miami like a local

Vacationing in Miami like a local

Whenever I see people vacationing in Miami, I wonder, what do tourists do here? I’m still not sure about that. But I know what locals do. To experience Miami like a local, you have to get super hyped about the newest popular place to see and be seen. When the magic of that wears off, you go enjoy the same spots that have been popular for as long as anyone can remember.

The Wharf

People from Miami post only 3 kinds of Instagram posts: photos at Disney, photos in traffic, and photos at the Wharf. The Wharf was designed to make the dumpy area along the Miami River look hip and cool. And everyone in Miami fell for it, hook line and sinker. You can arrive by car or boat (because Miami is douchy like that) to enjoy a drink and a snack on their wooden deck. This is the spot where all of Miami is flocking to these days, because no one in Miami misses a hot new social spot. It’s like against the law.


miami like a local

Flanigan’s has been popular since everyone was in high school because they used to have $2 margaritas. They don’t anymore, but they still have rib rolls and Miami people love that shit. In fact, some Miami locals never go anywhere else. The fun thing about Flanigan’s is each Flanigan’s might as well be in a different country. You might find classic rock-loving white people in Kendall or a super loud Cuban fiesta in Hialeah. But the soothing neon green interior lighting and good food is guaranteed at every location.


Unless you’re rich or old, you probably don’t care about golf. Enter Topgolf, which is like bowling but with golf clubs. You can reserve a bay for you and your friends or for a date, to make you seem cool and vaguely wealthy, which is the primary ethos of Miami-Dade County. With a variety of different games, you can work on your swing without springing for an expensive country club membership.

Haulover Sandbar

miami like a local

One of the most Miami things to do that locals actually love to do is hang out at the Haulover Sandbar. The sandbar brings boaters from around Miami and kayakers from local parks to listen to ratchet music and get wasted in crystal clear waist-deep waters. There are food boats, people throwing Frisbees, girls in skimpy bikinis. It’s everything TV makes you think happens in Miami. Since it’s in the middle of the bay, the only way to get there is on water. So rent a kayak or charter a boat or make a good friend with a yatch. And bring lots of booze.


I’ve never seen so much hype about something that’s still at least 2 years away as I have the Major League Soccer (MLS) in Miami. This is due in large part to soccer star David Beckham hyping up local soccer fans by hosting events and even attending county commissioner town halls to try to make a soccer team happen in Miami. And the epicenter of the MLS action is Fado, Brickell’s Irish pub and American Outlaw viewing location for USA soccer. For people who don’t like soccer, Fado has an amazing Irish brunch and a higher than average chance of seeing David Beckham.

Local breweries

A couple of years ago, Miami decided to become a beer brewing hub. It’s been an extremely successful venture, so the trend has spawned dozens of spots to visit for a craft beer. What started as a cool Wynwood thing with Wynwood Brewing Company and Concrete Beach has exploded all over town. Now you can find popular taprooms in some of the lesser traveled areas of town like Lincoln’s Beard at the Bird Road Art District and The Tank in Medley.

Shark Valley

The Everglades is like the beach. It’s always there and no Miami local ever sees it. But when biking became a thing a couple of years ago, so did Shark Valley. Along the 15-mile Tram Road route, you’ll see a ton of local species native to the Everglades like alligators and birds. There’s also a tower at the halfway point of the trail to give you a panoramic view. If you’re in town without a bike, you can rent them from the Shark Valley Tram Tour Company.

Knaus Berry Farm

miami like a local

From November to April, one of the most popular activities for Miamians is waiting in line for 2-3 hours for cinnamon rolls at Knaus Berry Farm. This Homestead gem brings crowds all day long for strawberry picking and a good milkshake. But the real draw is the bakery, which always has the longest line. People buy baked goods in bulk because after waiting that long, getting just one is kind of criminal.

The Standard

Locals love to show off the fact that they had $150 to spare or a well-connected friend by going to the spa at the Standard. It’s basically like no other spa exists. With everything you need to relax like saunas, steam rooms, and yoga classes, this is the most popular place in town to take a mental health day. Everyone in Miami has been to the Standard. And I’m like what the fuck, you’re a cashier at Whole Foods? Whatever, girl, do you!

Extreme Axe Throwing

Miami loves short-lived sensations. Escape rooms and frozen yogurt, this city has seen it all. And perhaps axe throwing will soon become the new in thing. God knows the traffic makes me wanna decapitate someone with a metal hatchet. Well, now you can practice this skill at Extreme Axe Throwing, with two convenient South Florida locations. It’s booked by the hour and a half and includes instruction, so you can really hone your throw. The place also low-key sells alcohol, which is super disconcerting and oh-so-Miami.

Get the GPS-guided version of this and other Miami guides on GPSmyCity here.


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