Miami is a particularly colourful swirl in the great American melting pot; few cities are more diverse and cosmopolitan, and even fewer can boast white-sand beaches and endless days of perfect sunshine, too.
Half of Miami’s population is Hispanic, including a sizeable community of Cuban exiles, which gives the city a fast-paced rhythm and Latin swagger that is as much a part of the Caribbean and South America as it is Florida. Districts such as Coral Gables, Little Havana and Coconut Grove offer the kind of sultry indulgences their names suggest, but it is South Beach (SoBe) that’s the heart of the party scene in a city that takes its hedonism, ostentation and extravagance very seriously. The wide sweep of SoBe sand between the famous candy-coloured art deco beachfront of Ocean Drive and the Atlantic surf is both Miami’s playground and its catwalk. Beyond the bling and bikinis lies a city of stylish restaurants, decadent lounge bars and a burgeoning arts scene offering irresistible Miami virtues and vices in equal measure.
Winter (December to March) is the peak season here, particularly with US tourists, so you’ll need to book well in advance; same goes for the fortnight around Carnival weekend in October. Miami is in the most southerly state, and enjoys year-round sunshine, so there’s no bad time to go unless you can’t take the heat: summer temperatures usually hover around 30º Celsius and it can feel very humid. June to November is hurricane season, so keep an ear out for any warnings during this time.