Art Deco Weekend
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Do it just like a Miamian
Art Deco Weekend
Founder of Miami
Time in Miami
Spring is Miami’s busy season. Festivals and sports events fill the ever-warming days. Spring Breakers flock here, and to nearby Fort Lauderdale, much to the despair of the local law enforcement. In their wake come the regular holidaymakers, ready to take advantage of Miami’s best weather. This busy period is the most popular time to visit Miami.
The Miami Heat isn’t just the name of the city’s basketball team. The weather in the city in summer is steamy – we’re talking humid and sticky, with highs of 34°C (94°F. Thank goodness for the beach. Miami hotels worth the salt on their margarita glasses have a pool where you can cool off. The weather can be stormy – but rain showers are normally short and sharp. They finish in a matter of minutes. Summer remains a popular time to visit the city.
With lows in the high teens and highs of 30°C (86°F), Miami’s autumns don’t differ all that much from its summers. It can be lovely and warm and a quieter time to visit. In late October you might notice a few odd characters traipsing around – like the rest of the US, Miami’s residents love a Halloween party. Odd zombies and monsters enliven (or is that… deaden?) Miami’s dance floors at the end of October.
Miami’s winter is short and dry, and snow hasn’t been reported in the city since 1977. Santa doesn’t get an icy grotto, he lives in an Enchanted Forest, a seasonal theme park in Miami’s Tropical Park. Winter is known for the arrival of Florida’s famous ‘Snowbirds’ – a tongue-in-cheek reference to the retirees who flee northern climes to winter in their second homes. In January, during Art Deco week end, classic car parades transport the city back to the twenties – plus, there’s the ‘Bark Deco’ dog show.
If you’re a citizen of a country covered by the Visa Waiver Programme (such as the UK), you will need to have a valid e-Passport along with an approved ESTA to enter the USA. You can identify an e-Passport by the ‘chip’ symbol on the front cover.
You can apply for an ESTA online, and should receive approval straight away, although we recommend applying at least 72 hours before departure, in case any travel authorisation is denied. An ESTA is valid for multiple journeys and lasts for two years, or until your passport expires.
You will no longer be able to enter the USA using an ESTA if you have dual nationality, with one passport being issued by a country eligible under the Visa Waiver Programme and the other issued by Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
UK citizens can also fast track US passport control by joining Global Entry, the US Customs and Border Protection programme. Membership lasts for five years and the application process includes background checks and a face-to-face interview at an official enrolment centre.
Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have the right documents to be allowed entry into the USA when flying into Miami.
With its compact, village-like structure, South Beach is very walkable. Miami Beach, with its boardwalk, is similarly easy to navigate on foot. You can do a popular walking tour of the Art Deco district at Ocean Drive. Save the parks and the beach for daytime, and take the precautions you would in any big city.
Uber and Lyft both operate in Miami, and are both inexpensive ways to get home after a night out. Download the app before you go out. There are also traditional cab companies operating in the area – and limos are a common sight. If you hire a car, be aware that Miami’s roads can be congested, especially during rush hour.
Miami’s Citibike scheme means you can easily hire bikes in any of the multiple city locations and cycle around inexpensively. Buy a 36 hour pass, or rent by the hour. Cycling beachside from South Beach you can travel all the way up to North Miami, using pedestrianised strips and the Miami boardwalk. Cycle on roads at your own risk, though, and stick to quiet streets.
The charming Miami trolley offers a free service. Despite its cheery, retro look it’s fully air conditioned and environmentally friendly. It runs into the evening and serves Coconut Grove, Biscayne, Little Havana, Wynwood – and most importantly, the beaches until 11pm (8pm Sundays). It’s great to catch the SoBe trolley to South Pointe Park for a morning walk, then back up to Lincoln Road.
Tipping isn’t just polite in the Miami: it’s necessary. Staff in much of the service industry rely on tips to make up their wages. This applies to restaurants and bars, but also taxis and hotel staff, too. You should only leave no tip if you are genuinely unhappy with the service.
As in much of America, in Miami it’s customary to add 15 to 20% of your restaurant bill, as a tip for your server. Don’t include the added tax in your calculation. In some tourist areas (like Miami Beach and particularly Ocean Drive) restaurants will automatically add a service charge to your bill, so make sure you don’t pay it twice. Always check your check.
At some point, you’re bound to find yourself in one of Miami’s bars. You’ll want to tip for each drink you order. As a rough guide, base your tip on the complexity of your drink. This ranges from around 50 cents for a soft drink, maybe $1-$2 for a beer, and $3 or $4 if the bar staff shake you up an elaborate cocktail.
You’ll need to tip your taxi driver at least 15% – more if they’ve helped with your luggage at the airport. Miami also has Uber and Lyft, and these apps have a tipping service which you’re encouraged to use to support drivers.
If you’re not sure, it’s perfectly all right to call ahead when you request a service and find out if tipping is customary. Some common examples: pizza delivery requires a small tip of $1-$2. Golfers will want to tip their caddies $10-$25 for a round. If you take part in water sports at your resort and it's not All Inclusive, tip your instructor $5-$10. Service in hair salons and at spas is around 15%. You’ll need to tip in Miami hotels. Tip porters immediately for carrying luggage, and leave a daily tip for your maid on your nightstand. $1-$2 is customary in both cases.
As in any busy city, it’s prudent to take care when travelling. These simple tips will help you stay street smart:
Call 911 in an emergency for the ambulance, police or fire brigade.