Image via Flickr: Mr. Usaji
South Florida has long been the capital of suburban sprawl. But as Miami's older neighborhoods become popular, and more people turn to high-rise and urban living, suddenly the idea of a walkable neighborhood no longer seems impossible.
While most people won't be able to live in Miami without a car, there are some options for people who want to be car-free and are willing to use ride-sharing services and public transportation at times.
Actually, Miami has long had walkable neighborhoods, but it is only in recent years that more services have arrived, making it possible to buy groceries, eat out, and otherwise accomplish the basics of daily life on foot.
Even some strongholds of suburbia, such as Kendall, have seen new stores and restaurants move into what were once exclusively residential areas, providing walkable enclaves in what used to be suburban sprawl.
These are some of the most walkable neighborhoods and cities in the Miami metro area.
1. Miami Beach/South Beach
With a walkability score of 76, Miami Beach is one of the most walkable cities in Florida. In fact, it's been a great walkable community since it was built in the 1930s. The South Beach area is a mix of residential and commercial spaces, so it's easy to find a place to live where you can walk to grocery stores and restaurants. If you don't want to walk that far in the summer heat, you can hop on a trolley or bus. You can live without a car in South Beach, but you'll need a ride-sharing service or a city bus to get across the bridge to the mainland. It's a short ride to downtown, where you can hook up with Metrorail.
2. Coral Gables
Founder George Merrick created this Spanish-style planned community in the 1920s, and his planning is still benefiting residents. Coral Gables is one of the most walkable small cities in Florida. It has its own downtown, and if you're in walking distance, you can dine out, do your shopping, and experience some great entertainment without going far from home. The city also has a trolley. Housing near downtown includes apartments, condos, and single-family homes.
3. Downtown Miami
For decades, no one lived in downtown Miami, and there was nothing to do there after offices closed at 5 p.m. Times have changed. The recent high-rise building boom has bought shops, restaurants, entertainment, sports, museums, apartments, and condos – and new life – to Miami's downtown. If you live in downtown Miami, not only can you get around your neighborhood without a car, you can hop on the MetroMover or Metrorail and travel quickly to other neighborhoods. The Brickell area, just south of downtown, also is a walkable area, with lots of new shops and restaurants in a neighborhood that was primarily residential in previous years.
4. South Miami
Just off U.S. 1 south of Coral Gables, the small city of South Miami has long had a walkable downtown, with shops and restaurants close to both apartments and single-family homes. Its tree-lined streets make strolling pleasant, plus there is a Metrorail stop in South Miami providing easy travel to downtown.
5. Midtown Miami
This is Miami's newest planned community, a mixed-use development of shops, office buildings, and condos built only a decade ago. The shopping and restaurants draw in residents from throughout that section of Miami, and Midtown residents can walk to much of what they need. Midtown is also close to the more upscale Miami Design District and the historic Buena Vista neighborhood. It's not far from Wynwood, the latest hipster hot spot, and Edgewater, where there has been lots of new condo construction.
6. Downtown Dadeland
For years, the word "Dadeland" referred to a big shopping mall out in the suburbs, surrounded by strip malls. The mixed-use Downtown Dadeland development built in 2005, with retail, office and residential options, changed the area into one of the best walkable cities near Miami. The storefront restaurants and shops, with offices and apartments above, create a walkable vibe, and there often are events such as parties and yoga classes. Other condo and apartment communities are nearby, and there is a Dadeland Metrorail station.
7. North Beach
Everyone knows about South Beach, but Miami Beach also has North Beach, at the city's northern limits, with shops, restaurants, and residential options within walking distance. The North Beach Bandshell is the site of numerous cultural events, and there is also an Atlantic Ocean beach. North Beach is reached by the 79th Street Causeway, which makes it easy to get to the mainland by city bus.
8. Coconut Grove
One of Miami's original walkable neighborhoods is in the throes of change, but it remains walkable, if less affordable than it once was. Mega-mansions are replacing some of the cottages, but the funky vibe and the shady tree canopy still remains in spots. Proximity to Biscayne Bay is a draw.
9. Little Havana
This neighborhood was once the first stop for new immigrants from Cuba, who bought single-family homes and rented apartments, then started restaurants and small business on Southwest Eighth Street, the neighborhood's main street. Residents now are more diverse, with Cubans being joined by Central Americans and other Miamians of all stripes, and casual Cuban restaurants are joined by trendy American restaurants and art galleries. Latin music still reigns in the clubs, and once a month the neighborhood celebrates Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) with a big street festival that includes live music. It's a short bus ride to downtown.