Downtown Miami waterfront

Where to Stay in Miami: Neighborhood Guide

One of the hardest parts of travel planning is deciding where you’re going to stay. Do you want to be close to the nightlife? The best restaurants? Outdoor activities? So many decisions! If you’re traveling to Miami, where to stay isn’t necessarily a cut-and-dry decision. It comes down to what kind of experience you want to have and how much you are willing to spend.

Before you book your sunshine getaway, check out this guide on where to stay in Miami and its major neighborhoods. It will provide you with insight into the major sites in the neighborhood, what to expect, and a few hotel suggestions.

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Miami has a little bit of everything for every type of traveler to enjoy. If you just want to relax on the beach and/or party, there is a neighborhood for that! But if you want to get in touch with nature or are traveling with family there are other neighborhoods that you should consider. After you choose where to stay, be sure to check out my lineup of unique things to do and see in Miami!

#1 South Beach

Are you looking to let your hair down and get the drinks flowing? Then sexy South Beach (also nicknamed SoBe) is for you. The trendy area is well known for its all-day party scene (partying just at night is so passe)  and gorgeous beaches — it even attracts the rich and famous. 

Now, if you’re thinking you really love the beach and a little partying, you can easily do that here too, just don’t stay on Ocean Drive between 8th and 12th streets. Once you get a little out of this area it’s not as crazy. And don’t worry, if you’re outside of this area you will not miss any of the action. You are still within easy walking distance; it will just be easier to sleep!

For my first trip to Miami, I stayed in South Beach and loved it, but didn’t stay right in the heart of all the action — I value sleep too much. I think this is a great area to stay if this is your first trip to Miami. 

South Beach Highlights

Miami Beach, Espanola Way, Lincoln Rd. outdoor mall, art deco walking tour, and Miami Beach botanical garden. 

Hotel Suggestions in South Beach

Fontainebleau Miami Beach
4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

The Goodtime Hotel
601 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

The Gabriel Miami South Beach, Curio Collection by Hilton
640 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Kimpton Angler’s Hotel, an IHG Hotel
660 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

#2 Key Biscayne

Now, if you’re thinking that you’d really like to stay near or on the beach but are not interested in nightlife or if you are traveling with your family, then check out Key Biscayne. Just 15 minutes from downtown Miami over the Rickenbacker Causeway, this little island is like a secret paradise. 

Parting like a rockstar and heavy traffic is exchanged for small-town vibes, sandwiched between two gorgeous parks—Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park which feature picture-perfect beaches. Aside from relaxing on the beach, prepare to spend all your time outside! There is no shortage of opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and more on this little oasis. 

Key Biscayne Highlights

Crandon Park,  Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Heritage bike trips, sea kayaking, and snorkel adventures on Biscayne Bay, and the Cape Florida lighthouse.

Hotel Suggestions in Key Biscayne

Beach Haus Key Biscayne
285 Sunrise Dr, Key Biscayne, FL 33149

Coral Reef at Key Biscayne
303 Galen Dr, Key Biscayne, FL 33149

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
455 Grand Bay Drive Key Biscayne, Miami, FL 33149

#3 Downtown Miami

In all honesty, I think this would be one of the last areas where I would stay and not because it’s bad, it’s not bad at all, but because it is just like any other downtown area of a major city. I personally don’t feel like you experience real Miami by staying downtown. But my caveat is if you’re traveling for business, want to be close to public transportation, or are attending a concert or sporting event, then the downtown area might be the best for you. 

Downtown Highlights

Pérez Art Museum, Bayside Marketplace, Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, and the Museum of Art and Design.

Hotel Suggestions in Downtown Miami

InterContinental Miami, an IHG Hotel
100 Chopin Plaza, Miami, FL 33131

Conrad Miami
1395 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131

Aloft Miami – Brickell
1001 SW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33130

Downtown Miami

#4 Wynwood Arts District

The colorful Miami neighborhood just north of downtown is considered the city’s art and soul. What was once an area of vacant lots and warehouses is now a trendy area filled with an eclectic assortment of boutiques, shopping, restaurants, and of course a colorful collection of street art. You really can’t turn a corner without running into a vibrant mural created by a national or international artist. 

The area is within a quick car ride (10 minutes or less) to downtown and just a little farther to South Beach. If you’re a vegan or veg-curious traveler this is the neighborhood where you want to stay, it is full of amazing cuisine from kale Caesar salads to vegan ice cream sandwiches and everything in between. 

Just a few blocks north of Wynwood is the very chic Design District. If you’re into high-end shopping, you will definitely want to saunter north but if you would prefer more of a bohemian shopping experience, grab a Lyft (or a long walk) just north of the Design District to Upper Buena Vista. The outdoor mall is full of micro boutiques and handcrafted items, plus plenty of restaurants and outdoor seating.

Wynwood Highlights

Wynwood Walls, Oasis Wynwood, great vegan dining scene, and shopping.

Hotel Suggestions In & Near Wynwood:

Hyde Midtown Miami
101 NE 34th St, Miami, FL 33137

WhyHotel Midtown Miami
3000 NE 2nd Ave Unit 139, Miami, FL 33137

Sonder | The Palace
3031 NE 4th Ave, Miami, FL 33137

AC Hotel Miami Wynwood
3400 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137

#5 Little Havana

Known as Little Havana for its large population of Cuban Americans who fled Cuba and settled here in the 1950s. What was once an area considered off-limits for tourists, is now an area that tourists flock to looking to explore its vibrant art, culture, and food. The beating heart of Cuban culture can be found on the famous Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street), it is the center of local life and home to authentic restaurants, markets, shops, and the epicenter for Miami’s largest music and street festival, Carnaval on Calle Ocho which happens annually in March. At the corner of SW 8th and 15th Avenue, be sure not to miss the Maximo Gomez Park—this iconic spot is a popular hangout for locals who meet to discuss the latest news and play dominos.

One thing you can’t miss doing in Little Havana is starting your day with a strong cafecito!

Little Havana Highlights

Calle Ocho, Maximo Gomez Park/Domino Park, Cubaocho Museum, Hoy Como Ayer, and authentic food tours.

Hotel Suggestion in Little Havana

Selina Miami River
437 SW 2nd St, Miami, FL 33130

#6 Coconut Grove

Just south of the city is Miami’s oldest neighborhood, Coconut Grove. If you’re looking for chic boutiques, lush gardens, and peace and quiet, stay here! Located on Biscayne Bay it’s a mix of luxury and laid-back charm. Downtown Coconut Grove is lined with charming shops and restaurants, including the sleek vegan eatery, PLANTA Queen (they have one of the best vegan brunch menus in Miami). Just outside the downtown area, on Saturdays, you’ll find a bustling farmer’s market that has been plant-based for over 40 years! It is the only one of its kind in Miami.

The biggest drawback to staying in Coconut Grove is that you are further from the action of Miami, but if you have a car, it’s no problem. Even without a car, Lyft and Uber are easily accessible. If you’ve visited Miami before and are looking for a different experience, check out Coconut Grove. 

Coconut Grove Highlights

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Merrie Christmas Park, The Kampong, National Tropical Botanical Garden, and boutique shopping in downtown Coconut Grove.

Hotel Suggestions in Coconut Grove

Courtyard by Marriott Miami Coconut Grove
2649 S Bayshore Dr, Miami, FL 33133

Mr. C Miami – Coconut Grove
2988 McFarlane Rd, Miami, FL 33133

Hotel Arya Coconut Grove
2889 McFarlane Rd, Miami, FL 33133

Coconut Grove Biscayne Bay

Where to Stay in Miami FAQ’s

Which is the Best Area to Stay in Miami?

Choosing the best area to stay in Miami is a challenge — it ultimately comes down to what kind of experience you want! If you want to be close to the beach, the best area is South Beach or Key Biscayne. Now if you want to experience all that Miami has to offer and stay in a central location, I’d say the best area to stay in Miami is Wynwood.

What’s The Best Area to Stay in Miami Without a Car?

If you don’t plan to rent a car (you really don’t have to have one) and want to easily get around the city, I’d say the best area to stay is Downtown Miami. This will put you in close proximity to all of Miami’s public transit. You can also get an Uber or Lyft anywhere in the city if you don’t want to depend on public transit.

How Many Days Should I Stay in Miami?

You should plan to stay at least four days in Miami. This would give you enough time to explore some of the city and relax on the beach. Now, if you can stay longer than four days, that would be ideal for the optimal vacation.

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