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Both Miami and Los Angeles offer near year-round sunshine and have a number of beach offerings. However, Miami is more synonymous with Latin influences and a vibrant nightlife scene while Los Angeles is better known for its Hollywood landmarks and quintessential laid-back Californian lifestyle.
Every vibe, accommodation type and vacation style found in Miami can also be found in Los Angeles, and vice versa. Subsequently, deciding between Miami and Los Angeles comes down to the specific attractions and experiences you’re looking for and / or which destination is closer to where you live.
For example, if you know that you really want to go to Disneyland then you’re going to have to go to Los Angeles. Just like if you know you want to visit Little Havana you’ll need to go to Miami.
Situated on the southeastern coast of Florida you’ll find the city of Miami boasting sophistication, history and culture. This city has a lot to offer, from the relaxation opportunities of South Beach to the incredible Art Deco District which is home to 800 protected buildings.
Miami blends city break and beach break perfectly, which makes it the ideal destination for a long weekend. We recently spent just three nights in the city, but would ideally recommend between five and seven nights for first-time visitors looking to experience everything this region has to offer.
Miami is located on the southeastern coast of Florida. The nearest major airport is Miami International (MIA) which is located roughly a 15-minute drive from Downtown Miami or a 30-minute drive from South Beach. However, visitors could also fly into the nearby, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), which is located approximately a 40-minute drive north of Miami.
In terms of getting around the city, Miami offers a host of transportation options. From the efficient Metrorail and Metrobus services that connect key districts. Car hire in Miami is relatively cheap (circa $50 per day for an SUV). However, parking, especially in popular areas such as Downtown and South Beach is limited – and the price often reflects this!
Personally, during our trip to Miami, we chose to stick to Uber and Lyft services for exploring the city. Both Uber and Lyft are readily available in Miami, however, if like us you’re travelling with a little one, then you’ll need to ensure you have a travel-friendly car seat as drivers are not required to have their own.
Miami offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. We spent our three most recent nights in Miami at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel situated footsteps from the iconic South Beach.
The city of Miami has a lot to offer tourists. Some of our favourite things to do in the city include;
Steeped in Cuban culture and tradition, Little Havana is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Miami. Famed for its cafés, restaurants, and Cuban cigar shops this region of the city has a lot of stories to tell.
We chose to explore Little Havana independently. However, I don’t feel as though we got the ‘true’ experience and were really able to understand and appreciate the history and the culture here. I’d therefore highly recommend booking a guided tour of this area instead. Both group tours and private tours run multiple times a day, 7 days a week and are best pre-booked online.
Art Deco Historic District
Nestled in the heart of South Beach is Miami’s Art Deco District. Now, I’m no architectural buff, but even still, it’s impossible not to appreciate the 800 preserved buildings here which make up the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world.
Pastel-hued facades, porthole windows, and sleek, geometric designs will transport you to an era of cinematic grandeur. Better still, these buildings are more than just beautiful relics of a bygone era, instead most interiors have been gracefully transformed into; hotels, cafes, shops, and galleries.
Miami Children’s Museum
If you’re travelling with children between the ages of 1.5 and 7 years old then I’d highly recommend visiting the Miami Children’s Museum. This highly engaging and educational facility is one of the best places we have visited with our son Oliver and boasts a wide range of interactive exhibits designed to stimulate curiosity and learning.
From a colourful art studio to a ‘construction zone’, a music studio, and even a kid-sized supermarket, there are endless opportunities for fun and imaginative play. Whether your child dreams of being a firefighter, a television presenter, or a sailor, the Miami Children’s Museum allows them to delve into a world of role-play, exploration, and most importantly, fun.
If you’re looking to relax while in Miami then look no further than the famous South Beach. Stretching along the coast, this beach is the ultimate relaxation destination. With its soft sand and turquoise waters, it offers a serene escape from the bustling city.
Depending on how long you plan to spend on South Beach, and your budget, you can either lay your towel down on the sand or rent a beach chair or sun lounger (roughly $20 a piece depending on the facility). If you opt for the latter then you’ll also benefit from bar service – which depending on the facility may also include food too!
Situated in Miami’s vibrant Wynwood neighbourhood you’ll find the renowned outdoor art museum, Wynwood Walls. When I first mentioned on Instagram that we were travelling to Miami, this was the number one place people suggested we visit, and it did not disappoint.
The venue was established in 2009, by developer Tony Goldman and aimed to rejuvenate the warehouse district by transforming it into a hub of street art and creativity. Here you’ll find an extensive range of large-scale murals created by internationally acclaimed street artists which rotate each subsequent year, with a new selection of both national and international artists ranging from old-school graffiti artists to up-and-coming talent.
Situated along the Pacific coast of Southern California, the city of Los Angeles is systems with the TV and film history, and the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood.
Much like Miami, the city of Los Angeles successfully marries the dynamic vibe of a bustling city with the serene appeal of a coastal getaway and offers a variety of attractions from world-class museums like the Getty Center and The Broad to the sun-kissed shores of Venice Beach or the historic narratives embedded in downtown LA.
Situated on the west coast of the United States is Los Angeles, California. This city, and county by the same name is primarily served by one of the busiest airports in the world Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The traffic in and around Los Angeles is known worldwide for being terrible, however, the traffic around this airport is something else entirely. Therefore based on our own experience, we highly recommend accounting for extra time to get to / from the airport and arriving at LAX early for your return flight.
Other nearby airports that serve tourists visiting Los Angeles include; Burbank and Orange County’s John Wayne. These airports may be more closer and more convenient to where you are staying in Los Angeles. However, sadly they are only served by a limited number of airlines and flights.
When it comes to getting around Los Angeles, there are some public transport options such as the FlyAway from LAX to Union Station, the Amtrack and local buses. However, the stops are limited given the size of the city and surrounding areas.
Instead, visitors to the area will want to look at using rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft or getting a rental car. Renting a car in LA starts at around $45 per day depending on the vehicle. However, the cost of the rental isn’t the only thing you’ll want to consider as additional costs such as insurance, parking and gas often double if not triple the total cost.
Given that Los Angeles is car-centric it’s no surprise that parking can often be a challenge, particularly in high-traffic areas such as Hollywood, Downtown LA, and beach communities. So while renting a car provides flexibility, it also provides a lot of stress.
For that reason, we’ve always opted to use Uber and Lyft while in Los Angeles. However, that’s based on us staying within the city and neighbouring areas. If you’re looking at heading down to San Diego or up to San Francisco then either public transport or a rental car will be the better option.
Miami offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. We spent our five most recent nights in Los Angeles at the Loews Hollywood Hotel situated footsteps from the iconic Hollywood Blvd.
The city of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas have a lot to offer tourists, especially theme park enthusiasts with both Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood within a 90 minutes drive of each other. Some of our personal favourite things to do in Los Angeles include;
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a 1.3-mile long street that stretches from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue on Hollywood Boulevard, while an additional short segment runs down Vine Street to Sunset Boulevard.
This iconic walkway is embedded with more than 2,600 five-pointed stars made of terrazzo and brass, each of which honours a notable personality from the entertainment industry – be it cinema, television, music, radio, or theatre.
If you’re looking for some of the best gifts from California. Then you’ll find these sold in the souvenir stores located along The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Situated in the heart of Anaheim, California, is the Disneyland Resort. Covering a massive 500 acres, this area consists of two theme parks; Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, and one entertainment area, Downtown Disney. All of which give visitors plenty of things to see and do.
The Disneyland Park was the very first theme park built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney himself. It features eight themed “lands” with classic attractions like the Sleeping Beauty Castle, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the whimsical It’s a Small World.
I recommend Klook for your Disneyland California tickets. They have the most competitive prices and a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Meanwhile, the Disney California Adventure Park celebrates the adventurous spirit of California and takes visitors on a journey across various themed lands that encapsulate the state’s rich history and culture, from the golden era of Hollywood in Buena Vista Street to the rugged charm of Grizzly Peak.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Encompassing a vast 415 acres, Universal Studios Hollywood brings together the thrill of a theme park and the magic of a real working movie studio. Rides and attractions here include The World Famous Studio Tour which takes visitors on a one-hour tram ride behind the scenes to see some of Hollywood’s most famous film and TV sets.
As well as themed lands such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter where you’ll have the opportunity to explore inside Hogwarts and drink Butterbeer and Springfield, home of The Simpsons where you’ll find character meet-and-greets such as Bart, Lisa and Homer.
If you’re based in the UK I recommend buying your Universal Studios Hollywood park tickets from AttractionTix. They have the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
If you’re based in the US or Canada I recommend Klook for your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets. They have the most competitive prices and a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Beverly Hills is a small, affluent city located within Los Angeles County. This area is known for its high-end shopping, fine dining, and luxurious hotels.
Visitors to Beverly Hills can indulge in some of the world’s most expensive brands, dine at some of the most exclusive restaurants, and stay at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Some of the best things to see and do in Beverly Hills include;
- The Beverly Hills Sign: Located at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Drive this sign is a popular photo opportunity for visitors to the city.
- Greystone Mansion and Park: This park offers stunning views of the city and is a popular spot for weddings and other events.
- Rodeo Drive: This three-block stretch of high-end boutiques is one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world.
Initially created in 1923 as an advertisement for real estate development, the Hollywood Sign has become an emblem of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Depending on your interest and fitness level you can either view the Hollywood Sign from various locations across the city or hike to it.
The shortest hike to the Hollywood Sign is on the Hollyridge Trail which is 5.0 miles (round trip). However, this hike does not take you as close to the Hollywood Sign, nor does it take you around the back of the Hollywood Sign as some of the other trails available.