Miami Beach is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. During the summer months, you’ll find that many people flock to its beautiful beaches to swim and tan. However, there are other activities and things to see in Miami Beach and the surrounding area.
During the month of August, my friend and I took a five day trip to Miami Beach. We were on vacation and celebrating her birthday as well. If you’re looking to visit Miami Beach, then this five day itinerary may give you some ideas.
On the first day, we arrived very early in Miami Beach. Like, 8:30-9am early. We had about seven hours to kill before check-in at the Best Western Plus Atlantic Beach Resort and had the whole day ahead of us. So, we came up with a few things to do.
Spend some time on the beach
The one cool thing about our accommodation was that we had access to the beach. We were literally on the beach! It was so convenient and easy to go out the back, past the pool, and onto the beach.
And that’s exactly what we did and you should too! Spend some time on the beach. Whether that’s swimming, tanning, or just dipping your feet in the water, you have to take advantage of the beach!
Walk along the main street
In Miami Beach, everything is pretty much within walking distance. There’s restaurants (in and out of hotels), stores, hotels, and shops. If you’re in the area, like my friend and I were, I recommend walking along Collins Ave (which was where our resort was).
It’s a great way to see more of the area, know what your options are, and try to find some awesome things to do!
Have lunch at “The Tavern”
After walking along the main street for quite a bit, and being caught in a storm, we decided to have lunch at this place called, “The Tavern”. It’s a cute little restaurant within Hotel Croydon. It was a few minutes away from our hotel.
I recommend the Rigatoni Bolognese and the raspberry thyme cocktail. It’s a bit pricey for these items. I paid $44 for my meal; the cocktail was $15 and the Bolognese was $19, but it was all pretty good. My friend tried their chicken wings and she said they were delicious! So, she recommends them as well.
Go back to the beach
After eating our lunch, we went back to the beach to properly swim in the water. The waves were rough and kept knocking us over. The water was also very murky; it wasn’t clear and you couldn’t see anything, even with goggles.
Nonetheless, we made the best out of our time at the beach. When in Miami Beach, every chance you get, you go to the beach!
The two things we disliked about the beach, besides the rough waves, were the murky water and the amount of seaweed present. It was EVERYWHERE. It was gross and hard to swim, and enjoy yourself when the seaweed would get tangled on you.
Have dinner at “Beaches Bar & Grill”
Now, my friend and I DO NOT recommend this place to eat. We saw it was close to our hotel, so we figured it’d be a good place to grab dinner. But when we got inside, we were very disappointed.
I got mozzarella sticks and my friend got chicken tenders. The food wasn’t good at all, we didn’t enjoy our meals. In addition, the vibe wasn’t that good either. We gave this place 2.5 out of 5 stars. The .5 stars being that they had pretty decent music playing.
This was the day where we did a bit more walking and exploring. If you’re traveling during the summer months, be prepared. Bring water with you, a hat, sunglasses, comfy shoes and clothing because it is HOT.
Watch the sunrise
My friend and I woke up around 6:45am to watch the sunrise from our beach front balcony. It was so beautiful at that time of day. The sun rising over the water, illuminating the beach. There’s nothing like it. I recommend doing this, or going on the beach, to catch some amazing views.
Explore South Beach
After you’ve gotten your breakfast and have prepared for the day, walk down to South Beach to explore the cool and hip area. It took us about 30 minutes to walk from our location to South Beach. You just keep walking on Collins Ave until you get to the area.
In South Beach, expect to find:
- it’s more crowded
- more shops
- different types of restaurants
- the food (depending on what you get) is a bit cheaper
- hotels are more expensive
- restaurant vibes and aesthetics are better
My friend and I enjoyed walking through this area. There were more people with more options. We loved this and were overall very pleased with South Beach. This is definitely one of the areas you have to check out while in Miami Beach.
Have lunch at “Yard House”
Walking around South Beach in the August heat will leave you hungry and dehydrated. Instead of picking a place on the main stretch of shops and restaurants, my friend and I went down a side street. While doing that, we stumbled upon this restaurant called, “Yard House”.
We didn’t know if it was open because it looked dark and empty. Once we went through the door, we saw people in there and knew it wasn’t closed. The overall aesthetic, vibe, and food in this restaurant was pretty good.
While we were here, we discussed the type of activities we wanted to do while down here. We quickly came up with a few ideas and purchased the tickets. You’ll see what we did later on.
Time on the beach
After lunch, we walked all the way back to our hotel and got changed for the beach. Of course, this is a must and it will be a reoccurring activity for us to do.
Yet again, we tried to swim. Each time, the waves knocking us over. However, this time around we were used to it, so it was a bit more challenging for the waves to knock us over.
WARNING: Don’t be surprised to find seaweed and sand in your bathing suit.
The hard part was going back to the room and taking our bathing suits off. The amount of sand and seaweed that came out each time was appalling. Just be prepared for that since the waves will continuously knock you over into the sand.
Dinner at “The Tavern”
The food here was so good, we decided to have dinner here again. We just enjoyed the food and the atmosphere, plus it was so close to our hotel. Although this place is more on the expensive side, clearly we thought it was worth it to go back a second time.
Get snacks from CVS
There’s a CVS literally across the street from the hotel. If you’re staying for a while and need water, snacks, or anything else, head to the CVS on the opposite side of the street.
This is where we got our water and snacks from almost every day. This day in particular, we had to get snacks because we had an early and long day ahead of us tomorrow.
Day 3 - Day Trip to Key West
My friend and I woke up at 5:15am to get ready to meet our tour bus. The bus was scheduled to pick us up around 6:40am. This was such an early start, not the type you want to make when you’re on vacation. But we did it anyways.
The reason we had to catch such an early bus was because we decided to do a day trip to Key West! It was a 3.5 hour bus ride to get there from Miami Beach but we were prepared!
After picking up everyone, we drove to a little diner in Key Largo for breakfast around 8:50am. We only had until 9:20am to get our food, eat it, and return to the bus for departure. This was pretty fast and the long line for the diner didn’t make things any better.
The food at this diner was ok, it wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst. It could have been better though. When everyone was back on the bus, we departed around 9:30am.
Driving down to Key West was pretty cool. We saw some awesome views of the blue waters, sandy beaches, and cute little towns scattered throughout the area. It made the long drive more pleasant.
WARNING: If you get motion sickness, don’t forget to bring your Dramamine medicine.
My friend got very sick from this bus ride and wasn’t feeling very well after that. Be sure to bring your medicine with you so you’re prepared.
Arrival in Key West
We arrived in Key West near the Historic Water Front. We were near Trolley stop #2, which was perfect because we purchased tickets for the hop on and off trolley. We figured it’d be the best way to tour the island. In hindsight, we didn’t have as much time as we thought, so we only took the trolley once.
Yet, we still had to wait for quite a while for the trolley to come. They come every 30 minutes but we didn’t know when the last one came or when it’d show up. There’s no schedule at the stops, you just have to wait and hope it comes relatively soon.
It’s a good thing we waited, because Jenn was still recovering from her nausea. Eventually, the trolley came after about an hour.
Trolley ride to the Southernmost Point
Altogether, there are 13 stops on Key West for the trolley to make. Some stops are at attractions or places, like a beach, the southernmost point, or a haunted museum. We had to go from stop #2 to #11. Stop #11 is where you get off to see the Southernmost Point.
Once you get off at the stop, you walk about 2 blocks towards the water to get to the point. We waited about 15 minutes in line to take pictures. It was scorching hot out that day but we managed to pull through.
It’s pretty underwhelming once you see the point. It’s just this little point in the corner, with water in the background. Once you’re done, you just continue walking. The area is pretty small and the experience is short lived. However, it’s the thing to see and do down here, so we did it!
Only about a 15 minute walk from the Southernmost point, Higgs Beach is a small little beach you can visit to cool down. Swimming at this beach was a bit refreshing, given we were out in the heat all day.
Some things to note about Higgs Beach:
- there’s a lot of seaweed, probably from the storms
- water is very murky (from the storms in the area?)
- there are warm and cold spots
- very pebbly near the shore line but sandy farther out
- there are bathrooms and shower heads - a plus for a beach!
- there’s free parking
- there’s a restaurant right on the beach
Walk on Duval Street
Duval street is one of the main streets in Key West, located about a 10 minute drive from Higgs Beach. There’s tons of restaurants, bars and pubs, shops, and more. We walked along the busy street looking around and buying souvenirs.
Dinner at “Fogarty’s & The Flying Monkeys Saloon”
Very interesting name, right? I picked this place out because the name is pretty cool. Since it was almost time to leave, we decided to get some lunch before we went back to the tour bus.
Of course, I ordered a strawberry margarita and a three cheese pasta. You can’t go to Key West and not have a margarita, and this margarita was good. We enjoyed our food and it wasn’t that expensive overall.
On this day, we didn’t have to wake up so early for our activity. We slept in and decided to go to South Beach to get some lunch before we went to our activity.
Lunch at “Kansas BBQ”
This is one of the restaurants that’s in the South Beach area where the other shops and restaurants are. It was one of the few places that was open that time of day, so my friend decided to eat here.
The pasta I had for lunch was good, I enjoyed it. However, the chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream could’ve been better. The ice cream was good but the chocolate cake was very hard and too strong of a chocolate flavor for my liking. If those two elements were on point, this would’ve been a bomb cake.
Of course, you can’t go to Florida and not go on an Everglades tour. It’s only a 30 to 45 minute ride from the downtown Miami area, so it’s worth the drive.
For this tour, you’re piled onto an airboat and taken around a small section of the Everglades. You get to see some alligators (of course) but also some native birds and other animals. It’s pretty cool seeing them up close.
Then, if you wait about 20 to 30 minutes, you get to see the alligator show. This was all included in the ticket price, so we didn’t pay extra for it. The show was cool but nerve wracking.
A alligator handler has the alligator perform some tricks. However, it can go wrong at any time, so this put everyone on edge. Accidents have happened in the past but luckily nothing happened this time around. Personally, I don't like shows where the animals are made to do tricks. So, this wasn't my favorite part of the trip.
Last but not least, we got to take pictures with a baby alligator! This was my friend’s first time holding one and she enjoyed the experience.
Dinner at “Finnegan’s Bar”
After a failed attempt to locate a Chinese restaurant close to the South Beach area (where the tour bus dropped us off), we decided to eat at a bar. Finnegan’s Bar seemed like the best option considering the time and how hungry we were.
The service was questionable in the beginning. We sat down and waited about 30 minutes for someone to come to our table. At this time of day, it wasn’t very crowded in there. But we did only see one waitress working, so maybe that’s why.
Once another waitress finally came, we ordered our food. My friend said the chicken wings were pretty good here, so she enjoyed the food. I had mozzarella sticks, because I didn’t feel like eating anything else. They were mediocre but good when you’re hungry.
This was our last, full day before our departure on the 19th of August. Since it was August 18th, my friend’s birthday, we did something extra special that day.
Lounging on the beach
For my friend’s birthday, we purchased two beach chairs to lie in on the beach. Each chair cost $15, so $30 for the two chairs. We swam in the ocean one last time and soaked up some sun afterwards.
Eating at “Latin Cafe”
I wanted to try Cuban food while in Miami. Miami has a decent size Cuban population, so finding authentic Cuban food isn’t a problem. After much deliberation, we decided upon the “Latin Cafe” in the Brickell section of Miami.
We tried the half pollo asado o frito with rice and beans. Basically, baked chicken with rice and beans. It was delicious. I also tried a cortadito, which is a Cuban coffee with a bit of cream and sugar. I loved it, I had seconds!
After walking about 30 minutes to the Bayside Marketplace, we walked around to see all the cool shops and restaurants. We decided to get drinks at the “Mojito Bar” for my friend’s birthday.
The mojitos were ok but the service wasn’t that good. The waitress only came over about two times, the second time was to have us pay for our drinks. Mind you, it had only been 5 minutes since coming here.
My friend was not happy that the drinks were expensive, the waitress put the bill on one check, and didn’t bother to come back to check on us.
Finally, the time had come. We had to meet our sunset cruise near the Bayside Marketplace boat area, so we struggled for about 10 minutes to find the right place. Once it was 5:45pm, we boarded the cruise and waited to depart at 6pm.
You basically drive around the Bay Area to look at the millionaire homes. Houses, like Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, and other celebrities homes are here. I didn’t care for that part so much, honestly. I was just enjoying the stunning views as the sun set.
- was about 1.5 hours
- if you wanted to purchase drinks on board, you could
- you could also purchase the picture they took of you before you got on the boat
- plus, there are bathrooms, so you’re covered with this cruise
And that concluded our five day trip to Miami. The finally day we had to wake up at about 3am to catch our flights, so there was nothing worth mentioning on that day. We both enjoyed the trip, our vacation, and our time together. My friend said she enjoyed her birthday and is definitely looking forward to our next trip!