7 Awesome Places You'll Love in Miami Before Your Cruise

Updated on September 3, 2019
Deb Vesco Roberts profile image

I have a passion for writing and reviewing cruise ship travel, tips, etiquette, and packing hacks that makes cruise vacations better.


Coconut Grove in Miami Has Great Options for Food and Fun

If you're cruising from the Port of Miami and need something to do the day before, this little itinerary will entice you with a quaint area, great beaches, and amazing food ideas. We start many of our cruise vacations from either Miami or Fort Lauderdale, so we're no strangers to this area.

Where to Stay in Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove is the happening place to stay in the Miami area. Since you may not have a car, you'll be excited with many places within walking distance of the hotels, shops, and restaurants. The Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, Ritz Carlton, Sonesta, Mia Luxe, Mayfair, and the Mutiny are within a 9- to 15-minute walk to most of the places I'm about to share with you. If Airbnb is more your style, there's also over 150 to choose from in the Coconut Grove area.

Feeling happy with my husband and nephew at Happy Wine the evening before our cruise!
Feeling happy with my husband and nephew at Happy Wine the evening before our cruise! | Source

Where to Eat in Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove is bustling with quaint shops, bars, and restaurants. The best place for a cup of joe is Panther Coffee, where they roast and sell their coffee blends. There's a long line, so I recommend downloading their app and ordering ahead for an easy pick-up.

For lunch, I recommend a little seafood dive bar and grill called Baracuda...or as the locals call it "Cuda." If you love conch fritters, this is the place. I highly recommend the Red Snapper with black beans and rice or the Grouper. You get a large portion for the small price of $14. Everything in this place is nautical and made of wood. There are even long tables for playing beer pong, should you want to get a little crazy. Speaking of beer, they have over 50 varieties from which to choose.

Our favorite place in Coconut Grove is "Happy Wine," which was introduced to us by my nephew, who lives a few doors down. I recommend the "Chuleton De Carne" (16 oz NY Strip steak) pictured below. It's some of the best steak I've ever eaten. For an appetizer, I recommend the mussels, also the best I've had. They have the perfect spice, and the Andouille sausage in the sauce rounds this dish out nicely; you can't go wrong with this combination or anything on their menu, to be honest. They have hundreds of wines to choose from to either consume there or take with you. You can also order their wines online.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Happy Wine Italian Restaurant and Wine BarCarne Asada at Happy Wine Mussels at Happy Wine
Happy Wine Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar
Happy Wine Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar | Source
Carne Asada at Happy Wine
Carne Asada at Happy Wine | Source
Mussels at Happy Wine
Mussels at Happy Wine | Source

Where to Play in Miami/South Florida

Key Biscayne in Miami is a huge public beach access area. Parking is $5–$7, or you can grab an Uber or Lyft. There's a magnificent paved walking/running trail along the highway with a beautiful view of the Port of Miami/cruise ships. There are numerous areas to relax on a white-sand beach, such as Crandon Park Beach, a two-mile beach that is one of the most popular beaches in Miami.

If you have the time and a car, take a short hour drive to Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which is a snorkeling and kayaking hot spot right from the beach. The cost to rent a mask is only $2.00, and a semi-dry snorkel is a $10 purchase, yours to keep, which will come in handy on your cruise.

When you're finished snorkeling, be sure to stop at The Fisheries Backyard in Key Largo (right on the water!) for some fresh seafood. I recommend the Conch Fritters and Coconut Shrimp.

Key Biscayne Beaches and Trails

Key Biscayne in November
Key Biscayne in November | Source
View of the cruise port from the bike/running trail in Key Biscayne
View of the cruise port from the bike/running trail in Key Biscayne | Source

Now that you know what to do, where to stay, and what to eat in Miami pre-cruise, don't miss my hot tips on cruise cabin organization.

Happy Cruising!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Debra Roberts


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    • profile image

      Betsy Carter 

      10 months ago

      This was interesting, I've been to Florida, but never to Miami. And, I have never taken a Cruise, so thanks for sharing some fun things to do if we decide to!

    • profile image

      Erica (The Prepping Wife) 

      10 months ago

      What a fun way to spend the day before boarding a cruise ship! Coconut Grove sounds like the perfect place to spend a day shopping and eating. I'll add this to my travel list.

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      Wow! I haven't been to Miami in probably over 25 years but I do remember places like Coconut Grove. I'm sure it's changed a bunch. I would love to go for a run on that paved running trail you mentioned where you could see the cruise ships that are docked. Thanks for this information.

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      Great budget friendly tips. I haven’t been to Miami in years and want to go back. I loved the Cuban cuisine. Any tips for where to get authentic food?

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      Miami is on my bucket list. I am bookmarking this article for future reference. BTW photos are lovely dear!

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      Wow! You make everything look so beautiful and exotic. I got hungry reading your food suggestions. I appreciate posts like this, as my husband and I love Florida!

    • profile image

      Despite Pain 

      10 months ago

      Coconut Grove sounds so appealing with all its shops, restaurants and bars. $14 for a meal at the Red Snapper is so reasonable. Sounds worth a visit.

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      Key Biscayne is so beautiful and the view of the port is absolutely stunning! Makes you want to visit just for that view!

    • profile image

      Kelly Martin 

      10 months ago

      This is a great list of things to do in Miami pre-cruise. Key Biscayne looks beautiful. I love the beaches.

    • profile image

      Trish Veltman 

      10 months ago

      You've made Miami so appealing, I'd probably end up staying there and not jumping on the boat at all!

    • profile image

      Tracy @ Cleland Clan 

      13 months ago

      I appreciate all the tips that accommodate travelers without a car. We haven’t cruised out of Miami yet, but I’ll keep these Coconut Grove tips in mind for the next time we’re planning.

    • profile image


      14 months ago

      This article will be very helpful for someone wondering around the port of miami. There is so much fun stuff to do! Sounds all exciting! :)

    • Ana Paola profile image

      Ana Paola 

      14 months ago

      I am glad that I found this article. I am going to be on a semi-long layover in Miami. I will definitely look into some of these places!


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