My challenge: Throw away the guide book and ask the experts on the ground when you next take a trip to the USA. So off I went to Miami, where I found asking the locals what they thought were the best things to do made for a much more enlightening trip. Here's how my girlfriend Pru and I got on in Miami with our local's Top 10:
The Concierge at the EPIC hotel told us about a great little sushi place called Kaori in a shopping mall in Downtown. We were desperate for something light and healthy after the excesses of Las Vegas. It was one of Pru’s fave meals of the whole trip. Similarly, it was the concierge at the Z Ocean hotel who told us to head to Betsy for brunch. It was the best brunch of the whole trip, and with a great view over Ocean Drive.
We got speaking to a local on South Beach about where to head for a drink that evening. She recommended The Clevelander on Ocean Drive. With huge fish bowl cocktails, a DJ and a pool it certainly got us in the mood to party.
Skateboarding and rollerblading. Just like in the movies, the locals really do get around on longboards and skates. You can also rent bikes to go exploring, just like with Barclays Bikes in London
Can you imagine being less than an hour away from the Bahamas and Cuba? Well, if the locals fancy getting away from Miami, it’s only a short dash to paradise.
Tobacco Road is the oldest and one of the most legendary bars in Miami. A taxi driver told us about it so we checked it out.
Key Biscayne is a quiet island to the south of the city which is where a lot of local families go to get away from the tourists on South Beach.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, if you want to shop it’s likely you’ll head to the Lincoln Road Mall. A pedestrian-only promenade just behind South Beach, it’s seemingly endless run of shops and restaurants could keep you entertained for a whole day. Even I enjoyed it a bit.
One of the first things I spotted as we entered Miami was a huge monorail zooming overhead. The MetroMover is a free train that services numerous locations in Downtown Miami. It’s also a great way to see the city from above.
I stayed in two hotels during my three nights and four day trip to Miami, just for a little variety.
This is a beautiful and luxurious hotel sat on the waterfront in Downtown. If you’re bling enough you can even moor up your super-yacht right next to the entrance. Our room was excellent with a decadent bathroom, vast bed and also a balcony looking out onto the marina and city below. The WIFI was free if you were a member of the Intercontinental Hotel Group, which I definitely recommend signing up for (it's free). The hotel restaurant is Zuma, and voted one of the best in town. There is also a rooftop pool bar, perfect for afternoon sundowners.
A few metres from South Beach, on Ocean Drive is the Z Ocean Hotel. Slick, suave and right in the thick of the party district, our arrival at the Z Ocean Hotel coincided with the arrival of the sunshine. Our room was huge and had two flat screen TVs, his and hers basins, free WIFI and a balcony overlooking the pool area (complete with complementary sun loungers). Here are some more hotels in Miami to stay at. You can also find flights to Miami and Miami holidays here.
Try out lastminute.com's Miami City Guide with the lowdown on ten different areas in Miami, starting at the top with the Upper East Side and finishing at the tip with Coconut Grove. To put this together they asked local restaurateurs, business owners and party planners to tell them their favourite things to do in their neighbourhoods. If you have any top Miami tips, I would love to hear them. Get in touch by leaving a comment below.