Miami vs. Miami Beach

With overtly similar names, they could be mistaken for twin cities. But not quite. Miami and Miami Beach are like two sides to the same coin that is the greater Miami Metropolitan Area. Both cities have the best holiday draws you could ever look for in a coastal resort city.
Miami vs. Miami Beach

Table of Contents

Despite their geographical and political separation, Miami and Miami Beach are closely intertwined. You can’t complete your Miami experience if you can’t taste the best of what they have to offer. With their close association, it is easy to mistake both for one and the same thing.


One of the US’ biggest vacation powerhouses, Miami is everything you could ever imagine. It has beaches, resorts, cosmopolitan charms, history, and diverse cultures. You could never run out of things to do, and reasons to stay longer.

Thanks to its loud fame and dynamic features Miami has remained at the top of the lists. If you’re visiting the US, you can expect to have Miami as one of the most recommended places to hit. With a dynamic unlike any other in the world, Miami will always remain one of the hottest US destinations.

What Makes Miami Unique?

Quirky Areas

Miami is one of those towns that can be everything to everyone, from run-down taquerias to sophisticated nightclubs. With such a rich cultural landscape, deciding on the top Miami neighborhoods is nearly impossible.

Whether you’re visiting with friends or family, traveling alone, or looking for a place to reside, Miami has something for everyone. To help you better navigate which areas you could conquer, here are some of the most iconic ones:

Historic Overtown

Historic Overtown, located northwest of Downtown Miami, is a legendary neighborhood. It’s a Black-owned area with a rich history and culture, as well as several tasty restaurants. It has grown and developed culturally to the point where it is now a little black cultural enclave. During its resurgence, it even became the entertainment capital of Miami.

The food in Historic Overtown also gives you a flavor of Miami’s Black past. Collard greens, fried catfish, biscuits, and other soul-food mainstays can all be found on wide menus.

Downtown Miami

The panorama of shining skyscrapers across Biscayne Bay captures all the focus in Miami’s urban hub. Downtown Miami and the surrounding Brickell district is a central hub in itself. The area is diverse, energetic, and highly inhabited. You can find international banking, food, arts, and entertainment that no visitor should miss.

Because of its compact size, Downtown Miami is easy to navigate. Explore the region on Citibikes or the Metromover, an air-conditioned elevated rail. You can visit Brickell in addition to Downtown Miami. It’s another section of Miami that’s both modern and cultural.

Little Havana

Part of what makes Miami such a vibrant cultural destination is the heart of the Cuban diaspora. Calle Ocho is the neighborhood’s main road, which is dotted with Latin-inspired spots. You can find restaurants, bakeries, fruit markets, cigar shops, rum bars, art galleries, and music venues.

Food is one of the best ways to learn about Cuban culture. From the strong, sweet Cuban coffee to the delicious Cuban sandwich, you’ll want to try it all. These restaurants feature a relaxed, friendly vibe.

The Nightlife Scene

You can only get the full fabled experience when you try out its nightlife scene, even just for a night. Famous for its evening debaucheries, Miami’s nightlife is one of the most famous things about it. It is perhaps one of its most defining draws.

To get a taste of the epic nightlife in Miami, head to areas such as Calle Ocho, Downtown Miami, and Coconut Grove. You can easily find the best bars, lounges, and dance clubs that can give you that legendary nightlife experience. Expect Miami to be an even hotter place at night.

Miami is also home to UMF, or Ultra Music Festival, one of the biggest musical events in the world. It’s usually held every March each year and has been going for 20 years. Many people who come to Miami usually include the festival in their itinerary, especially the millennials.

Gastronomic Proportions

One of its famous draws, Miami’s culinary scene is top-notch. Home to a myriad of cultures that came from all over the world, you can expect to find extensive and diverse menus. Whether you have a palate for Asian, Latin American, or even European flavors, you can easily find them around Miami.

With its diversity comes a great abundance of restaurants, and you’re greatest culinary challenge will be to find the best ones. The city has different streets and areas full of restaurants offering a variety of specialties, here are some of the most well-known spots:


The Wynwood neighborhood is a favorite spot among the younger crowd thanks to its cafes and art-loving community. You can find the best coffees and pastries around here, and expect to see a lot of creatives hanging around as well. Wynwood has also been seeing a rise in Asian restaurants offering the best oriental dishes.

Sunset Harbor

Sunset Harbor is home to a mix of different culinary flavors and cultures, making it the most must-visit spot for foodies. You can easily find places here to sample dishes from Asia to Europe. From its name, you can also enjoy a perfect view of the sunset here, especially in oceanfront restaurants.

Little Havana

From the name itself, Little Havan is a bit of Cuba right in Miami. Its culinary specialties are one of the most recommended in the city. You can sample many Cuban staples here like the Cuban sandwich and coffee. Little Havana is also considered the Latino heart of Miami, you can also check out other Latin American dishes.

The Capital of Latin America

With a series of migrations for decades, Miami has become a center of various Hispanic cultures, mostly from Latin America. Upon your visit, you can easily see the overt Latin culture around Miami, from the food to social attitudes. Miami has a rich interesting blend of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Brazilian influences.

Majority of the Miami’s locals have Hispanic descent, mostly from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Spain. Many of them came to the US to escape the political and economic turmoils of their countries in the past. Despite their foreign origins, these diaspora has helped build the grandeur of Miami.

Miami, like New York and all of California, is one of the most culturally and racially diverse places in the US. Multiculturalism is a defining trait in the region, especially when the city isn’t only home to the Latin American diaspora; European and Asian migrants have made their way here as well.

Activities Galore

Miami is famous for being one of the most jam-packed destinations in all of the US, if not the entire world. Apart from stunning beaches, and incredible nightlife, Miami is filled with so many special things. You’ll easily have the local scenes and cultural and natural attractions for you to explore. You will never run out of things to do here.

Explore around the area and you’ll find plenty of things to do. Here are some of the go-to options for the laid-back travelers:


With a plethora of great shopping districts, you can easily spend your money on some retail therapy in Miami. If you have the budget, that is.

Miami practically has everything to offer, from luxury designer names to local brands. If you’re up for some high-end posh shopping, head to Miami Design District, Wynwood, or the Coral Gables. Everything from high street buys, to designer collections can be found around these places.

And if you’re up for some affordable retail therapy, you can head to places such as Fifth and Alton, Bayside Marketplace, and Washington Avenue.

Zoo Miami

A taste of the Florida wildlife right inside the concrete jungles of Miami, Zoo Miami houses many animals you can normally see in the Florida wild. Families and animal-loving adults will surely be fascinated by the zoo’s array of different animal species. It houses over 3,000 animal species, including the endangered ones.

Zoo Miami is also quite unique because of how they contain its animals. Instead of cages, the animals are put in enclosures together with other species. The enclosures simulate the wild, making them interact and behave like they normally would out of captivity.

Everglades National Park

One of the most famous, and largest parks in all of the US, the Everglades is a must-visit whenever you’re in Miami. Nestled a few miles south of the city, the Everglades National Park is around a 1.5 million-acre (607,028.46-hectare) park. It is mostly made of swamps and marshes, making it the perfect home for amphibious animals and birds.

There are many walking routes all over the park, and there are also guided tours available to ensure safety. You can explore the entire park while learning more about Florida’s rich wildlife.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach is everything you could ever imagine a resort city should be. It is the thriving energetic heart of the Greater Miami Metropolitan Area. The city’s spirit itself has helped shape the Sunshine State’s reputation. If you want a taste of the high life, this is the place to be.

Miami Beach takes pride in the perfect combination of all its neighborhoods. From North Beach to South Beach, the city offers different sides and experiences. Offering various flavors, you can never run out of things to do and places to explore in Miami Beach.

What Makes Miami Beach Unique?


Miami Beach is actually made of three quirky neighborhoods that each provides different kinds of flavors and twists. These varied scenes make the city an even more interesting place. It is not just nightlife and beaches, it’s also good shopping, laid-back hangouts, and culture.

These neighborhoods will always have something that will appeal to different kinds of travelers. And if you’re an open-minded traveler, chances are you just might explore all of them.

North Beach

Situated in the northern parts of the island, North Beach is relaxed and peaceful. It offers a retreat from the reverberating noise of South Beach and perhaps even most of Miami. North Beach is also noticeably upscaled, family-friendly, and very cosmopolitan. You can have great shopping, history, and international palates here.

It’s also packed with things to do, but perhaps the best thing to do here is to take a slower pace. You can also have a quieter and more laid-back take on the beach. Whether a relaxing dip or a picnic by the beach, North Beach can feel homier.

North Beach, despite being a large part of Miami Beach is also comprised of a whole slew of smaller neighborhoods as well. Some of its famous areas are Biscayne Point, La Gorce, Isles of Normandy, and Bal Harbour.


Mid-Beach isn’t just named that way because of its geography. If you really take a look at how it differs from the others, it is also an underrated, equally special neighborhood in Miami Beach. Mid-Beach’s charms are somewhere between the highs of South Beach and the peace of North Beach. It is a true telltale of how special the entire city of Miami Beach is.

The neighborhood is home to large hotels, less-crowded beaches, great restaurants, and an art district. It is a perfect combination of the quirks of the entire Miami Beach. Plus, thanks to its location, both North Beach and South Beach are just a short stroll away.

South Beach

Florida’s most famous US beach stretch, and Miami’s most packed neighborhood, South Beach is perhaps Miami Beach’s poster child. This stretch is brimming with every tourism high imaginable. South Beach has a trademark consistent high energy and dynamic scenes. South Beach is also the best area to experience Miami’s fabled nightlife.

South Beach is apparently North Beach’s opposite, both even sit at both ends of the island. If you like braving crowds, and having sheer fun, South Beach is the place to be. However, just like North Beach and Mid-Beach, South Beach also boasts a stunning white-sand coast fronting the Atlantic.

The Beaches

Thanks to its oceanfront setting, Miami Beach is brimming with beaches from its northernmost tip down to the south. Its eastern seaboard is edged by the overwhelming continuous stretch of soft gleaming white sand. This gorgeous stretch is also brushed by the Atlantic Ocean, with its magnificent shade of blue.

Despite being connected, these beaches offer different twists for tourists. This makes them even more special. Not to mention, the city’s beaches have sweeping views of the Atlantic.

Here are some of the most famous options:

Bal Harbour Beach

Miami Beach’s most illustrious address, Bal Harbour is the epitome of opulence and luxury in the city. Bal Harbour is also home to the most expensive real estate in Miami Beach, and maybe even the entire Miami area. It houses many of the most luxurious accommodations in the city such as Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and the Four Seasons.

Swanky scenes aside, Bal Harbour’s beach is also one of the most beautiful in the entire region. It features an extensive coast of the softest white sand and the most gorgeous views of the Atlantic.


If you want a homey feel in Miami Beachhead to North Beach’s Surfside. The beach is known for the most laid-back atmosphere, with more locals frequenting the stretch. Surfside is situated parallel to a slew of condos and residential areas making it feel more intimate and private.

Surfside also provides entertainment to both locals and visitors. Mostly thanks to its warm locals and the Surfside Community Center. It is one of the must-see water parks in North Beach. If you want to get acquainted with the local scene fast, Surfside is the best place to visit.

Haulover Beach

A bit further north of Bal Harbour, Haulover Beach is the most gorgeous strip of sand in Miami Beach. Bordered by parks and green expanses, Haulover Beach is famous for its relaxing atmosphere. However, it has a quirky twist. It very well may be the most unusual beach in Miami.

Haulover Beach is Florida’s first and oldest nude beach. Don’t be surprised to see half or even fully naked people around Haulover, in fact, it is one of the few publicly acknowledged nudist beaches in the state. Apart from its signature flare, Haulover Beach is also perfect for picnics and relaxing dips. The beach also hosts food festivals and live music performances.

The Cosmopolitan Flair

Apart from the “beach” attached to its name, Miami Beach is also extremely cosmopolitan. The city is exceptionally modern, while it perfectly balances its authentic multicultural charm.

You can easily notice this in its southern corridors. It is easy to see everything in Miami Beach. You can have large boutique resorts, international restaurants, and shopping districts. And all of that is on top of its several plush residential areas and condominiums.

If you’re a city-loving tourist, you will find that Miami Beach covers everything you could ever look for during your stay. As mentioned, its many neighborhoods’ differences alone can already give you so much to look forward to.

Miami Beach may be called a resort city, but it offers more than just the usual touristy highs. It gives you plenty of reason to feel like you belong, and that you too could feel at home in its upscale streets.

Diverse Denizens

To further color Miami Beach’s already well-flavored cultural scenes, the city is awash with a great variety of races and ethnicities. Miami Beach isn’t only packed with people of Hispanic descent, it is also home to over 150 ethnicities, and around 60 languages are also spoken.

You can find people who have descended from the nations of Africa, islands in the Caribbean, and all the way from Asia as well. Europeans, particularly Italians, Portuguese, French, and the Spanish also have left their mark on the city. Upon your visit, you’ll find Miami Beach to be a more culturally fascinating place rather than just a capital of touristy things and fun.

Wherever you’re from, you can be sure to find something that will resonate with you culturally here. With the great diversity of the city, you just might find someone who speaks your language in Miami Beach.

Is Miami Beach Better Than Downtown Miami?

If you’re looking for a vacation destination around Florida, Miami Beach can be so much better than Downtown Miami. It practically has everything Dowtown has and more. From great shopping to good food, you can expect both to deliver.

However, Downtown doesn’t have the special kind of diversity Miami Beach has. And most importantly, Miami Beach’s beach as its biggest draw is something Dowtown Miami can’t compete against.


Is Miami Beach Safer Than Miami?

Statistically, Miami Beach is a safer destination. Even though both have their fair share of problems in crime and safety, Miami Beach fares lower when compared to Miami City.

Downtown Miami vs. Miami Beach for Nightlife

When you say nightlife, nothing beats Miami Beach’s hyper nightlife. Miami Beach has more top-rated nightlife spots than in Miami. Mid-Beach down to the famous South Beach neighborhoods of Miami Beach can easily beat Downtown Miami’s nightlife scene.

Should I Stay in Miami or Miami Beach?

Miami Beach is the better option when it comes to finding a wider range of accommodations. From boutique hotels to large international chain resorts, Miami Beach offers more places to stay for every type of traveler.

Is Miami Beach and Miami the Same?

Although they’re both parts of the greater Miami Metropolitan Area, Miami and Miami Beach aren’t the same. Miami is a separate city, located further inland, inside the Biscayne Bay. Miami Beach is located on a group of mostly reclaimed lands, nestled between the Atlantic and the Biscayne Bay.

Is Miami and Miami Beach the Same City?

Miami and Miami Beach, despite the obvious similarities in their name, are two separate cities. However, they’re both parts of the Miami Metropolitan Area and are located right next to each other.

How Far Is Miami From Miami Beach?

Miami is approximately 4.12 miles (6.62 km) from Miami Beach, directly. Both cities are seated right next to each other.

How Far Is Miami Beach From Miami Airport?

The driving distance between Miami Beach and Miami Airport is approximately 11.5 miles (18.5 km). The trip usually takes less than 40 minutes.

How to Get to Miami Beach From Downtown Miami

With only a few miles between them, you can easily get a taxi or take a bus to Miami Beach from Downtown Miami.

Can You Walk From Miami to Miami Beach?

You can easily walk from Miami to Miami Beach, thanks to its short distance. However, it will take you almost a couple of hours to walk. Many city-loving tourists will recommend walking to get yourself acquainted with the two cities.