Going to Miami for a vacation? Make sure you choose the right Miami beach! While all three beaches are similar to one another, there are some notable differences that distinguish each beach.
Depending on who you are and what you’re looking for, one beach might be better for you than the other. We’ve visited Miami a couple of times already as a couple and with a group of friends and had different experiences staying in South Beach and Mid Beach.
Here is our ultimate guide on Miami’s three famous beaches: South Beach, Mid-Beach, and North Beach.
South Beach, Miami
South Beach is a 2.2-mile stretch of white sand that includes the neighborhoods of West Avenue, Lincoln Road, Sunset Harbour, Collins Park, the Art Deco District, Belle Isle, and South-of-Fifth.
The busiest part runs across the way from Ocean Drive, so if you’re looking for a quieter spot, you’re best off hanging around the parts south of Fifth. You’ll find far less development in this area and also fewer shadows from the pesky sky-rise buildings spoiling your tan. However, there is no better place for nightlife than Ocean Drive.
What Is South Beach Known For?
South Beach is known for its urbanism. There are a ton of things to do, a constant multitude of people looking for a party, and a bunch of fast exotic cars. Although, it’s worth mentioning that traffic here is awful. You’re much better off leaving the car at home and walking if you’re staying a short distance in one of the many beachside hotels.
It’s the most tourist-filled area of Miami Beach thanks to its consistent summery vibe, bountiful hotel beach clubs, and plenty of retail outlets and restaurants along Ocean Drive. Of course, you’ll have to be prepared to pay the somewhat excessive tourist prices.
The restaurant’s prices along Ocean Drive are much higher than those in other parts of Miami and these had a big effect on our travel budget.
Why Should You Go to South Beach?
If you love the feeling of being in the center of the party and don’t mind a crowded beach, you can’t go wrong with a trip to South Beach. You may not get any peace and quiet, but you will certainly be able to shop ’till you drop, get that all-important sun and tan, and probably make a bunch of new friends who all dig the atmosphere. Highly recommend checking out any of the restaurants along Ocean Drive if you’re up for some food after the beach.
Where To Stay in South Beach
Since South Beach receives more tourists than the other two, it also has the most accommodation options. While finding an Airbnb can be pretty difficult, you can always stay in beautiful hotels like the Moxi Miami, a four-star hotel with many deluxe rooms.
The South Beach Plaza Hotel (where we stayed) is a more budget-friendly option in a similarly convenient location. Both of these two options are within walking distance from the beach.
How Is South Beach Different From Mid and North Beach?
While the water is the same, you will undoubtedly feel different in South Beach. It has the most fun things to do for young adults thanks to its lively atmosphere and the sheer number of people milling around looking for fun. In other words, it’s undoubtedly a party town, whereas the Mid Beach and North Beach aren’t so much.
Alongside this, South Beach certainly has a wider choice of restaurants and nightclubs. It’s the perfect place to stay close by when planning a 3-day Miami trip or longer.
Mid Beach, Miami
Mid Beach’s area includes the Collins Waterfront, Allison Island, west residential areas, and Morris Lapidus (historic district). A single boardwalk, raised on wooden stilts, separates the gorgeous sand from the hotel-filled Collins Avenue situated between 46th and 23rd Street. This Miami beach still houses famous stylish hotels including the Faena Hotel Miami Beach and the Soho Beach House.
What Is Mid Beach Known For?
Mid Beach is known for its chill yet still slightly party-ish vibe. The area specializes in quieter hotel beach clubs that contain a lounge atmosphere that goes long into the night.
Its somewhat limited attractions cater to those who love a quieter drink and find where the fashion trends are going. You may well recognize some spots from people’s Instagram pictures. After all, you can’t go to Mid Beach without recognizing its flair for the trendy.
You can find plenty of things to do at night, but it’s nowhere near as popping as South Beach.
Why Should You Go to Mid Beach?
For those of you who want a vibrant yet non-crowded, less rowdy beach vacation, Mid Beach is the one for you. The famous hotels and sand-side lounges can keep you entertained from day to night without having to risk the raucous South Beach.
It’s close enough to South Beach, where you can reach it and it’s restaurants by car with ease (15 minutes) but far enough to stay away from the loud noise.
Where To Stay In Mid Beach?
The Hampton Inn Miami Beach is a great place to stay in terms of costs and quality. You can get reasonable prices for a high-quality experience if you book in advance. You also get a complimentary breakfast every morning, which can have quite an impact on your savings. We stayed there for a week, and we found it well worth its price.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious option, you can’t go wrong with the Nobu Hotel Miami Beach. It’s a 5-star hotel located along the waterfront. It’s classy and contains everything you would want like a restaurant, bar, spa facilities, and much more. Plus, a gorgeous outdoor pool and indoor pool.
If you’re looking for another place to stay, the Miami Beach Edition is a good option for a taste of the good life. It’s a reinvention of the traditional Havana 1955 Seville Hotel. You’re bound to love it. It still has the same crystal clear water and white sand that South Beach has but with fewer crowds.
How Is Mid Beach Different From South and North Beach?
Mid Beach is trendier than the others. With a limited supply of shops within walking distance and only the best of the best hotels, it focuses on providing an elite experience.
The boardwalk is also incredibly picturesque and lush (something that is unique to Mid Beach). Not to mention that it promotes a chill vibe that many travelers will like.
North Beach, Miami
The North Beach area of Miami includes the following neighborhoods North Shore, Altos del Mar, Biscayne Point, Normandie Isles, and others.
It’s by far, the least tourist-packed part of Miami Beach. Generally speaking, the further north you travel, the less expensive eating, shopping, and housing becomes. However, that does not mean to say that North Beach doesn’t have a lot to offer.
This zone has a wide variety of residential apartments, a golf course, and small family homes for people to make their nest somewhere extremely picturesque but affordable. In fact, it’s the only residential area where you can buy a house for your family right on the ocean. There is also North Shore Park close by making it a great option for kids.
What Is North Beach Known For?
North Beach is primarily known for its locals. Instead of tailoring to the tourists, the shops and restaurants are made for the locals. It’s greatly removed from the hustle and bustle of South Beach and provides a small-town feel.
Why Should You Go to North Beach?
If you’re looking for a pleasant and calm atmosphere away from the loud street life of the beaches down South, North Beach is for you. There are plenty of cafes and shops on the sidewalk to satisfy your retail therapy craving. It’s probably the most family-friendly area in this part of the city.
Where To Stay In North Beach?
While North Beach doesn’t have as many housing options as the other two since it’s more residential, you can still find places. The New Hotel BBG is only a couple of walking minutes from the ocean and hosts restaurants on its premises. There is also an outdoor pool for you to enjoy.
On the other hand, The Park Royal offers several comfy suites with an on-site outdoor pool. The furnishings in the rooms are all up to date.
How Is North Beach Different From Mid and South Beach?
The overall vibe is less party and more relaxing. It’s the go-to area for a long, tranquil sunbathing session and a bite to eat at a local coffee shop. Plus, if you plan to bed down for the night here, you won’t have to put up with constant noise that sometimes goes on until 5 a.m.!
The Bottom Line
With Biscayne Bay to its west and the Atlantic Ocean to its east, Miami Beach is situated in a fantastic place with a lot to do. Whichever Miami beach you choose, you’re undoubtedly going to have an unforgettable experience! The best part is that you can realistically visit all three on your trip here.
The distance from South Beach to Mid-Beach is only about a $10-$15 dollar Uber ride depending on what time you visit. Similarly, Mid-Beach to North Beach is about the same cost. While you probably can’t do all three Miami beaches on the same day, if you’re staying for a couple of days it’s worthwhile to visit all of them.