Miami has a very easy to understand road system. Once you get the hang of it, it should be easy to find your way around.
Streets go east west.
Avenues go north south.
There are four sectors - northeast, northwest, southwest and southeast. The dividing line between north and south is Flagler Street. The east-west dividing line is Miami Avenue.
So if you have 2nd Street NW it will be north of Flagler and will be an east-west street.
You can tell from an address, about where on the grid the place will be located.
So if the address is 17020 SW 85th Avenue, you know that it will be on north south 85th Avenue near SW 170th Street.
The major routes are usually also well marked. So in the photo there are three lanes for US 1 South, one lane for US 1 North, and one lane for SE 3rd Ave.
And you now know that SE 3rd Ave is a north-south street which is 3 blocks south of Flagler Street (because it is in the SE quadrant) and three blocks east of Miami Avenue (because it is 3rd Ave).
There will still be some main streets (Brickell Ave) and places in outlying communities which don't follow the rules, so you will still need a map.
Do NOT leave any valuables in your rental car at any time for any period of time. PERIOD!
We checked out of our hotel on a Sunday morning and went to breakfast at Denny's at Biscayne Boulevard. The car was parked in the restaurant's car park which is under surveillance by fourteen (14!) cameras, and there were lots of people coming and going all the time. When we came out one hour later, the window on the driver's side had been smashed in, and all our suitcases were gone.
This was a very effective way of ruining my wedding as they took my wedding gown and our wedding bands as well. The criminals also stopped us from going on our honeymoon - a cruise around the Carribean for which we had paid 1300 dollars.
The police think it is organized, and that the criminals probably watched us and followed us from the hotel to the restaurant. So if you really have to go Miami (better stay away!), do NOT leave anything in your car at any time.
A common form of mugging taking place within vicinity of Airport area consists of people driving into your rear bumper while you're stopped at a light or signal.
If this happens, avoid urge to stop and check vehicle. If possible, drive to a well lit and populated area, preferably a gas station or mini mart.
Call 911 and try to get license plate number along with a description of car that caused the offense.
This rouse was more common a few years back and unfortunately, a couple of tourists lost their lives when naturally, they got out of their vehicles to inspect damages and instead found themselves looking into the barrel of a hand gun.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of where you're headed once you exit the airport.
If you're heading into South Beach have your rental car agency clearly mark your Miami map.
Parking is very limited on South Beach and the meter police are always on the watch for expired meters.
Tickets/Fines can be costly and valet parking averages between USD $15.00 - $30.00/day with norm being about $20.00!
Added to the cost of your rental car driving in Miami can be expensive for a tourist.
Awhile back Miami faced a large number of tourists being robbed at gun point and even killed.
It was a dark time for Miami and many tourists became afraid of traveling to our wonderful city.
This was due in part of unclear and confusing exit signs on the expressways and fact that Airport going to beach runs through a couple of seedy Miami areas.
Tourist would take a wrong turn, get off on the wrong exit and they'd become prime targets for the ever watchful gangs and druggies which are still prevalant in Miami as in ANY other big city.
Thankfully, newer signs, more clearly posted, newer exits and expressways have virtually made this problem non-existant. Nevertheless, be very careful when exiting airport.
Make sure you have a clear understanding from your rental agency which turns to take, where you should be headed, etc.
Avoid traveling at night if you're unsure or re-check at the toll plaza for directions.
This is also a problem I anticipated ahead of time, but I still feel the need to mention it anyway. We stayed at a hotel in Coral Gables which we absolutely loved; however, traffic was so bad that we never wanted to leave the hotel. We had to keep asking ourselves, "OK, is this really going to be worth the time and effort to fight the traffic?" If you plan to spend much time in South Beach, your best bet is to stay at a hotel within walking distance of everything. And however long you think it's going to take to get from point A to point B, double it.
cos the patrol gonna get you. Very efficient police patrols along freeway to Keywest and even those small bendy roads leading to other suburds.
We had a speeding ticket on a 30 miles/hr road. Driving 50 miles/hr cost us US$115.
P.S Maybe having the top down caught his attention!
Even the authorities recognize the potential danger of tourists getting lost in one of the black neighbourhoods in Miami. There have been some tourist killings in the nineties, so there has been a campaign to direct new arrivals from the airport safely to Miami Beach by letting them use the toll road 836. When renting your car, a brochure will inform you how to navigate safely through Miami. It's not a difficult itinerary at all, but somehow there are still tourists who get lost in the wrong areas. The advice is: read the map before you leave the airport, and not while you're on the road.
If you remember during the late 80's and early 90's, tourists were killed because the rental cars they were driving were marked as such and/or they didn't get directions to where they were going. Miami International Airport is not in the best of neighborhoods, so please if you rent a vehicle from the airport, use common sense and ask how to get to where you are going. Get a map, and have the people behind the counter guide you to your destination. Be Aware, Be Safe, Stay Alive!!!
The areas around the airport, and near Coconut Grove, are high crime areas. Avoid driving in these areas as much as possible. Get a map (and directions) if renting a car at the airport so that you don't end up in a dangerous area.
If you have a rental car - which is must outside of Miami - keep doors locked inside. Always.
Even better is to make in advance some false wallets, which each of them have for example some twenty dollars, expired credit cards and false visit cards. if your door is open and someone grab it, or closed and someone breaks the window, just give the false wallet among other things requested. This trick works well also in Mexico.
If you have time and patiency, also false Rolex or Calvin Klein wristwatch-clone can soften the situation.
In any case, do not harm yourself by trying to play hero.
This is an alert. If you go to Coconut Grove by car, late at night, 'DO NOT', 'DO NOT', park your car on a side street. There have been reports of vandalism. And it seems just for fun. Nothing is taken from the car but windows and external mirrors are broken. Sick isn't it! But like I said there have been and inordinate amount of vandalism. Specialy on thurdays, and week end nights. Spend the five bucks and park in a garage. Believe me it is worth it. The shops of Mayfair have a nice garage. This was posted July 24, 2002. I will update if any changes.