We’ve never really had a great deal of interest in visiting south Florida, but an invitation to a family member’s graduation from the University of Miami gave us a great excuse to check out the area.
Getting to Miami from Denver is not as easy as you might think. Because of expensive gate fees, only one major airline, and none of the discount airlines, has direct flights from Denver to Miami International. There is only one direct flight per day from Denver, and that’s on an overpriced, American Airlines flight. Most direct flights to the area actually fly into Fort Lauderdale. This is not a bad alternative; however if you’re staying in the central/southern part of the city, traffic can make the journey slow and tedious and there are no good public transportation options.
For reasons too complicated to explain here, we opted for a non-direct flight to Miami International. With a connection in Atlanta, it’s a bit longer than the direct flights to Fort Lauderdale, but it’s nice getting into the more centrally located MIA. This also allowed us to take a short (and free) shuttle bus to our hotel located in Coral Gables.
Our hotel of choice was necessitated by the need to be near the University of Miami for the graduation ceremonies. We also wanted something within walking distance to a Metrorail train station to avoid driving whenever possible. We planned the hotel reservations well in advance, as rooms in the area would be booked solid by other families attending the event. Good hotels at a reasonable price are not easy to find in this part of Miami. The most obvious choice was the Holiday Inn located next door to the school’s events center. However, this was booked months in advance and the user reviews were pretty bad. We decided on the Hampton Inn Dadeland, which is adjacent to the Dadeland Mall, and less than two miles (or two train stops) from the university campus. The hotel is a five-minute walk to a Metrorail station, which makes it an ideal location for exploring the central Miami area without having to fight the hideous traffic jams that Miami is famous for. The rooms are large, well-kept, reasonably priced, and the staff is very helpful. It’s also located right next door to a Target, which proved to be quite useful for the purchase of assorted items that we forgot to bring on the trip.