* Hurricane season is June to November. Ideal weather conditions exist between December and May with average temperatures ranging from 16 to 30 degrees centigrade and not much rainfall. Summer tends to be hot and humid with afternoon thunderstorms. August is the rainiest and hottest time and you have most chance of a hurricane. It is rare for hurricanes to hit Miami, but not unheard of. During the summer, temperatures can top 90 degrees fahrenheit and there are lots of mosquitoes.
* Pack swimwear and light cover up to take you from the beach to the cafes. Wear high factor sunscreen even if it is cloudy and have a hat and comfortable sandals or flip-flops (the only thing I wore). Above all, dress for comfort because it is hot and sticky. Tourist attire is flip flop casual.
* The food is traditional Cuban meets spicy Caribbean with lots of seafood. Try pork with dense crackling, bistec palomillo (thin cut steak with minced onions) accompanied with beans and rice, Cuban sandwiches served warm with ham, cheese and port. The mojito is the city's signature drink, but tropical fruit shakes are also delicious.
* The shopping experience is eclectic - designer boutiques, mainstream chains, mega malls and touristy souvenir shops, Miami has all this and more.
* Airboat rides through the outskirts of the Everglades are particularly wonderful as teh area is unfettered by jet skis, cruise ships and neon bikinis. It is Florida's Outback and only an hour's drive from Miami. Airboats navigate through the most stubborn of sawgrass, providing you with an upclose and personal and fun view of the inhabitants - alligators, manatees and racoons amongst others.
* Ride the Metromover - designed to relieve traffic congestion, the billion dollar transportation network is hardly used by commuters. For little more than a dollar, you can tour many neighbourhoods and see much of the wonderful city skyline.
* Miami International Airport is the second in the USA for international passenger traffic and 10th in the world. It is however very user friendly and not as much of a hassle to get through as you might think. It is 6 miles west of Miami centre and 10 miles from the beaches. Most cabs are metered, some have flat rates to popular destinations - budget around $32 to South Beach plus tip - 15% and add more according to how many bags the driver handles. Traffic dependent, the journey to South Beach should take about 20 minutes. The airport is one of the largest airports in the world and is often congested - we arrived and left on a Saturday and had no problems whatsoever. You do though need to allow yourself extra time when leaving - especially if you are flying internationally. Also if you have a hire car to drop off, it is a bit of a trek (involving a bus) to get to your terminal, so allow time for this.
* Miami is laid out an a grid with 4 quadrants - north east, north west, south east and south west. Avenues and Courts run north south; streets, terraces and ways run east west and roads run diagonally. It is best to buy a detailed map, stick to the major roads and make sure you are in a safe place if you need directions. We had a sat nav and had no problems driving and finding our way around.
* The city resembles Los Angeles in its urban sprawl and traffic. Except for South Beach, it is not a walker's city. It is spread out and attractions are too far apart to make walking between them feasible. South Beach is entirely walkable and best enjoyed by foot - although it was so hot during our visit, that we did need to use cabs to get to some places.
* Hire cars are cheap but book well in advance during peak times. Avoid driving in rush hour between 7 and 9am and 5 and 7pm. Public transport is not really that good, so if you want to explore, you will need a car. Except for South Beach, it is difficult to hail a cab on the street. You need to either call a cabl company or have a hotel doorman hail one for you. The hop on / hop off bus tour is a good way to explore the neighbourhoods, see the main sights and get your bearings.
* We stayed in South Beach for 4 nights, but chose to stay at the Marriot by the airport when we arrived. Hotels in South Beach put their prices up dramatically over the weekend and then rates drop again during the week. If, like us, you are jetlagged and just want to sleep when you arrive, it is not worth paying the inflated prices. We found the airport hotel fine for the first night, then headed to South Beach ready to start enjoying our holiday.