Holidays in Miami 2013/2014:
Miami – it’s got to be one of the hottest holiday spots in America (and we don’t just mean the weather!) World-famous beaches, beautiful people, trendy nightlife and shopping galore – it’s got everything even the most discerning traveller could want and a whole lot more besides.
Family-friendly Miami Beach is also for the young and well-heeled, bursting with Latin flavour. South Beach (or SoBe as its known locally), is another quintessential resort with a long stretch of golden sand and streets lined with bars, cafes, restaurant and shops.
At Biscayne Bay, the northernmost island in the Florida Keys, the lure is nature, namely more gorgeous beaches, waterfront parks, a fantastic cycling path and stunning Miami views - ideal if you want a serene base to retreat to at the end of a busy day or night!
Easy to get to, you can fly direct from Heathrow to Miami on Virgin Atlantic. Enticing all year-round, temperatures remain high, even in deepest, darkest December! Aside from the glitz, Miami has plenty of culture too and for kids, there’s no end of entertainment.
Things to do/Attractions
When you think of Miami, you think of South Beach – it’s the place to see and be seen. Spend lazy days on the beach perhaps, wander at leisure round unique, one-of-a-kind shops or simply hang out in some hip and happening eatery, feasting on fresh seafood. For a change though, try North Beach, it’s quieter and just as lovely with no-reservation needed restaurants. Want to get wet? You’re in luck - Miami is not known as the ‘wreckreational capital of the Americas’ for nothing! Grab your fins, mask and snorkel and dive below the waves, discovering an underwater wonderland of marine life and coral. Windsurfing is another must try, at South Beach or Hobie Beach. Alternatively, stick to dry land, playing a few rounds at some of the best and most challenging golf courses in the land!
Congratulations – you’ve just arrived in foodie heaven! Miami is home to bars, cafes and restaurants in abundance – from sidewalk food vans to fine dining – it’s all here. Recommended are the hot malted waffles and breakfast burritos at Big Pink on Collins Avenue, a fun eatery with a lively vibe. For lunch, Barton G in South Beach serves delicious popcorn shrimp or head to Joe’s Stone Crab, something of a Miami institution. Gloria Estefan also has a restaurant here, Larios on the Beach as does Michael Caine, the South Beach Brasserie – reserve well in advance. Guests staying at our featured hotel, the Howard Johnson Plaza Dezerland Beach, are in for a treat too. Their 1950’s American Classic Restaurant not only serves some of the best food around (including burgers to die for), you get to eat it in converted classic cars under neon lights – unforgettable!
The hottest clubs in America, perhaps even the world, are yours for the taking in Miami. And, particularly in South Beach, they’re conveniently close together, making club hopping a fun and easy option (just remember to take some flats with you!). Club Space is one of the top nightspots, situated in Miami’s downtown Warehouse District with an oversized dance floor and playing everything from house and trance to techno and hip hop. Mango’s Tropical Club in Ocean Drive is also popular or admire some of the best Jazz and Blues musicians in the area at Jazid. Clubs aside, there’s Las Vegas Style gambling houses open 24-hours a day, Broadway-style shows at the Jackie Gleason Theatre and outdoor movie shows at Bayfront Park. For something a little historical, head to Tobacco Road, a former speakeasy and hangout of Al Capone that’s plenty big on atmosphere!
Not to be missed
With so many different and vibrant districts, Miami is wonderful to simply walk around. The Art Deco District is world famous, glorious 1930’s architecture transporting you back to a golden age of glamour. Coconut Grove is good for strolling too, a tree-lined waterfront neighbourhood with outdoor cafes and trendy boutiques. Coral Gables is known as ‘The City Beautiful’ and boasts a wonderfully Mediterranean feel. It’s also home to the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a definite ‘must-see’ - Italian-Renaissance in style with extravagant and opulent interiors. In Little Havana, you’ll think you’ve been transported to Cuba. Wander along Calle Ocho, soaking up the sights and sounds – a ‘cafecito’ from a side-walk vendor keeping the illusion going. Last but not least, the Design District is a hotbed of art and design – head to the Living Room Building for a fantastic photo-opportunity in the surrounds of its gigantic living room, complete with oversized couch.
Best for families
This family-friendly town has plenty to entertain the younger visitor. Zoo Miami is fast becoming one of the best in America and is entirely cage less. It is an absolute must for your holiday itinerary. World-famous for its endangered, rare and threatened animals, the zoo has safari cycles available to rent for those who do not want to walk the entire 740 acres (300 ha) that comprise the entire zoo property. Be sure to plan several hours at a minimum for a visit, you won’t want to leave. The Miami Seaquarium is pretty special too with sharks, manatees, tropical fish and crocodiles to marvel at. There are also sea lion, dolphin and killer whale shows – but remember – if you bag a seat at the front you’re going to get wet! The motto at Miami Children’s Museum is ‘Play, Learn, Imagine, Create’ and with hundreds of interactive exhibits to get to grips with you can certainly do so. Alternatively, head to Jungle Island for close encounters with tropical birds or to Monkey Jungle ‘where the humans are caged and the monkeys run wild.’ Crandon Park is charming with an old-fashioned carousel plus BBQ and picnic areas. There’s also good swimming at Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park. The waterscape play area at our featured hotel, the Fontainebleu Miami Beach, is another big hit with kids young and old!
Best for couples
Miami is sizzling at the best of times, so if you’re looking for romance, you can’t go wrong! Boasting a great arts and culture scene, couples will enjoy wandering at leisure round a variety of museums, including the Miami Art Museum, home to some art heavyweights! Or take to the high seas and charter a sailboat, cruising round Miami’s chain of islands. There are sunset and evening dinner cruises to enjoy and even gondola cruises through the Intracoastal Waterway with breathtaking views of Billionaires Row. Watching the sun set on a rooftop bar, an exotic cocktail to hand, is always romantic or head to South Pointe Park in South Beach for moonlit strolls. Many of our featured hotels are perfect for a romantic getaway, including The Ritz-Carlton at Key Biscayne, overlooking one of ‘America’s Best Beaches’ and boasting a world-class spa for pampering.
South Beach, Ocean Drive ... you’d be hard-pressed to find a more happening place to kick-start married life! Exchange vows beside the ocean before relaxing at leisure at one of our many wonderful hotels, all featuring world-class amenities and breathtaking locations. The Courtyard by Marriott with its Art Deco style and European warmth is ideal or opt for the Miami Beach Resort, overlooking a very private stretch of beach. Sonesta Bayfront Hotel in Coconut Grove puts you right at the heart of the action as does King & Grove Tides, the Diva of Ocean Drive! As unique and unforgettable as your wedding, Miami is a wedding destination to take very seriously indeed.
There’s always something to celebrate in Miami (the weather for a start!) but surprisingly, the best events are held outside of summer. Carnival Miami is the biggie (early March, for 10 days) and features culinary competitions, galas and upscale Latin Jazz. The grand finale is held in Little Havana’s Calle Ocho, effectively turning its 23-blocks into the biggest street party in the world! There’s live music on 30 stages or more, so grab your partner and salsa or merengue with the best of them. In February, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival is one of the largest and most prestigious in the US whilst movie buffs will enjoy the Miami International Film Festival, held late Feb/early March. In November, it’s the Miami International Book Fair whilst the Winter Party Festival is fun for all. If you are visiting during summer, reserve your seats for a performance by the Miami Symphony, there are also select ‘concerts in the park’ at various amphitheatres throughout the city.
Weather/Best time to go
In sub-tropical Miami, the beaches are as welcoming in December as they are in July! They also have the benefit of being somewhat less crowded as families make their way home, ready for the start of school term. Peak season is January through to April, it’s high energy atmosphere attracting those who love to party. June to September is generally quieter but the beaches can still be very crowded. As noted above, Miami saves the best for its winter months, so December to February is a great time to visit, especially as temperatures are still in the high 70s and 80s and humidity is low.
Aside from urban wonders, Miami is also close to natural wonders, namely The Everglades National Park! Start early if it’s just a day trip you want or plan to spend a couple of days there, walking, biking and hiking through the wilderness. Other popular pursuits include kayaking, fishing, bird watching and camping. Join a tram tour to the heart of the Everglades, or a boat tour round the Ten Thousand Islands of the Gulf Coast. There’s also Slough Slogging – tramping through the swamplands, waist high in water. Home to the American Crocodile and the Florida Panther, just hope they don’t get too close! In Miami itself, there are sporting opportunities galore, hire bikes and coast along some of the most scenic pathways in the city, join a volleyball or soccer game, take to the waters wave riding or join a South Beach Bootcamp – not for the feint hearted!
To be honest, you could spend your entire holiday shopping if you were so inclined; such is the choice that awaits you in Miami. For glamour, head to Bal Harbour, it’s where the wealthy shop for essentials such as jewellery and ball gowns! Ocean Drive also offers an eclectic choice of boutiques and galleries or head to Lincoln Road, dubbed the ‘Fifth Avenue of the South’ with national chains as well as more homegrown retail outlets. Bayside Marketplace is a 16-acre, open-air complex with over 150 restaurants and shops. Bargain hunters, however, may prefer Dolphin Mall, where clearance centres offer goods at hugely discounted prices. Coco Walk is a 3-storey architectural wonder – admire high end boutiques, chain stores, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas. Also look out for the ‘Parrot Guy’ who’ll take your picture with one of his colourful, cheeky birds!
So, if a holiday in Miami, Florida sounds like a perfect beach and city break, read on to find out more about our fantastic Miami hotels and package holidays!
Flight Details - You fly direct non-stop to Miami international airport from Heathrow with award-winning Virgin Atlantic.
Flight Time - Approx 10 hours.
Time Difference GMT -5 hours.
Driving Times - Approx 15-20 min from Miami international airport.
We understand that even in the land that invented the automobile, not everyone likes to drive. Being a non-driver in Florida is easy with Virgin Holidays.
Take our chartered bus between Orlando and Miami. After a stay in Orlando, what could be better than to chill out in South Florida? You then have just a short transfer to Miami international airport for your flight back to London. Or, if you stay in Miami before heading up to Orlando, you can do the same transfer, but in reverse.
Transportation from Miami international airport to Miami couldn't be easier. Just catch one of the readily available Super Shuttle transfers or to avoid the queues, take a taxi. Just see one of our representatives at the airport and they will show you where to go.
- Fantastic beachfront family resort
- Excellent variety of restaurants
- Great selection of land and water based activities
- Fun for all the family
- Guided tours to downtown Miami Beach, Cocount Grove, Little Havana and much more
Postcards from... Top ideas from our travel experts
Our Top 5 hotels
Virgin Holidaymakers have been returning to the Thunderbird year after year, secure in the knowledge that they are in for a great value beach holiday. Our Miami office is here in the hotel, making booking all your excursions even easier – don't forget to ask us about fishing trips.
It's arguably the most famous hotel on Ocean Drive, THE street in South Beach, lined with restaurants and bars. You really are staying in a work of art at the Park Central. The beach is opposite and the hotel has a sexy rooftop sun deck, as well as its own swimming pool. The cool hotel bar is the perfect place in which to hang out and sip cocktails before you hit the nightlife.
This legendary hotel first opened its doors to the public in 1954, when the A-list celebs of the time - Elvis, Sinatra and the Rat Pack - were frequent visitors. Following a $1 billion renovation and expansion, the hotel offers 22 oceanfront acres of a spectacular blend of Miami's golden era and stylish modern luxury.
This hotel offers guests the opportunity to enjoy an unrivalled standard of accommodation in a prime beach location. The building is a complete restoration of an original 1953 Morris Lapidus- designed landmark hotel in the city’s historical Art Deco District. The luxurious Ritz-Carlton Spa exclusively features La Maison de Beaute Carita.
There’s a distinct tropical atmosphere at this lovely resort, located in a quiet area, overlooking a very private stretch of beach. Miami Beach Resort boasts a huge variety of amenities including an oceanfront Olympic-size swimming pool with concierge service – simply request your towels, snacks or magazines and they’ll be brought to you as you soak up the sun on your comfortable lounger!...