I had little over 48 hours in Miami when I visited. So as you can imagine, it was quite a challenge to try and squeeze the city’s best attractions into two days.
Miami is no longer just about South Beach, oh no. You could easily spend a week here exploring the vast Miami Beach area, interesting neighbourhoods like Wynwood and Little Havana, and the skyscraper-filled Downtown area and beyond.
But if you are time deprived, how do you see the best of Miami in just two days?
How to spend 48 hours in Miami | A mini-guide
We arrived into Fort Lauderdale Airport on a Friday evening and left the city to drive to the Florida Keys and Key West on Sunday evening. And as we were leaving, I felt like yes, there was still so much more we could have seen, but we’d managed to experience some of the must-see areas and definitely left with a taster of Miami life.
So based on our fantastic weekend, here’s a mini-guide on how to spend 48 hours in Miami.
I hope it inspires you.
Arrival – check into EAST Miami
After landing into Fort Lauderdale Airport, it was quite an ordeal getting through airport security and filling out all those forms! So, it was late evening by the time we arrived at our hotel, EAST Miami, in Miami’s Downtown area.
Where to stay in Miami
If you’re wondering where to stay in Miami, you have endless options. South Beach is popular for younger crowds who like to party or explore the famous Art Deco district, while Miami Beach is perhaps a bit quieter and more suited to families and those in search of a sophisticated hotel. Doral (west of Miami International Airport) is a popular place to stay for golfers, while Coconut Grove (south) has a laid-back, boho vibe.
As mentioned, we were booked in at EAST Miami, a stylish contemporary hotel in the heart of Brickell City Centre. Brickell is historically, home of the financial district, or ‘FiDi’ but is fast becoming one of the coolest places to stay in the Magic City.
One of the great things about staying at EAST Miami is you’re close to Brickell’s best nightlife and the many attractions of Downtown including Brickell City Centre, one of the best shopping malls in the city.
What’s more, when you stay at EAST, you are steps away from the Brickell Metrorail station which also links you to the rest of the city.
Spend the rest of your evening enjoying your room (many guest rooms boast an amazing bathtub-with-a-view). Or if the 10-hour flight from the UK hasn’t got the better of you, head up to Sugar, the hotel’s cool rooftop bar, for a nightcap.
Breakfast at Quinto La Huella
If you’re slightly jet-lagged, it’s likely you’ll be awake super early the next day. The plus side to this is it allows you to admire the amazing views you get from the hotel rooms at EAST, Miami at sunrise. After taking a shower and enjoying a cuppa in the room, head to Quinto La Huella for a filling breakfast – the perfect energiser for a day of exploring Downtown Miami and beyond.
Visit the Miami Circle
Take a walk from EAST Miami to The Miami Circle, a National Historic Landmark and the former dwelling of indigenous Tequesta Indians. Today, a 38-foot circle and striking statue marks the place where they lived for over 2,000 years. It’s also right by the mouth of the Miami River, which offers great views over the water.
Explore the Wynwood Walls & Wynwood Arts District
Visiting the Wynwood Walls is quite an experience and definitely one of the top things to do in Miami if you’re fond of street art. Thanks to the work of community revitaliser Tony Goldman, this former warehouse district was transformed into an ‘outdoor art gallery’ and now features the works of hundreds of different street artists. Arrive before 10.30 if you can to beat the tour buses and get the best photography, free of crowds.
Once you’ve explore Wynwood Walls, peruse the boutiques and shops of the Wynwood Arts District. Get a mid-morning coffee fix at Panther Coffee or The Salty Donut (the donuts are incredible). The Salty Donut is located in a shopping complex known as the Wynwood Arcade where you’ll find a lovely rooftop – perfect for admiring some more city views.
Down the road from The Salty Donut, on the corner of NE 23rdStreet and N Miami Avenue, check out more street art and the striking sculptures by Alberto Aragon Reyes, known as the Metamorfosis/Metamorphosis.
The installation is made up of The Fisherman and The Witness and Reyes created them to highlight the issue of rising sea levels.
Getting to the Wynwood Walls from EAST, Miami
We walked from EAST Miami to the Wynwood Walls, which took about an hour but it allowed us to get our bearings in Downtown, see the Miami Circle and take a little detour to admire the waterfront views from Bayfront Park. You can take the metrorail from Brickell, followed by a bus, but for first-time visitors, taking a cab or Uber is probably the easiest option. It takes less than 20 minutes and will save you lots of time.
Explore Little Havana
Little Havana is one of the best attractions for first-time visitors in the Magic City. And if you only have 48 hours in Miami, I highly recommend you pop this on your priority list.
The easiest way to get to Little Havana from Wynwood Walls is to take a cab. Especially as some of the neighbourhoods between these areas are not considered the safest for tourists. We took an UberPOOL and we were on Calle Ocho within 15 minutes, the heart of Miami’s Cuban community. Spend a few hours exploring Little Havana’s top sights, including the Cuban bars, bakeries and souvenir shops.
Get your photo taken with one of the giant roosters and stop by Domino Park (also known as Máximo Gómez Park) a favourite spot for some of the older Cuban locals to meet and play dominos. If you’re feeling hungry, grab lunch at one of Calle Ocho’s top Cuban restaurants. I recommend heading to Versailles, ‘the most famous Cuban restaurant in Miami’.
Go shopping in Brickell
Take a cab back to Brickell and enjoy a spot of retail therapy. You’ll find a handful of fashion and jewellery shops and specialty food stores at The Shops at Mary Brickell Village, about a five minute walk away from EAST, Miami. But you can’t beat the super swanky Brickell City Centre, home to high street brands, Saks Fifth Avenue and some of the best designer shopping in Miami.
One of the best foodie attractions at Brickell City Centre is La Centrale, the new Italian food hall that recently opened. Browse the Italian specialties, stop for a craft cocktail at the Aperitivo Bar or stop for an early evening glass of wine at Enoteca.
Or… relax by the pool at EAST Miami
If the sun is still out (and you don’t fancy shopping), enjoy the last of the Miami rays by the fabulous pool at EAST Miami. The pool here stretches across an impressive 20,000 square feet and is surrounded by sunbeds, comfy relaxation areas and heaps of tropical plants.
Soak in the jacuzzi, soak up some rays and order a cocktail from the bar ahead of your Saturday night out in Miami.
Dinner at Quinto La Huella
If you are staying at EAST Miami, I can highly recommend the hotel restaurant Quinto La Huella – a fantastic place to enjoy dinner on Saturday night. Quinto La Huella specialises in Uruguayan food (great seafood and steak) and has a lively buzz at the weekend. The wine list is also fantastic.
If you fancy venturing further for dinner, there are all sorts of restaurants across Brickell, ranging from Caribbean and Latin American to Japanese and American. SuViche, EDGE and La Petite Maison Miami are all worth checking out while the likes of Casa Tua Cucina, Luke’s Lobster, and Tacology are all right on your doorstep by Brickell City Centre.
For something really special, try NAOE, one of the most exclusive Japanese restaurants, over on Brickell Key. You’ll need to book well in advance to get a table though.
Cocktails and clubs in Downtown Miami
There are endless places to drink and party in the Magic City. The main challenge is deciding which area you want to go when you only have 48 hours in Miami.
Wynwood is excellent for hipster craft beer and cocktail joints while Miami Beach and the famed Ocean Drive is where you’ll want to go to party. As we were staying in Brickell, EAST Miami’s rooftop bar Sugar, was a great place to go for Saturday night cocktails. It gets quite lively later on in the evening with guest DJs. And you have a very short walk back to your bed!
Elsewhere in Brickell, Baby Jane, Mo Bar & Loungeat the Mandarin Oriental and Whisper Cocktail Lounge at the W Hotel are great places to visit in Miami for top notch cocktails and music. If you’re looking to really party, BLUME is one of the most popular nightclubs in Brickell.
Breakfast in Brickell
It’s up early and time for breakfast to set you up for another jam-packed day of Miami’s best sights.
I can highly recommend the continental breakfast at EAST Miami, it’s so good. It will set you back around $24 but you can eat as much as you like from the expansive buffet of cheeses and cereals to yoghurts, pastries (don’t miss the dulce de leche buns) and artisanal breads. You’ll be well fuelled for a day of exploring.
If you’re keen to grab breakfast outside of the hotel, there are loads of juice bars, cafes and restaurants serving breakfast and Sunday brunch in Brickell. Grab some takeaway pastries at the Mercato in La Centrale, order eggs and avo on toast at Caffé in the same place or try Dr Smood, located within the shopping centre, for detoxifying organic juices.
Over by The Shops at Mary Brickell Village, you can feast on breakfast burritos and mimosas at the brilliant brunch spot of BALANS, tuck into all sorts of huevos and churros French toast at Rosa Mexicano or go super healthy at the hipster hangout DIRT where you’ll find Matcha lattes and vegan and gluten-free delights.
Take a walking tour of the Art Deco Historic District
You can’t visit Miami without getting a glimpse of the Art Deco Historic District. So once you’ve filled up on breakfast, jump in a cab and take the 15 to 20-minute journey over the water to South Beach, to join a walking tour of the Art Deco Historic District, with Art Deco Tours. (Book ahead via the Art Deco Tours website).
Our meeting place for the walking tour was the Essex Hotel, a legendary hotel on Collins Avenue in South Beach, also known as the Clevelander. And while it will take quite a chunk out of your 48 hours in Miami (the tour lasts around 3 hours), you’ll be glad you did it.
On this tour, you’ll learn all about the history of Miami Beach and hear all the tales of drugs, murder and mobsters.
It allows you to get a full understanding of how the iconic pastel-coloured 1930s buildings came about and how they’ve remained preserved. You’ll leave with some fantastic photos at the end.
Explore Ocean Drive
Towards the end of the tour, you’ll be left on Ocean Drive. An iconic address that’s appeared in countless movies, it’s one of the must-see sights if you find yourself with just 48 hours in Miami.
Ocean Drive is also home to the famed Versace Mansion, the former home of Italian designer Gianni Versace. Get your photo taken in front of this elaborate home (now the beautiful boutique Villa Casa Casuarina hotel) and then walk the full length of Ocean Drive to take in the quirky shops, go-to-be-seen cafes and candy-coloured buildings.
If you’re keen to have lunch in one of SoBe’s most famous restaurants, try News Café. It was one of the first cafes to arrive in South Beach and was one of Gianni Versace’s favourites.
Spend the afternoon chilling on the beach and soaking up some rays in Lummus Park. This is a great spot for snapping the famous lifeguard stations on the seafront and watching all the interesting characters who play volleyball, work out and hang out here.
Miami Beach goes on for miles, so if you’re feeling energetic, follow the coast up to some of SoBe’s most famous seafront hotels, like the Loews Miami Beach, Ritz-Carlton and Delano South Beach, and peruse the seafront artists stalls along the way.
As you head inland from the seafront where Lincoln Road meets Washington Avenue, you’ll be perfectly placed for some late afternoon shopping.
Go shopping along Lincoln Road
End your afternoon in Miami Beach with some retail therapy, by heading to the crossroads of Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue. One of the best shopping destinations in Miami, you’ll find all the high street stores such as Zara, Forever 21, Anthropologie, Macy’s and Urban Outfitters. Lincoln Road is also great if you’re looking for designer boutiques.
As you cross over Washington Avenue along Lincoln Lane, you’ll notice there’s a vast pedestrianised section filled to the brim with cafes and restaurants that spill out onto the streets.
It’s a great place to grab a drink or bite to eat, take in the lively atmosphere, sign off your 48 hours in Miami and enjoy the last of the day’s rays.
How would you like to spend 48 hours in Miami? Do you have any suggestions and have you found this Miami itinerary helpful? Feel free to leave your comments and share!