In southern Florida, one city stands out as a cultural center distinct from the rest of the state.
Miami exists as the state’s center for Latin culture, commerce and arts. Though Miami is part of the United States, some refer to the city as the Capital of Latin America, owing to the historic Latin population and Cuban-American plurality that helps define the city. Visit Miami for a taste of Cuban cuisine and culture, plus a tour through the city’s ever-blossoming arts scene, which can be seen at the popular Wynwood Walls and during the art festival, Art Basel Miami. The main part of Miami is on the shores of Biscayne Bay, where world-famous Miami Beach and South Beach can be experienced, along with the quintessential Miami vibe that goes along with them.
Miami (/maɪˈæmi/ my-AM-ee), officially the City of Miami, is a coastal metropolis and the seat of Miami-Dade County in South Florida. With a population of 442,241 as of the 2020 census, it is the second-most populous city in the state of Florida after Jacksonville. It is the core of the much larger Miami metropolitan area, which, with a population of 6.14 million, is the third-largest metro in the Southeast and ninth-largest in the United States. The city has the third-largest skyline in the U.S. with over 300 high-rises, 58 of which exceed 491 ft (150 m).
Miami is a major center and leader in finance, commerce, culture, arts, and international trade. Miami’s metropolitan area is by far the largest urban economy in Florida, with a gross domestic product of $344.9 billion as of 2017. According to a 2018 UBS study of 77 world cities, Miami is the third-richest city in the U.S. and the third richest globally in purchasing power. Miami is a majority-minority city with a Hispanic and Latino population of 310,472, or 70.2 percent of the city’s population, as of 2020.
Downtown Miami has one of the largest concentrations of international banks in the U.S. and is home to several large national and international companies. The Health District is home to several major University of Miami-affiliated hospital and health facilities, including Jackson Memorial Hospital, the nation’s largest hospital with 1,547 beds, and the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, the University of Miami’s academic medical center and teaching hospital, and others engaged in health-related care and research. PortMiami, the city’s seaport, is the busiest cruise port in the world in both passenger traffic and cruise lines. Miami is the second-largest tourism hub for international visitors after New York City. Miami has sometimes been called the “Gateway to Latin America” because of the magnitude of its commercial and cultural ties to the region.
In 2022, Miami ranked seventh in the U.S. in business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement. It is the second-most visited city in the U.S. after New York City with over five million visitors as of 2019.
Summer afternoon thunderstorm rolling into Miami from the Everglades, July 2006
Miami has a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am) with hot and wet summers and warm and dry winters.
The city’s sea-level elevation, coastal location, position just above the Tropic of Cancer, and proximity to the Gulf Stream shape its climate. Average winter high temperatures, from December to March, range from 76.4–80.3 °F (24.7–26.8 °C). January is the coolest month with an average daily temperature of 68.2 °F (20.1 °C). Low temperatures fall below 50 °F (10 °C) about 3 to 4 nights during the winter season, after the passage of cold fronts that produce what little rainfall that falls in the winter.
There are two basic seasons in Miami, a hot and wet season from May through October, and a warm and dry season from November through April. During the hot and wet season, daily thundershowers occur in the humid unstable air masses. The wet season in Miami is defined as the period during which the average daily dew point temperature is above 70 °F (21 °C). The rainy season typically begins on the first day that occurs, or within a few days later. Similarly, daily rainfall in Miami decreases sharply when the average daily dew point falls to 70 °F (21 °C) or below, although in some years, a stalled front to the south of the Florida peninsula may cause rains to continue for a few more days. During the years 1956 to 1997, the date summer began ranged from April 16 to June 3, with a median date of May 21. During those same years, the date summer ended ranged from September 24 to November 1, with a median date of October 17. During the summer, temperatures range from the mid-80s to low 90s °F (29–35 °C) and are accompanied by high humidity, though the heat is often relieved in the afternoon by thunderstorms or a sea breeze that develops off the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the year’s 61.9 inches (1,572 mm) of rainfall occurs during this period. Dew points in the warm months range from 71.9 °F (22.2 °C) in June to 73.7 °F (23.2 °C) in August.
Extremes range from 27 °F (−2.8 °C) on February 3, 1917, to 100 °F (38 °C) on July 21, 1942. While Miami has never recorded snowfall at any official weather station since records have been kept, snow flurries fell in some parts of the city on January 19, 1977. The coldest daytime maximum temperature on record is 45 °F (7 °C) in December 1989 during the December 1989 United States cold wave, while the coldest maximum temperature average between 1991 and 2020 stood at 59 °F (15 °C). The warmest overnight low measured is 84 °F (29 °C) on several occasions. The stability of summer overnight lows is underlined by the mean maximum annual overnight low is just one degree lower.
Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, although hurricanes can develop beyond those dates. The most likely time for Miami to be hit is during the peak of the Cape Verde season, which is mid-August through the end of September. Although tornadoes are uncommon in the area, one struck in 1925 and another in 1997. Around 40% of homes in Miami are built upon floodplains and are considered as flood-risk zones.
Miami falls under the Department of Agriculture’s 10b/11a plant hardiness zone.
Miami is one of the major coastal cities and major cities in the United States that will be most affected by climate change.Globally, it is one of the most at-risk cities as well, according to a 2020 report by Resources for the Future. Global sea level rise, which in Miami is projected to be 21 inches (53 cm) to 40 inches (100 cm) by 2070, will lead to an increase in storm damage, more intense flooding, and will threaten the city’s water supply.Other potential impacts of climate change include higher hurricane wind speeds and severe thunderstorms, which can bring about hail or tornadoes. Some protective efforts are in place, including nourishing beaches and adding protective barriers, raising buildings and roads that are vulnerable, and restoring natural habitats such as wetlands. Miami Beach has invested $500 million to protect roads, buildings, and water systems. Real estate prices in Miami already reflect the increase in prices for real estate at a higher elevation within the city compared to real estate at a lower elevation.
Miami enjoys a vibrant culture that is influenced by a diverse population from all around the world. Miami is known as the “Magic City” for seemingly popping up overnight due to its young age and massive growth. The city itself is infamous for its drug war in the early 1980s and its outrun aesthetics. It is also nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America” because of its high population of Spanish-speakers.
Miami has been the setting of numerous films and television shows, including Miami Vice, Cocaine Cowboys, Burn Notice, Jane the Virgin, Scarface, The Birdcage, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Golden Girls, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Dexter. Several video games, including Hotline Miami, the Gameloft racing game Asphalt Overdrive, Scarface: The World Is Yours, and the fictional Vice City in several video games across the Grand Theft Auto series, most notably Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, is based on Miami.
Entertainment and performing arts
In addition to annual festivals like the Calle Ocho Festival, Miami is home to many entertainment venues, theaters, museums, parks and performing arts centers. The newest addition to the Miami arts scene is the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, home of the Florida Grand Opera and the second-largest performing arts center in the United States after Lincoln Center in New York City. The center attracts many large-scale operas, ballets, concerts, and musicals from around the world. Other performing arts venues in Miami include the Olympia Theater, Wertheim Performing Arts Center, the Fair Expo Center, the Tower Theater, and the Bayfront Park Amphitheater.
Another celebrated event is the Miami International Film Festival, taking place every year for 10 days around the first week of March, during which independent international and American films are screened across the city. Miami has over a half dozen independent film theaters.
Miami attracts a large number of musicians, singers, actors, dancers, and orchestral players. The city has numerous orchestras, symphonies and performing art conservatories. These include the Florida Grand Opera, FIU School of Music, Frost School of Music, and the New World School of the Arts.
Miami is also a major fashion center, home to models and some of the top modeling agencies in the world. The city is host to many fashion shows and events, including the annual Miami Fashion Week and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami, held in the Wynwood Art.
Miami will be having their first boat-in movie theater on Saturday, July 25, 2020.
Museums and visual arts
Lowe Art Museum on the campus of the University of Miami
Some of the museums in Miami include the Frost Art Museum, Frost Museum of Science, HistoryMiami, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami Children’s Museum, Pérez Art Museum, Lowe Art Museum, and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a National Historic Landmark set on a 28-acre early 20th century estate in Coconut Grove.
Beaches and parks
The City of Miami has various lands operated by the National Park Service, the Florida Division of Recreation and Parks, and the City of Miami Department of Parks and Recreation.
Miami’s tropical weather allows for year-round outdoor activities. The city has numerous marinas, rivers, bays, canals, and the Atlantic Ocean, which make boating, canoeing, sailing, and fishing popular outdoor activities. Biscayne Bay has numerous coral reefs that make snorkeling and scuba diving popular. There are over 80 parks and gardens in the city. The largest and most popular parks are Bayfront Park and Museum Park (located in the heart of Downtown and the location of the Miami-Dade Arena and Bayside Marketplace), Tropical Park, Peacock Park, Virginia Key, and Watson Island.
In its 2020 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land reported that the park system in the City of Miami was the 64th best park system among the 100 most populous US cities, down slightly from 48th place in the 2017 ranking. The City of Miami was analyzed to have a median park size of 2.6 acres, park land as percent of city area of 6.5%, 87% of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park, $48.39 spending per capita of park services, and 1.3 playgrounds per 10,000 residents.
According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 72.3% of working city of Miami residents commuted by driving alone, 8.7% carpooled, 9% used public transportation, and 3.7% walked. About 1.8% used all other forms of transportation, including taxicab, motorcycle, and bicycle. About 4.5% of working city of Miami residents worked at home. In 2015, 19.9% of city of Miami households were without a car, which decreased to 18.6% in 2016. The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Miami averaged 1.24 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8 per household.
Public transportation in Miami is operated by Miami-Dade Transit and SFRTA, and includes commuter rail (Tri-Rail), heavy-rail rapid transit (Metrorail), an elevated people mover (Metromover), and buses (Metrobus). Miami has Florida’s highest transit ridership as about 17% of Miamians use transit on a daily basis. The average Miami public transit commute on weekdays is 90 minutes, while 39% of public transit riders commute for more than 2 hours a day. The average wait time at a public transit stop or station is 18 minutes, while 37% of riders wait for more than 20 minutes on average every day. The average single trip distance with public transit is 7.46 mi (12 km), while 38% travel more than 8.08 mi (13 km) in each direction.
Miami’s heavy-rail rapid transit system, Metrorail, is an elevated system comprising two lines and 23 stations on a 24.4-mile (39.3 km)-long line. Metrorail connects the urban western suburbs of Hialeah, Medley, and inner-city Miami with suburban The Roads, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, South Miami, and urban Kendall via the central business districts of Miami International Airport, the Health District, and Downtown. A free, elevated people mover, Metromover, operates 21 stations on three different lines in greater Downtown Miami, with a station at roughly every two blocks of Downtown and Brickell. Several expansion projects are being funded by a transit development sales tax surcharge throughout Miami-Dade County.
Tri-Rail, a commuter rail system operated by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), runs from Miami International Airport northward to West Palm Beach, making eighteen stops throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.
The Miami Intermodal Center is a massive transportation hub servicing Metrorail, Amtrak, Tri-Rail, Metrobus, Greyhound Lines, taxis, rental cars, MIA Mover, private automobiles, bicycles and pedestrians adjacent to Miami International Airport. Miami Intermodal Center was completed in 2010, and is serving about 150,000 commuters and travelers in the Miami area. Phase I of MiamiCentral Station was completed in 2012, and the Tri-Rail part of Phase II was completed in 2015, but the construction of the Amtrak part remains delayed.
Two new light rail systems, Baylink and the Miami Streetcar, have been proposed and are currently in the planning stage. BayLink would connect Downtown with South Beach, and the Miami Streetcar would connect Downtown with Midtown.
Miami is the southern terminus of Amtrak’s Atlantic Coast services, running two lines, the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star, both terminating in New York City. The Miami Amtrak Station is located in the suburb of Hialeah near the Tri-Rail/Metrorail Station on NW 79 St and NW 38 Ave. Current construction of the Miami Central Station will move all Amtrak operations from its current out-of-the-way location to a centralized location with Metrorail, MIA Mover, Tri-Rail, Miami International Airport, and the Miami Intermodal Center all within the same station closer to Downtown. The station was expected to be completed by 2012, but experienced several delays and was later expected to be completed in late 2014, again pushed back to early 2015.
Miami International Airport serves as the primary international airport of the Greater Miami Area. One of the busiest international airports in the world because of its centric location, Miami International Airport caters to over 45 million passengers a year. The airport is a major hub and the largest international gateway for American Airlines. Miami International is the second busiest airport by passenger traffic in Florida, the United States’ third-largest international port of entry for foreign air passengers behind New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. The airport’s extensive international route network includes non-stop flights to over seventy international cities in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Cycling and walking
The city government under former mayor Manny Diaz took an ambitious stance in support of bicycling in Miami for both recreation and commuting.
A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Miami the eighth-most walkable of the fifty largest cities in the U.S