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Florida’s most irresistibly flamboyant centre of tourism, Miami, encompasses Latin America, the Caribbean and North America into a single, vibrant seaside metropolis. For decades, tourists have headed here for year-round warm temperatures and some of the best beaches the US has to offer. Today, the red-hot nightlife of South Beach, a mass array of upscale shopping opportunities and the city’s fine range of international cuisine are equally appealing to many. This great destination can be made even better with the help of a car hire, which can provide visitors with the chance to cruise to South Florida’s outstanding regional attractions, notably the Florida Keys, the Everglades and the wealth of great beaches stretching from North Miami all the way to West Palm Beach and beyond.
Who to Book With
Virtually all US and international car hire firms have outlets in Miami. The majority of visitors opt to rent directly from Miami International Airport, where more than a dozen firms are available including Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Sixt, Advantage and Alamo. There are also plenty of outlets situated in the downtown area, as well as in South Beach, Hollywood, Kendall and at nearby Fort Lauderdale airport. Advance online booking is always a good idea at any Miami-area location.
Best Time to go
South Florida’s primary tourist season runs from December through April, when the weather is favourable in Miami and is colder in most other parts of North America. Car hire is in high demand during these periods, so consider booking online ahead of time to lock in the best rates. You may be able to find good deals during the summer and autumn, but be aware that if you’re travelling here during this period you’re running the risk of having your holiday collide with major Atlantic tropical storms or hurricanes.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your car hire in Miami, present the following at the rental desk:
- Your driving license (check with your company to see if an International Driving Permit is required)
- Your passport
- The credit card used to reserve your vehicle
- A confirmation printout if possible
For a city of its size, Miami is a breeze for many drivers. The region is completely flat and has only been developed over the last 100 years or so, meaning the entire city is generally quite easy to navigate thanks to its grid system layout. Moreover, the streets are quite wide and parking is typically not a major ordeal, with the exception of a few areas, notably downtown, South Beach and near the University of Miami.
Nonetheless, the inevitable remains; traffic can be downright nasty during peak hours on weekdays, but if you’re travelling east to west (say, from the beach to your hotel), you’ll probably be spared the worst.
In short, this is a very good destination for renting a car, and to avoid most headaches all you’ll need to do is steer clear of rush hour, especially if your journey requires a substantial distance on Interstate 95. Additionally, your car hire will allow you to venture onward to South Florida’s most revered outlying gems.
Miami’s public transport network is seldom used by tourists and is perhaps less developed than its counterparts in other US cities of this size. Nonetheless, a number of options exist for those looking to save a bit of money, although how useful it is depends largely on where you choose to stay. In most cases, you’re best using a car rental or a taxi to get around, though trains and buses are available.
There are two local rail systems serving the Miami area. The Metrorail is the longer and faster of the two and stretches from the south end of town near Kendall, through downtown and finally reaches into the nearby northern suburbs, terminating in Hialeah north of the airport. Meanwhile, the Metromover is a short monorail of sorts circling the downtown region and intersects with the Metrorail downtown at Government Center. For those heading north to Orlando and Tampa, head for the Miami Amtrak station in Hialeah (adjacent to the Tri-Rail Metrorail stop).
Bus travel normally isn’t recommended for getting to and from tourist destinations in Miami, as the Miami-Dade Metrobus is notorious for entailing long waits at bus stops. In addition, you may easily end up in locations most travellers will not feel safe. Conversely, the South Beach Local bus service is a good option for those not wanting to walk in the hot sun all the way from South Pointe, through the Art Deco district to the northern reaches of South Beach.
Taxis are easy to catch downtown and in top tourist spots such as South Beach and the Art Deco district. In most other areas, you’ll likely need to call for one. Major firms include Yellow Cab (305-777-7777) and Miami-Dade Taxis (305-551-1111). Be aware that because Miami is so spread out, this is an exceptionally expensive way to get around here.
Although some visitors are content with spending endless days on Miami Beach, South Florida as a whole is truly a unique and wondrous affair with some of America’s best outlying attractions. Those spending a holiday here should not miss the opportunity to grab a car hire and set sail in the Sunshine State. Below are a few top regional attractions near Miami to get you started.
The Florida Keys - These are just a stone’s throw from downtown Miami and offer an invigorating Caribbean getaway; and it’s accessible by car! Here, visitors can dive surprisingly vibrant coral reefs or sunbathe in a beachside setting that seems a world away. If you’re headed all the way to the end of the road at laid-back Key West, you’ll need to start early – the drive takes three to four hours.
Everglades National Park - A one-of-a-kind sub-tropical wetlands preserve that features a vast array of birds and endangered species including the iconic Florida panther and the manatee. The drive will take at least an hour, depending where you stop in the park. Be sure to bring enough food and water for a day of refreshing nature walks.
The city of Jupiter - Located to the north of Miami, this is another nice option. Families will enjoy the great views and history at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, while the adjacent beach at stunning Blowing Rock Park is far less crowded than its counterparts further south.