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Many people think that Miami Beach is part of Miami, but that's not the case. It's a separate municipality on an island off Miami. The best known part of Miami Beach is South Beach, 'the place to be'. Sun, sea, beach and nightlife form the main ingredients for a stay in Miami Beach. There are, however, also other things to do, especially if you have a rental car: beautiful nature parks and places of interest like the Spanish Monastery and the Freedom Tower.
'Only' 90,000 people live in Miami Beach, but the population of Miami including suburbs amounts to 5.5 million.
Miami Beach is located on an island off Miami in the south of Florida in the United States. It's the center of an elongated area along the Atlantic coast, of which Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are also part. This urban area is no less than 100 kilometers long. South of Miami lies the Everglades National Park, an elongated swampland.
The economy of Miami Beach is entirely based on tourism, but the city of Miami is the commercial and financial center of Florida. Downtown Miami houses many national and international banks. Large companies also have their Latin American headquarters here. The city's port is important for trade with the same Latin America.
The nearest airport is Miami International Airport. It's situated east of Miami and is easily reachable by rental car via the SR 112 (Airport Expressway). An alternative is Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 35 kilometers north of Miami. This airport is mainly used for regional flights and is also popular among budget airlines.
The South Beach Local Bus is the best option for tourists. It runs in a loop between 19th Street and the southernmost part of Miami Beach. There are also bus connections between Miami Beach and Miami and a light-rail connection is being constructed between Downtown Miami and South Beach.
If you want to do more than just lying on the beach, a rental car is without a doubt the best means of transportation. Miami Beach is geared towards cars and there are therefore several parking garages. There are parking lots near the beaches for which you have to pay. Prepare yourself for the driving style in this part of Florida though. In general, Americans drive fairly calmly, but that's not the case in Miami Beach and surroundings. It's the Latin American driving style that rules. Especially young people like to show off and drive (way) too fast.
Miami Beach has an abundance of accommodations. Winter months (November through February) are busiest and if you want to visit Miami Beach during these months it's necessary to book your hotel room well in advance. Don't rely on the number of stars, especially in South Beach. They often apply to the restaurant that's connected with the hotel, but the rooms don't warrant the stars.
For more information about Miami Beach, we recommend Google and the following sources: