Better Streets Miami Beach

NACTO 2024: Top 5 Places To See in Miami Beach


Over 1,000 city planning and transportation officials from cities across North America will descend on Miami from May 7-10, 2024 for the NACTO 2024 Designing Cities Conference . Just across Biscayne Bay is Miami Beach, a densely populated tropical urban barrier island where walking, biking, micromobility, and transit usage far exceed the national average. South Beach, with its grid layout and (mostly) low-rise, medium-density built environment, is naturally conducive to non-automotive mobility. Here are our top 5 places to visit, should you find time to escape Downtown Miami during the conference. It’s a relatively easy bike or transit ride from Downtown.

Ocean Drive

In May 2020, Miami Beach transformed its iconic Ocean Drive, known for its Art Deco backdrop, into a shared space for dining, walking, and bicycling, closing it to automotive traffic. In January 2022, vehicles were reintroduced in a limited, one-way format alongside a new protected two-way cycle track. This design has proven highly successful, accommodating thousands daily who bike, walk, roll, and drive.

Lincoln Road

Lincoln Road, known as Miami Beach’s “Fifth Avenue,” is a famous shopping and dining street. It stretches from Biscayne Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, with the middle eight blocks a pedestrian mall. Originally open to vehicular traffic, the street was redesigned in the 1950s by local architect Morris Lapidus, who championed a vision for a car-free zone, famously asserting, “A car never bought anything.” This design philosophy has endured, and today, Lincoln Road is poised for a significant upgrade with a planned $50+ million renovation.

Miami Beach Beachwalk

Decades in the making, the recently completed at-grade, 7-mile long shared-use path is one of the crown jewels of Miami Beach. Stretching from the tip of the island, and hugging the beach along the Atlantic Ocean, beginning in South Pointe Park, through South, Mid, and North Beaches, and ending at the northern city limits, it’s one of the most successful shared-use paths in the country. This path is also a vital segment of the East Coast Greenway, linking Miami Beach to a larger network that spans from Maine to Florida. Each day, thousands of people enjoy its natural beauty, environment, and functionality. More than just a recreational route, the Beachwalk serves as an essential, and the only off-street, north-south path on the island.

South Pointe Park

Not just a park for the South of Fifth neighborhood but also a regional gem with stunning views of both sunrises and sunsets, as well as cruise ships embarking from Miami’s cruise port. The park offers a wide range of activities including lush green spaces, shade and palm trees, a pier, playground, splashpad, restaurant, dog park, and beach, offering a wide range of recreational activities. The “Cutwalk” along Government Cut connects to the Beachwalk to the Baywalk. Bustling in the evenings, yet tranquil during the day. This park is a great example of a recently and successfully designed urban park.

Historic Flamingo Park Neighborhood

The Historic Flamingo Park Neighborhood in Miami Beach is a showcase of urban living. Designated as a historic district, this area is characterized by its low-rise, medium-density Art Deco architecture and is one of the most walkable and bike-friendly neighborhoods in the city. With one of the lowest car ownership rates in both the city and state, the majority of its households have zero or only one car, relying heavily on walking, biking, micromobility, and public transit.

The neighborhood is known not only for its historical architecture but also for its socio-economic diversity and abundance of naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH). The neighborhood’s tree-lined streets enhance its appeal, alongside the upcoming “Slow Streets 2.0” project, which will include a new protected bike path leading to the park. These initiatives are aimed at adapting the streets to better meet the needs of its residents.

Honorable Mentions

  • Espanola Way
  • Bayshore Neighborhood
  • North Bay Road
  • New Traffic Circles in Nautilus neighborhood
  • Pedestrian bridges waterways (Collins Canal, Indian Creek