. 5 reasons you shouldn't spend all your time on South Beach : Budget Travel Adventures

5 reasons you shouldn’t spend all your time on South Beach

South Beach MiamiWhite sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters, and some of the most beautiful people in the world.  South Beach is the reason people from all over the world come to Miami.

On a gorgeous October Sunday afternoon, the blue sky and radiant sunshine spread across Miami as people wore smiles and golden brown skin as they headed to the beach.  This was a perfect day to spend on South Beach.

Soft, white sand sifts through your toes.  Lifeguard stands and bikini bodies grace the umbrella and beach chair lined stretch of paradise.  Going for a walk on South Beach isn’t even exercise.  It’s beauty, art, and stimulation for the eyes.

However, you can’t spend all your time on South Beach.  And here are a few reasons why.

5 places to explore in Miami other than South Beach

I am not a big fan of the beach.  Maybe it’s my fair skin, disdain for sand in inconvenient places, or growing up in a touristy destination like Myrtle Beach.  So when I visit paradise beach destinations, I find other things to do.

Quite honestly, I like finding other stuff – like that time I shared 8 things to do in Kauai when you’re not hanging out on the beach.

I like connecting with a place.  I enjoy telling stories.  I found 7 places in Europe that tell a story.  One of my favorite countries is Slovenia.

So if you need someone who will help you find places away from sun, sand, and beautiful beaches, I’m your man.

Presenting exhibit #1

University of Miami Hurricanes tailgating

Ever seen a wild party like this at a football game?  So this is some of the crazy stuff that I get to do on my College Football Travel Tour – meeting Irish people, hanging out with a 60 foot cowboy called Big Tex (who recently burned to the ground), and shirtless tailgates with drunk college kids under palm trees at a football game.

So if you want to see a different side of Miami away from the beaches, food, and partying on South Beach, here are a few places to explore.

1.  Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Located a few miles south of South Beach in Coconut Grove, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens takes you back in time to a different era in Florida history.  The former estate of American Industrialist James Deering introduces you to an elegant, tropical home with treasures from around the world.  This stately house features decorated rooms and elaborate gardens with views of the water you won’t see anywhere else.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Miami Florida

2.  Dinner with a view

Without a doubt, Miami is an international food destination.  In my Miami travel guide for Expedia, I recommend a number of places to eat on your visit.  However, you don’t need to dine in South Beach for a great meal.

Actually, I recommend getting away from the beach and find good food with jaw dropping views.  At the Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne, small plate dishes, drinks, and dessert are moderately priced but delicious.  However, many people come here for the views.  So enjoy your croquetas and cheesecake while you feast on the Miami skyline.

Miami skyline night

3.  Watching the sunset over Miami

 Sure, you can get a great view of the sun setting on South Beach.  However, head south to the Rickenbacker Causeway to get your own quiet piece of paradise on Key Biscayne.  Hobie Beach and Virginia Key Beach offer views of downtown Miami and a sunset over the water located just off the highway.

A couple embraced and held each other while watching the sunset here.  I enjoyed my own piece of white sand paradise as the sun set over the water.  I listened to music as the sun, clouds, and sky put on a show of spectacular color.  This was the most peaceful moment of my entire week.

Miami sunset Key Biscayne

4.  Let the lighthouse be your guide

At the southern tip of Key Biscayne is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.  Along the windswept shores and sand dunes lies the Cape Florida lighthouse.  This lighthouse has been here since the early 1800s and now serves as a beacon of history on the Florida coast.  This beach has been featured as one of the top 10 beaches in the country.

However, this beach is more than just a popular destination for beachgoers.  Walk or bike along the paths.  Daydream from the short piers as you lose yourself in the surf and scenery.  While locals love this park, this can be a great place to get away and enjoy being outside.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida lighthouse beach

5.  Sit under the palm trees

While palm trees may be a symbol of Miami, one beach gives you all the palm trees you could ever want.  Crandon Park is home to beaches filled with palm trees scattered throughout the sandy beaches.  This place is a favorite among locals with picnic areas and kite boarding.

While you can enjoy a day at the beach, you can also get some exercise, connect with locals, or enjoy a picnic.  While this stretch of sand is just a few miles away from South Beach, the palm trees welcome to you an island oasis.

Crandon Park beach

There’s more to Miami than South Beach

Without a doubt, South Beach is a must see stop on your visit to Miami.  If you get tired of the powdery white sand and pristine waters, rent a bike to people watch, enjoy muscular men working out, shop and dine on Ocean Drive or Collins Avenue, or play a game of volleyball.

However, Miami is more than just South Beach.  Experience a different side of the city without straying too far from the shoreline.  If you love views of the water, enjoy it somewhere other than South Beach with your own escape in Miami.

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Filed Under: College Football Travel TourDestinationsUniversity of MiamiUSA


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  1. Adventureswithben says:

    Sooooo, I have to disagree a bit with you here. I love Miami for its beaches! In fact, that’s really the only reason why I go! I’ve found the rest of Miami to be just okay. Miami is like Vegas, spend more than 3 days and it becomes too much. But the hotels and clubs along the beach are the best.

    But… Budget options are few and far between. However, Big Pink is a great diner for really cheap prices and yummy food. It took me 3 years to find it! It’s located at the start of Ocean Drive.

    Also, the Everglades aren’t too far from Miami and are worth checking out. That’s my only non-beach diversion I could offer.

    Glad to see you’re covering some ground on your trip!

    • Thanks for the comment and suggestions Ben. Please note that I didn’t say you shouldn’t explore South Beach. You definitely should – reminded me a lot of the beaches in southern California (with warmer water and nicer sand). I did explore a little of the night life as well so there is plenty to offer.

      However, many people may spend a week or so there. Like you said, after 3 days people may get tired of it or want to do something else. I did recommend other beaches like Crandon, Hobie, Virginia, and Bill Baggs if people want something a little quieter. So note that I am not saying people should do stuff that has nothing to do with a beach. I just recommended different beaches along with a couple of other activities.

      I think Miami is much more than just South Beach and if people only do that then they miss out on other aspects of the city. There is a lot of culture there as well as other beautiful beaches. I just wanted to recommend other places if people want to look beyond South Beach.

      I do agree with you about the food – I found it to be a little expensive with not a lot of budget options.

  2. Awesome suggestions, Miami is such a great city!

  3. Great tips, Jeremy. I visited the Vizcaya Gardens last year and really enjoyed myself. I’m actually driving to Miami on Sunday so am looking forward to relaxing under a palm tree when I finally get there!

  4. I am going to chime in on this one since I lived on South Beach for two years and in S. Florida for a lot longer than that. I would say there is a lot more to S. Beach than just the beach.

    Lincoln Road was one of my favorite places to spend time on S. Beach. It is a great place to have a relaxing meal and the people watching can not be beat. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries, a movie theater, performing arts center and much more in that area. I also loved walking around the island and exploring all the interesting Art Deco architecture.

    The beach and especially Ocean Drive can be very touristy and expensive. I would recommend that anyone visiting the area spend time exploring the other areas of S. Beach.

    • Thanks Jeff. For a lot of people, South Beach probably is Ocean Drive and beaches. It’s definitely the appeal of many people who visit. I checked out a couple of museums when I was there but didn’t get to the Art Deco area. Thanks for the tip on Lincoln Road. S Beach has a lot of award winning restaurants in the area but lots of international cuisine with its location. I didn’t explore the food and dining area too much though. However, I saw enough of the area that I know it’s more than beaches. I only spent one day at South Beach itself.

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