Miami gets a lot of attention for the attractions that make it appealing to tourists—the beaches, the clubs, the shopping malls, the restaurants, and, of course, the resorts. However, at the core of our unique city are the residential areas that are full of history, are overflowing with local flavor, and are every bit as beautiful and enjoyable as the tourism hot spots. Taking a step off the beaten path and exploring these areas can help give you a new perspective on the composition of the city and make for a more dynamic travel experience in Miami.
Today we share four of the neighborhoods that are well worth exploring when you visit Miami. They’re all residential areas, but each has a lot to visitors as well.
Arguably the most unique neighborhood in the city, Little Havana may also be the most authentic “Little (Fill-in-the-Blank)” in America. As The Guardian noted in its own write-up of the quarter, this is due in large part to Fidel Castro’s time in power in Cuba, during which large numbers of Cuban citizens immigrated to Miami. The result is a stretch of the town where everything from cigar shops and restaurants to public art and domino games in the park has become a home-away-from-home for Cuban culture, a place to find the ultimate Miami experience. Come to learn about the history of Cubans in Miami and stay to eat the pastelitos, croquetas y coladas.
If you’re looking for a taste of the more exclusive side of South Beach, look no further than this extravagantly rich neighborhood. Palm Island is a man-made island situated in Biscayne Bay known for its big, luxurious homes and noted celebrity residents (think, Al Capone, Barbara Walters). While there is not quite as much to do here as, say, in Little Havana, the island is well-deserving of a quick tour. Rent a bike in South Beach and pedal power your way over the MacArthur Causeway, through its 82 acres of mega mansions, pocket parks and beautiful bay views for a taste of how the 1% lives the Miami life.
Another wealthy neighborhood by the sea, Palmetto Bay is a little more accessible than Palm Island, and possibly better suited to visitors although further substantially further from the city's downtown core. In its own look at some of the best residential areas in the city, Discover Homes Miami spoke to Palmetto Bay’s nickname as the “Village of Parks,” resulting from its nearly unlimited recreational land for running, picnicking, and simply hanging out outside. It’s a nice place to visit if you want to enjoy the beauty of Miami and our incredible weather without the massive crowds common to more touristy areas. Plus, it’s home to a lot of outstanding restaurants, with Alaine’s Osteria, Pho Tang Restaurant, and Marie Patties being a few of the highlights.
Key Biscayne may be the most misunderstood of the major Miami neighborhoods by non-locals. This is because, despite its name, it’s not actually part of the Florida Keys. Indeed, as Frommer’s made sure to point out in describing this area, it’s really nothing like the Keys! Key Biscayne is largely residential, packed with stunning and expensive homes. It’s a great place to visit for the more active tourists checking out Miami looking to connect with an extremely active local road cycling and mountain biking community or enjoy an array of water sports at nearby Crandon Park or Bill Baggs State Park.