6/30/17 – South Beach Miami, FL, U.S.

To kick off July and celebrate Independence Day, I made my way down to South Beach Miami with a college friend for an extra long weekend of beaching and parties.

I knew I’d have a good time, but I really didn’t expect to love Miami as much as I did!

Initially, we were planning on going to New Orleans, but hotels and flights kept increasing in price so we started browsing Skyscanner for some cheaper alternatives and stumbled upon Miami. Neither of us had been before but it was on both of our travel lists, so it was a no-brainer to book it!

We flew out of NYC on Friday afternoon and arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 5:30. Flying into that airport was much less expensive than flying into Miami, and splitting the ride from the airport to our hostel was quite cheap and only about 40 minutes.

The hostel we stayed in – Miami Beach International Hostel – was perfectly located and great for everything we were looking for – meeting new people, walking to the beach, and fun activities.

That evening the hostel gave us a great recommendation for some authentic Cuban food at a diner nearby called Puerto Sagua Restaurant. If you visit South Beach, you have to go here! So inexpensive and tasty.

After dinner we signed up to go out with a group from the hostel. Miami Beach International Hostel was great because each night they hosted a two-hour happy hour, free party bus transportation, and admission into a different club all for just a small extra fee (this evening was just $20).

We first visited Ora nightclub, which I wouldn’t really recommend as a place to stay all night. This is definitely a personal preference, but the music and dancing weren’t all that fun, so we headed over to Mango’s Tropical Cafe, which was an absolute blast! It’s a Latin club with live music and dancers, but they also have other dance floors with R&B and Rap music, so there’s a little something for everyone!

Each day we usually had the same schedule – brunch then beach all day. I definitely cannot complain about that!

There are tons of restaurants along Ocean Drive, and they all basically have the same menu, plus or minus a few options. If you find those with 2 for 1 drink specials, those are a good option (and I highly recommend the mojitos!).

Mojitos in Miami

The beaches in Miami are awesome! Super clean and warm water, and even though there are a lot of people throughout the day, it’s easy to find a space to hang out and tan. No glass is allowed on the beach, so bring drinks with you in cans.

The next evening, we again attended an event with our hostel and Migos was performing, so the tickets were $40 that evening, but drinks, transportation, and entry were still all included. Migos was performing at Story, which was my favorite club we went to. It’s much larger than Ora, and there’s tons of room to dance, get a table, or just hang out with your friends.

On Sunday, we went to brunch at Nikki Beach. It’s definitely more expensive than other brunch options, but the food (endless buffet) is amazing and you have perfect views of dancers, live music, and the beach. It’s great for anything from a casual and relaxing brunch, to a fun, bottomless champagne, cabana experience.

We ended up going to Nikki Beach again that evening where they have the outdoor cabana area open in addition to the adjacent club, Pearl Lounge.

Again, the next day we spent the day at the beach and that evening we gave Ora another chance. They were hosting Future so we were very excited, but again, leading up to Future the music was not very good, and they packed so many people into the club for the performance that there was really no area to move around, and their staff was pretty aggressive. We ended up leaving even before Future arrived because it just became unenjoyable.

Unfortunately, the trip came to an end after tons of fun and memories, but we left with a a Fourth of July brunch on Ocean Drive. Palace Bar has a good brunch deal, plus a super fun Drag show!

I was completely exhausted (and a bit sunburnt) after this trip, but Miami was an absolute blast and great experience!

If you’re planning on visiting, here’s some of my tips:

  • Do not take taxis! They are way more expensive than Lyft or Uber and usually take longer routes.
  • No need to splurge on a resort! Hostels are ideally located and so inexpensive. Our hostel even included meals, so it’s a good option to be cost-effective.
  • Canopies at the beach are only $20 to rent until 5 p.m. whereas chairs and an umbrella are $60+, so it’s definitely more cost effective, and fun, to go with a cabana canopy!
  • If you’re going out to night clubs or bars at night, drink beforehand and watch how many drinks you buy out. They are usually around $15 – $20 each so your bill can add up quickly. Bottles can even be more cost effective in some cases.
  • Nikki Beach brunch is a must! It’s a little pricey but the food and scenery is amazing. Plus there’s beach access right from the cabana seating area. Make a reservation before you go!
  • I would not recommend Ora, but if you do plan on going, get a table. Especially if they are hosting a performer, it gets way too crowded to even move so having a private area is the only way to go.
  • If you want some amazing, authentic Cuban food, head to Puerto Sagua Restaurant! The Pollo Asado special is the best!
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