One of my big goals this year and next year was to see a little bit more of the world rather than sticking to our usual holiday spot. I always wanted to see Miami after being obsessed with grand theft auto the game as a kid, and now seemed like as good a time as ever to check it out!
We stayed at the Hilton polo south beach. This hotel was such a bargain at the price we paid for it as it was spotless and the rooms were lovely. We had a fridge in our room, so it would be great for anyone that wants somewhere reasonable to stay that is fairly central that is competing in a show over here. The hotel is also right across the road from the beach, literally a minutes’ walk. It is based on Collins Avenue, but not directly where all the chaos is so the location is nice and quiet, but not too far from the action either if you want to explore some of the nightlife or shop on Lincoln Avenue. There is a cafe in the hotel that serves food till late and you can get room service if you fly in late as we did. It has a little gym that is ideal for a few days away with free weights, a treadmill and a cross trainer. There is also a little stretching area and a water machine if you get thirsty.
The staff at the hotel were the nicest people we have met, they genuinely went above and beyond for us to make sure we had a nice stay, and everyone always had something nice to say to you in passing from the nice lady that replaced our towels, to maintenance men and of course the lobby staff.
Across the road from the hotel is a great supermarket that is actually a bit more reasonably priced than the bigger Walgreens stores that are on nearly every corner in Miami Beach. The subway next door to the supermarket is also open 24 hours, again really handy if you have a late flight and are feeling hungry!
There is also one of the best cafes in the whole of Miami across the road called the tropical cafe. It is a small Cuban restaurant that will pack up your food for takeout so that you can enjoy it on the beach. The portions are huge and there are some great healthy options on the menu including plantains as a side so we literally lived here!
Getting to the hotel from the airport
We got a shuttle bus at the airport called Super Shuttle, and it was a great option as it was only thirty dollars for both us to get to our hotel safely and quickly. When you leave arrivals they have a little booth outside the door, you just pay here, no reservation needed and jump into the next one!You can also get public transport, an uber or a taxi, but the latter can work out quite expensive. The shuttle came to pick us up when we were coming home and was a few minutes early with a lovely helpful driver so I can’t recommend it enough.
What we did!
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know I’m a huge foodie, so it goes without saying a lot of my trip revolved around trying as many new foods and drinks as my belly could handle. I also am of course, huge into health and fitness so although I had no intention of solidly macro tracking per se, I also didn’t want to go so far off the rails that my work trousers wouldn’t close coming home (especially since I was straight back in there on Halloween!). Here are a few things we did; I won’t list everything because it will be way too long to post!
Miami is definitely a place where you can go to either extreme with ease, and I was able to find a nice balance of mixing treats with eating healthily the majority of the time which was great! If you are into rollerblading, this is definitely the place to come. We made the mistake of thinking that the boardwalk along south beach was an ideal spot, but as a lot of it is a wooden bridge style walkway, it’s a bit tricky for inexoperienced skaters to navigate. The place to be is Ocean drive, the ground is as smooth as ice, the streets lined with palm trees and as the name suggests, you are right beside the ocean and also Starbucks if you get thirsty and want to grab an ice tea and people watch for a while. I just wish we had figured this out on day 1, but we will know for next time! There is also an outside gym on ocean drive on the beach packed with heavy weights and plates, so no need for any gym membership over here!
This is such a cool place to walk around. There is some of the coolest graffiti style art here in the whole of Miami. There is also a target nearby if you want to avail of some lower priced food and drinks in a supermarket setting. You can get to Wynwood using public transport, but we made huge use of a hop on hop off tour bus which I would definitely recommend joining as you get to see so much more of this great city and learn a bit about the places you drive by!
This is a must go place when you are in south beach as there are so many great shops in the outdoor mall. Some of my favourites were of course Victorias Secret and also Simon Sports as that was where I bought my rose gold nike Theas and converse. There are great places to eat here too and it is the place to go apparently to people watch if that is what you are into. Personally I was more food watching and planning what to eat next!!
This outlet is actually outside Miami, but you can buy a shuttle bus ticket that will drop you right outside the door and collect you a few hours later for about thirty dollars per person. Overall, we weren’t actually all that impressed with this outlet. We got there and our first stop was the Nike outlet, which we loved, but beyond that we didn’t really buy much because there just wasn’t much there to buy that wasn’t already in South Beach. A lot of the stores are not actually outlets, so before coming here I would have a look at the shop listing and just see if there are places of interest to you personally.
I will say though, there is a super target here which is absolutely amazing. We literally spent three hundred dollars on sweets to bring home because there were about ten aisles of Halloween sweets alone that you can’t get back home in Ireland.
Overall, it was a fun day out for us but it’s a very long day as you leave at about nine in the morning and don’t get home till after five, we felt a half day there would have been more than enough for us.
This place was one of my favourite places to visit in Miami. It is a Cuban neighbourhood and I sweat they have the best ice cream in all of Miami. The hop on hop off tour bus will bring you here, and allow you to have a ramble around for a while before bringing you home again. It literally feels like you have left Miami and are in Cuba because it is totally different to anywhere else in the city. This is definitely a must see for anyone into their food like we are!
Is Miami expensive?
To get there, and including our accommodation for 8 nights, it cost us 1000 euro each. We booked with Rachel at the world travel centre in Pearse Street and she was so helpful that I would recommend you ask for her especially if you are planning to go! We flew with Virgin Airlines and I noticed a huge difference in the food and overall comfort of the flight in general compared to previous trips to America I have made in the past, so as much as possible I am going to try and fly with this airline in future.
Over there, everything is quite expensive in South Beach compared to other parts of the states, but you certainly can save money if you are clever about it! The hop on hop off tour bus cost us 100 dollars for the two of us, but it was actually a bargain in the sense we got to see so much more and learn more about the area than if we just explored it on our own. We also got an extra day free on the ticket which was great!
I will say though, it gets extremely windy on the top of that bus; my fake eyelashes physically blew off my face when we drove by Oprah’s house on millionaires drive. So maybe this tour is not the time to wear clip in extensions or eyelashes, or anything that might blow off your head for that matter!
You can certainly navigate a lot by foot or uber to save some money, I wouldn’t bother with taxis to Lincoln Avenue from our hotel, it was perfect to reach by foot.
I found the holiday flew by so fast that we didn’t get to see half of the places we wanted to on our list, but that actually made the trip a lot cheaper for us as some of the tourist places are extremely expensive! My favourite part of the whole holiday was rollerblading on ocean drive though. We had such a good laugh and the views were amazing! I’m living to come back here, though there are some more places I want to see first on my list!