Besides visiting Disney in Orlando, there are so many amazing things to do in Florida that it can be overwhelming to know where to start. As with other USA city breaks I’ve experienced, you can enjoy the perfect welcome to Miami tour with Gray Line! Ideal for a first-time visit to Miami, explore the best of Miami attractions in the comfort of a guided minibus. Read my review of Gray Line Sightseeing Miami City Tour.
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Miami is a multicultural hub, with an electric atmosphere and a ton of things to do for those visiting Miami for the first time, whether you are looking to enjoy day trips to Bimini, a Key West day trip or even a Florida Keys road trip.
Though, with over 7.2 million visitors in 2018 due to the increase in cruise ships and a lot of ground to cover, the best way to find your feet is by taking a mini Welcome to Miami Tour with Gray Line Miami (cue Will Smith…)
Welcome to Miami Tour for first timers!
A city break can often leave you short on time and overwhelmed with things to do. It’s something I have experienced first hand. Though, as I found when I visited New York, an introductory tour with Gray Line can really help you pinpoint the things you want to see and do, which I also found super helpful during my trip to Miami.
The guides are experts at what they do and have a wealth of knowledge to share about the city, the neighbourhoods and the residents. Our tour guide Ariel was no exception and spoke to our morning Miami City Tour group about 5 key areas in Miami.
The tours are hosted in style in an air-conditioned minibus with leather seats and, picks you up directly from your hotel or from a nearby accessible street. As Spanish is the first language spoken in Miami, the tours are provided in both Spanish and English.
Miami Districts Explored – The Best of Miami Attractions
Ocean Drive in South Beach
No trip to Miami is complete without a visit to Miami’s most iconic street, Ocean Drive.
Ocean Drive, located in South Beach is the second largest area for Art Deco architecture; an influential architecture design trend from the 1920’s.
A Mecca of Art Deco buildings from yesteryear, painted in the characteristic pastel colours; expect to see some equally eye-catching cars along the strip. In fact, there are so many cars on Ocean Drive, it was at this point I thought “I’m glad I’m on a tour with Gray Line Miami”, rather than driving myself!
The Versace mansion is also located on Ocean Drive and you can see the steps where Gianni Versace was gunned down after his morning coffee. But don’t let that put you off, the Versace Mansion is also a popular place to dine.
The other side of the road is where you will find the palm trees lining the beach with park areas where you can expect to see locals rollerblading, skateboarding and practicing their morning yoga.
Ocean Drive comes alive at night and you can expect bedazzling neon lights, loud music and cocktails galore. Brace yourself for party goers wearing very skimpy clothing indeed!
Away from the hustle and bustle of Ocean Drive, Coconut Grove has a leafy suburban feel to it. This area has several marinas, public parks and we saw a number of residents jogging along the sidewalks as we passed through. David T Kennedy Park is one of the most popular; it’s an area where people can bbq, play sports and watch the sunset by the bay.
It’s such a cool place to be and is often compared to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco (an area I loved when I visited.)
Coconut Grove suffered considerable damage to the trees following Hurricane Irma and the city is still in a period of rebuild, with the latest development a new mall currently being built.
The biggest attraction for tourists, other than admiring the beautiful condos, is to visit the Vizcaya Museum.
The Vizcaya Museum is a picturesque Italian Renaissance-style villa, brimming with Mediterranean charm, pretty gardens and intriguing mazes.
Leafy and low key, a visit to Coconut Grove is a fabulous way to unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Don’t be surprised if you peruse a few peacocks in Coconut Grove, they love the peace and tranquility too!
The name oozes sophistication and reminds me of 50s film stars. Though, this area was formally known for it’s citrus fruits and avocados when it became an area for a Mediterranean revival.
The Mediterranean influences came to Coral Gables when the priest’s son George Garrick went travelling and fell in love with the Med’s architectural style and brought the style back to Coral Gables.
All the street names were given Italian, French and Spanish names and, only French and Spanish tiles could be used on the roofs.
To this day, the grass has to be cut to particular measurements and the trees cannot be cut down without permission to preserve the upkeep of the area.
An iconic neighbourhood, Coral Gables is home to the famous Biltmore Hotel. During its heyday, The Biltmore Hotel once held the record for the largest swimming pool in the United States. The opening party in 1925 lasted for an entire month, with dancing, singing and aquatic ballet, culminating in a finale with a boy jumping from a trampoline 88ft high into the pool.
It’s a beautiful hotel and well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Another place I wish I had chance to explore in more detail is the Venetian Pool, complete with a stunning waterfall. The pool is set to close in winter for restoration and open as a children’s swimming club. If you are hoping to visit before then, be sure to visit on opening if you want to spend some time here as tickets come on a first come basis and tickets to the Venetian Pool are limited each day.
Step into your own fairytale and find the perfect wedding dress walking the Miracle Mile; a mile long street of bridal shops in which people travel from across America to visit.
Miami has a certain something about it that sets it apart from other places I’ve visited in America. The Cuban and Latino influences gives the city a spark and you will find the heart of Cuban culture in Little Havana.
Between 1959 -1961 around £90,000 Cuban families arrived in Miami, which was one of the largest Cuban communities until the 1980s. Whilst only 30% of Cubans remain in this area today, they brought a love of good music and food to the city of Miami.
One of the most authentic things to do in Little Havana is to watch the old guys play dominoes in Domino Park.
Our tour stopped in Little Havana for a bite to eat at La Esquina de la Fama Restaurant to enjoy a number of Cuban specialities, including mojitos and a must-try Cuban sandwich!
The origins of the Cuban sandwich comes from the Cubans in Miami (according to our tour guide Ariel). However, cities Tampa, Key West & Miami all dispute the area of the origin. The sandwich includes pork ham, Swiss cheese,
Intrigued about other Gray Line Tours? Why not:
The Wynwood Walls street art district was without a doubt an area I was most looking forward to exploring during my holiday in Miami. Our tour passed through Wynwood but unfortunately did not stop there, so I only managed to capture these photos from the tour.
However, this does mean I can tell you all about it and share my favourite pictures in an upcoming post!
Gray Line Sightseeing Welcome to Miami Tour – Overall Thoughts
Miami is such a vivid, eclectic melting pot with so much to see! Whilst this is not a hop-on-hop-off Miami tour, the Gray Line Miami city tour offers the perfect welcome to Miami tour to discover all the tourist attractions in Miami you would like to explore in more detail. An ideal starting point for your Miami itinerary, the Gray Line Miami city tour helps you discover what to do in Miami for a day, suss out the best of Miami attractions and plan getaways from Miami for day trips to places such as Key West and Bimini.
The majority of tourists on-board the mini-tour were enjoying a combined Miami city tour and boat cruise, therefore were escorted to their afternoon trips to The Everglades National Park and other Miami tourist attractions with Gray Line.
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I hope you finished reading this post singing “I’m going to Miami…”