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Makaveli123

Which city should I go to?

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I'm from Europe and I'm looking to spend some time in either Florida or Cali next winter (or maybe spring). It seems to be very seldom that (Sout)Cali has temperatures in the mid to high 70s at that time of the year. So I guess I'll be headed to Florida. However I'm a bit put off by the crime in miami. I'm sure you'll be fine if you dont go into the wrong neighborhoods, but I've also heard you shouldnt go to downtown at night, etc. Besides the public transport istn good either i guess (but then again where is it).

Maybe somebody can tell me what other city in Florida I could go to if I want to go to a city where I'll be able to do lots of things, maybe even go to the beach and would have decent public transport. I thought tampa might be the right place, because I had onced heard that "san diego and tampa" had fairly good public transport (ive also heard it was completely crap tho). But then again ybor city doesnt look like a place where I'd wanna go out tonight..are there any other areas with nice clubs in tampa? How about public transport? Can you get everywhere u need to get if you live in or close to downtown? How about malls, etc. is tampa a relatively big and modern city? I mean it only has a population of 300 000 or so but the metropolitan area is still one of the biggest in the U.S. ... how about the beaches is there any way to get there by public transport? How long does it usually take by car?

and so on and so on..I hope somebody can enlighten me a little ;-) oh and Im not completely focussed on tampa or anything, if somebody knows any place in florida that can offer what im looking for I'll be glad (and thankful of course ;))

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Hi Makaveli!!

Well, I am a bit biased, but I would DEFINETLY go to Fort Lauderdale. It is very safe, very Beautiful, has both beaches and a GREAT downtown that is growing explosively, and is still only 40 miles from Miami, should you want to spend a day in South Beach or something. Public Trasportation is decent... if you get a hotel on Las Olas, you are close enough to walk to the beach, and you could walk on Las Olas Blvd, which is almost like being in a small downtown, and you could get a bus to downtown easily.

Hope this helps!

Paula

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If you are not going to rent a car, Miami is the place to go. Stay in South Beach and you can access to the finest clubs in the entire countires. Beach is nearby and you can also go down to Key West and the Everglade.

Tampa is way too sprawl unless u want to rent a car. Gulf has nicer beach but there are not much to do in Tampa. If you stay in Tampa, Orlando is always an hour away with great outlet malls and huge malls. Nightlife in Orlando is great, have both family oriented and adult oriented things to do.

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I too would recommend Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach. And Miami isn't that bad either. All of South Florida has relatively good mass transit, especially Miami.

Oh, and welcome to UrbanPlanet!

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As far as public transit is concerned, Tampa is quite possibly the WORST major city in Florida. Also Tampa's downtown is the last place you want to be after nightfall, more so than Miami, both crimewise and activity-wise. There are good places in Tampa, but none which seem to meet your criteria. As far as constant weather over 70, Miami has the best chance of that. It can regularly get into the 40's (sometimes lower) in the other Florida cities during the dead of winter.

Here's a breakdown from my limited experience.

Miami: Best public transit in the state by far(though still lacking). Downtown is on an upswing but isn't "there" yet. Miami Beach is the most pedestrian friendly place in Florida, possibly the Southeast. You can easily be car-free there. There's almost no reason to go downtown currently, but that's quickly changing, and by next winter downtown may rock. Miami Beach also has the best nightlife. Miami has the only HRT in Florida, the Metrorail, and the system can be quite effective, but only if you seriously plan to use it, and find a place to stay that is convienent to it. Getting around downtown is extremely easy as well, with MetroMover. Weather-wise, Miami has the best chances of being consistently over 70 in the winter. Overall, Miami is the clear winner according to your criteria.

Orlando: The best downtown in the state after nightfall. There are lots of clubs and lots of activity. Shopping is all suburban and mostly in the attractions areas, but is very plentiful. Transit is abysmal, but no worse than Tampa or Jacksonville. Tourist opportunities are the highest here with Disney, Universal, Sea World, etc, but be prepared to spend a lot of money here. There's only so much day-to-day stuff to do here without having to start doing the tourist stuff.

Tampa, Jacksonville: I don't know too much about these cities, so anyone else, feel free to chime in.

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I think that Miami's crime has been overstated in international media as of late. Crime has dropped dramatically and it is the lowest it has been in decades.

The tourist areas are very safe and you'll have a good time, and millions visit annually. The general rule is that you should walk where the crowds are. When you arrive at the airport, you can pick up a tourist-friendly map at any kiosk, which guides you to the major destinations. If you decide to stay in Miami Beach, which is where most tourists go, you won't need a car and public transportation will be very sufficient. Lincoln Road (and Miami Beach in general) has excellent shopping, and you can also take a short bus and train ride to area malls. If you stay anywhere else, I would recommend renting (hiring) a car. The map I mentioned also happens to highlight which routes are considered official tourist routes (and therefore the ones you should stay on).

No matter where you decide to stay, I would recommend that you go to each Convention and Visitors Bureau website and request a vacation guide. I've provided links for the major cities below:

FLA-USA, Florida's official tourism gateway (Free guides and maps)

Greater Miami CVB (Free guide)

Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB (Free guide)

Palm Beach County CVB (Free guide)

Orlando/Orange County CVB (Free guide)

Tampa Bay CVB (Free guide)

Jacksonville and the Beaches CVB (Free guide)

Most importantly, welcome to the forum!

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As far as public transit is concerned, Tampa is quite possibly the WORST major city in Florida.  Also Tampa's downtown is the last place you want to be after nightfall, more so than Miami, both crimewise and activity-wise.  There are good places in Tampa, but none which seem to meet your criteria.  As far as constant weather over 70, Miami has the best chance of that.  It can regularly get into the 40's (sometimes lower) in the other Florida cities during the dead of winter.

Here's a breakdown from my limited experience.

Miami: Best public transit in the state by far(though still lacking).  Downtown is on an upswing but isn't "there" yet.  Miami Beach is the most pedestrian friendly place in Florida, possibly the Southeast.  You can easily be car-free there.  There's almost no reason to go downtown currently, but that's quickly changing, and by next winter downtown may rock.  Miami Beach also has the best nightlife.  Miami has the only HRT in Florida, the Metrorail, and the system can be quite effective, but only if you seriously plan to use it, and find a place to stay that is convienent to it.  Getting around downtown is extremely easy as well, with MetroMover.  Weather-wise, Miami has the best chances of being consistently over 70 in the winter.  Overall, Miami is the clear winner according to your criteria. 

Orlando: The best downtown in the state after nightfall.  There are lots of clubs and lots of activity.  Shopping is all suburban and mostly in the attractions areas, but is very plentiful.  Transit is abysmal, but no worse than Tampa or Jacksonville.  Tourist opportunities are the highest here with Disney, Universal, Sea World, etc, but be prepared to spend a lot of money here.  There's only so much day-to-day stuff to do here without having to start doing the tourist stuff.

Tampa, Jacksonville:  I don't know too much about these cities, so anyone else, feel free to chime in.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Unlike the others, Jacksonville isn't a tourism city. Its mostly a blue collar working class city. Although the beaches are some of the best in Florida and there's a monorail, that makes getting around downtown pretty easy, if I were you, I'd head down to Miami or Miami Beach. That area is the largest region in the State and the only one where you can easily get around without a car. It also has a commuter rail system that gives you an easy way to get from Miami, to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

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I will take you days (just kidding) to get to the beaches in Tampa, Jacksonville or Miami/WPB/Ft Laud if you use public transportation. That's b/c you would have to take the buses to get to the beaches. Your trip would include many transfers which can be a PITA. There is no train system in either one of those cities that will get you to their beaches. You're better off staying near the beach. Either one of the cities should suffice.

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Think about other things than just a beach.

Here are some other options.

Jacksonville area - you have St Augustine, Amelia Island

Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach - Beach and NASA - visit a nice beach area and spend a day at Kennedy Space Center.

Lake City or Ocala. Old florida, natural springs galore. Nothing like paddling a kayak in crystal clear water and have a manatee swim underneath you or paddle right next to a 6foot+ alligator

Panhandle of Florida - you can have a beach to yourself in some areas.

give us an idea of what you are looking to do, we can point you to the right areas.

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I wouldn't base your trip to any Florida city off public transportation because even in Miami, which has the best, it still totally sucks and doesn't even get you to the beach. That being said, South Beach is a car-free destination as others have mentioned. Great food, clubs, beaches, etc. If you are spending more than a few days however, South Beach itself can get tiring to the visitor so plan on renting a car to take advantage of South Florida's other popular destinations.

Orlando has all the obvious tourist destinations, as well as the bustling downtown nightlife that tourists usually are entirely unaware of so its a large local scene and worth experiencing. Its one of my favorite anywhere. Also Tampa is only an hour away for the Ybor City nightlife as well as Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral in the other direction. You'd obviously be renting a car if you visit Orlando, so a nice daytrip would be St. Augustine or Mt Dora.

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First of all thanks for the answers and all the info guys, well I actually planned on going to Miami in the first place, but then I was put off by what I had heard about the crime. I know they way miami is presented in international media (crimewise) is probably exaggerated. The only thing I remember is the killing of 2 tourists back in the early 90s or so, anyways..but I googled for it and homicides and robberies seem to be pretty frequent in miami..plus I read stuff like a lot of ppl in miami (maybe just tourists) usually have a 20dollar bill on them or so, so they can give it away if they r robbed or whateva..I mean lol I wanna go somewhere on vacation where I have a good time can kick back, explore the interesting city areas and basically not have to worry about stuff like that. But if I got u guys right I shouldnt be worried as long as I dont go to certain areas I wouldnt want to be anyways?

What's west palm beach like though? That city kinda sparked my interest as I saw it on tv for a couple of secs the other day (it was a report about kids from there going to a bootcamp btw..). The city itself seems to be pretty small though (even though the metropolitan area is over a million ppl)..anyways wassup with downtown, malls, parks and other interesting areas there?

I kinda have the same question about Orlando. I read it has only a population of 180 or so thousand ppl, which is just a little than the city in germany that I live in right now...and well this city is far from being a really interesting metropolitan place or whateva u wanna call it (though its not bad to live here). But apparently Orlando seems to be a really big..well not city..but metropolitan area..so just wondering if theres lots of stuff to do even though the city itself aint that big.

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I get the distinct impression that European media must like to play up America's crime rate. But in reality, stranger-on-stranger violent crime is almost non-existant in the US.

We have a very high murder rate compared to Europe, but they almost all fall into two categories. 1) Drug dealers killing each other 2) spouses killing each other. Unless you are planning on hanging out with druggies in Miami, I think you'll be quite safe. For that matter, non-homocide crimes like burglary, valdalism, etc, tend to actually occur less in the US than in most Euro cities.

---------------------------------

As far as transit ... just accept the inevitable. You'll need to rent a car if you want to enjoy yourself. Miami is the only city where it might even been an option, and it won't even be a very good one there.

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About West Palm..... It's not nearly as large nor as famous as its other two South Florida counterparts. But it's beautiful, one of the most aesthetically pleasing cities down here. Some say it's better for older people, but Cityplace and some of Clematis Street, in downtown, offer clubs, cinema, and dining. Also, across the water lies the island of Palm Beach, which is famous for its rich people and fancy hotels. And then suburban WPB..........just sucks.....

Click Here for the West Palm Beach Projects/Construction thread. It might give you an idea of the downtown area.

-_-

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If you're staying in South Beach, you will not need a car. The busses there do an adequate job of getting you someplace that your feet can't. You can walk just about anywhere you need to go on the island. A short bus ride will take you to downtown and to the metrorail if that's your thing. Just be careful to check the routes and times. Service at night can be spotty, but except for a couple of clubs on the mainland, south beach is where you'll want to be during then anyway. I live here, and I've never been robbed or shot or any of that. It's been over 10 years since we shot any germans, so don't worry about it... too much.

As far as other places, you'll have to rent a car. Key West is pedestrian friendly once you get there. Germans seem to love Naples.

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As far as crime,it has lowered,like Aessotariq said,crime has lowered.Miami has now got one of the best PD's in the US.i read that somewhere in the herald.i dont remeber though.I'll show you if i need to.Miami is getting better,just wait.

Oh,and Ft.Lauderdale is great.

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I just noticed miamis crime rate (relocation crime lab index or something..) is lower than tampa's lol...what do you like so much about ft. lauderdale? Ive heard it was a bit boring... (?)

As far as crime,it has lowered,like Aessotariq said,crime has lowered.Miami has now got one of the best PD's in the US.i read that somewhere in the herald.i dont remeber though.I'll show you if i need to.Miami is getting better,just wait.

Oh,and Ft.Lauderdale is great.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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I would DEFINETLY go to Fort Lauderdale.  It is very safe, very Beautiful, has both beaches and a GREAT downtown that is growing explosively

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree! :thumbsup: If you're coming to Florida go to Fort Lauderdale! I've been to Miami only once, probably would never go back. On the other hand I have been to FLL many times and enjoy returning each time! The downtown/ Las Olas is great and the beaches there are beautiful! Miami is full of crime! Palm Beach and Naples are nice too, a little ritzy though.

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What part of Miami did you stay in alslex? How is it full of crime?

Fort Lauderdale is nice, but I have yet to see it offer anything that Miami Beach doesn't.

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Fort lauderdale is NOT boring. Having lived in South florida since I was 11, I can tell you that it is a GREAT place to vacation. My brother and sister-in-law are from Switzerland, and have been all over Florida... they love Fort Lauderdale.

The best place to stay is a place called Riverside Hotel. It is on Las Olas. This boulevard has EVERYTHING you need within walking distance. Including the beach. You would have no need for a car nor the bus really. And if you must go to Miami, there's always the tri-rail and the bus.

As for the question of what Ft. Laud has that Miami Beach doesn't? Lets see... safety, cleanliness... AMAZING Beaches (much nicer than in Miami, you have to admit) I'm not knocking Miami Beach, but I hardly EVER go to Miami, and in fact, I avoid it at all costs.... And like I said, the European friends and family I have REALLY like Fort Lauderdale.

Naples is very nice, as is St. Petersburg... but I find the water to be really murky on the west coast. Every time I have gone there they have had sting rays, (you have to walk shuffling your feet, just in case :blink: ). The water on the east coast is usually clear and free of anything that could seriously injure you... well except for when we have sharks :rolleyes: as we do now... hehehe

Key West is pretty cool too... And once you'r there you don't really need a car, either. But again, everytime I have gone, the beaches have been closed due to bacteria (I have no luck...). Maybe someone else here can let you know if this is a fairly common occurance in the keys....

Well, hope this helps...

Paula

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Thank you. Actually Fort Lauderdale would be a place I could easily go to because its a very popular destination for language vacations (dunno if thats the right word?) etc.

So in Ft. Lauderdale I'd have great beaches, malls, clubs, etc. all within walking distance and if I want to go to Miami..to lets say watch a basketball game of the heat, I could still get there fairly quickly (even by public transport), right? I read its 26 miles..but maybe you (or somebody else) can tell me how long it usually takes to get there by car and how long by public transport? Besides..do these means of public transport run at night, too? Ive always wondered how american ppl who go clubbing, dont live right next to a club and have unefficient public transport (that maybe doesnt even run at night?) got to the clubs? One guy always has to stay sober, I guess? :wacko: lol

One more thing Id like to know about ft. lauderdale...do you think it can keep up with other big metropolitan areas/cities when it comes to clubs, malls etc. ?

You guys dont really agree, that miami is safe nowadays, do you?

Fort lauderdale is NOT boring.  Having lived in South florida since I was 11, I can tell you that it is a GREAT place to vacation.  My brother and sister-in-law are from Switzerland, and have been all over Florida... they love Fort Lauderdale.

The best place to stay is a place called Riverside Hotel.  It is on Las Olas.  This boulevard has EVERYTHING you need within walking distance.  Including the beach.  You would have no need for a car nor the bus really.  And if you must go to Miami, there's always the tri-rail and the bus. 

As for the question of what Ft. Laud has that Miami Beach doesn't?  Lets see... safety, cleanliness... AMAZING Beaches (much nicer than in Miami, you have to admit)    I'm not knocking Miami Beach, but I hardly EVER go to Miami, and in fact, I avoid it at all costs....  And like I said, the European friends and family I have REALLY like Fort Lauderdale.

Naples is very nice, as is St. Petersburg... but I find the water to be really murky on the west coast.  Every time I have gone there they have had sting rays, (you have to walk shuffling your feet, just in case :blink: ).  The water on the east coast is usually clear and free of anything that could seriously injure you... well except for when we have sharks :rolleyes:  as we do now... hehehe

Key West is pretty cool too...  And once you'r there you don't really need a car, either.  But again, everytime I have gone, the beaches have been closed due to bacteria  (I have no luck...).  Maybe someone else here can let you know if this is a fairly common occurance in the keys....

Well, hope this helps...

Paula

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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Hi Mak,

I will be completely honest with you. I am 28 and have NEVER been to a club... can't tell you what the club scene is like here... I know some of my friends go clubbing (they knock themselves out trying to get me to go.. hehehe... ) and they all go in the Las Olas, Beach area.... but this website should tell you everything you need to know: http://www.fortlauderdalescene.com/

As for the malls.. you have the Galleria Mall which is AMAZING.. has just been completely renovated and is off of the beach. Looks GORGEOUS!! You don't need to go anywhere else.

Here is a link to their website: http://www.galleriamall-fl.com/about/about.html

As for the tri-rail, my brother uses it all the time to go to West Palm... I don't know how fast or slow it is to go to Miami.... I think if you took a bus to the tri-rail station, and then the train to Miami's metro-rail station, and then you would probably have to take the metro rail to the stadium... might take you 1 hour.... I think the last train runs at 11, but am not sure....

Here is their website: http://www.tri-rail.com/

I couldn't find the website for metrorail... but I am sure someone here could probably clue you in.

Honestly, Amerinca is a place where, unless you live in New York... you HAVE TO HAVE a car!!! Public Transportation here SUCKS!!!! Sorry!

One more thing Id like to know about ft. lauderdale...do you think it can keep up with other big metropolitan areas/cities when it comes to clubs, malls etc. ?

I think Fort Lauderdale can keep up with a large metro on all levels... it really is a small town with big town infrastructure.... you have everything you need here... no one depends on going to miami. Of course, Miami has the sports teams, and that's something one would go there for.... but overall, you could have a great vacation just staying the fort lauderdale.

However, I do recommend that you stay on Las Olas or on the Beach... I don't know what your budget is like.. but it would be best to be where you can walk to everything... or nearly everything....

Paula

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Thank you. Actually Fort Lauderdale would be a place I could easily go to because its a very popular destination for language vacations (dunno if thats the right word?) etc.

So in Ft. Lauderdale I'd have great beaches, malls, clubs, etc. all within walking distance and if I want to go to Miami..to lets say watch a basketball game of the  heat, I could still get there fairly quickly (even by public transport), right? I read its 26 miles..but maybe you (or somebody else) can tell me how long it usually takes to get there by car and how long by public transport? Besides..do these means of public transport run at night, too? Ive always wondered how american ppl who go clubbing, dont live right next to a club and have unefficient public transport (that maybe doesnt even run at night?) got to the clubs? One guy always has to stay sober, I guess? :wacko: lol

One more thing Id like to know about ft. lauderdale...do you think it can keep up with other big metropolitan areas/cities when it comes to clubs, malls etc. ?

You guys dont really agree, that miami is safe nowadays, do you?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I can guarantee that you would need a car in Fort Lauderdale. The beach would get pretty old after a couple of days. It does not offer the number and diversity of things to do that Miami Beach does. Don't let them fool you. Crime is not a problem in Miami right now. Not any more so than it is in Fort Lauderdale. I have no problem with Fort Lauderdale. But for an international traveller who wants to depend on transit, you have to stick with Miami Beach. I'd venture to say 3 to 4 times as many clubs as Fort Lauderdale. Great shopping areas including the LIncoln Road Mall (open air pedestrian mall), Washington Ave, Espanola Way. The resteraunts and vibe on Ocean Drive are unmatched. The mainland is just a busride away. Tri-rail does not run very late. I believe it's 9pm.

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I agree, the perception of rampant crime in Miami is myopic and unfair. It's no better or worse than any other large city. It's safe down here! :) There has been evidence discovered that crime statistics collected for the The Fort Lauderdale area (Broward County) by the Broward Sheriff's Office have been underreported. I enjoy Fort Lauderdale, but I don't think the crime is any better or worse, on average, for most parts of South Florida, save a few areas in both cities and adjacent areas. I'd be curious to see what the stats will have to say once the numbers are straightened out. Visit both.

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