5. The art scene is booming in Miami.
Miami may not have the largest collection of museums, but art permeates the city in numerous ways, from public art and cultural centers to galleries and major art fairs. The Wynwood neighborhood, located just north of Downtown Miami, is teeming with street art and murals. The movement began in 2009 with the open-air Wynwood Walls, which encompasses 18 walls of work created by international graffiti artists. Since then, street art has expanded throughout the neighborhood, with notable displays at Wynwood Brewing Company and along NW 2nd Avenue.
Other street art hotspots include Calle Ocho in Little Havana and throughout Little Haiti. Since 2002, Art Basel has drawn renowned artists, collectors, and enthusiasts to Miami each December for a week's worth of exhibitions. If you can't make the event, fret not, as many of the participating galleries showcase outstanding works of art year-round. The sizable Rubell Family Collection exhibits a wealth of avant-garde works by art legends like Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. Free exhibits can be found at Locust Projects and Spinello Projects, while Yeleen Gallery in Little Haiti features works that highlight the neighborhood's Caribbean roots.
6. Miami Beach isn't the city's only beach (and isn't all there is to Miami).
Miami Beach - the famed stretch of sand that's lined by stunning art deco buildings - is a must for a proper Miami visit. In fact, many people consider Miami Beach and South Beach to be Miami itself. That's problematic for a ton of reasons. However, one of the biggest sins among them is limiting yourself when it comes to beaches. Many first-time visitors make the mistake of not venturing farther afield to take full advantage of the extensive network of beaches found in the Miami region. Below South Beach, Virginia Key boasts sandy shorelines without the crowds. Admission to Virginia Key Beach Park costs $8 per vehicle on the weekend, but the extra space and kayaking through wetlands are worth the added cost. Heading farther out on the causeway, Crandon Park is a family-friendly beach on Key Biscayne with water-sports and cabana rentals. Just above Miami Beach, Haulover Beach is divided between nude sunbathing in the north and a dog-friendly portion in the south.
7. Public transportation in Miami requires some know-how (and patience).
Miami's public transportation system is the largest in Florida, and includes buses, trolleys, Metromover and Metrorail. Both the Miami Trolley and Metromover are free to use and aid in visiting the mainland portions of Miami, such as Little Havana, Wynwood and Brickell City Centre. That being said, both are limited in geographical scope and - notably - don't connect to Miami Beach or South Beach. The Metrorail connects with the Metromover at several stations, but requires a $2.25 fare. It's an affordable option for traveling to the airport and the outlying neighborhood of Coconut Grove, but little else. It also doesn't connect with Miami Beach. The Metrobus is the most extensive public transit network in the city, but is impeded by the congested traffic that is pervasive throughout Miami's streets. For traveling shorter distances, try Freebee - a free electric car service that can be accessed via the Freebee mobile app. While the service is free thanks to funding from car door advertisements, be sure to tip your driver a few bucks. If you're staying in Miami Beach and South Beach only, consider renting a bike, using your own two feet, or bank on relying on taxis. Bringing your own car? Get ready for epic parking headaches (more on that below).
8. Parking in Miami is pricey, challenging to find, and strictly enforced.
As mentioned previously, Miami is somewhat notorious for its traffic. However, even unperturbed and seasoned city drivers should be aware of some Miami parking peculiarities before getting behind the wheel. In Miami Beach, street parking is the costliest option, running as high as $4 per hour in South Beach. Off-street lots cost comparatively less at $2 per hour, while parking garages are the best option for lengthier stays with day rates as low as $20. On the flipside, parking costs in downtown Miami neighborhoods operate in the reverse order. Hourly rates in parking garages run as high as $7 per hour, while a full-day can cost nearly $30. Furthermore, avoid parking in Miami Beach's residential zones without a valid permit during restricted hours, which include the entire weekend as well as weekday evenings. These rules are strictly enforced and the authorities will not hesitate to tow your car away.
9. When is high season in Miami? Book ahead if visiting from December through April.