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Roll sunshine, white sand, and endless activities into one thriving beachside city and you've got Miami. Miami attracts visitors looking for warm weather, inviting water, soft sand beaches, and sizzling nightlife. But beyond just the beach, Miami manages to be just the ticket for an impressive variety of travelers. Between kid-friendly waters and attractions featuring monkeys, alligators, and other exotic animals, there's no shortage of family activities in and around Miami. Jetsetters with money to burn can rub shoulders with celebrities at the many upscale hotels, swank restaurants, and exclusive nightclubs. Miami is known as the Gay Riviera, and South Beach in particular is popular among travelers looking for a welcoming atmosphere, famous nightlife, and year-round events. Outdoor enthusiasts can golf, snorkel, and boat their way through Miami; and for the adventurous, there's always nearby Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. Architecture buffs surround themselves with outstanding examples of the Art Deco style, and for consummate shoppers, there's no shortage of boutiques, outdoor shopping promenades, and outlet malls. In addition to being a destination, Miami is also a jumping off point. Touting itself as the "Cruise Capital of the World," Miami is the home port for year-round sailings to the Caribbean and beyond on Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and other cruise lines. With service from dozens of airlines, flights to Miami are never hard to come by.

When To Go

Miami is an exceptional getaway any time of year. The beaches are as welcoming in December as they are in July, and the weekend nightlife rocks year-round. The question of when to go is really based on the type of vacation you desire. You can choose the energy of peak season with its throngs of revelers and usually perfect winter weather, or you can choose low season for the cheapest fares and emptier beaches. Typically, when more northerly U.S. states get cold, Miami tourism heats up. The season, as locals refer to Miami's peak tourism months, runs from January through April. June through September are, relatively speaking, the quietest months, but Miami still gets many travelers during the summer. Come to Miami during the season, and you'll find the town is packed to the gills. If your travel plans must be for these months, be sure to book well ahead of time and expect sky-rocketing hotel costs, long waits, and crowded beaches. Weekdays are always less busy than weekends, no matter what the season.

high season: January to April
low season: June to September
shoulder season: May, October to December

Weather Information

Miami has warm weather year-round; highs are almost always in the 70s and 80s. Even on cloudy days, a hat and sunblock are a must to prevent sunburn. Humidity is worse in the summer months and can be oppressive, especially to travelers used to dry heat. June has the least desirable weather, as it traditionally sees the most rainfall. All of Florida is located within the hurricane belt, so Miami is at risk for hurricanes and tropical storms between June 1 and November 30. To prepare for travel during these months, purchase travel insurance that covers you in the event of a hurricane and keep a close watch on the weather forecast prior to departure.

Crowd Information

The entire city feels crowded during peak season, making the winter months best for people watching and worst for getting dinner reservations. Although hotels may sell out on summer weekends, you won't find crowds on the beach or at area attractions. South Beach operates on a late-night clock, so if you want to beat the rush at eateries and clubs, opt for an early entrance. The nightlife tends to heat up close to midnight; arrive any earlier and you're likely to be drinking alone.

Closure Information

The beach is open for business year-round, as are hotels, restaurants, and attractions. However, hotels are constantly upgrading their properties, and you can expect they'll try to schedule any closures for renovations during the slow season.

When to Save

The low-season summer months are the least expensive time to visit Miami, and at hotels, weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends. In the peak season, you may find small price breaks by traveling midweek rather than on the weekend, but prices tend to be high regardless. Dining and attraction prices fluctuate less with the seasons, but occasionally you'll find summer discounts or coupons intended to drum up business.

When to Book

Many hotels sell out in advance on winter weekends, while in the summer, some hotels post hopeful "Vacancy" signs on Collins Avenue. The best rule of thumb is to book as far in advance as you can, especially if you have a specific property, location, or price range in mind. You might be able to get away with a last-minute booking in the off-season, but it's vital to book several months in advance during the winter. Also, room prices rise as the hotel fills up, so the earlier you book, the cheaper the room rate you'll pay.

Information provided by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau