Do a quick search about “where to stay in Miami” and you’ll find hundreds of similar lists of trendy South Beach hotels. It’s not hard to figure out why. 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. It’s really something to see.
They say the more mature travelers (ahh like the millennials haha) are starting to shift north towards Mid Beach where it’s a little more refined and quiet. And that means…if South Beach is the college party scene, 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.
Whether you’re staying in a cheap party hotel or a 5 star luxury resort, South Beach (Miami Beach) is a party town. It’s like Vegas on the beach. Nooooothing wrong with that, but it’s not really my style. So I’ve spent quite a bit of time searching the Miami area for areas to stay that are a little more my speed. Why?
Miami is a really attractive destination. It’s usually pretty easy and cheap to get a flight from pretty much anywhere. It’s as warm as it is anywhere in the continental US all year round. It’s an international city with phenomenal food, culture, attractions, etc. And there’s a beach.
So I’ve been pretty determined to find a place in the Miami area to stay that I like.
If you think South Beach is your jam (hey it’s a great time!), read this post all about the best places to stay.
But if you’ve done some reading and you’re not sure the Miami South Beach party scene is right for you, here are some places to check out instead:
This post may contain some affiliate links, which means I’ll make a little money on anything you choose to purchase. But of course, I only recommend my absolute favorites to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Hulaland possible.
Where to Stay in Miami (Besides South Beach)
Key Biscayne is a small island south of Miami Beach (only about 15 minutes from the airport) but it feels a WORLD away. The island is very upscale and family friendly. The island is bounded by two state parks and the “village” in the center is fairly compact and walkable. The north end of the island is Crandon State Park which is home to one of the best beaches in the Miami area and the Crandon Park Tennis Center (where they used to play the Miami Open) and golf course. The southern end of the island is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. It has excellent biking trails and The Cape Florida Lighthouse is really something to see. Overall, Key Biscayne is very bike friendly with dedicated bike lanes as well as wide sidewalks. They also have Freebee service (a complimentary electric car service that you can manage via the Freebee app). I love Key Biscayne because of the tennis situation. It’s not a very big island, but it has EXCELLENT tennis facilities. The Cliff Drysdale Tennis Academy operates out of the Ritz Carlton but it’s open to anyone and the Crandon Park Tennis Center has great programs as well.
Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne: I just got back from a stay here and I really loved it. It’s a full service beach resort, and it’s got everything you’d ever want in a vacation. Great island vibes, luxury, and a laid back atmosphere. The onsite tennis academy is a real perk for me. Check rates and read reviews here.
Sitting at the northern end of the barrier island that’s home to Miami Beach, Surfside is only 5 or so miles north of South Beach, but it couldn’t feel farther away. It’s a pretty quiet little community and it’s very family friendly. I think the beach along this stretch is probably the nicest in Miami (sand and water wise). It’s definitely an area where you can come for a relaxing beach vacation. There are some wonderful resorts in the area, and you’re still not far away from South Beach if you want to zip down for dinner.
Grand Beach Hotel Surfside: The Grand Beach Hotel Surfside is an elegant property with amenities for days. A rooftop pool, beachside pools, hot tubs, a lobby bar, a gelato bar, tennis courts and even a nearby water slide – this place has it all. The rooms are chic but subtle. Check pricing and read reviews here.
If Surfside is upscale, Bal Harbor is downright ritzy. Like, where the 1% of the 1% go. Like Crazy Rich Asians rich. I walked around some of the resorts and ogled as well as checked out the Shops at Bal Harbor. If you’re anything like me and you like beachy style, head into the St Regis and check out their little boutique. They had quite a few great beach brands and it’s a great little shop.
St Regis Bal Harbour (Bal Harbour): Head to St. Regis Bal Harbor if you’re looking for a getaway filled with pampering and overindulgence. This family-friendly resort offers all its guests balconies with ocean views, two pool areas, an elegant spa, a kids’ club, a kids room service menu, and a signature on-site restaurant serving Greek food. If you want to go the whole nine yards, book yourself a suite and receive butler service as well as a Nespresso machine added to your room! Check rates and read reviews here.
Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbor (Bal Harbor): Just a short way off from the upscale shopping at Bal Harbour shops, yet hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is the serene Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour. With an Exhale spa, an award-winning fitness Center and only two elegant rooms per floor equipped with stand alone tubs and terraces, you’ll really get to experience what 5-star luxury is all about! Check rates and read reviews here.
Sunny Isles Beach & Adventura
Across the bridge from the island that’s home to Miami Beach, Surfside, and Bal Harbor, this next long island leads into Fort Lauderdale. Actually, if you’re staying up here you’re probably better off flying into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) instead of Miami International (MIA). I haven’t been up to this area yet, but there are a couple of places in the area I seriously have my eye on.
Acqualina Resort (Sunny Isles Beach): Situated about 12 miles outside the excitement of Miami Beach, Acqualina Resort offers its guests giant ocean-view rooms, three pools, a Beach Club Pool where everyone loves to laze about, and signature restaurants serving up delicious food from different cuisines. This self-contained oasis is a breath of fresh air to those looking for some blissful alone-time. Check pricing and read reviews here.
JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa (Adventura): JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa is the perfect getaway destination for families. The room rates at this unique resort include admission to the on-site Tidal Cove Waterpark. Yup, you heard that right – waterpark! That’s not all, the luxurious property also offers up two golf courses, four restaurants and a spa. It really is a holiday island unto itself – sans the beach. Keep in mind that since the resort’s facilities are open to the public, it can get a little crowded sometimes, especially near the entrance areas. Check rates and read reviews here.
I LOVE Brickell and downtown Miami. Read all about it here. It’s new, young, and hip and it feels like such a bustling neighborhood (people out walking their dogs everywhere, shops and restaurants, etc.). And everything is pretty new and shiny. I think Brickell is a great option to stay if you’re coming to Miami to sightsee and not just for a beach vacation. If you want to see the museums and sites, the Everglades, Little Havana, Wynwood, South Beach, etc., you can’t beat the location.
Four Seasons Miami (Brickell): I love the Four Seasons and while this one isn’t on the beach, it’s close to the water in downtown Miami. Perfect if you’re coming to the city for an event or even on a layover heading for the Caribbean. Check pricing and read reviews here.
This is probably going to be the next area that I stay in Miami. It’s very historic and well preserved and I gather it feels more like “Old Florida” than other parts of Miami.
The Biltmore (Coral Gables): Built in the 1920s, this hotel is a National Historic Landmark and an ideal place to stay if you want to enjoy the Miami sunshine without the chaos of South Beach. It has a golf course, tennis center, and fabulous spa and it’s pretty close to the famous Venetian Pool. Check pricing and read reviews here.
Hotel Colonnade: Sophisticated and a little bit trendy, this posh place is the perfect spot to stay if you want to feel like you’re staying in a cute neighborhood and less like a big city. It’s also part of Marriott Bonvoy so you can use your points. Book directly with the Colonnade here.
Everybody I talk to in Miami says you have to go to the “Grove.” It’s Miami’s oldest neighborhood and it seems to be where everybody wants to hang out. There don’t seem to be a ton of hotels so maybe it’s only a place to go to visit (it’s more of a local neighborhood), but definitely check out the options.
Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove: You can’t go wrong with a Ritz-Carlton and this one located on the water in Miami’s oldest neighborhood is a cool (but not too trendy) place to stay. Book directly with Ritz Carlton here.
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