Miami Nice: A Florida city break now just a direct flight from Dublin
A new direct flight has taken off between Ireland and Miami. Ryan Nugent hops onboard...
Set the mood
Hair and face blown back, sun beaming down and zipping past Will Smith's oceanside holiday home - yep, this is what Miami is all about.
If The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air doesn't tickle your fancy, how about some of his neighbours... David Beckham, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin. Carmen Electra even has her own yacht (titled Electra) at the front of her mansion.
All of this can be seen while moving at speeds of 60mph on the Thriller boat ride (thrillermiami.com), a must for anyone who sets foot in South Florida - just don't sit down the back if you're wearing anything you might want to keep dry.
This was the 'save the best till last' part of the trip and really set the city apart... but there was lots more besides.
Where to stay in Miami? That depends. Families might consider pushing away from Ocean Drive (above) towards Miami Beach, where many of the nicer hotels are. If you're young and want to party, forget about hotel comforts and stay around South Beach or one of the cheaper options around Washington Avenue.
This is when it gets a little pricey, but if there's something you fancy splurging on, then don't waste it on a dress or new shoes in Miami. Focus on the food... and certainly don't forget about a couple of tasty cocktails along the way. At the Four Seasons Hotel on Brickell Avenue (fourseasons.com/miami), a food buffet includes fresh seafood, a full roasted pig and even an outdoor barbecue at a cost of $75/€64. Add in the unlimited drinks deal, and that tots up to $100/€85 in total. It's difficult to say whether it's worth the money, but the delicious food definitely makes it tempting.
This is as cheap as it comes - it's free. If you're planning a trip to Miami, you can't go there without spending time at the world-famous South Beach. Just soak up the sun along the strip; it's always buzzing and if you walk all the way along the coast, you'll have more than 3km of sugar-white sand to enjoy. A warning, though... don't forget the sunscreen.
Get out to Wynwood - it's the city's hipster 'hood, but you don't have to be a hipster to enjoy it. Take a bike tour or just walk around to see hundreds, even thousands, of funky murals. The district features the work of some of the world's best graffiti artists, and almost every shopfront has something artsy going on. If you're happy to walk around and admire, it's free; if you fancy a guide, then hook up with local graffiti artist Ryan the Wheelbarrow (miamisbestgraffitiguide.com; from $27/€23pp for groups).
Miami ain't cheap. If you want to really enjoy it, you need to splurge a little, if not a lot. Anywhere along Ocean Drive - where everything happens at night - will charge high prices: some for entry, others for expensive cocktails.
Get me there
Ryan travelled with Aer LIngus (aerlingus.com), which launched a new thrice-weekly direct flight from Dublin to Miami this September.
Fares start from €209 each way, when booked as part of a return flight. He stayed at the Grand Beach Hotel on Miami Beach (above, miamihotelgrandbeach.com; rooms from $170/€145 per night). For more to see and do in the city, check out miamiandbeaches.com and visitflorida.com.