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24 Hours in South Beach: How to Spend A Day in Miami Beach

by Roslie

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Welcome to your whirlwind adventure. When you’ve only got 24 hours in Miami, you’ve got to hit the ground running! From Little Havana to Wynwood, there are so many incredible neighborhoods in this world-class city. People often ask me how to spend a day in Miami Beach when they are short on time. The truth is that when you only have a precious handful of hours, for most it’s all about getting those 24 hours in South Beach.

From foodie favorites to hip hangouts, here is everything that you need to know before you spend 24 hours in South Beach.

This is your guide to spending a day in Miami Beach: South Beach edition!


Please keep in mind these details are subject to change. Due to COVID-19, social distancing and face coverings may be required. Be sure to check local health officials’ safety regulations and each establishment’s website for updated information before making final plans.

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How to Spend A Day in South Beach

Getting Around

Only got 24 Hours in Miami Beach? You’ve got to know exactly where you are going! From the airport to the after-party, it’s best to plan your route ahead of time. Fortunately, South Beach is a relatively small area, and it’s all well-connected.

How to Get from Miami Airport to South Beach

Flying into Miami? When you are going from Miami International Airport to South Beach, you have a few options, depending on your schedule and budget.

Miami International Airport Florida

Taking the Airport Express Bus to South Beach

The cheapest way to get from the airport to South Beach is on the Miami Airport Express Bus (Route 150). The trip takes around 40 minutes, depending on traffic. The bus operates from 6 am to 11:40 pm., and costs just $2.65 for a one-way ticket.

When you get to the airport, you will see the hot pink signs for the MIA Mover. Just follow the path, then hop on the free shuttle to the MIA station. You can buy a bus ticket from the Easy Ticket machines before leaving the airport or purchase your ticket from the bus driver with the exact change.

Taking a Taxi from MIA to South Beach

In a rush? Got a lot of luggage? You can opt to hop in a taxi right outside the baggage area door or open your Uber or Lyft app and reserve a ride. Typically, the rideshare apps are a bit cheaper though not always as convenient. If you opt to grab a cab to South Beach, you can expect to pay a $35 flat rate per ride.

Driving from Mainland Miami to Miami Beach

Driving from Miami to South Beach is easy and relatively quick. Before you go, it is vital to know a few rules of the road.

As you are traveling around Miami, be aware of the toll roads (you can find all the info on the Sun Pass site) and download the Pay-by-Phone parking app to make it easy to pay for and find a spot for your car.

Public Transport Around Miami Beach

Free Miami Beach Trolley, South Beach Florida

Want to bypass the hassle of driving? Check the schedule for ferry service between Downtown Miami and Miami Beach for a quick and scenic trip over.

  • Taxi or rideshare: Once you are there, you can always hop in a taxi or use a rideshare app like Lyft or Uber.
  • Walk or Citibike around South Beach: At just 2.5 square miles in size, South Beach is highly walkable, or you can always grab a Citibike and cruise up and down Miami Beach!
  • Trolley: But for an easy and free option to get around, check out the South Beach Trolley. It’s the perfect way to get around while soaking in the sun and sights.

The Very Best South Beach Tours

Short on time? Want to take a deeper dive into local life? The best way to get an insider’s look into what makes South Beach so special is a guided tour with a local.

Miami Speedboat Sightseeing Tour

Biscayne Bay Miami Speed Jetboat Ride

Live it up like a superstar on a speedboat off the coast of Miami! Snap pics of the world-class art deco mansion and gawk at the celebrity housing. Setting sail from Bayside Marketplace, this 45-minute tour is perfect for sitting back and admiring the sites.

—> Tour and ticket information here!

A Taste of South Beach Food Tour

This three-hour foodie tour will give you a bite of the very best Cuban, Haitian, French, Italian, and Peruvian restaurants in South Beach. It’s a perfect way to learn about the local cuisine and try a bit of everything (for the same price you’d pay to check out one restaurant).

Planning Tip: To make the most of your trip, try to squeeze out a bit more time to see these essential Miami neighborhoods.

Big Bus Miami Hop-On Hop-Off Open Top Tour

Big Bus Miami Tour

Whenever I am in a new city, my favorite way to get to see the sites is on a hop-on, hop-off bus. The Big Bus Miami tour will show you all of the city’s best sites while letting you jump off and explore whenever you’re feeling inspired.

—> Tour and ticket information here!

South Beach Art Deco District Walking Tour

Miami Beach Art Deco District McAlpin Hotel, South Beach

Did you know that South Beach is the Art Deco capital of the world? From the iconic Versace mansion to hidden film locations, this two-hour architectural walking tour will show you a side to South Beach that you will never forget.

—> Tour and ticket information here!

Duck Tour of Miami and South Beach

This 90-minute tour is always good for a good laugh and a great view by land and sea. Unlike the dry bus tours (yes, pun intended), this sea-worthy tour bus comes with an onboard comedian/ tour guide.

—> Tour and ticket information here!

30-minute South Beach Scenic Flight

Flight Over Miami Beach Florida Coastline Aerial View

Go big or go home! There is truly no better way to see the city than on a flight along the coast. If you are looking for an incredibly romantic date idea in Miami, look no further. If you think this city is beautiful from the ground, wait until you see it from above.

—> See Miami Beach in all its glory, schedule your private tour here!

South Beach Segway Tour

In just under two hours, you’ll get the chance to zip through the Art District and past the Versace Mansion on your fun little Segway. Guided by a local, this is a prime opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of the neighborhood.

—> Tour and ticket information here!

Two-Hour Miami Beach Art Deco Bike Tour

Thanks to the gorgeous year-round weather, touring the South Beach Art Deco District by bike is always an option!

Planning Tip: The weather in Florida can be intense and unpredictable at times. To get yourself from a bike tour to a swanky restaurant, you’ve got to pack smart. Before you go, be sure to check out my Miami packing list to help plan all of those essentials.

Sunset Cruise Along Biscayne Bay

Miami is magical by night! End the day sailing along Biscayne Bay, and see South Beach all lit up on this take a 90-minute sunset cruise tour. It’s a prime pick for seeing the city while getting off your feet after a long day.

—> Sunset cruise tour and ticket information here!

The Best Things to See & Do in South Beach

Ready to create your ultimate 24 hours in South Beach bucket list? Here are a few essential experiences.

South Pointe Park

South Pointe Pier Park Miami Beach Florida

Situated at the southern tip of Miami Beach, South Pointe Park is a destination in and of itself, especially when combined with the Miami Beach Boardwalk.

Head there for not only a great beach experience but also spectacular views of the city, walking trails, a dog park, and even a steakhouse. The pier offers a peaceful stroll and an opportune spot to watch the surfers and kayakers offshore. This is spot is particularly stunning at sunset.

Walk or Rollerblade the South Beach Boardwalk

Miami Beach Boardwalk South Beach, Florida

South Beach is famous for its picturesque four-mile-long boardwalk along the coast. This scenic pathway stretching some 40 blocks from South Beach northward along the shore, is a must on any 24 hours in South Beach itinerary.

You will find a few different rollerblade rental spots with some offering lessons. Once you are ready to hit the road, skate through South Pointe Park, then make your way down with ocean views on one side and vintage architecture on the other, it’s the quintessential Miami bucket list experience.

Relax at the Beach in South Beach

Miami Beach Lifeguard Tower Lime Green and Yellow, South Beach, Miami Beach Florida

Competition is stiff for the best beach in Miami. If you have only got 24 hours in South Beach, walk the Miami Beach boardwalk, have a picnic at South Pointe Park, then soak in the sun at Lummus Park and Beach.

Planning Tip: When you’re in Miami, you’ve got to have at least one day at the beach – and here are the beach essentials that you will want to bring with you.

Explore Ocean Drive

Ocean Drive Miami Beach, South Beach Florida

You could spend an entire day (or a month!) exploring Ocean Drive. Home to the best cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, this essential stop is the place to admire South Beach’s dreamy Art Deco buildings.

In the heart of it all is the Art Deco Welcome Center – a visitor’s center that provides a wealth of information, along with a variety of walking tours showcasing the city’s unique style. This is a great place to snap those colorful, Instagram-worthy photos Miami Beach is well known for.

Espanola Way

Espanola Way South Beach, Miami Florida

The first development in Miami, Espanola Way, was developed in the 1920s and has maintained its Mediterranean village vibe ever since. From yoga classes to boutique hotels to dining hotspots, you can find plenty of things to do on Espanola Way. 

Lincoln Road

Lincoln Road Miami Beach Promenade

You can easily spend an entire day exploring Lincoln Road. Come for breakfast, wander around the shops, unwind at a sidewalk cafe, get in a quick workout, then head to one of the nightlife spots.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Miami Beach Botanical Garden Florida

With more than two and a half acres of tropical green space, this is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. Plan time to stroll around and soak in the natural beauty of this secluded garden.

Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach

Right next to the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, this museum is a worthwhile stop. This free museum is open for self-guided tours 365 days a year.

Visit the Best Museums

Miami Beach Art Deco District Bass Museum

Miami is home to some of the best museums in the world. While you might be on a time crunch, try to find at least one spot that catches your eye.

Learn about art and design at The Wolfsonian, see the spicier side of life in The Wilzing Museum-World Erotic Art Museum, and learn about contemporary art at the Bass.

Attend a Pool Party 

Poolside Mondrian South Beach Hotel

The best hotels in South Beach host epic pool parties. You’ll find weekend shindigs at the Clevelander Hotel, incredible weekend parties at Hyde Beach, spa-style celebrations at 1 Hotel, and amazing DJs at the Shore Club.

The Best Spots to Eat and Drink in South Beach

Worked up an appetite pounding the pavement and splashing in the warm waters of the Atlantic? South Beach has some of the best eateries on the planet.

Havana 1957 Miami Beach Tostones

Front Porch Café

It’s always breakfast time in this local fave. Located inside the Z Ocean Hotel on Ocean Drive, this place has French toast that will keep you coming back every morning.

11th Street Diner

What is better than a greasy burger and ice-cold milkshake in a shiny neon-lit diner? Come hungry for that good old-fashioned comfort food and linger for the fun vintage vibe.

La Sandwicherie

Grab a baguette sandwich and head over to the beach for an easy, delicious picnic on the fly. One of the best sandwich spots in town!

Planta

This swanky vegan spot South of fifth is an essential spot for plant-based food lovers.

Taquiza South Beach

Grab a seat on the spacious patio, sip an ice-cold beer, and sample the authentic tacos here.

Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant and Take Away

Joe's Stone Crab, Miami Beach, Florida

A historic place to try delicious stone crab, and also happens to have one of the city’s best fried chicken. Joe’s is only open during the stone crab season (October – May). Expect a wait!

A Fish Called Avalon

Not only is this one of the best spots on Ocean Drive (which is saying a lot!), I would say it’s one of the best seafood restaurants in Miami.

Lost Weekend

Get away from the tourist traps and knock back a few beers at this cool dive bar on Española Way. Once you have drunk up a hunger, sink your teeth into one of the best Philly cheesesteaks.

Kill Your Idol

Check out the works of local artists, listen to live music, and mingle with the locals while you mingle with the locals over happy hour deals on Española Way.

Planning Tip: Ready to live it up on your Florida vacation? Check out my insider’s guide to the very best of Miami Bars.

Living It Up with Miami Beach Nightlife

Sure, we’ve covered how to spend a day in Miami Beach, but what about those sizzling hot nights? Let’s talk living it up — Miami style!

Sip, Savor, Salsa Lessons, Mojitos, Live Music & Dancing

The Clevelander South Beach, Florida

Spice up your night at this Latin theme dance club right on Ocean Drive. Get started with salsa and bachata lessons as a live local band cheer you on. Take a break with some of the best mojitos in town, then head back out onto the dance floor with your all-night VIP club pass on this night tour.

Bodega Taqueria y Tequila

Come for the best tacos in town, then sneak back into the hidden bar behind the restaurant. Open up the fake bathroom door, and you will find a speakeasy that’s always got a great range of local DJs.

Twist

This famous South Beach gay club is always a good time. From drag shows to surprisingly cheap drinks, this place checks all of the boxes.

LIV

Ask a few locals about the very best nightclub in South Beach, and you will definitely hear LIV mentioned more than once. The non-stop vibe here makes it a Miami bucket list destination you won’t soon forget.

Make the most of your 24 Hours in South Beach

Got your adventure of a lifetime planned? Whether you want to linger at sidewalk cafes, shop until you drop, or dance the night away, South Beach has you covered. So, where will your adventure take you?

Feeling inspired to extend your trip? Check out my insider’s guide to 72-hours in Miami.

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