Miami City Tour

See It Like a Native!

City Tour of 3.5 hours

Covers Miami's 5 most scenic and historic neighborhoods

The Miami City Tour is 3.5 hours and covers Miami's 5 most scenic and historic neighborhoods. 2-3 stops/tour

South Beach              Wynwood and Design District

Downtown/Brickell                    Coral Gables

Coconut Grove                   Key Biscayne Bridge

3 most popular stops are:

Wynwood Walls     Manatee sites     Miami Circle

Also offer 2 hour tours if time is limited.   Shorter tour cannot be booked on line.  

Tour is private only. Sites you would never see on your own, especially back roads in Coconut Grove. I always go on the Key Biscayne Bridge for the amazing view of Miami and love to end the tour at a special place, usually the Perez Museum or Lincoln Road.

The Miami Historic Preservation board has 137 sites listed for the city of Miami, I pass by 73 of them, as well as many historical sites in Miami Beach and Coral Gables. In the book "111 Places you must see in Miami and the Keys", I cover 44 places on my city tour.

My 3 Most Popular Stops

Wywood Walls

I was the first tour guide to regularly visit Wynwood.  The  Panther coffee owner would talk to my Brasilian customers to give that small town feel. Now you can't find a parking spot.

Wynwood is right next to Buena Vista, Little Haiti, Design District, and my old Curley High School. A tricky part of NE Miami to get around with lots of hidden gems.

Miami Circle

Where old and new Miami collide!  See thousand year old Tekesta Indian sites right next to ultra modern Brickell high rises, now the third largest skyline in the US.

Manatee Sites

Manatees are back!  There are a half dozen manatee sites along my city tour route.  Some spots we get a few feet away from them.  I give a $10 rebate per person if we do not see manatees (December thru March).

5 Essential Miami Neighborhoods

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South Beach was a geriatric ghetto before the fashion models and hipsters came and made it an art deco and cultural playground. South Beach is the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the world.

The geriatric crowd were chased out by poor Latin immigrants while hipsters, LGBT and models came in, driving up the price for rentals and basic goods.  Now, with them leaving or gone, Ocean Drive has gotten rough, while Lincoln Road remains upscale and trendy.

South Beach can be divided into Sofi (South of Fifth), Ocean Drive, Flamingo Park, Lincoln Road and Collins Park, each part with its own character.

Sites include: Ocean Drive, Versace Mansion, Star Island, 1111 Building, Lincoln Road, Espanola Way, and New World Symphony Park.

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Wynwood, the Design District and Little Haiti. The graffiti capital of the world was once a run down Puerto Rican neighborhood, the remains of a once thriving garment industry.

Wynwood is bordered by the Ultra chic Design District, the historic Buena Vista neighborhood, my Curley High school and Little Haiti.

This whole area was run down and crime ridden until 15 years ago.  Now it is Miami's hippest neighborhood, with the Design District due to be finished in 2017, and Wynwood still working out the details of how the Mana project fits into the neighborhood.

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Downtown / Brickell area is where old Miami and new Miami collide. The Miami Circle dating back 2500 years surrounded by ultra chic modern skyscrapers.

The mouth of the Miami River was a village of 3-5000 inhabitants named Tekesta when the Spanish arrived in 1549.  That former village now has the third largest skyline in the US.

Pictured to the left is the archaeological site now a construction site.  The archaeologists always allowed my groups to observe their digs and talk about the 3000 years of continuous habitation: Tekesta, Spanish Missions, and the Royal Palm Hotel destroyed in the 1926 hurricane.

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Coconut Grove and the Key Biscayne Bridge include some of the most breath-taking sites Miami has to offer. Sites we will see include Viscaya, Madonna and Stallone's houses, Lebron James house, Peacock Park, Kampong Gardens, Christmas Park, Barnacle State Park, Plymouth Congregations, El Jardin, Charles Avenue, Grove Cemetery and various Black Grove sites.

The Grove is every native's favorite part of Miami for its canopy forest and hidden gems on the Grove back roads. The hippies and bohemians were chased out by the cocaine traffickers and high prices, but the Grove is still the Grove.

My two favorite alternative stops lie in this area, the Key Biscayne Lighthouse and Kampong Gardens, both with tricky hours to find open.  But well worth the extra effort.

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Coral Gables is a planned city heavy on Spanish Mediterranean architecture, with little, hard to find international villages scattered throughout.

Sites include: Venetian Pool, the Biltmore Hotel, Sunset Circle, multiple manatees sites, Miracle Mile and the off the beaten path dupla of Fairchild Tropical Gardens and Matheson Hammock Park.

For intellectuals, the best bookstore in Miami next to the Coral Gables Museum makes for a nice stop.

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You might have noticed I don't include Little Havana / Calle Ocho on my tour.  My five neighborhoods are much better.

These two right wing felons have spent most of their lives protesting in front of Versailles in Little Havana.  My kid goes to school in Little Havana. There are few, if any, Cubans left in Little Havana.  The churches are all evangelical today, a clear sign Central Americans have taken over.  So I don't go to Little Havana unless you insist. ... plus I don't need the commission from the cigar factories.

Here is what some previous tourist have said

Our Miami trip with John Simmons covered visiting the homes of Coral Gables, the Biltmore, manatees, Wynwood graffiti park, South Beach “strip” and restaurants, Fountainebleau and various Art Deco buildings. We walked a bit of Lincoln Road to see the restaurants and shops, as well as seeing an African-American police precinct. John had many interesting stories to tell. He made sure our drive was comfortable and convenient, making sure to park near our destinations, and the car was always filled with cold water. John knows the history of many parts of Miami, and I look forward to our next journey with him.

Gemma Trip Advisor Review

I had asked if anyone had toured with the company and got no replies but our family decided to book anyway. It was a new company but John had been a tour guide with a larger company for 25 years & knew a lot about the history, current issues, & ‘inside’ interesting things about Miami.
It was a great experience & more than we had expected. There were 11 of us (80 to 11 yrs.) returning from a family reunion cruise. There were a couple of mobility issues so we let John know & let him make the itinerary. Great decision on our part! As we were staying overnight, John suggested we divide the tour into 2 parts instead of one long tour. He picked us, and all our luggage, up at the Cruise Terminal and we started our 3 hrs morning tour of the different parts of Miami. Wynwood Wall Murals was our first stop and that really got everyone interested, especially the kids. He planned the tour to allow several stops for us to get out and explore for a few min. Again, this really pleased the kids. We were dropped off at our hotel for the afternoon as planned. He picked us up again for the evening tour of Miami Beach which included time to for us to have supper and shop on Lincoln Road. Really pleased the females in the group and the guys loved watching all the activity along the street. The youngest and eldest had said they didn't want to do an evening tour but after the great morning tour they decided to come and really had a great time. Surprisingly, John managed to please all of us.

Marilyn Trip Advisor Review

WOW!!! John is very KNOWLEDGEABLE.. Up beat and on time!! He knows Miami and the Everglades VERY VERY WELL. He knows lots of history and incidental facts and FUN INFO!!!!!
HE catered to my interests.. He also picks up visitors up at the airport !!!. He .knows alot of people in town.. sooo he may be able to connect you to someone else.. ill use him again next year YOU WONT BE DISAPPOINTED!

Brett Trip Advisor Review