Citi Bike is a bike-share program where you can borrow a bike from scores of kiosks spread around Miami and Miami Beach. Miami is flat, but traffic can be horrendous (abundant and fast-moving), and there isn't much biking culture (or respect for bikers) just yet. Free paper maps of the bike network are available at some kiosks, or you can find one online. There's also a handy iPhone app that shows you where the nearest stations are.
For longer rides, clunky Citi Bikes are not ideal (no helmet, no lock and only three gears).
Other rental outfits:
Bike & Roll Also does bike tours.
Miami’s local bus system is called Metrobus and though it has an extensive route system, service can be pretty spotty. Each bus route has a different schedule and routes generally run from about 5:30am to 11pm, though some are 24 hours. Rides cost $2.25 and must be paid in exact change (coins or a combination of bills and coins) or with an Easy Card (available for purchase from Metrorail stations and some shops and pharmacies). An easy-to-read route map is available online. Note that if you have to transfer buses, you'll have to pay the fare each time if paying in cash. With an Easy Card, transfers are free.
A new free bus service has hit the streets of Miami, Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, Little Havana and Coral Gables, among other locations. The Trolley (www.miamigov.com/trolley) is actually a hybrid-electric bus disguised as an orange and green trolley. There are numerous routes, though they're made for getting around neighborhoods and not between them.
The most useful for travelers are the following:
Biscayne Travels along Biscayne Blvd; handy for transport from Brickell to Downtown and up to the edge of Wynwood.
Brickell Connects Brickell area (south of the Miami River in the Downtown area) with the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.
Coral Way Goes from Downtown (near the Freedom Tower) to downtown Coral Gables.
Wynwood Zigzags through town, from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts up through Wynwood along NW 2nd Ave to 29th St.
Miami Beach Trolleys
Miami Beach has four trolleys (www.miamibeachfl.gov/transportation) running along different routes, with arrivals every 10 to 15 minutes from 8am to midnight (from 6am Monday to Saturday on some routes):
Alton-West Loop Runs up (north) Alton Rd and down (south) West Ave between 6th St and Lincoln Rd.
Collins Link Runs along Collins Ave from 37th St to 73rd St. Catch it southbound from Abbott Ave and Indian Creek Dr.
Middle Beach Loop Runs up Collins Ave and down Indian Creek Dr between 20th and 44th Sts (southbound it also zigzags over to Lincoln Rd).
North Beach Loop Runs 65th to 88th St.
Car & Motorcycle
If you drive around Miami, there are a few things to know. Miami Beach is linked to the mainland by four causeways built over Biscayne Bay. They are, from south to north: the MacArthur (the extension of US Hwy 41 and Hwy A1A); Venetian ($1.75 toll); Julia Tuttle and John F Kennedy. There's also a $1.75 toll over the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne. The tolls are automated, so ask about hiring a Sunpass if you're renting a vehicle.
The most important north–south highway is I-95, which ends at US Hwy 1 south of Downtown Miami. US Hwy 1, which runs from Key West all the way north to Maine, hugs the coastline. It’s called Dixie Hwy south of Downtown Miami and Biscayne Blvd north of Downtown Miami. The Palmetto Expwy (Hwy 826) makes a rough loop around the city and spurs off below SW 40th St to the Don Shula Expwy (Hwy 874, a toll road). Florida’s Turnpike Extension makes the most western outer loop around the city. Hwy A1A becomes Collins Ave in Miami Beach.
Miami has an annoying convention of giving major roads multiple names. So for example, Bird Rd is also SW 40th St and Hwy 976. Hwy 826 is the Palmetto Expwy. US 1 is the Dixie Hwy – except in Downtown, when it becomes Biscayne Blvd. Hwy 836 is the Dolphin Expwy, while in Miami Beach 5th St becomes A1A. Calle Ocho is SW 8th St, as well as the Tamiami Trail, and US 41 (phew), and Hwy 959 is Red Rd, except when it’s SW 57th St. Somehow, this isn’t as confusing as it reads on paper – most signage indicates every name a route may have, but it can be frustrating to first-time Miami drivers.
Besides the causeways to Miami Beach, the major east–west roads are SW 8th St; Hwy 112 (also called Airport Expwy); and Hwy 836 (also called Dolphin Expwy), which slices through Downtown Miami and connects with I-395 and the MacArthur Causeway, and which runs west to the Palmetto Expwy and Florida’s Turnpike Extension.
Miami drivers are…how can we put this delicately?…aggressive, tailgating jerks who’d cut off their grandmother if they could figure out how to properly change lanes. We are, of course, kidding. Not all Miami drivers fit the above description, but there are enough of these maniacs about to make driving here an occasional (and sometimes not-so-occasional) nightmare.
You can find great deals on car rental in Miami, with rates starting as low as $20 per day. It's useful to have a car if you want to do some exploring beyond South Beach and Downtown, particularly for visiting places like Coral Gables and North Miami Beach.
Most rental companies require that you have a major credit card, that you be at least 25 years old and that you have a valid driver’s license (your home license will do but an IDP is recommended). Some national companies may rent to drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 for an additional charge. Those under 21 are usually not permitted to rent at all.
There are car-rental agencies all over town, with loads of options in Miami Beach, in Downtown Miami and at the airport.
Keep in mind a few basics: you must pay for parking nearly everywhere. And if you don't, expect no mercy from the parking enforcement gods. You will be quickly towed and have to pay upwards of $200 plus all the associated headaches to retrieve your vehicle.
Most on-street parking is now done by smartphone app or pay by phone (though there are still a few pay-and-display ticket machines at some locations). You'll need to enter license plate number, your vehicle location (posted on street signs wherever you park) and the duration for your stay. The app to use in Miami is Pay By Phone (www.paybyphone.com). In Miami Beach, you'll need to use Park Mobile (www.parkmobile.com). In most places, street parking is free between 3am and 9am. At all other times, you'll have to pay.
On South Beach there’s metered street parking along most streets (except Lincoln Rd and residential areas). Most allow you to pay for up to three hours, after which you can pay again for another chunk of time. Parking rates vary, but typically range between $1.50 and $3 per hour.
There are many municipal parking garages, which are usually the easiest and cheapest option – look for giant blue ‘P’ signs. You’ll find several located along Collins Ave and Washington Ave.
Taxi fares are $2.95 for the first 1/6 of a mile, then $0.85 for each addition 1/6 of a mile up to a mile. It's then $0.40 each 1/6 of a mile thereafter. For a 20-minute trip (Lincoln Rd to Brickell City Center for instance), the fare is upwards of $30.
Given the high prices of taxis, and inconvenience of ordering them, most Miami residents use ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber.
The Metromover, which is equal parts bus, monorail and train, is helpful for getting around Downtown Miami. It offers visitors a great perspective on the city and a free orientation tour of the area.
Metrorail is a 21-mile-long heavy-rail system that has one elevated line running from Hialeah through Downtown Miami and south to Kendall/Dadeland. Trains run every five to 15 minutes from 6am to midnight. The one-way fare is $2.25. Pay with either the reloadable Easy Card or single-use Easy Ticket, which are sold from vending machines at Metrorail stations.
The regional Tri-Rail double-decker commuter trains run the 71 miles between Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Fares are calculated on a zone basis; the shortest distance traveled costs $4.40 round-trip; the most you’ll ever pay is for the ride between MIA and West Palm Beach ($11.55 round-trip). No tickets are sold on the train, so allow time to make your purchase before boarding. All trains and stations are accessible to riders with disabilities. For a list of stations, log on to the Tri-Rail website.