My recent trip to Miami — which I also wrote a post about here — was exciting, fun, and very relaxing. That being said, I definitely could have done a little more research before the trip. With my birthday weekend right before the trip, I was pretty busy. I barely planned anything specific or looked up places or restaurants to see before leaving. Whether you’re planning a trip to Miami soon or just want to learn from my mistakes, I’ve created a list of tips that would have helped me a little before I took my first steps along Ocean Drive. Prepare yourself for some Miami (ad)Vice. (Okay… I’ll go home.)
1. Hosts and hostesses outside of restaurants will beckon you to join them. Don’t feel obliged.
At first, I was taken aback by the upfront, somewhat aggressive approach that staff members of various Ocean Drive restaurants take. At first, I would reply to the hostesses, saying “no, thank you” as we walked by their sales pitches, but by the end of the trip, I realized that just ignoring them is fine enough. It definitely takes some getting used to.
2. Check to see if the service charge is included in your check.
Where I live, service charges are usually only added if groups are made up of 6 or more people. In Miami, many checks include a 15% service charge and others include a 20%. If the service is great, you might want to add a little extra, but if the service charge is already added into your total, don’t feel like you have to!
3. Food is pretty expensive.
Of course you can find cheap places to eat, but a majority of the big restaurants are pretty pricey. Don’t allow this to inhibit you, but definitely be aware of the fact that it’s not a cheap city.
4. Go on Yelp.
While most of the restaurants in Miami are great, there are lots of duds out there. My friends and I made that mistake one morning, when we got an overpriced, crappy breakfast. If we had gone on Yelp and seen its 2-star rating, we probably would have avoided it. On the other hand, we wouldn’t have discovered some of the best places we went to without Yelp. Use it!
5. People go out so late here, and they stay out super late too.
In Boston and in college, I’ve gotten used to starting pre-gaming around 9:00 PM, leaving to go out around 10:30 PM, and staying out until before 2:00 AM. That’s not how it is in Miami. People head out after midnight and oftentimes stay out until after 5:00 AM… Some of the most intense partiers stay out until 8:00 AM and spend all of the next morning and afternoon sleeping. The latest I was able to handle was 3:30 AM, but it was a solid effort.
6. You’re going to have to dress to impress. For real.
In Boston, going out in jeans and boots or flats is totally normal. Not in Miami! People really dress up to go to clubs; bouncers will turn away people that aren’t dressed well enough. Yes, that means heels for women. Since I didn’t do my research before going, I had to buy a cheap pair of heels during my visit. Bring some in your carry-on to save you the hassle!
7. If you’re a lady and you’re attractive, don’t pay for club entry.
PC? Not really. True? Very. Promoters walk the beaches, streets, and even club interiors looking for attractive girls to bring to their tables. The goal is to make the club look more desirable. I’m still not positive how I feel about this whole thing, but it worked okay for me. Apparently, some promoters can be brutal, turning girls away if they aren’t hot enough or cutting the least attractive girls from his/her table when there’s overcrowding. If this is the case, don’t take it personally; it’s just (clubbing) business.
Bonus tip: Posting a picture on Instagram with one or two friends with a popular Miami hashtag is a good way to get promoters to comment, follow, and DM you. Just check to make sure he or she is legit!
8. Drinks are super pricey. Even water.
It’s no surprise that some of the more exclusive clubs serve up mixed drinks with top shelf liquor, making your vodka soda upwards of $20. What surprised me is how much these clubs charge for water. Rather than serving up tap water for free — as I’ve experienced in the Northeast and the U.K. — bartenders serve bottled water, oftentimes charging $8-10 for it. If you’re completely parched, you might have to splurge, but I’d hold off otherwise.
9. Prepare for humidity.
I’m lucky that my hair doesn’t blow up or frizz in humidity — as I have naturally pin-straight hair — but this might be something to prepare for. Bring some hair product along to tame the mane.
10. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.
I actually didn’t get a terrible burn this time around, but my last trip to Florida had me looking like a straight-up lobster. Even if it’s a cloudy day, lather on the SPF!
11. Have a backup plan in case of rain.
Have an option in mind if you do have a rainy day in Miami, whether it’s the World Erotic Art Museum or the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (the latter of which has its own blog post coming!). You can’t go to the beach every day.
12. Technically you’re not supposed to drink on the beach, but people do it anyway.
Same thing goes for the beach in my hometown. Just keep it low key and don’t get obnoxious.
13. You might be a minority, fellow white people.
I grew up in a predominantly white town, attended a predominantly white college, and studied abroad in a predominantly white country. I’m used to being in the majority. However, in Miami, you might find yourself being the only white person in the room. This isn’t a tip necessarily, just an interesting fact that’s pretty cool about visiting Miami or any other culturally and racially diverse city.
14. Don’t feel like you have to look “Miami hot.”
“Miami hot” is a phrased I coined during my trip. Basically, women in Miami look way different than women from Boston, just as beautiful women from L.A. and Vermont look different, for instance. Beauty standards are different in each of these locations and you don’t have to assimilate. The ideal woman in Miami is curvy with a tiny waist, a body that’s near impossible to achieve without the help of plastic surgery. Don’t feel self-conscious; the beauty ideals where you’re from may be differ from the tanned, extreme hourglass ideal in Miami.
15. Ubers and Lyfts are… actually very cheap.
I was afraid that ride-sharing services would be super expensive down in Miami, mostly because everything else is pretty costly down there. However, getting an Uber or Lyft for my three friends and me was very reasonable, whether we were riding to a club or to the airport. Especially if you’re from Boston or New York, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
16. If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs.
Miami truly is a city that never sleeps. Every night, the sounds coming from the streets below us — of loud music, shouting, etc. — were noisy enough that I felt like they were partying in our room. On Friday and Saturday, it was at its worst. Fortunately, I was able to get to sleep, but it took a little extra effort on Saturday, when I didn’t have alcohol in my system to put me to sleep.
17. When it comes to your hotel… location, location, location!
Where your hotel or Airbnb is will determine where you go, whether you like it or not, so try to get a room in a prime location. My friends and I got a pretty good price on an Airbnb on Ocean Drive, and we loved the place and location. We could have paid a little less to be set off from the action a little bit, but paying a little extra was worth it for the convenience factor, in my opinion.
Miami is a fun, vibrant, culturally rich city. Although knowing some tips might help you out on your travels, don’t over-research. Be intuitive, adventurous, and spontaneous!
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