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Downtown Miami is a wonderful and safe day trip - but not a night time destination for families as most of the city shutters closed at the end of the business day. For the party crowd however, the club scene is RED HOT... all night long!
Print out this page if you need a quick guide for a pre- or post- cruise day trip through Downtown Miami ...
There is a lovely Modern Art Museum (www.miamiartmuseum.org) that shares a courtyard with the South Florida Historical Museum (www.historical-museum.org). Just across the street is Cacique - a typical Cuban Restaurant, good for a quick lunch. If you're looking for something a little more upscale, 2 blocks east of the museums on Flagler Street is a favorite Italian Bistro - La Loggia - whos entrance faces the Miami Courthouse. Entrees range from salads to sandwiches to more traditional hot dishes like Chicken Parmesean and a daily seafood special. Prices range from $8 to no more than $14-$15 at the very top end of the hot lunch menu.
Pop over to 100 South Biscayne. This large office complex on the corner has a sort of tunnel running through the bottom. Inside you'll find Aguacate's - a great new Mexican themed restaurant that has a lovely breakfast burrito for just under $4 and a regular list of eggs and ham, bacon or sausage for under $5. Lunch choices are presented in a "do it yourself conga line" of traditional meats and toppings to fashion a taco, a burrito, an enchilada or whatever floats your boat! There is a storefront sushi place next door and a few discount stores worth a look...
On the north side of the building you'll see a blue neon sign for the discount store ROSS on the second floor (bargain alert!) and just next to the escalator that takes you up to ROSS is a Greek cafe Stoupsy's that has a full breakfast menu cooked while you wait. Again - really reasonable and good. 350 SE 1st St, Miami, 33131 - (305) 372-3663 (they deliver too!). The place is crowded weekdays with office workers gobbling up fresh grilled chicken, gyros (meat filled pita sandwiches) and Greek salads. Lines can be long but it is worth the wait. Stoupsy's Grill is a great place to stop if you have rented a car and are waiting for the free shuttle service to the Port of Miami as it adjoins the Hertz Rental Agency. Across the street, Premo's makes sub sandwiches to order.
Just around the corner from Stoupsy's - one block due west of Biscayne Blvd on 3rd Street is a Starbuck's Coffee shop. Next door, you will find Iron Sushi and the adjoining Quiznos's sub chain.
On that same street at the south corner is Offerdahl's cafe which features bakery fresh bagels and scrambled eggs etc. for breakfast and salads, sandwiches and chicken entrees at lunch. Also on 3rd Street is a wonderful Asian Bistro and a Philippine Buffet popular with the cruise ship staff.
You can have a delicious Tortilla Espanola (that's a Spanish style potato and onion omelette that's more baked than pan fried) at Navarre 353 SE 2nd Street. Just adjoining this tiny cafe is a Cuban coffee window called Cafe Con Leche Express. Have just ONE or stay awake all night...You can have a fabulous array of super sweet Cuban Pastry at Don Pan 127 SE 2nd Ave. Floridita is a Cuban luncheonette facing the fabulous discount jewelry exchange Seybold Building 36 NE 1ST St (entrance faces Macy*s Dept Store on Flagler Street but Cafe is at the back end of the arcade).
Shopping Downtown is a mixed bag of discount stores (Ross & Marshall's), a small Macy's, and the Seybold Building - a complex of discount jewellers and watch shops favored by locals for engagement rings, major bling-bling and specialty gifts. Most of the interesting discount shops face Flagler Street, Downtown's main drag. Tourists seeking the popular "look-alike" handbags already know that they are not "legal" but available nonetheless in the stores that circle the block around the corner from Macy's Department Store (SE 1 Av) and in the arcade beneath Marshall's on Flagler Street.
There are 2 shuttle busses to the Dolphin Mall from Downtown Miami and airport area hotels. The two, new, 29-passenger buses will have two routes:
Route 1: From the Hyatt Regency Miami, Sheraton Biscayne Bay Hotel, Ramada Dupont Center, Hotel Intercontinental Miami, and Best Western Marina Park Hotel to the mall.
Route 2: From the Wyndham Miami Airport Hotel, Miami International Airport Hotel, Miami Airport Courtyard South, Miami Airport Fairchild Inn South, and Miami Airport Marriott to the mall.
The Dolphin Shuttle runs seven days a week, ten hours a day. To give you an idea about timing, the last bus to the mall departs the Hyatt at 3.40pm and leaves the Mall at 8.30pm.
Here is a link to all the info and special offers at this GIANT outlet mall:
Need a beauty break? One block south of Macy's Flagler Street store is a great discount beauty supply shop - Metro Beauty - with a ladies salon and a separate, men's only traditional hot towel shave barber shop called Churchill's next door.
Need a massage? If you're going to be making the trek Downtown, check out Corporate Body at 100 S. Biscayne Blvd (305-371-4666) It's in an enclosed arcade just past the entrance to ROSS discount clothing store. They offer a quick pick- me-up chair massage or a full body table massage and do not usually require a reservation. Do call ahead for hours and details.
Just south of the city, over the bridge across the Miami River is Tobacco Road, the oldest bar and grill in Miami (liquor license #1) which is opened for lunch and features local bands in the evenings. Try the patio dining at Tobacco Road or the WONDERFUL seafood at the River Oyster House. The River has a great pulled pork sandwich on the menu that's a lunchtime treat. 650 S Miami Ave. The River and Tobacco Road bartenders are quite able to satisfy your cocktail needs. Further west on the Miami River, try Garcia's Seafood. A grilled mahi sandwich and a beer might be nice for lunch... 398 N.River Dr.
There is a free monorail circling the city - Metromover - which is always fun to ride and you can sightsee out the windows. See something interesting? Hop off and explore. You can hop back on and easily navigate back to your starting point. No charge.
The mover passes Bayside - the touristy bayfront shops run by the same firm as Boston's Faneuil Hall. Bayside has a large food court, usually some live music, a daiquiri bar and many specialty shops to buy gifts for the folks back home. It's clean and safe and a lot less REAL than the city of Miami, however both areas are worth a look if you're interested in exploring the Downtown Miami area. The best spot for dining in Bayside is Los Ranchos grill. Folks also enjoy the Hard Rock Cafe.
Addresses of BEST BETS FOR DINING:>
Aguacate's 100 S Biscayne Blvd
That Old Time Pizza Inc 360 SE 1st St
Union Square Cafe 200 S Biscayne Blvd # 200
Stoupsy's of Athens 350 SE 1st St
Sushi Bento 125 SE 3rd Ave
Offerdahls 195 SE 3rd Ave
Premios Deli 1 SE 3rd Ave
Lila's Bistro (& Habibi) 140 SE 1st Ave
Jamaica International Cafe 119 SE 1st Ave
Rigatti's Cafe 100 S Miami Ave
La Loggia Restaurant 68 W Flagler St
Mario the Baker Pizza 25 W Flagler St
Golden Carrot Health Food 201 NW 1st Ave
River Oyster House (& Tobacco Rd.) 650 S Miami Ave
Here are all the near by RENTAL CAR places for Cruise visitors:
Hertz Rent A Car 354 SE 1st St,
Enterprise Rent-A-Car 400 SE 2nd Ave
Budget Rent A Car 495 Brickell Ave
Enterprise Rent-A-Car 1601 Biscayne Blvd
Avis Rent A Car SE 1st Ave
Hotels near the Port of Miami and Downtown central market area include:
Holiday Inn - Port of Miami Downtown
340 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132