White beaches, a Caribbean feel and a colourful and diverse culture – you’ll find all of that in Miami. Let yourself be carried away by the sunny American vibe and discover the Keys or maybe the Everglades with a rental car.
Time and time again I find unbelievably cheap offers for Miami, which I’m sure you’ve already thought about pouncing on and booking. For around £400, you can get return flights from the UK to Miami and also a rental car. Therefore, a week or even 10 days in Florida is unbeatably cheap, even when you take into account booking a hotel or an Airbnb. Nevertheless, maybe you’re still not sure as you don’t know what to expect on a holiday to Miami? Well, not anymore!
Take a look at my complete guide to Miami and Florida complete with all the tips you’ll need for your holiday. So the next time I find such an offer, you will already know what adventures are waiting for you and what you definitely can’t miss out on.
Picking up the rental car from the airport – things to note
The best thing about fly & drive offers is that you can pick up the rental car directly from the airport. To do this, all you have to do is go to the desk of the company you rented the car from. The staff will then quickly explain all the important rental terms and toll regulations in Florida. Depending on how much of the Sunshine State you want to see, it might be worth booking a kind of toll flat rate. For a few dollars a day you can then use all the roads, highways and bridges without receiving a fat bill from the rental car company at the end.
There’s no time for cutting costs. A sat nav is practically a must – this will save you a lot of stress and unnecessary driving. In the mornings you can use the hotel wifi to find all the important information about your next destination and simply put it into the sat nav. Then you can set off on your big trip!
Miami Beach – striking and simply laid back
Miami is a megacity. That’s why it’s not so easy when it comes to deciding where’s best to stay. The fact is, the Miami Beach district is the best place for those who want to stay right by kilometre long, dreamy beaches. Unfortunately, hotel prices are extremely high here. And it’s no wonder as Ocean Driveis the most famous and coolest boulevard in the whole of Florida. Art déco facades, chic bars and restaurants, and the famous vintage American cars line Ocean Drive. There’s nothing better on holiday than strolling along the beachfront and watching the street artists entertain the tourists. The sound of Cuban rhythms, dance music, sometimes Jazz or simply just good old fashioned American country songs rings from every bar on the promenade.
It’s always full here and parking spaces are rare, especially on days when the sun shines all day long. Nevertheless, it’s worth doing a lap of honour in a rented Mustang convertible just for the atmosphere. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find a parking space in the first row. Then you’ve quickly got to get a parking ticket – make sure you remember the numbers and letters of your number plate as you have to give them when you get a ticket. You can pay by credit card or with quarters. You should collect these whenever possible so you can avoid awkward situations.
One or two blocks from the beach, there are some secure car parks that you’ll most likely be able to use if there isn’t any space for your rental car on Ocean Drive. The car will be in good hands here.
If the hustle and bustle of Ocean Drive gets too much, then simply head off to the unbelievable beach. The dreamy, white sandy beach stretches kilometres long from the North, with it’s luxury hotels like the Fountainbleau Miami Beachand The Setai, right down to the southern tip. With a bit of luck, you won’t be too far from a place where you can watch the dolphins that swim in the waters of Miami and the Florida Keys. Miami Beach is a place for posers, beautiful people and sexy beach bodies. Beautiful women, beautiful men – there’s something for everybody here. At Miami Beach you can simply relax, laze around in the warm water and enjoy life to the full. :)
Miami – a megacity with many great neighbourhoods
Those who want to discover Miami in a relaxed way should ditch the car. The traffic in the city is really stressful and as a driver you actually don’t get to see much of the surroundings. Therefore, here is my best tip: Take the Big Bus Miami and discover Little Havana, the art district of Wynwood or maybe Miami Beach with a personal guide, who will definitely show you where Al Capone used to live. There are three routes which will take you around all the important parts of Miami. New, interesting highlights are waiting for you everywhere and you definitely won’t forget these in a hurry. The price for a day ticket is perfectly reasonable – you can get on and off at many of the bus stops along the route and have a proper look around a particular part of the city. After that, simply hop back on and make yourself comfortable on the top deck. However, be careful as the palm trees sometimes protrude into the road and then you have to quickly duck.
Discovering Florida with a rental car: These places are a must
It’s really not easy to decide which places you should visit on your road trip through Florida. Here is a small list of places that are worth exploring.
Naples – Florida at it’s finest
Florida is just sensational. Even if you’ve only got a week there you should grab a rental car and drive through the Everglades to Naples, for example. This city is Florida at it’s best. There’s a boulevard where the well off spend their day looking for a new Rolex or maybe drinking a soy latte from Starbucks. From here, you go through a pretty park to the tennis courts where the little ones train for their next tournament. If you’re interested in seeing the latest Tesla model – you’re almost guaranteed to see it here.
Go past beautiful, typically American villas and you’ll reach the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe one of the many street markets will be taking place on the day you visit. You can buy avocados, grapefruits or star fruits for just a few cent there. They couldn’t be any more fresh. You should definitely take a detour to Naples Botanical Garden. Here, there is a pretty tree house and the most beautiful flowers, as I’m sure you can imagine.
The Everglades – Mangroves and alligators
If you’ve chosen the fly & drive option in Miami then you should definitely head to the Everglades and take a tour on an airboat. With a guide, you can go off into the impenetrable jungle of the mangroves – past raccoons, aquatic birds and alligators. So I wouldn’t leave your hand in the water. ;) I would particularly recommend the tours of Everglades City as you’ll find yourself in the middle of a National Park surrounded by miles of untouched nature. You definitely shouldn’t venture off into the forests on your own as the natural water ways are extensive and don’t always lead to where you want to go. You’re better off trusting a guide who will race with you through the wilderness on an airboat. Pure action!
Orlando – Universal Studios and Walt Disney World
Just above Miami, in Orlando, you’ll find one of the best amusement parks in the world that is definitely worth a visit, the Universal Resort. And that’s not all, you’ll also find the Walt Disney World Resorthere. Both theme parks are incredibly big and entry to them is quite expensive. Nevertheless, both resorts are definitely worth visiting. How does two days in Disney World followed by a few days in the Universal Resort sound? Experience the magical world of Harry Potter, the amazing roller coasters and the fantastic shows in both resorts. You will never be bored here.
Florida Keys – A piece of the Caribbean in Miami
If you still have time, you could take a trip to Florida Keys and swim with the fat, wrinkly manatees that are found in the shallow waters all over Miami. Don’t be frightened if these peaceful animals come near you as they are harmless and only eat seaweed. It’s about three and a half hours to Key West from Miami and the route goes past many beautiful islands and through a landscape that couldn’t be more similar to the Caribbean. Key West is the most southern point of America and has it’s own unique charm. Here you’ll find a mix of the Cuban zest for life and American sincerity. Everyone will immediately feel welcome here.
Fort Myers Beach – Pure relaxation and pure nature
If you value some peace and relaxation on well-kept, endless beaches, then you should firmly mark Fort Myers on your map! Go about two and a half hours out of Miami with your rental car and you’ll reach Fort Myers. You’re best off staying in one of the many motels right on the beach where you can enjoy the sunset as you sit there with a cocktail in hand and your feet in the fine sand! In addition to sunbathing on the extensive beach, there are many trips to interesting sights and museums. These include the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, one of the most visited open air museums in the USA, going on a boat tour to look at manatees and dolphins, or leisurely collecting shells on Sanibel Island which is about 40 minutes away. In the evenings, you can’t miss out on trying the incredibly delicious seafood that Fort Myers Beach has to offer. Nowhere else do shrimp, fish and mussels taste better!
So, you can see that these are just a few options you have when you book a fly & drive deal for Miami – simply set off and discover the world with a rental car. The Sunshine State has a few things to offer that you just have to discover. An automatic car is perfect for those inexperienced drivers and the roads are so well built that you can actually reach the furthest corners of Florida. Let yourself be moved by the good humour of the Americans and enjoy a perfect holiday in Miami and Florida.