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Miami Beach! Mid Beach vs South Beach (+ My Favorite Hotels)

I went on my first trip to the Miami area this summer (I’ve already been back again since!) and of course, the most difficult part was figuring out where to stay. Luckily for you, I’ve done all the research (not to mention some old fashioned boots on the ground reconnaissance) so you can find the perfect place to stay in Miami Beach. Keep reading for my recommendations:

Miami Beach is a barrier island off the coast of Miami and it’s (not surprisingly) where the beach is. Packed with resorts, hotels, restaurants, clubs, etc., it’s definitely a tourist’s paradise. Miami Beach is a beach town, but it still has a city feel and a very international one at that. You’re more likely to hear Spanish spoken than English pretty much anywhere you go. 

Even though it’s one continuous island, different stretches of the island kind of feel like different neighborhoods or at least have very different vibes. 

You know about South Beach of course: the hub of the Miami Beach party scene. Where everybody wants to be. The ONLY place to stay if you’re going to Miami. Or is it?

Just north of South Beach, Mid Beach has started attracting the crowds with its larger and more luxurious resorts. 

So which is the best area to stay?

Mid Beach vs South Beach

South Beach

Let’s start with South Beach. Easily the most famous area in Miami, South Beach is what most people think of when they think of Miami. Party scene 24/7, super interesting outfits (or lack thereof), art deco architecture, Miami Vice. South Beach is definitely something you have to see if you’re coming to Miami.

I would actually break South Beach down further into three different sections:

Sofi

South of 5th (Sofi) is a place I would consider staying. It’s super close to the party scene, but it’s crazy what a difference just a block or two makes. It feels much more local south of 5th and towards the south end there’s actually quite a few modern luxury towers. Also, the beach at Southpointe Park is the absolute prettiest I saw in the whole Miami Beach area. 

If you want to stay in this little pocket of Miami Beach, I would recommend…

The Savoy Hotel: If you’re after some old world vibes, The Savoy Hotel will not disappoint. With a history spanning back almost a century, this glamorous beachfront hotel has great historic Art Deco architecture and I’m pretty much ready to move into the lobby. Check pricing and read reviews here.

5th-15th (The Heart of South Beach)

5th -15th is the area of South Beach that I personally would avoid at all costs.  This is classic South Beach. Ocean Drive Avenue is lined with historic Art Deco hotels and they’re surprisingly ground zero for the Miami Beach party scene. I’m talking about parties that roll until 5AM every night that may or may not involve illegal substances. You don’t stay in this area to sleep or relax. Go during the day to see the architecture and the beach scene. 

But if you do want to stay in this area, I would recommend…

The Goodtime Hotel: Pop by Pharrel William’s The Goodtime Hotel on Miami South Beach for…well, a good time! Characterised by eclectic design elements, contrasting themes and enough insta-worthy spots to make you giddy, this luxurious hotel isn’t where you go to relax…it’s where you go to party! I’m not really a partier, but this place looks so dreamy that I just might be tempted to check it out. On a weeknight. In the offseason. ; ) Check pricing and read reviews here.

15th to 23rd (Still South Beach but More Upscale)

15th to 23rd is still considered South Beach but it’s where you’ll start finding more resorts. Things start calming down as you go further north but hey, this is still Miami Beach ; ) All four of these picks are solid places to stay in Miami if you want to have the Miami experience but still stay somewhere “nice” that’s not a party hotel. 

1 Hotel South Beach: 1 Hotel South Beach operates on the belief that travel needs to be sustainable and its design surely reflects that. LEED certified, with dozens of green elements like living green walls and the grotto garden in the lobby make this a must-visit for the eco-conscious traveler. Napa-style furnishings like paned walk-in showers and rustic copper fixtures make this as much a luxurious stay, as it is a sustainable one. Check pricing and read reviews here.

Loews Miami Beach Hotel: Loews Miami Beach Hotel is a family-friendly beachfront resort offering fun for every age group. Private beach access, a kids’ club with daily activities, the extremely popular Exhale Spa, and stylish rooms with the latest tech like iHome docks – what’s not to love? Check pricing and read reviews here.

Ritz-Carlton South Beach: Stay at Ritz Carlton South Beach to experience Miami glamour at its finest. This newly renovated 5-star hotel features amenities including a full-service spa, an elevated pool that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, and on-site dining with Mediterranean and Latin American cuisine. Book directly with Marriott here.

The Setai: Influenced by Art Deco and Asian elements, the tranquility The Setai offers its guests is unrivalled. Sleek, modern and capable of evoking a feeling of deep calm, this luxury hotel features a zen-inspired lobby, Asian artifacts, temperature controlled infinity pools, and state-of-the-art DUXIANA beds for the best sleep you’ll ever have. Check pricing and read reviews here.

Mid Beach

The raging party scene that you’ll find in South Beach shifts once you head north towards Mid Beach. This isn’t completely accurate but the best way I can describe it is…South Beach is the college party scene and Mid Beach is where the millennials have moved in to party in a more high dollar way. Think more lavish resorts, Michelin star dining, high end clubs, etc.

Mid Beach is roughly 23rd to 44th (just past the Fontainbleu at Indian Beach Park). The resorts in this stretch have a little more room and the beach is definitely less crowded as you move up this way. 

Miami Beach EDITION: This is where I stayed on my first trip to Miami. I chose it because I liked the Mid Beach location, it seemed like a trendy but lowkey place to stay, and it’s a Marriott Bonvoy property (rewards). Overall, I thought it was a great place to stay and would definitely recommend it. The vibe is very light, airy, and modern. It has a luxe but comfortable feel (it doesn’t feel snooty or sterile) and while I wouldn’t consider it a full service resort, I was more than happy with it as a city-type hotel. Read my full review here. Book directly with the EDITION here.

Faena Hotel: Situated right on the beach, Faena Hotel features unique decor, an emphasis on art and eccentric design, live music, an energetic ambiance and great food. “Extravagance” is the word that comes to mind when visiting this luxury hotel for the first time. The gold accents present throughout, coupled with its top-notch customer service will have you feeling like royalty. Check pricing and read reviews here.

The Confidante: Retro, colorful, and fabulous. This place has a bit of a party vibe but it’s not in the middle of the South Beach party scene so it’s a bit more refined. It’s an Instagramer’s paradise and so chic. Check pricing and read reviews here.

The Fontainebleau: Famous as one of the original mob run hotels and a hangout spot of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, The Fontainebleau is still an icon on Miami Beach. The hotel itself has everything you could want from a beachfront hotel: a huge pool tucked into the gardens, a luxurious spa with steam baths, a salon, and even LIV, the club that is a nightlife hotspot among locals and tourists alike. The on-site signature restaurants are also worth checking out, especially the famous Michelin-starred restaurant Hakkasan, serving Cantonese cuisine. Check pricing and read reviews here.

More posts about where to stay in Miami:

Where to Stay in Miami (Besides Miami Beach)

Miami Beach vs South Beach: Is South Beach Really the Best Place to Stay in Miami?

Downtown Miami vs South Beach: Brickell is the REAL Star in Miami

Key Biscayne vs South Beach: As Different As It Gets in Miami

The EDITION Miami Beach Review (Marriott Bonvoy)

Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne Review

North Beach

If the difference between South Beach and Mid Beach is dramatic, the difference between Mid Beach and North Beach is even more dramatic. North Beach feels largely residential and while the beach is still lined with condos and a few hotels, the restaurants and other development starts feeling a lot more scarce. While I don’t mind a quiet and laid back vibe, for me North Beach has a weird more residential vibe but not the kind I really like. I don’t think I would stay in this area. 

And that’s the end of the road as far as “Miami Beach” is concerned. The island keeps going north through Surfside and Bal Harbor and then Sunny Isles Beach (across the bridge) before you start to get into the Fort Lauderdale area. But South Beach, Mid Beach, and North Beach are the areas that are considered “Miami Beach.”

Don’t miss these other posts about Miami:

Miami Art Deco Walking Tour

Things to Do in Miami BESIDES Party

Things to Do in Little Havana

Biking on Key Biscayne (Cape Florida Lighthouse)

Where to Play Tennis on Key Biscayne

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens: Miami’s European Getaway

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