Welcome to Miami - Ocean Drive by night - PopCulturetrips.com

Welcome to Miami!

Ever since Will Smith rapped about Miami in the late 1990s, I wanted to go there. But somehow, something always came up. Twenty years later, I finally made it. My first time Miami! Yay! However, one thing I hadn’t realized before was that Miami and Miami Beach are two distinct municipalities. Embarassing!

Beware of tourist traps!

On the way from the airport, our cab driver ran us through what to do and what not to do. Looking back, his yay or nay list really helped to prepare us not to fall for the typical tourist traps. Happy hours with amazing offers are almost always a tourist rip-off, so avoid them if you can. Also pay attention to your bill in restaurants: Most places add a service charge of 18 – 22 % and still ask you to tip – daylight robbery, if you ask me.

Miami Beach: Not cheap, but worth it

Yes, Miami Beach is not cheap. But if you sit in a bar on Ocean Drive on a Friday night, you feel it’s worth it: Sipping a mojito or any other fancy drink of your choice, you have a prime spot for people watching – and believe me, there’s a lot to watch, a lot going on. I have never seen so many beautiful and fit people in my life – and simultaneously, so many people who couldn’t care less about how they look or what they wear.

For our stay in Miami, we chose The Palms Hotel for its location directly on the beach and were lucky enough to have the best ocean view ever. This is what we woke up to every morning:

Stepping out of our hotel, we fell right onto the beach. The private beach (see pics) was very nice… the public beaches not so much: Overcrowded, dirty, loud.

Ocean Walk and Ocean Drive

If you walked down the promenade -fittingly called Ocean Walk- for about two miles, you ended up on Ocean Drive along the southern tip of Miami Beach. Ocean Drive is world famous for its art deco buildings, and its illuminated hotel and club fronts in the nighttime. And of course, there’s a never-ending stream of people and luxury cars to observe.

Exploring Miami

One morning, we did a hop-on, hop-off bus tour with an open-top double-decker bus which was a great way to explore all the sights. I loved Little Havana and the Bayside Marketplace best. Little Havana with its busy street life and authentic music really makes you feel as if you’ve been transported straight to Cuba!

Bayside Marketplace is located right along the water. Walking through the place, you’ll get the impression that it is a well-working mixture between a shopping mall, an open air food court and a festival. Overall, it’s a great place to spend a lazy afternoon or grab a couple of drinks at night!