Uniquely Miami

What to Do in Miami Before Cruising: Guide to Unique Miami

Miami is home to one of the world’s largest ports and one of America’s best vacation cities. You have probably heard about the famous beaches and 365 days of summer, but there’s a whole lot more to this town once you peel back the layers. We’ve created this handy guide for the cruiser seeking a Uniquely Miami experience before or after they set sail.

What To Do in Downtown Miami Before Your Cruise


Staying at a Hilton hotel in Downtown Miami puts you just minutes from the cruise port, and close to some of Miami’s hottest spots. There are great options for all types of travelers including the chic boutique-style hotel, The Gabriel Miami, Curio Collection by Hilton or the comfortable suite hotel, Homewood Suites in Miami Downtown/Brickell.

Those staying at Hiltons in Downtown Miami have the whole city at their fingertips, but you’ll need some energy to see and do it all. Start your day with a quick ride over to Panther Coffee where you can sip on a freshly-roasted cup of coffee. This Miami-based specialty roaster puts their roasting process on display every Monday morning and throughout the afternoon. The smell alone will draw you in and wake you up! 

From there, the Wynwood Walls are just a short walk down the way. These huge displays of street art are famous the world over and visitors come from around the globe to enjoy the graffiti-style art. Take a stroll through layers of stunning imagery among an array of contrasting colors, or sip a mocha at the adjoining cafe as you take in the scenery. Miami is a multicultural city, and nowhere is that more on display than through the art galleries and local boutiques that line the streets of Wynwood. Forbes once ranked Wynwood as one of America’s “Hippest” neighborhoods thanks to the modern art that has encompassed the city.

Stay in South Beach After Your Cruise


The day you disembark a cruise ship is a sad one, indeed. However, when you’re cruising from Miami, getting off the ship doesn’t mean vacation has to end. Booking a beachside hotel is a vacationers way to extend that cruise an extra day. Staying on the beach, you’ll find yourself just steps from Miami’s art deco district. The stunning architecture and exciting color schemes bring a vision of the fabulous 50’s. Stroll down Ocean Drive and stop in to one of the many restaurants for a quick refreshment. South Beach is known for a host of cocktails bigger than your head! Sharing is optional.

After you have wet your whistle with a South Beach cocktail, take a quick journey over to the Design District for an art-lovers paradise. The Institute of Contemporary Art Miami on the mainland is one of the newest galleries to open in Miami, and it is a must see. Not only is the gallery completely free for visitors, it hosts a number of special events every year highlighting local and emerging artists who are breaking boundaries and creating waves in the world of art. Modern art is about freedom of expression and you’ll find that in droves at this gallery. 

Special Credits:

Installation view Eric-Paul Riege: Hólǫ́—it xistz at ICA Miami. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio. 

Installation view Robert Gober, 1978–2000, 1978–2000, and Untitled, 1993–1994 (Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami). Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio.

Fly Into Miami a Day Early & Explore Little Havana


You can’t visit Miami without checking out one of the coolest neighborhoods in the entire city: Little Havana. What makes Little Havana so authentic is the fact that a fourth of the population is Cuban!

The best part about staying at a Hilton near the airport is that the hotels offer transportation options to PortMiami and the airport to make your experience as seamless as possible. You’re also just a few blocks from Domino Park and authentic Cuban coffee. Stroll through the park and get your picture taken with the colorful parrots before watching Cuban-Americans playing a spirited game of dominos. 

Ball & Chain, one of the most popular live venues in Little Havana, is a spot for locals and tourists alike. Open since 1935, Ball & Chain has seen Miami go from dirt roads to glitzy high rises, but the bar and lounge’s unique charm has stayed exactly the same. Danzón and mambo music flow from Ball & Chain nightly and it’s the best place to cut the rug before you head to your ship in the morning. 

The best part about staying near the airport including at the Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon is one way transportation for two to PortMiami on embarkation day and up to seven days of parking for those with a vehicle. They’ll also give you a ride to the airport when it’s finally time to go home! 

There’s a ton to do in the Miami and if you’re cruising from the Magic City, make sure you leave time before and after to explore! From the food and art to Cuban culture not found anywhere else in the United States, Miami is as unique as it gets. For more great things to do, check out Hilton’s awesome guide to the city with maps, restaurant recommendations and more for all your vacation needs!