Well the family and I just recently got back from a nice four day weekend down in South Beach Miami and I figured I’d write a post about the trip, the hotel and South Beach in general. My overall impression of South Beach was really positive. Living in Florida most of my life and Orlando for the past 10 years I can’t believe I haven’t taken more weekend trips down to South Beach. I’ve been all over the Caribbean and to the Bahamas countless times but I’ve always skipped over Miami for some reason. I can say with confidence that South Beach will now be my go to weekend vacation spot.
We originally were going to travel down to Key West and stay at the Four Points by Sheraton there but changed it last minute and booked at the Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach. We searched the various trip sites but ended up booking directly through the hotel website. We got a great rate on the room (after taxes and fees I think it was about $140 a night). I’m not sure if the rates were so low because it was June or because we booked it from Monday – Thursday and not over the weekend (but I’m not complaining). We ended up booking two separate rooms, one for my wife and I, and another for my daughter and her two friends.
The trip from Orlando to South Beach was pretty quick. We took the turnpike the entire way and it only ended up taking us 3 1/2 hours. We left at 9:30 am and arrived at the hotel around 1:00 pm. We had the valet park the car for us and then went to check in. The hotel staff was great, they let us check in early and I decided to upgrade my room to an ocean view balcony room for an extra $30 a night (well worth it). Our rooms ended up being on the 10th floor which made the ocean view even more incredible. The room was a decent size, the bathroom was clean, and it had a nice balcony with some chairs and a table.
Being from Florida and in particular the coast, I like going to the beach at low tide (just a preference). South Beach at high tide is just okay, but if you catch it at low tide or somewhere in between it goes from just okay to incredible. I’d compare South Beach at low tide to some of the beaches in the Bahamas (absolutely beautiful). It just so happened that low tide was right around the time we checked in, so my wife and I changed real quick and headed down to the beach. The beach was nice and not to crowded. We spent a couple of hours at the beach and then showered up and headed to the hotel pool. The pool was pretty nice, it was 9 ft. deep and was chlorine free which was great. There were plenty of lounge chairs and palm trees to relax under. We spent about an hour at the pool and then went to get ready for dinner.
The hotel isn’t exactly that close to Ocean Drive but we decided to walk along the Miami Beach Boardwalk that runs parallel to the beach and goes all the way down to Ocean Drive where all the restaurants are. This probably wasn’t the best idea as it ended up being about a 30 minute walk but at least we got a chance to check out the area. Ocean Drive is a pretty cool spot, there are wall to wall restaurants and clubs along the beach and you can usually find some really good dinner specials. The first night we got surf and turf for $25 a plate at one of the trendy boutique hotel restaurants along Ocean Drive. There are some pretty colorful characters down in Miami and we had a good time just people watching at dinner. After dinner we headed a couple of blocks over to Collins Avenue where all the shops are. We walked up and down the strip and I must say they have some pretty interesting shops. There was no way we were going to walk back to the hotel so we caught a cab back ($10 one way).
My wife and I wake up pretty early and we knew everyone else would be sleeping in so we decided to take the car and go check out some thrift stores in downtown Miami. We ended up at the Goodwill in Little Havana. While I didn’t find anything good I did notice an actual Banksy graffiti art painting on the outside of the Goodwill which was very cool. We drove back to the hotel and decided to hit the beach and pool up again. We spent the afternoon at the hotel and ate at the restaurant there. The service at the hotel restaurant was good and the food was tasty. The hotel lobby had a variety of complimentary coffee along with the fancy water with fruit in it. I must say I drank entirely too much coffee on this trip and was absolutely wired the entire time. We relaxed at the hotel until it was time for dinner and then we took the car down to Ocean Drive to find a new spot to eat at. One thing about South Beach is the overabundance of choices on where to go or what to do. We spent a good 35 minutes walking the strip before deciding where to eat. The food was excellent and afterwards we took a nice stroll down Ocean Drive. We stumbled upon Gianni Versace’s Miami mansion which is now a luxury hotel. From the outside it looked amazing and very exclusive (definitely outside of my price range).
In the morning my wife and I decided to drive a couple of blocks to see the Holocaust Memorial at Miami Beach. It’s a pretty amazing memorial and quite touching. There’s a small reflection pond with lily pads and a massive hand reaching up out of the center into the sky. If you’re in the areas it’s well worth checking out.
It’s now about mid-morning and at this point I’ve soaked up a little too much sun and have a nice little sunburn going but it’s another gorgeous day in Miami so I decide to just wear a full length t-shirt to the beach along with a hat. We relax at the beach for a few hours and then decide to head over to Lincoln Road to check out all the shops and restaurants. I would say Lincoln Road is a combination between the restaurants on Ocean Drive and the shops on Collins Ave. Its well worth checking out and the strip stretches for a few blocks. We end up eating at a really cool restaurant along Espanola Way which is a block or so off of Lincoln Road. At night when all the lights are on it has a nice ambiance.
We checked out of the hotel pretty early and headed back to Orlando. Traffic was good and we arrived back in Orlando around 1:00 pm.
Hotel – I would definitely stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach again. The hotel was nice, the beach was fantastic, the pool area was great, and best of all it was affordable. The hotel also seemed pretty family friendly. The only downside is you have to take a taxi or drive down to the restaurants and shops, but the beach was less crowded than the beaches along Ocean Drive so there was definitely a tradeoff.
If you’re looking to be within walking distance of everything you might want to check out one of the hotels closer to Ocean Drive and the Art Deco District.
Things to do – While in South Beach definitely check out Ocean Drive, Collins Ave. and Lincoln Road. They’re all pretty close to each other and within walking distance of one another. There are tons of great shops and restaurants and South Beach is pretty packed with some amazing and interesting people. If you can’t find something interesting to do in South Beach there’s probably something wrong with you.