How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Miami, Fla.

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Woman in jean shorts and a swimsuit top faces the skyline of Miami and gives the peace sign across the water.

Miami, Fla., has so much to offer beyond the tourist traps. We’re giving you a guide on how to visit the famous city like a local. So get ready to eat, laugh, and enjoy the multicultural city. Put on your walking shoes, and let’s go! 

Why You Don’t Want to Look Like a Tourist in Miami, Fla.

Miami is easy-going, but you’re likely to have a better visit if you don’t look like a tourist. For one thing, all large cities, including Miami, have pickpockets. Thieves are more likely to target tourists than anyone else. Be aware of where your money and valuables are at all times when walking around. Even if you think you’re blending in, it may still be obvious that you’re a tourist.

One thing that will make you stick out is if you neglect to bring enough sunscreen. The sun is intense in Miami so protecting your skin is a must. We recommend wearing it at the beach, and anytime you’re outdoors. 

Another tourist assumption is that Miami locals party all the time. While the city’s nightlife is wild and fun, people work hard during the week. However, the general culture is quite laid back. If you’re meeting up with a local, they’re likely to be late to arrive. Be patient and know that it’s OK if you show up fashionably late as well.

Wind blows a paper map into the face of a tourist at the ocean.

Which Hot Tourist Spots in Miami Should You Avoid? 

Museums are typical tourist destinations when visiting a large city. But you’re likely to be disappointed by the selection in Miami. They simply don’t have the appeal of museums you’ll find in places like New York or Chicago. 

Wynwood is a trendy neighborhood for dining and partying. But avoid the graffiti-filled neighborhood at night. It’s not a safe area to be in when the bars shut down. 

The Everglades are just outside of Miami. Be sure to avoid this hot tourist spot in the summer months. Temperatures can get over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

How to Do Miami, Fla., Like a Local

Now that you know what to avoid, here are some tips for doing Miami like a local. Let’s dive in.

Know the Difference Between South Beach and the Rest of the City

South Beach is a neighborhood in Miami Beach. What makes South Beach stand out is purely based on lifestyle. It comprises luxury condos, high-end retail shops, and restaurants with every cuisine you can imagine. 

But don’t think that Miami Beach or South Beach is all there is to Miami. Locals will frown upon the statement because Miami Beach is an island that’s largely a tourist hot spot. The city has so much more to offer on the mainland that represents the real Miami.

Woman with sunglasses and smiles in front of a Miami Beach lifeguard station at the beach.

Know Where You Are

Asking for directions or using a paper map will highlight you as a tourist. Instead, plan out your day before going out to have a general idea of where things are. Then, use the GPS on your phone for directions when you need them.

Pack More Than Beach Clothes

While Miami is a destination for the sun and beach, pack regular clothing as well. Miami is a large city, and locals reserve beach clothes for the beach or pool only. Dress in your normal daily attire when you go out to eat, sightseeing, and shopping.

Stay in a Vacation Rental 

To enhance your experience in Miami and feel like a local, stay in a vacation rental versus a hotel or resort. There are a lot of options on Airbnb or VRBO. Often vacation rentals lie in regular neighborhoods, which is a great way to see how residents of Miami live.

Avoid Bus and Segway Tours 

Bus and Segway tours are about as touristy as it gets. We recommend avoiding them and instead taking self-guided walking tours. Or jump on public transportation and explore the city by making yourself a “hop-on, hop-off” route.

Try Mexican and Cuban Food 

Miami is one of the best places in the country to eat Mexican and Cuban food. There’s a large population of Cubans and Latin Americans in the city. Try authentic cuisine at one of the many restaurants throughout Miami. Just remember to be hungry when you go!

Close up of aged hands preparing authentic Mexican tacos.

Best Places to Visit Besides the Tourist Spots in Miami, Fla.

Now that you know how to do Miami like a local check out some of the best places to visit. These will make your vacation truly memorable.

Cauley Square 

Cauley Square is a historic village that depicts Old Florida in its prime. You can dine and shop in the square among the Victorian decor. There are more than 10 acres of gardens, shops, art galleries, restaurants, and wellness spas in the square.

Design District 

The Design District in Miami is known for its modern architecture, designer stores, and art galleries. The creative neighborhood is all about fashion and the arts. You can shop, eat, view art pieces, and listen to live music here. 

An interesting bubble-like sculpture in the Design District in Miami, Florida.

Little Haiti

Little Haiti is a lively Haitian neighborhood rich in culture and history. This is one of the best places in the city to get Creole cuisine. From live music to local artisan shops, this vibrant community is worth a visit.  

Wynwood 

Wynwood is known around the city for its colorful murals. You can take a self-guided walking or biking tour to see the local art. There are also boutique shops popping up in the area. And it’s a popular spot for nightlife, especially among young people looking to bar hop.

A metal sign for the neighborhood of Wynwood Walls with colorful murals in the background.

Little Havana 

Little Havana provides you with a taste of Cuba. This is the place to go to experience Cuban food at its finest. You can also get a taste for the culture by trying Cuban cigars, listening to music, and viewing the artwork throughout the neighborhood. 

Gentlemen playing chess on a street board while an older man spectates in Little Havana in Miami, Florida.

Coral Gables 

Coral Gables is a city just south of Miami. It’s a picturesque town with shops, restaurants, and more. One of the highlights is its Venetian Pool. The pool was created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry. It’s an 820,000-gallon pool that’s spring-fed from an underground aquifer. It features two waterfalls and cave-like grottos. It’s truly a sight to see and experience.

A fountain and garden with restaurant tables surrounded by columns and archways in Coral Gables outside of Miami, Florida.

Coconut Grove 

Coconut Grove is an upscale neighborhood in Miami that’s fun to walk through. It’s a tropical oasis with gourmet restaurants and sidewalk cafes where you can watch the boats anchored in the bay. One of the best parts about Coconut Grove is that it’s away from the busyness of downtown to give you a little retreat from the city while still being in it. 

Enjoy Your Trip to Miami!

As you can see, there’s a lot to do in Miami. Experiencing the city like a local will be memorable and a lot of fun. The eclectic destination has so much to offer, from ethnic foods to beaches and art and so much more. We hope you get to Miami soon! And when you do, let us know how you liked it and how many of the items on our list you checked off.

Traveler’s Tip: Now that you know how to look like a local in Miami, learn how not to look like a tourist in Orlando!

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