Getting to Know Miami Before Your Cruise
Miami is one of the world's busiest cruise ports, with ships from almost every major cruise line sailing to destinations all over the Caribbean. Ships sail year round, though the port is busiest from October through April when ships that spend their summers in Europe, Asia, or Alaska relocate to the Caribbean to meet the increased demand. If you do choose a cruise that departs from Miami, here are some quick facts about this "Magic City" and the best ways to get around before or after your cruise vacation:
Getting Around Miami and Miami Beach
There's plenty to do on and around Miami Beach. - Photo by Ugo Lora/Thinkstock
If you're flying, you will most likely fly into Miami International Airport (MIA) or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Most cruise lines will offer transportation from MIA to PortMiami, but that is something you'll want to figure out before getting to the airport.
Here are some of the best ways to get around Miami and Miami Beach.
- Metromover is a free option that runs a 4.4 mile loop from Brickell neighborhood to Downtown with stops at Bayside Market Place and the American Airlines Arena. And you can connect with the Metrorail at the Government Center stop. It's an elevated line, which makes it easy to spot the stops.
- Miami Trolley is a fun and unique way to get around and the fact that it's free to ride makes it that much better. Look for the trolleybus stops throughout the neighborhoods of Coconut Grove, Brickell, Little Havana, Wynwood, and Overtown and hop on. There are maps of the routes at each stop.
- Miami Beach Trolley is also free with four lines; Alton Road, Middle Beach, Collins Link, and North Beach which usually runs every 10 - 15 minutes.
- Metrorail is the train that covers 25 miles from Hialeah and MIA to Coconut Grove. Each station is about one mile apart. It connects to Tri-Rail, the local commuter line which will take you north to Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach
- Cabs, Uber, and Lyft are other modes of transportation to get around Miami, especially if you want to go to Miami Beach or Key Biscayne. Cabs are easy to find, although they typically don't stop if you try to wave them down. It's best to pick them up at a hotel.
Fun Facts About Miami
The Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is a great place to visit during a leisurely afternoon. - Photo by travelview/Shutterstock
- Famous For: Beautiful people, stunning beaches, Cuban food, and Art Deco architecture. It's also a playground for the rich and famous.
- Language: English, but some Spanish certainly helps in this bilingual city.
- Climate: Hot in the winter, and humid and hot in the summer. Expect highs in the low 90's in August and around 70°F in the winter months. If you're near Miami Beach or the waterfront, evening breezes provide (some) relief in the summer.
- Time Zone: Eastern Time
- When Should I Go: Nothing beats flying into Miami in the winter – you feel that slight hint of humidity amid the warmth, even in February. Be mindful of hurricane season, which lasts from June through November. The summer season sees almost daily afternoon thunderstorms, but they are short lived.
- What's Good for Kids: Jungle Island is a great, small-scale zoo that's close to the Port of Miami. Say hi to Peanut and Pumpkin, Jungle Island's Orangutan twins for us.
Money Money Money
Ocean Drive is pricey, but a great destination for restaurants and clubs. - Photo by Meinzahn/Thinkstock
- Prices in Miami and Miami Beach fluctuate wildly – expect to be overcharged at the tourist-oriented spots along Ocean Drive. Prices will be much less a few blocks back from the beach or in downtown Miami.
- You'll find ATMs and full-service banks everywhere downtown and along Washington Avenue in Miami Beach.
- Gratuity is added to almost everything, so ask for a detailed receipt.
Nothing beats the views from Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Biscayne Bay. - Photo by felixmizioznikov/Shutterstock
- An early-morning Miami Beach bike ride. Try the city's public bike-sharing program, Deco Bike.
- The view across the water from Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park at the southern tip of Biscayne Bay.
- Taking a seat at an outdoor café on Miami Beach's Lincoln Rd. and watching the passing parade of international beauty.