Where to stay in Miami for first time: 6 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote articles about staying in Miami without a car and for families (I will put the links to them at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the safe places to stay in Miami for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Miami for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Miami and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Miami is a major city situated on the southeastern coast of Florida, along the Atlantic Ocean. It is known for its beautiful beaches, year-round pleasant weather, warm winters and hot, humid summers, making it a popular destination for tourists seeking sunshine.

It is a melting pot of cultures, with a significant influence from Latin America, particularly Cuba. This has led to a vibrant and diverse cultural scene, including music, art, and cuisine.

Popular attractions in Miami include the Art Deco Historic District in South Beach, Wynwood Walls, Little Havana, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and the beautiful Everglades National Park.

The Port of Miami is known as the Cruise Capital of the World. It serves as a gateway for cruise vacations to the Caribbean and beyond.

Is Miami safe to visit?

Yes, Miami is generally safe to visit, but like any major city, it has areas with higher crime rates. The popular tourist areas, such as South Beach, Downtown, and Coral Gables, are generally safe. 

But, it’s essential to remain vigilant, especially at night, and take common-sense precautions like avoiding poorly lit areas, take care of your belongings, and using reputable transportation services. 

While incidents can happen anywhere, most visitors to Miami have a safe and enjoyable experience. Staying aware and following basic safety guidelines can help ensure a positive visit to this vibrant city.

Where to stay in Miami for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Miami for first-timers and tourists are South Beach, Brickell/ Downtown, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Key Biscayne, North Beach/Bal Harbour/Surfside. It’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and take basic safety precautions wherever you go.

South Beach is the iconic Miami destination known for its beautiful beaches, Art Deco architecture, vibrant nightlife, and Ocean Drive. It’s a popular choice for first-timers who want to be in the heart of the action, with plenty of restaurants, bars, and clubs. 

Brickell/Downtown Miami is a great base if you prefer more cultural attractions. You’ll have easy access to the Pérez Art Museum and Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. It’s also a hub for business travelers.

Coral Gables and Coconut Grove are often known as the safest areas in Miami for tourists. They are upscale laid back neighborhoods with easy access to downtown Miami, the airport, and the beaches.

Key Biscayne and North Beach/Bal Harbour/Surfside are great for those seeking relaxing and family-friendly beach holidays. Key Biscayne has limited accommodation options, North Beach has more choices in terms of accommodations.

It is recommended avoiding or taking extra precautions in the areas of Overtown, Liberty City, Little Haiti, Allapattah, Brownsville (Model City), and Little Havana. 

When I visited Miami, I stayed at the mid-range Generator Miami in Miami Beach. It is a good value for money hotel, located in a great position, easy access to South Beach, restaurants, bars, and shops.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Miami for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best and safest areas to stay in Miami first time
Map of the best and safest areas to stay in Miami first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Miami, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Miami have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

6 Safe areas to stay in Miami for first-timers and tourists:

1. South Beach

South Beach is one of the most popular and safest areas for tourists. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, Art Deco architecture, vibrant nightlife, and pedestrian-friendly streets.

South Beach is renowned for its beautiful sandy shores and clear waters. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas and spend plenty of time relaxing on the beach, swimming, sunbathing, and people-watching. 

If you’re into water sports, you can try jet-skiing, paddleboarding, or parasailing, which are often available for rent along the beach.

You can also Take a stroll along the iconic Ocean Drive, known for its colorful Art Deco buildings, restaurants, and bars. It’s especially vibrant at night, offering a lively atmosphere.

Consider taking a guided walking tour of the Art Deco Historic District to learn more about the buildings’ history and significance.

Visit Lincoln Road Mall, a pedestrian-friendly promenade filled with shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a great place for shopping, dining, and people-watching.

History buffs can check out cultural attractions like the Wolfsonian-FIU museum, which showcases decorative and propaganda arts from the 1880s to the 1940s, or the Jewish Museum of Florida.

South Beach is famous for its nightlife. You can explore many bars, clubs, and lounges in the area, especially along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. 

South Beach offers a diverse culinary scene. Try some Cuban cuisine at local spots, enjoy fresh seafood, or dine at upscale restaurants with ocean views.

If your visit coincides with December, you might catch Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the most significant art fairs in the world, featuring contemporary and modern art from international galleries.

You can take day trips to nearby attractions like the Everglades National Park, Little Havana, or the Wynwood Walls, known for its vibrant street art.

Best places to stay in Miami in South Beach for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Betsy Hotel, South Beach, great 5-star beachfront hotel located on the quiet side on Ocean Drive, Miami South Beach. It features a private beach area with chairs and umbrellas, as well as 2 swimming pools.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Marlin Hotel, great 4-star boutique hotel located on Collins Avenue, a short walk away from the famous South Beach, also easy access to shops, restaurants, and nightlife of Lincoln Road.
  • Budget ($): Shepley South Beach Hotel, popular 3-star good value for money accommodation located on Collins Avenue in Miami’s Art Deco District, is quite quiet during the night, only 5 mins walk from Miami Beach. 

2. Brickell/ Downtown Miami 

Downtown Miami is the city’s financial and cultural hub. It has a growing number of hotels, restaurants, and cultural attractions. Areas like Brickell and the Arts & Entertainment District are safe and offer a variety of accommodation options.

Brickell is Miami’s financial district and a thriving urban neighborhood with many hotels, restaurants, and nightlife options. It’s relatively safe, but like any city center, you should exercise caution at night.

You can visit Bayfront Park for a leisurely stroll along the bayfront and enjoy views of Biscayne Bay and the Port of Miami. 

Don’t miss the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), which features contemporary and modern art in a stunning waterfront setting. The nearby Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts hosts various cultural performances and events.

You can take a scenic stroll along the Miami Riverwalk, which offers beautiful views of the river and the city skyline. You can find restaurants and bars along the way.

Brickell is home to the bustling Mary Brickell Village, known for its dining options, cafes, and shops. It’s a lively area, especially in the evenings.

Best places to stay in Brickell/Downtown Miami for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): EAST Miami, very popular 5-star hotel located in Brickell City Centre, a short Uber ride from Perez Art Museum Miami and the American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami.
  • Mid-range ($$): citizenM Miami Brickell, great 4-star hotel, featuring 24-hour front desk, an Outdoor swimming pool, and Good breakfast according to guests’s reviews.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Miami Downtown/Brickell, popular 4-star accommodation located in Downtown Miami, a short walk from the free Brickell Metromover Station. It has Outdoor swimming pool, 2 restaurants, family rooms, and parking for those who drive.

3. Coral Gables

Coral Gables is an upscale neighborhood known for its beautiful tree-lined streets and Mediterranean-style architecture. It’s considered one of the safer areas in Miami.

The neighborhood is home to the Venetian Pool, a historic freshwater pool built in a Mediterranean Revival style. It’s a unique and beautiful spot to swim, relax, and enjoy the architecture.

You can explore the Coral Gables Merrick House, the former residence of George Merrick, the city’s founder. It’s a historic home that provides insight into the history of Coral Gables.

Spend some time at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, which features a vast collection of tropical plants, including palms, cycads, and flowering trees. It’s a peaceful and scenic place to explore.

Stroll along Miracle Mile, a bustling street lined with shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a great place for shopping and dining.

Visit the Coral Gables Museum to learn more about the history and architecture of the city. The museum often hosts exhibitions and events related to Coral Gables’ past and present.

Even if you’re not staying at the Biltmore Hotel, you can still visit this iconic historic hotel. Explore its beautiful grounds, dine at one of its restaurants, or enjoy a spa treatment.

Consider using the Coral Gables Trolley to get around the city. It’s a convenient and free mode of transportation that takes you to key points of interest.

Coral Gables is a peaceful and charming destination, ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed atmosphere and are interested in exploring the city’s history and architecture. It’s also conveniently located for day trips to other parts of Miami and its surrounding areas.

Best places to stay in Miami in Coral Gables for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Biltmore Hotel, 5-star historic resort located on Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, featuring an 18-hole golf course, Outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, as well as quiet calm rooms, and very good breakfast. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Four Points by Sheraton Coral Gables, 4-star accommodation located in a safe neighborhood within just a few mins walk from Village of Merrick Park Mall, offering 24-hour front desk and private parking.  
  • Budget ($): Hotel St. Michel, a 3-star historical hotel located in a nice safe neighborhood, a short distance from Miracle Mile with its many restaurants and shops.

4. Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove is a historic neighborhood, located right next to Coral Gables, known for its Bohemian atmosphere and is generally safe for tourists. It offers a range of dining and entertainment options.

You can start your exploration by visiting Cocowalk, a vibrant shopping and entertainment complex in the heart of Coconut Grove. It’s home to shops, boutiques, restaurants, and a movie theater.

In addition to Cocowalk, Coconut Grove has boutique shops and galleries scattered throughout the neighborhood. It’s a great place for shopping for unique gifts and souvenirs.

Spend some time at Peacock Park, a lovely waterfront park with scenic views of Biscayne Bay. It’s a great spot for picnics, leisurely walks, or simply enjoying the outdoors.

Explore the stunning Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a historic villa and estate surrounded by lush gardens. The architecture and art collection make it a must-visit cultural attraction.

Visit The Barnacle Historic State Park, which preserves the former home of Ralph Middleton Munroe, a pioneer in Coconut Grove. Explore the historic house, gardens, and enjoy special events and activities.

Coconut Grove has a thriving artistic community, and you may stumble upon unique artworks. You can explore the local art scene by visiting galleries and studios in the area.  

Take a walk along the Grove Harbor Marina, where you can see a variety of boats and enjoy waterfront views. You can also find waterfront dining options here.

Coconut Grove is an ideal choice if you’re looking for a more relaxed and artistic atmosphere with a mix of nature and culture. It’s a great neighborhood for leisurely exploration and enjoying the beauty of Biscayne Bay. Plus, it’s conveniently located for exploring other parts of Miami and its surroundings.

Best places to stay in Miami in Coconut Grove for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Mayfair House Hotel & Garden, great 5-star good value for money accommodation, in the heart of Coconut Grove, within walking distance to numerous restaurants.
  • Mid-range ($$): Private Oasis at Arya, great accommodation located close to Cocowalk Shopping Center, offering free parking which is a bonus for those who drive. Short walk from the marina and a lovely park.
  • Budget ($): Hampton Inn Miami-Coconut Grove/Coral Gables, popular 3-star accommodation, offering free breakfast, outdoor swimming pool, close to Metro rail, easy access from the airport. 

5. Key Biscayne

Located on an island just off the coast of Miami, Key Biscayne is a tranquil and upscale area. It’s known for its beautiful beaches and parks, making it a safe and family-friendly destination.

You can visit Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, home to the historic Cape Florida Lighthouse. Explore the nature trails, relax on the beaches, and climb to the top of the lighthouse for panoramic views.

Spend time at Crandon Park, known for its family-friendly beach, picnic areas, and scenic boardwalks. It’s an excellent spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the outdoors.

Rent bicycles or take a nature hike on the park’s trails to experience the island’s natural beauty up close. Key Biscayne offers various water sports, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. 

If you’re a golfer, consider playing a round of golf at the Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne, an 18-hole championship golf course.

Visit the Village Green, a central park on the island, where you can enjoy a peaceful setting, have a picnic, or simply take in the surroundings.

If you’re traveling with kids or have an interest in marine life, the Miami Seaquarium is a popular attraction on Key Biscayne featuring shows, exhibits, and animal encounters.

Best places to stay in Miami in Key Biscayne for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, 5-star beachfront hotel with a private beach, located in a quiet area, great for a relaxing holiday, within a short ride from Key Biscayne Yacht Club and Miami Marine Stadium.
  • Mid-range ($$): Beach Haus Key Biscayne Contemporary Apartments, 4-star modern apartment, in a safe area, short walk from shops and restaurants, as well as a short drive by car from Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

6. North Beach/Bal Harbour/Surfside

Choosing to stay in the North Beach, Bal Harbour, or Surfside areas of Miami offers a quieter and more family-friendly atmosphere compared to the lively South Beach. 

These areas are known for their clean, less crowded beaches, making them perfect for relaxing, swimming, and sunbathing, as well as water sports like paddleboarding, windsurfing, and kayaking.

You can shop at the upscale Bal Harbour Shops, a luxury shopping destination featuring high-end boutiques and designer stores. Even if you’re not shopping, it’s a beautiful place for a leisurely stroll.

Explore the Surfside Beachwalk, a charming oceanside promenade ideal for walking or cycling. It provides lovely views of the beach and the ocean.

Visit Haulover Park, which offers various outdoor activities, including kite flying, fishing, and a golf course. It’s also known for its nudist beach section, so be aware of that if you plan to visit.

Another popular park is the Oleta River State Park, located nearby in North Miami Beach. It’s Florida’s largest urban park and offers hiking, biking, picnicking, and kayaking opportunities in a natural setting.

Take a short drive to Bay Harbor Islands, a quiet and scenic neighborhood with beautiful waterfront homes and parks.

You can enjoy stunning sunset views over the ocean. Many beachfront hotels and restaurants in these areas offer great vantage points to watch the sunset.

Best places to stay in Miami North Beach/Bal Harbour/Surfside:


In conclusion,  South Beach, Brickell/ Downtown, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Key Biscayne, North Beach/Bal Harbour are the best places to stay in Miami for first-timers and tourists. These are also the safe areas for visitors that offer a wide variety of accommodations for all budgets. 

You can continue reading about Miami and other destinations in Florida in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Miami. I hope you found my article helpful and enjoy your holiday!

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality travel guides.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

6 thoughts on “Where to stay in Miami for first time: 6 Safe areas”

  1. Thank you for such great information! It is very helpful as I always research where I travel and like to learn about the area before I stay.

  2. Thank you for a great guide, helps to do our research for our first visit to Miami. Coming all the way from Melbourne, Australia! Now narrowing down between Coconut Grove and South Beach.


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