Selina’s Guide to the Top 10 Best Places to Stay in Miami
By David Bolaños on Jul 26, 2022
When it comes to where to stay in Miami, you first need to understand that there’s the City of Miami (mainland Miami) and the island city of Miami Beach. It’s common for visitors to put the two cities under the same umbrella term of “Miami.” But any local will eagerly affirm that each city has features that make it distinct, from cuisine to culture and nightlife.
Mainland Miami and Miami Beach are connected by four causeways that put them 10-15 minutes away. So, regardless of your choice of where to stay in Miami Beach or mainland Miami, you’ll always be a few minutes from the attractions and top things to do in Miami in either location.
Now that you have a rough picture of the logistics of the Magic City, let’s dive into the best places to stay in Miami in terms of safety, attractions, budget and everything in between.
Miami, a.k.a the Magic City, is a big name in most lists of the world’s most popular holiday destinations. This quirky hotspot in Florida is the southernmost major city in the continental US and the second-largest city in Florida after Jacksonville.
Often viewed as one destination, Miami actually consists of two metropolises. The City of Miami generally refers to mainland Miami, which encompasses neighborhoods such as downtown Miami, Little Havana, Miami Design District and Coconut Groove.
On the other hand, Miami Beach is a resort city sitting on a barrier island between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Miami Beach is a stretch of around 35 miles and is broken into three neighborhoods; South Beach, Mid-Beach and North Beach.
Miami experiences a sub-tropical climate, meaning its summers are hot and humid while its winters vary between cool and mild. While other parts of the country are still defrosting, there’s no shortage of things to do in Miami in winter. So it makes sense that March to May is the high season in Miami.
Of course, summer is the perfect time for a vacation in Miami if you’re after its sparkling white beaches and endless water activities. Remember to pack an umbrella because the weather can be pretty unpredictable, though.
If you want to avoid high hotel rates and the crush of visitors, plan your Miami Beach vacation between July and October. Remember to check the weather forecast because this is the hurricane season.
Type of Tourism
Pristine beaches– bejeweled with dazzling blue ocean and picture-perfect weather Miami is instantly recognizable as one of the prettiest coastal destinations in the US.
Museums– steeped in rich history, Miami is a place of museums, with the top attractions being the Frost Museum of Science, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and HistoryMiami.
Eclectic nightlife– When the sun goes down, the Magic City gets so fun that it’s considered one of the best nightlife cities in the US, so much so that we have a whole Miami nightlife guide.
Culture– a vibrant multicultural destination comprising Hispanic heritage, Caribbean Heritage, Jewish American Heritage and whatnot, Miami’s vivid culture is felt everywhere, from art festivals to diverse cuisines and museums.
How Much Time is Enough When Visiting Miami?
Five days are not so long in Miami, thanks to its wide range of attractions and things to do. However, if you don’t have much time for your vacation, we recommend spending at least two days and two nights to enjoy the top attractions in Miami and experience the beach and food scene.
Top 10 Best Places to Stay in Miami
Little Havana- Experience Authentic Cuban Culture in Miami
The first neighborhood that comes to mind when thinking of the best place to stay in Miami is Little Havana. You’ll want to base yourself here if you want to experience the best of Cuban culture without venturing far from downtown Miami.
You’re right- Little Havana is named after Havana, the Capital City of Cuba. This place came to be in the 50s and 60s when Cubans fled to Florida following the armed uprising conducted by Fidel Castro. Upon arriving in Florida, most Cuban exiles settled in downtown Miami before moving deeper west to a neighborhood that would eventually be named La Pequeña Habana- Spanish for Little Havana.
While most of the immigrants have spread to other parts of Miami and Florida, Little Havana is still highly populated by Cubans. The Cuban heritage here is so vibrant that the locals have chosen Spanish as their language of choice. Not surprisingly, local McDonalds have Cuban paintings and serve McCafecito, a shot of fantastically strong and sweet Cuban espresso.
One of the best neighborhoods to stay in Miami, Little Havana puts you at the front row seat to an authentic Cuban vibe from the people to the art, history, music, architecture and, of course, the food scene.
Selina Miami River Hotel is a top choice for first-time and regular Miami visitors looking to enjoy the charming Cuban vibe while being close to the real action in downtown Miami. Selina Miami River hotel is five minutes from downtown Miami and around ten minutes from Little Havana. Guests enjoy an array of amenities, including an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, live music, parking and a wellness area.
Top attractions in the neighborhood: Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, Freedom Tower, Maximo Gomez Park, Perez Art Museum Miami and Bay of Pigs Museum.
Upper East Side- Best Area to Stay in Miami for Both Worlds
Filling our second spot for the best place to stay in Miami is one of this city’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. The Upper East Side in Miami is the area sitting on Biscayne Boulevard north of Edgewater, south of Miami Shores and East of Little Haiti.
Combining midtown and suburban lifestyle options with a waterfront setting makes the Upper East Side a good location for tourists who want to experience both sides of the Magic City. Its mid-century architecture and historical museums are a big draw for people who adore creativity and culture. With a nice blend of eateries, lounges, coffeehouses and bars, you may also want to look for a hotel here if you’re after Miami nightlife bars.
This up-and-coming neighborhood has become a mecca for young professionals and artists in recent years. Additionally, its proximity to downtown Miami and the beaches make it possible to enjoy other top attractions in Miami.
Selina Gold Dust hotel Miami is among the top options for visitors looking for a hotel in the Upper East Side neighborhood. This hotel is located in the MiMo District in a building that used to be the center of action back in the day.
With beautifully decorated rooms, stylish common spaces, a swimming pool and free Wi-Fi throughout the property, Selina Gold Dust hotel is where the locals join the visitors to let loose and have fun.
Top attractions: Miami Ironside, Upper East Side Garden, Morningside Park, Live Jazz and Blues Performance and Legion Park.
Downtown Miami- Best Place to Stay in Miami for First-Time Visitors
Our next recommendation for the top places to stay in Miami has to be the Central Business District. This is the historic center of the City of Miami. It’s affectionately regarded as the heart of Miami because it’s the finance center and the home to many huge hotels, excellent restaurants and high-end stores.
Downtown Miami is the area right next to Biscayne Bay near the bridge connecting the city to Miami Beach. Northeast Sixth Street bounds it to the north and the Miami River to the south and west.
As in most other cities in the world, Downtown Miami is one of the trendiest Miami places to stay for first-time visitors. But it also serves as a jump-off point for regular visitors who want to explore other areas of Miami without a car, thanks to its easy access to public transport. Tourists looking to see more on foot or bike will also appreciate why Miami is among the most walkable large cities in the United States.
Downtown Miami is packed to the brim with attractions, and everyone will have lots of fun things to do regardless of their interests.
HistoryMiami Museum is a must-visit if you want the inside scoop on Miami’s history from the time of the Great Lakes tribes to the Spanish colonization. The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is another major draw if you’re fascinated by contemporary art. When the mercury rises, head to Biscayne Bay or Miami River for a range of interesting water activities.
Despite being the oldest neighborhood in the city, downtown Miami boasts urban activities galore, from dining to shopping.
Top attractions: HistoryMiami Museum, Boat Cruises, Bayside Marketplace, CVI.CHE 105 and Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.
Design District- Best Miami Neighborhood for Art and Design Lovers
As far as the best places to stay in Miami go, the Design District has to be the most popular for people who love and appreciate arts and beautiful things. As the name suggests, the Miami Design District is the melting point for creativity geared toward innovative fashion, design, art and modern architecture.
The Design District neighborhood is two miles north of downtown Miami and covers 18 blocks between 43rd Street and North 36th Street. It’s the area just a few blocks north of Wynwood.
A few years ago, in the early 2000s, the Design District was a fairly rundown neighborhood called Buena Vista. It was not until Craig Robins, a visionary developer and art collector, revitalized the area intending to attract brand-name tenants. Boy, did he do it!
Today, the Design District is synonymous with top brands like Louis Vuitton, Celine, Tory Burch, Dior, Hermes, Balenciaga and Fendi, among others. This sophisticated international destination is also dotted with several Michelin star restaurants, qualifying it as the ultimate go-to neighborhood for fine dining in Miami.
Besides being one of the best places to stay in Miami, Florida, the Design District also packs a myriad of attractions and things to do, from fine art galleries and public art installations to museums and other entertainment-related activities.
The Buena Vista Postal Building is one of the most photographed landmarks in the Design District. De La Cruz collection- a private art museum offering free admission- is another major attraction thanks to its treasure trove of personal collection. Don’t forget to check out the Moore Building- a 1921 architecture masterpiece with a jaw-dropping mix of traditional and modern details.
Top attractions: The Moore Building, Buena Vista Postal Building, Buena Vista Chocolate and Wine and Art Tours.
Coral Gables- Best Place to Stay in Miami for Families
Considered one of the safest suburbs in The Sunshine State, Coral Gables (or The Gables) is the best area to stay in Miami with children. This city is located around 3.5 miles south of Miami International Airport. Downtown Miami is roughly a 12-minute drive away, while Little Havana is just four miles by car.
Getting a hotel in Coral Gables means you’ll be a short drive away from Miami’s trendiest neighborhoods and attractions. This city doesn’t offer a dusk-to-dawn party experience. But this is part of the reason it’s so popular with families.
Dubbed “The City Beautiful,” Coral Gables is the brainchild of George Merrick- a real estate planner and developer who had a distinct vision of a nicely planned community. Merrick named the city after his boyhood house, which was made of coral rock and had a gabled roof. Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the George Merrick House at 907 Coral Way in The Gables is open to visitors.
This enchanting city has lots of attractions for families and solo travelers within walking distance. Start with a free ride through the city on the Coral Gables trolley. In the heart of the city, explore the Coral Gables museum before admiring the design of the Curtiss Mansion.
The Venetian Pool is a good place to cool off if you’re in the mood for a quick dip. If you feel more adventurous, the Matheson Hammock Park is the perfect spot for enjoying the coastal breeze. Or grab a book and head to the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden for a breath of fresh air with your kids and pooch.
Top attractions: Love Art Museum, Coral Gables Museum, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden and the Venetian Pool.
Coconut Grove- Best Miami Area to Stay for Nature Lovers
One of Miami’s most serene neighborhoods is set right by the crystal clear blue waters of Biscayne Bay, just ten minutes south of downtown. We bet no area in the Magic City competes with Coconut Grove when it comes to green space. Besides being located on shimmering water overlooking the sea, The Grove- as the locals popularly know it- is famous for its tropical vibe.
Banyan trees and palms stretch over highways and residential streets to create breathtaking natural tunnels. Coconut Grooves inviting canopies are the answer to Little Havana’s Cafecito windows and the strands of soft sand that line South Beach and Key Biscayne. A hotel in Coconut Grove tucks you away in privacy while putting you just some minutes away from downtown Miami’s vibrant culture scene and the trendy new bars of the Brickell area.
Coconut Grove is particularly popular with night owls, luxury lovers and tourists looking for a city break escape. Its collection of independently owned boutiques appeals to shoppers, while it’s quiet and stable nature makes it the best area to stay in Miami if you’re traveling as a family. Whether you’re traveling alone, as a couple or family, you’ll be surrounded by fun things to do regardless of where your hotel is located in Coconut Grove.
Start by exploring the wildly extravagant architecture of the Vizcaya Museum and its 16th and 17th-century antiques. Exercise, take a walk or sit down and gaze at the roaming peacocks at Peacock Park or see a movie at the Cinepolis theater. Later, go shopping at Cocowalk- an open-air shopping mall with a lot to offer in terms of shopping, dining and entertainment.
Top attractions: Peacock Park, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Cocowalk Mall, Cinepolis Theater and dining at Panorama Restaurant and Sky Lounge.
Brickell is an up-and-coming neighborhood smack dab between downtown Miami, Biscayne Bay and the leafy and upscale area of Coconut Grove. Brickell is Miami’s fastest-growing neighborhood. It’s often hailed as the Manhattan of the South, Wall Street South and Miami’s Financial District because it’s home to many banks, law firms and real estate companies.
Brickell’s modern facade is boldly reflected in its gleaming office towers and bustling-fast-paced streets. Its collection of chic cafes, restaurants and bars also make it the best part of Miami to stay if you’re looking forward to a more urban lifestyle. Staying in a hotel in this Miami area also means you’ll be steps away from mega shopping complexes.
One of the reasons why tourists choose to stay around Brickell is the amazing transportation system. In addition to the metro mover, which is free by the way, you’ll find rental electric scooters at every corner of the city. Uber is another excellent option if you prefer the convenience of being picked up outside your hotel. The proximity of attractions and interesting things to do in Brickell also make walking around this area easy and fun.
Another reason visitors are choosing to stay in Brickell is its nightlife. The mix of hot new hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs- everything within walking distance from your hotel- creates the feel of New York-style living in Miami.
The best things to do in Brickell include strolling, shopping and eating in its top-notch retail center. Check out La Centrale if you fancy Italian cuisine. Sugar- a lush rooftop bar with a hip and happening vibe- is a nice spot to savor Asian tapas and craft drinks as you enjoy a gorgeous view of the Miami Skyline.
Top attractions: Mary Brickell Village, Simpson Park Hammock, CMX Cinemas, El Tucan Nightclub and Brickell City Center Walk.
Key Biscayne- Nice Place to Stay in Miami for a Village-y Atmosphere
If you fancy the idea of an island lifestyle without being too far from the city center, then a hotel in the Key Biscayne area might suit you. This is one of the coolest places to stay in Miami for beach lovers, beach breakers, peace seekers, families and outdoors folks.
Key Biscayne is the southernmost barrier island along the Miami coast. It lies southeast of downtown Miami and south of Miami Beach. Key Biscayne island is home to a village that goes by the same name. The Village of Key Biscayne occupies the middle section of the island and is bordered by Crandon Park to the north and Bill Baggs State Park to the south.
This tropical paradise allures its visitors with its sandy beaches, blue skies and nature preserves. Key Biscayne is very family-friendly and boasts everything you need for a quiet but memorable vacation. Whether you’re into running, biking, roller-skating, kite-surfing or even walking, this island paradise covers all your needs.
Just after the Rickenbacker causeway- the bridge that connects the island to mainland Miami- is Hobie Island Beach Park. This shallow water beach is the ultimate hub for various water activities, including sailboards, jet skis, Hobie cats and parasails. The two-mile stretch of beach at Crandon Park is another perfect spot to escape the sun or enjoy beach volleyball. If you’re open to an unusual attraction, explore an underwater cemetery at the Neptune Memorial Reef.
Admittedly, the Village of Key Biscayne does not offer a lot in terms of nightlife. But that’s not a big deal considering that downtown Miami is less than a twenty-minute drive away.
Top attractions: Bill Baggs Florida State Park, Crandon Park, Neptune Memorial Reef, Stiltsville, Miami Seaquarium and Rusty Pelican.
Mid Beach- Miami’s Hottest Neighborhood
Mid-Beach is a centrally located section of Miami Beach extending from 23rd to 63rd streets and bordered by Indian Creek and the Atlantic Ocean.
Technically, Mid Beach is a blend of all the eclectic attractions of North and South beach. This diverse neighborhood is the melting point of everything Greater Miami is known for, from irresistibly beautiful beaches to nightclubs, upscale restaurants, glamorous hotels, bars and beach avenues.
Mid Beach has tons of things to do. But unlike its southern beachfront neighbor, most Mid Beach attractions are geared more toward relaxation. That’s to say, Mid Beach is relatively quieter than South Beach. A hotel in this area is also likely to be more spacious, and the beaches are less crowded. Thus Mid-Beach is arguably the best place to stay in Miami Beach, particularly for families and individuals looking for peace and quiet.
A key highlight of Mid Beach is the Faena District, an up-and-coming stretch of beachfront zone running from 32nd to 36th Streets and bordered by Indian Creek Drive and the Atlantic Ocean. The Faena District is a burgeoning cultural destination brimming with architecturally captivating buildings, art, stunning residences and fashion.
Another oasis of calm in Mid Beach is The Bass Museum. Situated in a landmark art deco building in Collins Park, The Bass is a truly exhilarating contemporary art museum with a unique collection of exhibits spanning centuries of art.
Top attractions: Miami Beach Boardwalk, Freehand Miami, Faena District, The Bass Museum and Miami Beach Edition.
South Beach- Best Miami Place to Stay for Good Time
Affectionately known as SoBe, South Beach is a legendary neighborhood in Miami stretching from 23rd street to South Pointe Park in the south. South Beach is the most famous section of Miami Beach and sums up everything the Magic City is known for.
In the 1800s and 1900s, this strip of Miami Beach was predominantly a coconut farm due to its favorable climate. But this would come to change when the Venetian Causeway was completed making South Beach a neighborhood for the rich and famous.
Today SoBe is characterized by gorgeous sandy beaches, stunning art deco architecture and swaying palms. The area has plenty of top-end boutiques, cool, down-to-earth bars, top-end boutiques and miles of cafes and shops. Altogether, these features create one of the most popular places to stay in Miami for the young, the young at heart, party lovers, beach breakers and art and design buffs.
A popular destination in Miami for trendy nightlife and an international appeal, beware that South Beach tends to get overcrowded. It might not fit the bill if you’re looking for a Miami neighborhood with a quiet existence.
While the beach is the biggest draw, South Beach also boasts an array of brand-name stores, boutiques and restaurants along Lincoln Road. Just two minutes south is the charming Espanol Way- a historic thoroughfare between 14th and 15th streets known for its quaint and picturesque buildings inspired by Mediterranean Revival Architecture.
Top attractions: Beach, Espanol Way, Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Mac’s Club Deuce, South Pointe Park and New World Center.
An international coastal city with a pleasant mixture of distinct neighborhoods, choosing where to stay in Miami really comes down to the vibe you’re looking for.
Little Havana, Coconut Grove and South Beach may interest you if you’re visiting for fun and culture. If you’re flying for a romantic date and would appreciate some quiet time, Key Biscayne and Mid/North Beach are incredible options. For Miami city break, you won’t be wrong with downtown Miami, Design District and Brickell.
Is it better to stay in downtown Miami or South Beach?
While both are good places to stay in Miami, most people visiting Miami for its culture, museums and art choose to stay in the downtown area. South Beach is a better place to stay in Miami if you’re after the beaches. Expect to spend more if you stay in South Beach.
Where should I avoid staying in Miami?
Miami is a relatively safe tourist destination. However, several neighborhoods are considered dangerous, particularly at night. FBI statistics suggest avoiding or exercising extra care when visiting the neighborhoods of Overtown, Model City and Liberty City.
Where do people stay when they visit Miami?
Little Havana and the Upper East Side are the best places to stay in Miami, Florida if you want to experience both sides of the Magic City. With their suburban setting and easy access to other areas, these are good neighborhoods to stay in Miami for culture, water activities and urban attractions. Coral Gables and Mid/North Beach are favorites with families because they are quiet and walkable.
Do I need a car in Miami Beach?
You don’t need a car in Miami Beach, especially if you plan to stay on the island exclusively. Even if you plan to explore other neighborhoods, taxis, buses, trolleys and bikes are hassle-free travel options in Miami.
Is Miami Beach safe at night?
Yes- Miami Beach is very safe even at night, thanks to the large crowds of people. However, as with any other crowded spot, beware of pickpockets. Also, stay and walk-in groups and avoid sparsely populated areas when darkness falls.
What is the safest area to stay in Miami?
Coral Gables, Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove are ranked among the best neighborhoods to stay in Miami for safety.
What is the best way to get around in Miami?
While Miami is a walkable city, it’s impossible to see all it has to offer on foot. In that case, renting a car would be the best option if you want to explore all Miami neighborhoods from Little Havana to Coral Gables and Miami Beach. Uber will suffice if you are staying within the city or in Miami Beach and don’t plan to venture farther afield. The Metromover and Trolley are other forms of free transportation in Miami.
Is Little Havana safe for tourists?
Yes. Little Havana is a safe and relatively quiet area with easy access to downtown Miami and Coral Gables. It’s no more dangerous than other touristy neighborhoods. But it’s a city, so petty crime is expected.