtis

    I’d love to go to miami on a chilled out holiday rather than a touristy one I think! Jet skiis would be amazing to try one day! I miss the sun!

    • Definitely one for chill times – the sun was awesome!

  • Anthea

    It’s funny how certain places don’t live up to our expectations. I felt like that about Venice. A place loads of people rave about but for me although it was pretty I was a bit non plussed about it and wouldn’t rush to go back

    • Oh that’s interesting to hear – I’ve always wanted to go to Venice, but have heard such differing opinions!

  • i love reading your opinion on miami. sounds a bit overrated but i would still love to visit

    • I think it’s definitely a love it or hate it type place! (well, I didn’t hate it, just wasn’t so much my vibe!)

  • It looks and sounds as if you have had an amazing time, the pictures speak for themselves, it looks beautiful and certainly somewhere I would love to go and try for myself.

  • Jodie Whitham

    I’m the same – not much of a fan of beach or nightlife on holidays. It’s nice as an extra but prefer making memories, trying new things and seeing famous sights. Sounds how I expected though! If you want a nice holiday with lovely scenery x

    • Definitely agree with you there! It was fine for a few days, but not somewhere I’d go for a week!

  • A useful post! We’re planning a return to Orlando later this year but I was hoping to travel a bit outside of it without heading off to Cuba or New Orleans like I normally would. I thought Miami made sense as a good stop off point but I’m finding it difficult to get enthusiastic about it :S

    Nicola //

    • It’s quite an odd place! If you can get along to Destin, the beach is absolutely gorgeous there! I’d love to head back to Orlando, I loved Universal so much. Are you doing all the theme parks on your visit?

  • It definitely sounds like Miami is a bit over rated, though I’d still love to visit myself one day anyway! It’s always interesting to read such an honest opinion on a place.

    • Thanks Dana! I definitely think it’s always worth visiting places for yourself, as everyone’s idea of a great trip is different!

  • I’d love to visit Miami but only for a short while. As you say it is known for beaches and nightlife but I’m not that big a fan of the latter when I’m on holiday. I’d love to ride a jet ski though – that sounds like so much fun!

    • Jetskiing was SO good, I wanna do it wherever I go to next now! So fun πŸ™‚

  • I would love to try jetskying but I’m too cowardly. It sounds like a great but expensive city.

    • Aw, I’m a bit of an adrenaline lover so it was good for me! Definitely a bit pricier than some of the other places I’d been.

  • Melissa Zia

    I have always wanted to tour the USA and Miami is a place I have wanted to visit. The food looks amazing

  • Annie Brooks

    Firstly I NEED that giant flamingo! Secondly I loved Miami when I went… plus my boys (The Miami Dolphins) are from there. I’d love to go back now I’m older.

  • Baby Isabella

    We’d love to go to Miami, just to say we’ve been. Its on our bucket list, but we’d need a bucket full of money!! We’d like to see the Art Deco buildings xx

  • I never made it to Miami when I went to Florida. The perfect excuse to go back!

  • So good to know … we very nearly booked a trip to Miami last year and, judging from your post, I think I’m glad we gave it a miss! That diner looks very cute though!

  • Ayesha Farhad

    My husbands been bugging me to take a trip to Miami! But I know with a toddler in tow, its going to be pretty much useless!

  • Melissa

    Glad you got to go jet skiing while you were there! As a Floridian, I’d recommend checking out the other coast (Clearwater, Sarasota) etc for gorgeous beaches and a more low key vibe πŸ™‚

  • LC

    I feel the same way you did about Miami. I’m glad I went, but wouldn’t make it a priority to head there again. The 11th Street Diner was nice, had two meals there, but wasn’t really fussed on much else of the food. And found South Beach to be littered with rubbish, which was upsetting. It’s okay, but there’s other places in the States that I fell head over heels for and would rather go back to those cities, or explore somewhere new!

  • Danijela WorldGlimpses

    Nice post, like it for being genuine! πŸ˜‰

  • Always had Miami on my radar to visit one day, but purely for the shopping and beach life. But I have heard people echo the same things as yourself; it not really being for them.

    Lovely blog post though and your pictures are stunning. πŸ™‚