Miami is a city well known for its beaches, nightlife, and diverse food & drink choices that are hard to find elsewhere. It’s a vast city with an extensive amount of things you can do. If you’re visiting it for just three days, you can still certainly fit in many activities and enjoy what the city has to offer.
Our Miami trip started a bit weird since as soon as we had ordered our plane tickets, news came out that authorities were placing a curfew due to disruptive spring breakers. In the end, we still decided to continue with the trip, and we had no regrets in the end. Here is our 3-day itinerary guide so you can make the most of your time in Miami.
One of the most important tips I can give you about visiting Miami is that if there is a restaurant you really want to go to, make a reservation a couple of days in advance. We learned this a little too late and sometimes even struggled to find something to eat at night due to most places requiring reservations.
Unless you’re going when tourism isn’t at its peak, you might run into the same issues we did. Regardless, the restaurants we ended up trying were just as impressive.
3 Days Miami Itinerary
Day 1 In Miami: South Beach
You can’t visit Miami without checking out South Beach. While you still have Mid-Beach and North-Beach, there isn’t anything as famous or as popular as South Beach. Not to mention, the atmosphere (and waves) here are unmatched.
Of course, if you’re looking for something more quiet or relaxed, then you might be better off in Mid-Beach. I’d recommend checking out Indian Beach Park, which is perfect for families or someone who wants to avoid all the commotion of South Beach if that’s the case.
If you’re a fan of snorkeling, you can visit South Pointe Beach in South Beach to find the artificial reef created from the sunken Jose Cuervo Bar that was dropped. You can also find all sorts of interesting animal life in this area.
After the beach, go for some lunch in Ocean Drive. After visiting the beach, if you’re looking for lunch or dinner options, then Ocean Drive is the perfect place to check out. There are more than enough restaurant options you can choose from in 3 days.
I’d highly recommend Sugar Factory and Mangos. Sugar Factory is famous for its drinks for adults and candy drinks for kids. While the food can hold its own, the place is pretty renowned for the age-appropriate beverages for everyone. We tried their big Mango drink and shared it between both of us and it was exactly what we expected.
Collins Avenue is home to many Miami Beach stores, museums, and parks. I’d recommend hanging out at Collins Park to check out some of their fantastic art sculptures like the one down below. You can spend an entire day just exploring all the things along Collins Avenue. Be sure to stop by one of the many restaurants and diners on that street for some tasty food.
Day 2 In Miami: Virginia Keys
Your second day in Miami is the perfect time to go kayaking or hiking In the Virginia Keys or Biscayne National Park.
Assuming you haven’t gotten your beach appetite filled up yet, or aren’t tired of being out in the sun, there are plenty of other outdoor places to explore in Miami.
You can choose between Virginia Keys Or Biscayne National Park. If you’re not driving you might want to go with Virginia Keys, since Biscayne National Park is about an hour or more from Miami. Otherwise, if that doesn’t stop you then I’d recommend going to Biscayne National Park instead.
If you go kayaking in Virginia Keys, you can rent a kayak in the Virginia Keys Outdoor Center. There is a lagoon right around there where Manatees are common. You can also see some jellyfish. If you’re fortunate, you might even get to see some sea turtles if you venture out into the ocean.
If you’re not fond of kayaking, there are also plenty of places to hike or even bike riding. Cycling seems to be a popular activity in the area, and you can rent bikes from the same outdoor center. We went kayaking and accidentally got lost which kept us out in the water for 3-4 hours. So just make sure you have Google Maps available to you so you know how to get back.
Near the Virginia Keys, there is Crandon Park which is another place you can go kayaking or snorkeling. On your walk, you can go to a nature preserve and see beautiful birdlife and butterflies.
You should also visit Little Havana. The Cuban culture is strong in Miami, and visiting the famous Little Havana neighborhood is the best way to learn and immerse yourself in it. Little Havana is a famous neighborhood in Miami that hosts various restaurants, cafes, markets, art, and many other things highlighting the vibrant Hispanic culture in the area.
If you visit on the third Friday of the month, you can experience one of their Cultural Fridays. Between 7 pm to 11 pm, you can see a showcasing of the amazing art scene of the neighborhood and go on tours.
Whether you’re looking for dinner or enjoying some inspirational art, visiting Little Havana is a great way to enjoy a day in Miami.
You should also can’t come to Miami and not explore the nightlife. Once you’ve grown accustomed to the Miami weather and have spent a long day at the beach, perhaps it’s time you spend time enjoying the famous nightlife.
Miami is famous for its nightlife and clubs constantly attended by celebrities. There are popular and unique clubs for people of different music tastes. For the older crowd or if nightclubs aren’t your scene, there are plenty of bars and lounges around to hang out at.
I’d highly recommend Broken Shaker to anyone. They serve quality custom cocktails in a relaxed and tropical atmosphere with a DJ that plays some great music. This is more of a chill hangout spot at night and the cocktails we tried were quite good but on the pricier side.
If you’re a more techno/house/EDM music enthusiast, one nightclub you will love is Do Not Sit On Furniture. It has a tropical and trendy vibe, plus the music is simply amazing. The first time we came to Miami, we booked a ticket as they had a popular DJ playing and it was such an amazing vibe.
The downside of nightclubs being so popular in Miami is that sometimes they can be quite selective. Miami’s most famous club, LIV, which is constantly frequented by celebrities, is famous for its tight restrictions.
Take this into consideration and have a backup plan in case you don’t get let in for whatever reason. Unfortunately, we never got to go since when we went, it was closed. Also, it’s actually inside a hotel, which is something many people don’t know and it was confusing trying to find it.
As a quick note, any drinks you buy at a place will be quite expensive. It might be worth it to buy something for yourself at one of their many stores beforehand and then spend less at the function.
Day 3 In Miami: Everglades National Park
For your last day, you should visit The Everglades National Park.
Florida is well-known for its alligators, and if you want to see them, visiting the Everglades is the perfect way to do it. It’s around a 45-minute to an hour drive from Miami and is accessible by taking the Tamiami Trail. This is why it’s also worth renting a car when you come to Miami.
The Everglades is one of the most extensive wetlands in the United States. It’s home to diverse animal wildlife, and alligators are by far the kings of the place. If you visit the Shark Valley area, you can go on a walk, hike, or bike the Shark Valley Trail and enjoy everything the Everglades has to offer.
Hopefully, you’re not too scared because you won’t struggle to find any alligators here, as they are abundant. Plus, you might also see some turtles. There are also plenty of bird species for any enthusiastic bird watchers.
The last day in Miami always seems to go the fastest, and it’s also the perfect time to buy some souvenirs to take back home. Go shopping at the Bayside Marketplace.
The Bayside Marketplace is home to the most famous brand stores in the world. It’s also a vibe all on its own, with the Mojito Bar playing some loud music and creating a party atmosphere in the center of the mall. There are plenty of food options anyone can enjoy for lunch or dinner. We got some Miami souvenir shirts to bring back home as gifts for the family.
If you still have time, consider buying a ticket for the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. This science museum is a three-level museum that has a planetarium and aquarium. When you buy a ticket, you also get a free planetarium show, which we really liked.
Apart from the planetarium and aquarium, there is a science exhibition as well as a dinosaur exhibit opening up soon according to their signs. You can also get a fantastic view of the Miami skyline from here.
How To Get Around Miami
While the Miami weather makes it an excellent place for walks and runs, it’s not easy to get around on foot. Depending on where you’re staying, you might not be able to travel the roads, especially with all the construction that goes on.
While it’s certainly possible to walk from South Beach to Mid-Beach (we actually did), it’s a very long 40-minute walk that we probably wouldn’t do again.
You have several options for getting around the city. You can either rent a car, get Uber/Lyft, or rent out bikes/scooters. If you’re on the Miami beachside, there aren’t any scooters available, but you can rent out a bike. We had the time of our lives riding the bikes late at midnight since they were the only affordable option to get around. Uber and Lyft prices skyrocket as it gets later into the night.
Uber and Lyft are pretty cost-efficient during the day, but the prices at night quickly go up. If you’re a couple or on your own, it’s still cheaper going this route than renting a car that might cost you anywhere between $70-$100 per day. But if you really want to get to know Miami, renting a car is the best way. Looking back on our vacation, we will definitely rent a car next time we visit to be able to explore farther out.
If you’re traveling with a group of friends, consider splitting the costs per day to rent a car if you plan on doing a lot of night travel. This will also make it easier to take long trips to other parts of the city like the Everglades. As mentioned above, the distance from the Everglades to an area like Miami Beach is almost 50 minutes.
Although be warned, if you think the traffic back at home is terrible, chances are it’s a lot worse here.
Where To Stay In Miami
If you’re only planning on staying in the city for 3 days, you’ll want to stay at a convenient location close to everything so you don’t spend too much time in the car.
My recommendation if you’re looking for the full Miami experience is to stay in South Beach. South Beach gives you close access to one of the best beaches in Miami and some of the famous popular restaurants.
There are plenty of other things to do nearby with museums and parks available to visit. It’s only a 15-20 minute car ride from the downtown city area. Families, couples, and solo travelers can easily find something to do here.
Initially, we booked our trip to Mid-Beach due to all the things that were occurring in South Beach at the moment, but since things quieted down as we got there, we found ourselves spending most of our time in South Beach anyway.
While there are plenty of luxurious hotels you can stay at, there are also affordable options. You’ll find El Paso Hotel a budget-friendly option with very high ratings. We had initially booked this hotel before we changed our booking to the Hampton Inn in Mid Beach. However, when we visited with friends a couple of months later we ended up staying there.
Best Time To Visit Miami For A Weekend
Miami is busy with tourists throughout the year. But there are specific points in time when it’s not crowded with as many visitors compared to other times.
Going off our experience, I would suggest avoiding it during spring break unless you’re a college student looking to party with other crazy college students. If you visit during the summer, you can enjoy the best weather it has to offer, but you also might share that experience with numerous other tourists with the same mindset.
When we visited at the beginning of April, the spring break crowd had gone back home, and the weather was still relatively warm. There was an average daily high temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit, although it did get chilly at night. The weather was still perfect to enjoy the beach.
The rainy season for the city starts in May and ends in November. The temperature is also relatively high during the summer, with an average of 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re looking for another tropical place in the United States to travel to with warm weather and beautiful beaches, check out the U.S Virgin Islands.