New to Miami Guide 

Hello! And welcome! We’re so excited you’re here or are thinking of making Miami your new home! We want to have you feeling like a local in no-time so we put together this handy guide to get you up-to-speed on all things Miami and to answer some of your burning questions about what life is like in the Magic City. Have questions we didn’t cover here? Tweet them at @refreshmiami or email us at: team@refreshmiami.com and we’ll be happy to get you the answers and add them to the guide. This is meant to be a living, breathing document that we continue to improve upon so feel free to let us know about things we may have missed!

A bit more about us: Refresh Miami is a non-profit whose mission is to support and grow the Miami tech and startup community. We’ve been at this since 2006 and have over 12,000 members – growing larger by the day! We highly recommend subscribing to our weekly email newsletter to stay up-to-date on all things #MiamiTech. 

Lastly, to learn more about the values we strive to uphold as a community, visit wearemiamitech.com and take the pledge!

Table of Contents

A HUGE THANK YOU to the ongoing list of contributors who have helped produce this document to date including Marcella Mccarthy, Nancy Dahlberg, Nephtalie Hyacinthe and Chris Adamo

Getting Acquainted with Miami

How old is Miami?

Only 125 years old. In comparison, San Francisco is 244 years old, and New York City is about 396 years old. Miami was incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896, with a population of just over 300. It was named for the Miami River, derived from Mayaimi, the historic name of Lake Okeechobee and the Native Americans that lived around it. To learn more about Miami’s history, check out the HistoryMiami Museum.

What movies should I watch or books should I read to learn about Miami and its history? 

Movies:

Books

We’re proud to have one of the few independent bookstores in the country that’s doing well and growing, so we’re linking to them (Books & Books) instead of big-name online stores.

What are some Hollywood hits set in Miami?

How big is Miami?

Often, when people think and talk about Miami, they are thinking of everywhere from Homestead to Aventura, and Doral to Miami Beach, but the truth is, each of those places are cities in and of themselves. The City of Miami is actually small-ish. What people are actually talking about is Miami-Dade County. (Don’t worry, we use the two interchangeably, too). The city of Miami only goes from Coconut Grove to Little Haiti, and doesn’t even include Miami Beach (another city). Take a look at a City of Miami map below for a better understanding.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Miami proper has about 470,000 people. Miami-Dade County has about 2.8 million people. See a map of Miami-Dade below. 

Living

If I want to be plugged into all things Miami, what publications should I check out?

What’s the difference between the neighborhoods?

Our friends at The New Tropic came up with this awesome Miami Neighborhood Guide that will have you eager to explore!

Do I need to know Spanish?

The general consensus is the further west you go, the more Spanish speaking it gets. Otherwise, you’ll be able to get around (with the occasional scrape) with just English. Something to note, some people here, who speak English, are often used to just starting a conversation in Spanish, but feel free to speak back in English. Once they realize you don’t know Spanish, they are likely to switch over to English. *Some of the Uber/Lyft drivers may speak minimal English.

Do I need to know Haitian-Creole? 

Haitian-Creole is spoken in various cities in Miami-Dade. Starting from North Miami Beach heading South to North Miami, and ends in Little Haiti, Haitian-Creole is widely spoken. Haitian-Americans will respect that English is the Language of the land however you might get an extra smile if you address them with a “Sak Pase”? Haitian-Creole will also serve you when placing an order at a Haitian Restaurant because who really can translate “Sos Pwa” and “Griot” to English.

Do I need a car?

It would be helpful, but it’s not a must if you live in Brickell or South Beach – two of our few walkable neighborhoods that also have plenty of scooters and a trolley. However, to leave those neighborhoods you’ll need to go by car. Brickell, Wynwood, Edgewater, Midtown and South Beach are all within a 15 minute Uber/Lyft ride of each other. We feel like we should warn you that while we have a public bus system, a metro-rail, and a metro-mover, all these options are much slower than driving/ridesharing, unlike NYC where taking the subway is actually faster than going by car.

Does Miami have good public transportation?

It’s really subpar and takes a lot longer than going by car. That being said, Miami-Dade has a transit app you can download that helps with planning your trip. We’ve also broken down all the public transit options for you below.

  • Metrorail (North – South + West to airport)
  • Metrobus (throughout Miami-Dade County, but terribly inefficient)
  • Metromover (Brickell and Downtown)
  • Tri-Rail (Miami to Palm Beach commuter rail)
  • Brightline (Miami to Palm Beach commuter rail, but it’s faster and has fewer stops)
  • Trolley (free, slow, for short distances)
  • Miami Beach Trolley (free) *temporarily not working due to Covid
  • Uber/Lyft
  • Scooters/bike share
  • Freebee (free, very slow, some areas)

Is traffic in Miami crazy?

It can be, but here are some ways to minimize your time in gridlock. Like most other big cities, rush hour is a challenge if you go on the major routes and highways. Specifically, you’ll want to avoid US-1, the Palmetto, and I-95 South in the morning and North in the evening (though the express lanes can help a lot). Also, people don’t always use turn signals here, so you’ll need to be aware of that when you hit the road. We think this Driving in Miami guide will also give you a good overview of what to expect.

What idiosyncrasies should I be aware of?

  • People are often late to social gatherings, appointments, you name it. It’s not a matter of being rude – for many, it’s part of the Latin culture we grew up with. We call it “Miami time.” 
  • For non-Spanish speakers, it may all sound like Spanish, but each country has its own pronunciation, intonation and articulation. After living here for a few years, you’ll be able to differentiate between Colombians, Venezuelans, Argentinians, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, etc just by hearing them speak for two minutes!
  • Work to live, don’t live to work: While you’ll find people who are super focused on work and building great things, don’t be surprised if they still have a bustling life outside of work. After all, part of what attracts people to Miami is the quality of life.
  • Miami can oftentimes be the place for folks to reinvent themselves, which can lead to some shady characters. Before doing business with someone, we suggest doing some due-diligence. As the old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
  • Kissing on the cheek to say “hi.” It might feel like an invasion of your personal space, but it’s the way many locals show they are welcoming and excited to see you (or meet you!)

Where should I live?

I’m single or in a relationship, but don’t have kids: If you want to be in the middle of the action or pretty close to it, we think you’ll like some of these places: Downtown, Brickell, Wynwood, Edgewater, Midtown and South Beach (we wouldn’t recommend living on Ocean Drive unless you’re south of 5th street). 

According to Zumper, here are the average rents for a 1 bedroom in each of these neighborhoods:

  • Brickell: $2,050
  • Wynwood: $1,973
  • Edgewater: $1,900
  • Midtown: sorry, we’re still getting this data. Thanks for the patience.
  • South Beach: $1,550

I have a family: Some of the family-friendly neighborhoods include Coral Gables (gorgeous, tree-lined streets), Key Biscayne (an island 15 mins from downtown), Coconut Grove (15 minutes to Brickell), Upper East Side (series of neighborhoods just north of Midtown including Bay Point, Morningside, Little Haiti, Belle Meade, El Portal, Buena Vista, Shorecrest and Miami Shores), South Miami and Pinecrest (South of Coconut Grove, about 30-40 mins to downtown), Miami Beach (15-20 mins to downtown), North Miami, Miami Gardens and Kendall.

*All driving time is estimated and calculated without traffic.

What school should my kids go to?

If you have kids, schools are probably an important factor in terms of where you decide to live, so the first question to come to mind is likely: should I send my kids to public or private schools? That’s a very personal choice, but this information and these resources should help. 

Public School: Miami is home to some of the nation’s top magnet schools. Check out Niche’s rankings. In nearby Broward, the town of Weston has one of the best public high schools in the state: Cypress Bay High School. For other top Broward public schools,  check out the list on Niche (Broward is about a 30-45 mins drive to downtown Miami without traffic). Broward would be ideal for someone who is working mostly remotely and is just coming to Miami for meetings. If you can avoid it, you probably don’t want to be on 1-95, the Turnpike, or the Palmetto during rush hour.

Private Schools: If private school is an option for you and your family, here’s the ranking from Niche. Ransom Everglades, ranked #1 private school in the State of Florida, is located in Coconut Grove (serving grades 6-12).

Higher Education: South Florida is home to over 200,000 college and graduate students, and some very well regarded research institutions. Below is a small subset of the educational institutions you can find in Greater Miami.

  • Florida International University (Miami Dade)
    • Florida International University (FIU) is Miami’s only public research university. It was established in 1965 but didn’t open doors to students until 1972. Today it is one of the largest universities in the U.S. with over 58,000 students, over 80% of whom are minority. It graduates the most Hispanic engineers in the country. FIU is ranked #95 among public universities in US News & World Report and has the highest Carnegie Research classification of R1. Among universities, FIU in ranked 15 in the US and 50 globally for patent production. Graduates over 1600 Engineers per year, 500 in Computer Science
  • University of Miami (Miami Dade)
  • Miami Dade College (Miami Dade)
  • St. Thomas University (Miami Dade)
  • Barry University (Miami Dade)
  • Nova Southeastern University (Broward)
  • Broward College (Broward)
  • Florida Atlantic University (Palm Beach County)

Working

Where can I find tech job postings?

The Refresh Miami job board and Twitter. Founders often tweet job openings to their network of followers.

What are some of the big employers in the area hiring in tech?

What are the top co-working spaces?  

*means the space is local. ** means the space is very community oriented

Is Miami like New York or San Francisco?

Not really, in large part because no other city is like NYC or SF. Also, NYC and SF are “built out,” but we still have so much work to do and we’re happy to take all the help we can get to build our dream city. For people who like to build (u-huuu, entrepreneurs and techies), think of Miami not as a blank canvas, but as a place with a strong tech ecosystem, incredible diversity, powerful organizations and foundations, savvy and creative entrepreneurs, hard workers who are eager to grow and get ahead, and many locals and natives who are passionate about Miami and have been putting in the work for years because they see the city’s potential. You can read and sign the MiamiTech Manifesto, a set of guidelines and intentions for our burgeoning tech scene.

What are the main industries in Miami?

Miami is a gateway city, so many large, international companies have their Latin American headquarters here. While we don’t have much investment banking (like NYC), we’re strong in private banking and wealth management, real estate and real estate development, healthcare, cruising, tourism, boating, aviation, and logistics.

 

How do I get involved in the tech community here?

At the moment, a lot of the community building is happening online, but we haven’t lost any momentum, in fact, we’re full-steam ahead. To get a lay-of-the land, poke around Refresh Miami and some of the other organizations listed below. Tweet @refreshmiami and let us know you’re new here, and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

Who are the key people to follow on Twitter in MiamiTech? 

  • Check out this great list of #MiamiTech founders, investors,  community leaders and supporters.

I want to help make Miami better, who can I join forces with?

These groups are well-established and doing great work and would be happy to welcome your help, support, and involvement.

I have software skills to contribute to help solve local problems.

I want to volunteer my time

  • Code/Art: Inspiring girls to code
  • Code Fever: Increasing the innovation potential of black students, startups and communities 
  • Microsoft Teals: connects classroom teachers with tech-industry volunteers, through remote and in classroom learning, to create sustainable CS and technology education programs. 

I want to invest in local companies.

If you’re not planning on going at it alone, here are existing investment groups you can look into joining.

I want to donate to strengthen and grow the tech ecosystem.

  • Refresh Miami (that’s us) is a nonprofit with a mission to educate, inspire, connect and grow South Florida’s tech and startup ecosystem. With more than 11k members, we’re the leaders in startup and tech news, and our website serves as a digital hub to learn about all the events, jobs, opportunities and resources available in the community. To get our free weekly newsletter with the latest #MiamiTech news, click here. Refresh Miami was founded in 2006 by Brian Breslin, who is still very much involved. Maria Derchi Russo became the Executive Director in 2015. Both Maria and Brian are Miami natives who are passionate about growing the tech community in Miami.

I want to help grow and improve the local talent pool.

  • Ironhack, Wyncode and 4Geeks are locally grown and well-established coding bootcamps that often partner with individuals or organizations to offer scholarships to their programs.
  • Moonlighter Makerspace is a STEAM education and lab for children and adults.
  • The Center for Black Innovation is a think tank and black innovation ecosystem building organization.
  • Family Action Network Movement (FANM)’s mission is to empower Haitian women and their families socially, economically, politically and facilitate their adjustment to South Florida.
  • Sant La – Empowering, strengthening and uplifting South Florida’s Haitian community
  • W3RTech – Campaign to improve diversity in the workforce

I want to start a company here, where can I find resources for founders?

 

Leisure + Activities

Does Miami have ethnic food?

Actually, most of our food is ethnic! You can eat the cuisine of every Latin and Caribbean country without going too far. Have you had Haitian food? It’s one of our specialties along with Cuban cuisine and Asian fusion. Local chefs pair delicious sushi with exotic tropical flavors such as guava, mangos, and plantains, just to give you an idea. Check out this list of our personal favorites to get you started:

  • Cuban
    • Sergio’s – Several locations
    • La Carretta – Little Havana / Calle Ocho
    • Versailles – Little Havana / Calle Ocho
    • Enriqueta’s Café – Wynwood
    • El Rey De Las Fritas – Little Havana + Westchester
    • Puerto Sagua – Miami Beach
    • Doce Provisions – Little Havana
    • Cafe La Trova – Little Havana
  • Peruvian
    • CVI.CHE 105 – Downtown / Miami Beach
    • Pollos y Jarras – Downtown
    • Aromas de Peru – Several locations
    • Sabor a Peru – Edgewater
    • Sabor y Limon – Edgewater
  • Argentine
    • Grazianos – Several locations (including a grocer selling argentine meats)
    • Half Moon empanadas – several locations
    • Fiorito – Little Haiti
    • Manolos – Miami Beach (two locations)
    • Buenos Aires Bakery – Miami Beach
    • Quinto La Huella – Brickell (technically Uruguayan)
  • Brazilian
    • Boteco – Shorecrest
  • Central American
    • Yambo – Little Havana
    • Fritanga Morimbo – Sweetwater
    • Los Ranchos – Pinecrest
  • Mexican/Tacos (Ok Californians, go easy on us)
    • El Taquito – Coconut Grove / Little Havana
    • Coyo Taco – Multiple Locations
    • La Santa – Little River
  • Spanish
    • Delicias de España – South Miami
    • Xixon – Coral Gables
    • El Carajo – Coral Gables
    • Bulla – Multiple locations
    • Bar Meli – Mimo 
  • French
    • Le Bouchon du Grove – Coconut Grove
    • LPM (Le Petit Maison) – Brickell
  • Caribbean
    • Palatino – Wynwood (Jamaican)
    • B&M Market – Little River
    • Jamrock – Kendall (Jamaican)
    • Le Jardin – Little Haiti (Haitian)
    • Chef Creole – multiple locations
    • L’Auberge 
    • La Fourchette 
    • Cuisine Creole 
    • Chez Madame John’s
  • American BBQ
    • Shiver’s – Homestead
    • Uncle Tom’s – Coral Gables
    • Hometown BBQ – Allapattah
  • Seafood
    • Garcia’s Seafood
    • Mignonette
  • Japanese
    • Naoe – Brickell 
    • Miumi – Wynwood
    • Matsuri – Coral Gables
    • WabiSabi – Shorecrest
    • Itamae – Design District
  • Chinese
    • Tropical Chinese – Westchester
    • Blackbrick – Midtown
    • Hakkasan – Miami Beach 
  • Indian
    • Bombay Darbar – Coconut Grove
    • Ghee – Multiple locations
    • Zaika – North Miami
    • Ayesha Fine Dining – Midtown
    • Namaste – North Miami
  • Asian 
    • Miss Saigon – Vietnamese – Multiple locations
    • Tran Am – Vietnamese – Multiple locations
    • Lil Laos – Laotian – Little River
    • 1-800-Lucky – Asian food hall – Wynwood
  • Italian
    • Ironside – Little Haiti
    • Alloy Bistro – Downtown
    • Mister 01 Pizza – Multiple locations
    • Lucali – Miami Beach
    • Stazione 87 – Brickell
    • Fratelli Milano – Downtown Miami
    • Baiocco – MiMo
  • Coffee
    • Panther Coffee – Multiple locations
    • Per’la Coffee – Coral Gables
    • Vice City Bean – Multiple locations
    • Pasion De Cielo – Multiple locations
    • Sips Coffee Roasters – Allapattah 
    • PuRoast – Brickell
    • Tinta y Cafe – Coral Gables & Miami Shores

What gym should I sign-up for?

You might be thinking, “I can wear my bathing suit year-round here,” if so, you’re thinking like a local already. It can get pretty hot here, so there’s definitely a desire to look (and feel) your best. We’re listing our favorite gyms and studios below. We also recommend you try ClassPass if you want to get a taste of the different options.

Our Favorites

Does Miami have hiking trails?

Yes, but not with an incline. Instead, we have Everglades National Park, which encompasses 1.5 million acres and is about an hour from Downtown. For daily hikes, checkout Simpson Park (in the heart of Brickell), Crandon Park (Key Biscayne), and many others which you can find on this directory by Culture Trip. *Due to Covid, hours may have changed. Please check with individual parks before visiting.

What other outdoor activities does Miami have?

Art and cultural destinations

 

Annual Events

What are some of the major events in Miami?

Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale attract quite a few interesting events every year. Our usual roundup includes those below.

What’s Art Basel Miami?

It’s a contemporary art fair that started in Basel, Switzerland (pronounced Bah-zol) and now has outposts around the globe. All the art at the fair is for sale, and galleries from all over the world jet to Miami to exhibit. The main Art Basel fair is usually at the Miami Beach Convention Center, but there are satellite fairs around town. Basel (as the locals call it), usually takes place the week after Thanksgiving, and artists, collectors, celebrities, entrepreneurs, moguls and regular Joes flock to Miami to see and buy art, enjoy the kick-ass parties, and the weather, of course. Us locals have it easy – we just get to wake-up and mosey on over. Baseling has become a local verb that means: to enjoy all things Art Basel

Have questions we didn’t cover here? Tweet them at @refreshmiami or email us at: team@refreshmiami.com and we’ll be happy to get you the answers and add them to the guide.

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