Miami has two contrasting images in the popular imagination. On the positive side, this coastal metropolis is a party-hearty haven with exquisite Art Deco architecture, snow-white beaches, and Latino heritage. On the downside, Miami has been associated with cocaine trafficking, violence, and theft. Understandably, many new tourists are concerned about safety while planning a trip to this South Florida city. So, is Miami Beach safe to visit? We did the research to bring you the answer.
While crime rates aren’t as high as they were in the 1980s, Miami has higher-than-average crime rates versus national standards. However, most of this crime is concentrated in non-touristy areas of the city. Therefore, as long as you practice common sense and stay close to the Miami Beach area, you should have a safe experience in this city.
Despite Miami’s ongoing crime problems, millions of tourists have no issues enjoying this city’s beaches, shopping centers, and attractions each year. You can have a safe experience on a Miami vacation as long as you’re aware of your surroundings, stick to touristy areas, and take a few simple steps to protect yourself. Please keep reading to learn tips on having a safe experience in Jackie Gleason’s favorite beach!
Staying Safe On South Beach — Top Safety Considerations For Miami Tourists
Since tourism is a significant part of Miami’s economy, the city government places a great emphasis on public safety. Indeed, Miami’s violent crime rate fell from 4,473 to 2,978 between 2014 and 2018. While this is good news, it doesn’t mean you could let down your guard as a tourist. Please keep the following points in mind when planning your Miami vacation.
What Areas Of Miami Are Dangerous?
Like many other big cities in America, Miami's crime is concentrated in areas far from the main tourist zones. Here are a few of the neighborhoods in and around Miami with the worst safety rankings:
- Little Haiti
- Upper East Side
- Little Havana
Also, please be wary of pickpockets while in Miami, especially in crowded areas like Washington Avenue. Local police advise placing your wallet in a front pocket to deter criminals. You could also invest in a wallet that wraps around your neck.
On the opposite extreme, the Key Biscayne area is often ranked as one of Florida’s safest cities. Other secure zones to stay in the Greater Miami Metro include Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and Pinecrest.
If you’d like more info on the latest safety standards in Miami, we’d recommend reading this previous post titled Is Florida Safe To Visit?
Spring Break Shenanigans — How Bad Does It Get?
If you don’t like loud parties, then you’d better avoid Miami Beach during spring break. As you may have already heard, Miami Beach is one of the USA’s top spots where college students let loose after midterms.
These parties have become incredibly rowdy in recent years, and a few South Beach brawls have even ended up in the mainstream media. Local authorities have stepped up their police patrols in recent years, and the city government even placed a ban on liquor sales after 8 PM. Police units are also enforcing CDC-approved guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.
While these efforts may help to tame spring breakers, it’s still not ideal for tourists to visit during spring unless you’re really like to party. For a more relaxed Miami vacation, be sure to schedule your vacation long after spring break.
To learn more about the best times to visit Miami, please check out our post on the Best Times To Visit Florida.
Can You Drink Alcohol In Miami Beach?
Although plenty of spring breakers conceal alcohol on Miami Beach, it’s technically against the law. According to Miami’s ordinances, it’s illegal to drink alcohol while on the beach. Miami also has laws banning visitors from bringing aluminum cans and coolers on the beach.
Natural Safety Hazards In Miami - Surviving The Sun & Storms
When we talk about safety, we often focus on crime and theft. While these are significant concerns, it’s also essential to recognize the safety hazards posed by Mother Nature. In Miami, excessive sunlight is a prominent cause of concern. True, the sun has plenty of healing vitamin D—but too much of anything can be a health hazard. If you’re going to be sunbathing on South Beach, you need to apply high-quality sunscreen throughout the day.
The other significant natural threat Miami visitors must consider is hurricane season. Formally, Florida’s hurricane season lasts from June till November. While hurricanes could occur in any of these months, storms are most active between August and September. If you choose to visit Miami during these months, you must stay up-to-date on the latest weather forecasts. Be sure to download an app like the Weather Channel or AccuWeather for accurate info on potential rainstorms.
Travel Tips For First-Time Miami Visitors
Now that you know how to protect yourself in Miami, you may be wondering what to do once you get here. Let’s go over a few travel tips to make the most out of your time in Miami.
How Many Days Are Enough For Miami?
If you’re not going to stray far from the Miami Beach area, most tourists recommend staying at least three days. This should give you enough time to explore all the top beaches, museums, entertainment venues, and shopping centers in the Miami Metro Area.
However, if you want to explore a few nearby sites like the Florida Keys or Everglades National Park, you should schedule at least one week in Miami. Be sure to look through our Top 11 Self-Drive Day Trips From Miami for more Miami-based travel inspiration.
What Should I Not Miss in Miami?
While most tourists stick to South Beach, there are so many fascinating attractions spread throughout Miami. In fact, one of the top-rated destinations in the city is an Italian-inspired mansion called the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Located in Coconut Grove, this former residence now houses exquisite European relics and one of the most Instagrammable gardens in all of Florida!
Speaking of Instagrammable, be sure to take your time admiring the Art Deco architecture as you’re enjoying those Miami Beach vibes. You’ll find many of the most famous buildings on a stroll down Ocean Drive.
Of course, what’s a trip to Miami without a little shopping?! Luckily for shop-a-holics, Miami is home to numerous malls, including the Dolphin Mall, the Aventura Mall, and the Dadeland Mall. You’ll also find plenty of outdoor shopping in the famous Bayside Marketplace.
For those traveling with kiddos, you should schedule a trip to the Miami Children’s Museum, Zoo Miami, or the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. If you have extra time, consider taking a trip to nearby Everglades National Park or Biscayne National Park.
Stay Safe On Your Miami Getaway!
Miami is neither the safest nor the most dangerous city in the USA. While you should take extra precautions when planning your vacation, you shouldn’t get paranoid. As long as you take a few preventative measures and are super aware of your surroundings, you should have a safe time exploring this sunny city.