Travel Specialist Recommended: Local Favorites of Miami

So you’ve just booked your trip to Miami – you’ve done some Googling, you’ve asked your friends and family, you’ve read some guide books, and you’ve gone on Instagram. All are telling  you about several exciting and interesting spots to visit in the city, but you start to notice the names repeating, so you begin to suspect they might be the usual tourist traps, busy and filled with visitors. If this makes you nervous because you want to enjoy a truly authentic and local experience, don’t fear. To help you eat, drink, shop, tan and party like a local, we’ve put together this list of places to explore in Miami that will take you beyond just the top three spots on your internet search history, to some delightful hidden gems.


With over 20 miles of coastline and sunshine all year around, Miami is home to some of the most pristine and idyllic beaches in the country. The great thing about this is that you have more than enough beach to choose from, as well as plenty left to discover. Now, any guide book or tourist site will send you off to chase the vibrance and excitement of some of Miami’s busier beaches which are responsible for attracting many visitors to the city.  These include the legendary South Beach which is renowned as the “party beach” for its music, nightlife, and celebrity crowd, as well as the equally popular Miami Beach filled with cafes, restaurants, and bars. While these are undoubtedly great places to hang out, drink, and party they are certainly tourist hotspots. Instead, locals would point you towards some of the quieter, secluded, and lesser known beaches which are equally beautiful and relaxing places to soak in the sun. For instance, for a peaceful beach afternoon, Miamians head to less commercial beaches like North Shore Beach, Surfside, Sunny Isles Beach, or Hobie Island Beach Park where there is more room to lay out and tan without unruly noise and crowds. 


In Miami, dining like a local involves a mix of both seafood and spice. That is to say that the two things most central to the food scene are Miamians love for the freshly caught seafood from local waters, as well as the unique flavors and aromas that emanate from the city’s rich cultural diversity and immigrant heritage. To enjoy the former, head to Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbor, a nautically-inspired eatery serving some of Florida’s own fish and seafood dishes along with Key-West inspired drinks. If you’re in a pinch for what to order, you can never go wrong with their fresh and spicy Buffalo fish wings, or the sea to table catch of the day. Another laid back seafood favorite is at Garcia’s Seafood Grille and Fish Market, which serves iconic seafood plates using the day’s catch, and also doubles as a fish market where you can purchase fresh fish, oysters, ceviche, claws and more. In fact, at Garcia’s location along the Miami River, you’ll discover another local favorite in Miami, The Wharf. This outdoor event space hosts lots of exciting culinary events, with an evolving selection of food and drink stalls, and a vibrant and lively waterfront atmosphere. 

To enjoy the spice and sizzle of Miami’s food, start by savoring some Cuban flavors  in Little Havana, the heart of Miami’s Cuban community. Here try some of the truly authentic Cuban specialties at El Exquisito, from Cuban sandwiches, stew, roast pork, and much more. For some much-needed refreshment in the hot sun, try some delicious freshly made coconut or sugar cane juice at Los Pinarenos Fruteria. And for a little something sweet, grab some pastelitos at any Cuban cafe in the area – these are traditional Cuban pastry which come in fruity and rich flavors like guava, coconut and nutella.

But besides Cuban, Miami has plenty of other local favorite restaurants that will transport you across Latin and South America. Freddo makes authentic Argentinian helados, a frozen dessert, including in the extremely popular dulce de leche flavor. For outstanding Peruvian options, head to Pisco Y Nazca in Doral, which plates up tangy and tasty ceviche, as well as regional specialities. And for some unbeatable Mexican food, try Cantina La Veinte, Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant, or Taquerias El Mexicano, all of which offer traditional Mexican favorites like tacos, tortas, burritos, flautas, enchiladas and more.


Miami is an extremely fashionable city, whether it’s casually stylish daytime apparel, seductive beachwear, or daring night out looks, locals take their style very seriously. So it’s no surprise that in order to keep the city looking so good, there are plenty of great shopping venues in Miami. Miamians love luxury and love a brand name, and there are plenty of popular spots to pick out some expensive pieces. 

The Miami Design District is the perfect place to start and is the ultimate shopping destination for all things luxury and designer. The 18 block Design District is filled with over 80 upscale boutiques and flagship luxury stores. All the classiest designers have stores here – Chanel, Fendi, Ralph Lauren, you name it, they have it. The Design District also houses an expansive three story, 13,000 square foot Hermes store, one of just three in the US. For designer jewelry, the most loved brands like Tiffany & Co, Cartier, Bulgari are all there. 

Lincoln Road is another very popular shopping spot in Miami, loved equally for its plentiful retail options, as well as its lively atmosphere. Lincoln Road is a great option for those who want fashionable and on-trend pieces at a more affordable price point, with over 200 stores including options which offer stylish pieces at mid-range prices. And along Lincoln Road you’ll find no shortage of restaurants, bars, coffeeshops, and happy hours to keep you fueled and fed on your shopping trip. To top it off, at the Lincoln Road Beachwalk you can enjoy gorgeous views of the coast, or simply grab your bags and bikini and lay out in the sun at the end of the day. 

For some of Miami’s more edgy and street-style looks, everyday retailers just won’t cut it. Instead trendy and wide-eyed Miamians head to some of the city’s most popular thrift stores to sift out some of the most unique and stylish pieces that not everyone can get their hands on. Locals head to thrift shops like Dragonfly Thrift Boutique in Calle Ocho, Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique, or Swish Boutique to snatch some incredible deals. With a little patience, you are bound to find hidden treasures, from eclectic and daring Miami night looks to elegant classics for a fraction of the retail price. 

Going out

From movies, to reality shows, to social media, there’s no way to avoid the talk of Miami’s characteristic and legendary nightlife. Miami truly comes alive when the sun sets and the music starts, and there are plenty of venues catering to all kinds of party-goers. Any tourist who has done a little research will know of the most popular and exclusive clubs in the city. These include 

Iconic EDM and hip hop venues like Club Space, E11even, Story, or Basement which are well-known as places to party until dawn. While these locations guarantee good music and an elite crowd, they can be notoriously hard to get into and expensive. Because of that, locals also like to frequent some more affordable but still lively dive bars, like Ted’s Hideaway, Las Rosas, or Don’s 5 Star Dive Bar. While these may not be as bougie as some of the big name clubs, they offer great, strong, and cheap drinks, and are a much better place to hang out, chat, and drink with a local crowd. While the fancy clubs are entertaining, nothing beats the friendly,  neighborhood vibe of these lowkey bars. 

What’s more, if you’re in Miami to dance the night away to some more local tunes, there’s no substitute for the Latin flavor in Little Havana, Wynwood or Allapattah, where the clubs and bars play hot and sizzling Caribbean and South American tunes. Some great locations to enjoy these tunes include the Don Diablo Speakeasy at El Santo, El Patio in Wynwood, Club Tipico Dominicano, or Hoy Como Ayer for its live music.

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