Endless sunshine, year-round warm weather, one of the best urban beaches on the planet, a delicious cuisine, an extremely international population, and the gateway to the Caribbean: there are a lot of things you can say about the cosmopolitan gem of South Florida, and essentially every one of them is a reason to be excited about spending 3 days in Miami.
Whether you’re headed south for a long weekend in Miami or as the kick-off to a trip down to the Keys or out to the Caribbean, following this 3 day Miami itinerary will be sure to leave you smitten with the city of sun and sea.
From the shores of South Beach to the restaurants of Little Havana, here’s how we suggest seeing Miami in 3 days.
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Table of Contents
Day 1: South Beach + Beyond
Kick off your day on South Pointe Park Pier.
This pier has some of the best views in Miami, and is the perfect place to start your 3 days in Miami!
If you stroll out along the pier and turn back, you’ll see the skyline of downtown Miami in the distance ahead of you… and the length of South Beach, framed by the sea on one side and the skyline of Miami Beach, on the other.
It is an utterly fantastic view–and as soon as you’re done gaping, you’ll have easy access to South Beach!
Walk + swim + lounge on South Beach.
We recommend dedicating the bulk of the first day of your Miami itinerary to its best-known attraction: beautiful South Beach, which is indisputably one of the best beaches in the USA.
You’ll be at the far southern end of the beach when you come down from the pier, so feel free to walk as long as you like before finding a place to set up and relax for the day.
Don’t forget to stop and take a photo with a few of the amazing Art Deco lifeguard stands that the beach is known for!
Also, fair warning: South Beach has a fairly noticeable seaweed problem, so depending on when you visit, you might be sharing the sand with a pile of weeds–but really, it’s not a big deal.
Soak up some shade at Lummus Park.
After all the sun on South Beach, your skin will likely be dying for a break–so pay a visit to Lummus Park!
This beautiful park is framed by South Beach on one side and Ocean Drive on the other, and its many, many palm trees create a lovely canopy of shade to rest in.
If you’d like to explore, this is a great place to rent a bike or play a game of volleyball–but it’s also a great place to simply relax.
Stroll down Ocean Drive + Collins Ave.
Miami is well-known for its Art Deco (and Meditteranean Revival, and Miami Modern) buildings: on the central streets of Miami Beach, it can sometimes feel like you’re standing inside a delightful, retro throwback, all neon signs and pastel detail.
It’s a delight to behold, and the streets–especially Ocean Drive and Collins Ave, in our opinion, though Washington Ave is popular too–are incredibly fun to walk down, with or without a tour.
However, if you’re particularly interested in the history of Miami Beach or in architecture, you might want to look into adding an Art Deco tour to your Miami itinerary!
There’s also an Art Deco museum located in the neighborhood, though our understanding is that it is fairly small.
Book your Art Deco bike tour today!
Check out Espanola Way.
This small pedestrian street in Miami Beach was built to mimic a Spanish village, and as a result, has a very Europe-meets-Miami vibe.
It’s not big, but the twinkling fairy lights overhead and the tempting restaurants that line the streets are certainly a reason to visit (and maybe even pick up dinner here).
Not all of the restaurants get great reviews, so we do recommend doing some research before sitting down! Havana 1957 is a reliable option, and we’ve heard good things about A La Folie Cafe as well.
If you’d rather stroll through Espanola Way but sit down to eat dinner somewhere a bit quieter, Alma Mexicana is a quick walk away and a delicious, unpretentious, and affordable option.
Day 2: Little Havana + Wynwood
Head to Little Havana for an epic food tour.
Don’t eat a big breakfast this morning: instead, begin your second day in Miami with an incredible Little Havana food tour!
Despite its relatively small size and mostly residential nature, Little Havana–and its main thoroughfare, Calle Ocho, is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Miami, with a compelling history, distinct vibe, and magnificent food scene.
We adored the Little Havana food tour that we took in Miami–our guide, Ashley, was an incredible resource of information about the area, the tour extremely interesting and well-organized, and we ended the tour both more knowledgeable about Little Havana and barely able to move from how much we ate–the ultimate sign of a successful food tour.
Every single stop on our tour was fantastic, but particular standouts were empanadas from El Pub, mojitos from the Ball & Chain, and ice cream from Azucar (and, though we didn’t actually try this flavor, I will never forget Ashley tellings us that they once served an ice cream flavor called “Burn in Hell Fidel”–that’s the kind of creativity that can inspire excellent ice cream puns).
Though we didn’t eat or drink there, we also loved stopping by Cubaocho, a bar + museum + art venue that is not only incredibly beautiful, it’s run by a pair of brothers dedicated to preserving the history of Cuba (and a few other places, as well–they have a bar brought in from one of Frank Sinatra’s old clubs!).
Overall, we were incredibly impressed with our Little Havana food tour, and heartily recommend adding it to your 3 day Miami itinerary!
Book your Little Havana food tour now!
Soar above the sky in Biscayne Bay.
This is more of an option than an absolute addition to your itinerary for 3 days in Miami–Little Havana and Wynwood alone can take up a full day of exploring–but if you’re looking for a good excuse to give parasailing a try, this fun experience is a great way to cool off and break up your day!
Not only is parasailing tons of fun, but it’s also a fantastic way to get an incredible birds-eye view of Miami and Biscayne Bay.
Make your way to Wynwood for street art galore.
The story of Wynwood is one that can be told in many cities around the world: once an unloved industrial district, Wynwood has been transformed into one of Miami’s trendiest neighborhoods, bursting with everything from impressive street art to eclectic boutiques, and visiting is now considered one of the best things to do in Florida!
The first stop on any visit to Wynwood should certainly be the Wynwood Walls, a collection of incredibly impressive street art housed in a park.
Outside of these commissioned pieces, though, Wynwood’s art scene continues. The entire neighborhood is covered in colorful art, and there are more galleries, boutiques, and trendy restaurants than you can count–and once the sun sets, plenty of nightlife, too.
If you’re an artsy type, consider a Wynwood street art tour to really get under the surface of this neighborhood’s transformation.
For a sweet treat, we can definitely recommend a stop at The Salty Donut–order the Key Lime pie donut for a fabulous taste of South Florida.
Book your street art walking tour of Wynwood today!
If walking around in the Miami heat doesn’t appeal to you, you can also take a Wynwood tour via golf cart!
Day 3: Take a Boat Tour + Say Goodbye to Miami
Stop by the Bayside Marketplace.
The Bayside Marketplace is, essentially, a shopping center–albeit one with a fabulous location on the water.
It actually reminded us quite a bit of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, with a modern-shopping-meets-harbor vibe–but while it is an extremely popular place to visit during a long weekend in Miami, it’s not on our most recommended spots list… however, there’s still a reason to stop by.
We recommend visiting Bayside Marketplace essentially as a way to get to your next stop in Miami–a boat tour.
Since so many boat tours leave from Bayside Marketplace, it’s certainly worth showing up a few minutes early to poke around and get an opinion on the place for yourself!
Hit the water on a boat tour.
I was honestly surprised by how much we loved our Millionaire’s Row Cruise boat tour.
We’re generally the opposite of celebrity watchers, so a tour focused on peeking into the yards of celebrities homes seemed a bit odd to me–but we desperately wanted a quick-and-easy way to admire the skyline of Downtown Miami from the water, so we booked this incredibly popular tour to do so… and we loved it.
Sure, we’re not that invested in which house Jennifer Lopez owns, but the cruise was much more than that: a glimpse at some truly impressive real estate (and while we don’t really follow celebrities, we do love pretty houses!), some fantastic views of the Miami skyline, a bit of Miami history (especially as a film location–hello Scarface mansion!), a cruise past the impressive Miami port, and an excellent way to gain context on Miami’s city layout.
Plus, time on a boat in the sunshine is never a bad experience, and definitely deserves to be part of your 3 days in Miami.
Prefer something with a bit more speed instead? This speedboat tour is very popular and gets great reviews!
Schedule your Miami boat tour today!
Spend the afternoon saying goodbye to Miami.
Sadly, there’s no way to fit absolutely everything to do in the city into a 3 day Miami trip–so depending on your personal taste and tired you are (aka how late you’ve been staying up enjoying Miami’s nightlife), here are four great options to close out your Miami itinerary!
Option 1: Visit Everglades National Park.
Everglades National Park is one of the most unique national parks in the USA, and you can easily visit as a day trip from Miami!
This popular half-day tour will take you right to the park, and includes an exciting airboat ride.
Option 2: Head back to the beach.
Are you a beach bum at heart?
If so, you can’t have too much time by the water when you’re in Miami for the weekend.
Spending your final afternoon exactly where you started by soaking up the sun on South Beach is a fantastic way to close out a Miami vacation!
Option 3: Visit the Venetian.
Want to combine history and swimming?
Close out your 3 days in Miami with a visit to the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables!
The Venetian is nearly 100 years old, was created from a rock quarry, and is far more elaborate than your average public pool, boasting rock caves and waterslides to explore.
Keep in mind that the Venetian only sells a certain number of tickets per day, and they do regularly sell out, so if you have your heart set on visiting, the earlier in the day you plan your visit, the better.
Option 4: Tour the Vizcaya Mansion.
Designed to look like an elaborate Italian Villa, this early 20th-century mansion provides an interesting look into both the Gilded Age and the history of Miami–at the time when the Vizcaya Mansion was built, Miami was not yet the playground of the rich and famous that it would soon become!
The villa and gardens are incredibly beautiful, and visiting them is among the most popular things to do in Miami.
Where to Stay for a Weekend in Miami
Miami is an enormous, sprawling metropolis that offers a dizzying array of neighborhoods to stay in, but for this 3 days in Miami itinerary, there’s only one we would recommend: South Beach.
This is the iconic place to stay in Miami Beach (more on the differences between Miami and Miami Beach in a bit).
South Beach is the neighborhood where you’ll be able to step outside your hotel and immediately be surrounded by Art Deco architecture, where the beach and plenty of restaurants will probably be within walking distance, and where you’ll be able to get by without a rental car (as long as you’re willing to rely on Uber).
We adored staying here and think it’s the perfect location for a trip to Miami that’s focused on the beach and the city’s most famous sights, so our hotel recommendations focus on this area–every one of these hotels is within a short walk of South Beach.
The #1 Thing to Consider When Picking a South Beach Hotel
Noise. Be aware of noise!
We stayed right on Collins Ave (you can see our pick, Hotel Impala, in the mid-range section below) and had a perfectly quiet room, so even in the heart of South Beach you can definitely find peaceful options… but be aware that plenty of properties in the area will be loud late into the night due to the bars, clubs, and restaurants that are around.
Check the reviews carefully–especially if you’re a budget traveler hoping to check into a hostel!
SoBe Hostel — Located right on Washington Ave, SoBe Hostel is just a short walk from Ocean Drive and South Beach. This is the perfect place for travelers looking for a budget stay in Miami Beach while still booking a private room. Breakfast is also included.
The SoBe is home to a popular bar and also hosts bar crawls for those looking to explore South Beach’s nightlife with new friends!
Hotel Impala — We loved our stay at this hotel!
The room was clean, the shower divine, the customer service lovely, and–most importantly–the location on Collins Ave. was absolutely perfect. Located in the heart of the Art Deco district and a five-minute walk from South Beach while still offering a quiet place to sleep at night, Hotel Impala had a location you just can’t beat in Miami Beach.
The included breakfast is weak–we just skipped it and sampled all the delightful restaurants around South Beach instead–but everything else about Hotel Impala was fabulous, and we would happily stay again.
The Marlin Hotel — There is no shortage of ways to splurge on a luxury stay in Miami Beach, but the Marlin Hotel offers something you can’t get in a modern high rise: the chance to stay in one of Miami Beach’s historic art deco buildings!
Boasting a fantastic location on Collins Avenue, impeccable customer service, incredible reviews, and spacious suites, the Marlin Hotel is the perfect hotel for those looking for a luxury experience while also seeing a side of Miami Beach’s Art Deco history that not every visitor to the city gets to.
Getting Around During 3 Days in Miami
With the exception of right around South Beach in Miami Beach, Miami is far from a walkable city: its maze of curving highways and many causeways quickly make it apparent that this is a car-focused city.
With that being said, you don’t necessarily need to rent a car for your Miami weekend trip, either.
If you follow this 3 day Miami itinerary and stay within walking distance of South Beach on Miami Beach, you’ll likely be able to avoid driving/taking an Uber on most of day one, but days two and three will require transportation.
Driving and parking in the city seemed like too much of a hassle for us on our first trip to Miami, so we stuck with using Uber instead and loved it!
We didn’t save much money, but we also didn’t spend any extra vs renting a car, didn’t have to worry about navigating the city or parking, and got to have a lot of great conversations about Miami with our drivers.
If you would prefer to rent a car for the ease of having your own transportation or to visit other nearby south Florida locations independently (perhaps a road trip to Key West or the Everglades, or even as part of a bigger Florida road trip that stretches all the way up to Orlando and the iconic Disney World?), we recommend searching via Discover Cars to find the best price for your dates.
Check rental car prices and availability for your trip to Miami today!
Suggested Restaurants for Your Miami Itinerary
While we certainly aren’t experts on the Miami food scene (yet), here are a few of the restaurants that are easily accessible during this suggested long weekend in Miami itinerary that we enjoyed!
Havana 1957 (Ocean Drive + several other locations)
This Miami staple is known for serving tasty Cuban food in popular locations, while also managing to keep prices reasonable.
We loved the breakfast we had here–order the Big Havana breakfast before heading to the beach, and you’ll stay full for hours.
11th Street Diner (Washington Ave)
This diner is pure Americana, and so tasty that we ate there twice!
Food Network-featured and full of tasty dishes at low prices (and absolutely dirt cheap prices for South Beach!), this diner is a must-visit for anyone wanting a “typical” American diner experience during their 3 days in Miami.
El Pub (Calle Ocho)
Home to my new favorite empanada, stepping into El Pub feels like stepping out of Florida and directly into Latin America. Come here for the coffee, for the atmosphere, for the friendly service, and especially for the food.
Front Porch Cafe (Ocean Drive)
Boasting all-day breakfast and reasonable prices, I wouldn’t say that this is a must-eat in Miami–but if you’re hungry after visiting South Beach, it’s far from your worst option!
Jeremy’s eggs benedict were average, but my fried green tomato + pimento cheese BLT was incredible, and I’d order it again in a second.
The Salty Donut (Wynwood + South Miami)
Artisanal donuts are incredibly popular across the USA right now, but I have to say–The Salty Donut is home to some of the best we’ve had, and we would go back in a heartbeat.
Delicious and detailed without being overly sweet or too heavy, we loved every single one of the five flavors we tried–but I have to give a special shout-out to the Key Lime Pie donut, which was absolutely sublime.
Alma Mexicana (Washington Ave)
Unpretentious and delicious, Alma Mexicana serves up fantastic Mexican food within walking distance of South Beach.
We absolutely devoured our enchilada plates here–like practically-licking-the-plates-clean level of devoured–and loved the (very strong) margaritas as well.
Azucar (Calle Ocho)
If you love ice cream, you need to visit Azucar during your 3 days in Miami!
The ice cream here is made fresh with local ingredients, and it is absolutely fantastic.
We tried their signature Abuela Maria flavor, but would love to go back and sample more–the caramel flan and key lime pie both caught my eye.
What to Pack for a Trip to Miami
Travel Insurance — We recommend travel insurance for all trips–anything can happen–and a trip to Miami is absolutely a case of better safe than sorry.
Even if the odds are long, you absolutely don’t want to risk showing up to a Miami hospital with an out-of-network health insurance policy or no US health insurance at all.
We recommend World Nomads for weekend trips to Miami.
Sunscreen — Sure, you can find sunscreen all over Miami Beach… but you’ll almost certainly pay less by packing your own!
Hat — The Miami sun is no joke: bring a sunhat with you when you come.
Beach Cover Up — If you’re staying within walking distance of the beach, bring a cover-up for the walk over! They’re cute and comfortable, will keep you cooler than wearing clothes over your suit, and tend to dry fast. Something like this is a cute, affordable option that will also look great in photos!
Nalgene — I don’t know if I have ever been more thirsty than in Miami: the heat combined with the humidity had us constantly looking for water and downing glass after glass.
Bring a reusable water bottle to make sure you’re always comfortable throughout the day–and to avoid adding even more plastic to the ocean.
Sunglasses — Take it from someone who forgot sunglasses and stubbornly squinted through their entire Miami trip rather than pay $20 for sunglasses worth $5-$10: bring your own!
Dry Bag — Planning on bringing electronics or other valuables with you to South Beach? Add a dry bag to your Miami packing list!
Not only will it keep your belongings safe on the beach and in boats, but it’ll also allow you the option to bring them in the water with you in a pinch–like if your whole group wants to go swimming at once.
Swim Goggles — I love packing swim goggles for beach trips, Miami included! They’re cheap, small, easy to pack and make swimming so much more fun.
Sea Bands & Non-Drowsy Dramamine — If you’re prone to motion sickness like me and hope to take any kind of boat tour or cruise in Miami, I definitely recommend coming prepared!
The boat tour we recommend on this 3 day Miami itinerary is very mild, but I still took precautions to be safe and am glad I did.
When to Visit Miami
Miami, delightfully, can be a year-round travel destination.
Its high season is the North American winter, and this is when you’ll find the highest prices and the best temperatures (read: less oppressively hot and humid than the summer).
Summer is less popular, and is when the heat and humidity are off the charts and hurricanes are always a risk.
However, our first trip to Miami was in late June and we loved it–the weather stayed clear with the exception of the occasional brief afternoon thunderstorm (a norm for Florida), and the humidity, while intense, was completely bearable.
Unless you’re a partier in their early twenties, the only time I’d recommend against planning a trip to Miami (other than when a hurricane is about to roll in, obviously), is mid-March: this is peak spring break time in the USA, and Miami Beach will be incredibly busy as a result.
Miami Travel Tips
Be prepared for resort fees.
Especially in Miami Beach, resort fees are the norm at hotels.
These are extra fees levied per night of your stay, ostensibly to provide services that hotels generally offer anyway (wifi, beach towels, etc.), but really, they simply charge it because they can.
The fees vary pretty dramatically and aren’t listed with the room rate, so be sure to read the fine print before booking! You can see the fees on each hotel’s page of Booking.com, for example.
Oh–and you’ll get charged resort fees at restaurants, too. It never came to much for us–generally less than a dollar–but be aware you’ll see that line-item on your bill.
Check your bill before you tip.
Virtually every restaurant we ate at in Miami levied a 15-20% service charge onto the bill automatically, and if this is charged, you don’t need to tip more on top of it!
Know your Miami from your Miami Beach.
When most people think of vacationing in Miami, they’re referring to Miami Beach, the home of Art Deco and South Beach.
It’s a fabulous place to visit, and in our opinion the best place to stay during a long weekend in Miami, but Miami Beach is located on a barrier island separate from the mainland and only comprises one small part of the sprawling metropolis that is Miami.
Following this Miami itinerary, you’ll leave Miami Beach to visit Little Havana, Wynwood, and the Bayside Marketplace.
You’ll also leave to take a boat tour and to visit the Vizcaya Mansion, Everglades National Park, or the Venetian Pool if you choose to do so.
They aren’t kidding about the sun.
Strong sunscreen. Big hat. Constant vigilance.
The Miami sun is insanely strong–cover up or risk spending part of your 3 days in Miami itinerary miserable with a sunburn!