Although Miami itself has an effective control program that ensures mosquitoes are rarely a pest, be prepared to be eaten alive the moment you leave the city limits. The Everglades and other wooded areas are the worst affected, so buy an insect repellent you like the smell of, and use it.
Hurricane season in Florida runs from June to November, and during the year there may be as few as two or as many as 20 blowing in. The majority blow themselves out or remain at sea rather than striking the mainland. Devastated several times in the past (including a direct hit from Hurricane Wilma in 2005), Miami now has a highly sophisticated early warning system ensuring that when the "big one" arrives, it’s unlikely to be a surprise. The National Hurricane Center in Miami can give 24 hours’ warning of a possible hit, and public radio and most TV stations then give out the latest information and evacuation plans. Be prepared to evacuate your hotel, even if the weather doesn’t appear threatening when the warning is issued.
Tornadoes are part of the same weather system, but despite looking so dramatic, they’re considerably less destructive. They’re also less predictable, so there’s no warning. Most of Miami’s buildings are robust enough to suffer only minor damage, even when directly in the path of a tornado, so stay inside and you’re probably safest.
For weather updates, you can call the National Weather Service Forecast Office on 305-229-4522.
In Miami, as in other parts of the US, you’ll be charged a fortune for even basic medical care. Having full insurance cover, preferably with a low excess, is the only way to feel at ease; keep the details with you and leave a copy with someone at home. If it’s not an emergency, walk-in clinics are cheaper, friendlier and more numerous than hospitals. Miami Beach Community Health Center at the Stanley C Myers Center (710 Alton Rd, at 7th Street, 305-538-8835, miamibeachhealth.org, 7.30am–6pm Mon, Wed; 7.30am–5pm Tue, Thur, Fri) is a public clinic that charges according to what you earn.
For emergencies, dial 911 or head for the nearest emergency room. Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach is considered the best but also charges the most.
3100 SW 62nd Ave, off Red Rd (SW 57th Ave), at Devonshire Blvd, South-West Miami (305-666-6511, mch.com). Bus 72.
A specialist emergency room and good outpatient services.
Coral Gables Hospital
3100 S Douglas Rd (SW 37th Ave), at Santander Ave, Coral Gables (305-445-8461, coralgableshospital.com). Bus 37.
A 24-hour emergency department and a high-capacity outpatient unit with same-day surgery.
Jackson Memorial Hospital
1611 NW 12th Ave, at NW 16th St, Downtown (305-585-1111, jacksonhealth.org). Metrorail Civic Center.
The main county hospital.
Mount Sinai Medical Center
4300 Alton Rd, at 43rd St, North Beach (305-674-2020, msmc.com). Bus C, M, R.
A well-equipped hospital, and pricey.
University of Miami Hospital
1400 NW 12th Ave, at NW 14th St, Downtown (305-689-5511, umiamihospital.com). Bus 12, 22, 95, M/Metrorail Civic Center.
Contraception and abortion
Jean Shehan Health Center
3119A SW 22nd St, between SW 31st Ave & SW 31st Ct, South Miami (305-285-5535, plannedparenthood.org). Bus 24. Open 8.30am–5pm Tue; 11am–7pm Wed; 1–5pm Thur; 9am–3pm Fri; 10am–3pm Sat.
Care for men and women, including birth-control supplies, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing.
STDs, HIV and Aids
Suite 300, 3510 Biscayne Blvd, at 35th St, Design District (305-576-1234, careresource.org). Bus 9, 10, J. Open 8.30am–5pm Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri; 8.30am–7.30pm Wed.
South Beach AIDS Project
306 Lincoln Rd, between Collins & Washington Aves, South Beach (305-532-1033, sobeaids.org). Bus C, G, H, K, L, R, S, W, South Beach Local. Open 9am–7pm daily.
The South Florida District Dental Association (305-667-3647, sfdda.org) has a search facility on its website that will help you find a local dentist who’s a member of the American Dental Association.
Alcohol & Drug Abuse Hotline 800-784-6776
Alcoholics Anonymous 305-461-2425
Coast Guard 911 or 305-535-4472
Crisis & Suicide Counseling Service 305-358-4357
Poison Information Center 800-222-1222
Rape Hotline 305-585-7273
As in most of the US, disabled travelers to Miami are likely to find it relatively easy to get around. The exception may be South Beach’s Deco District, where the 1930s architecture offers some tight angles and tiny elevators that can plague wheelchair users. However, even the smallest hotels often have ramps and stairlifts fitted, and by federal law all public buildings—including museums and libraries—must have wheelchair access and suitable toilet facilities.
Miami-Dade Transit buses are equipped with lifts or special low entrances, set spaces and grips, and both the Tri-Rail and Metromover are fully wheelchair-accessible.
On the beaches, there’s wheelchair access at 10th Street and Ocean Drive on South Beach, at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne and at the North Shore State Recreation Area. You can also borrow Beach Chairs, wheelchairs specially designed to access sandy areas, at Haulover Beach and Crandon Park Beach (see here for more details). All public pools in Miami-Dade County are equipped with lifts. The New York-based Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (212-447-7284, sath.org) can offer information and services for disabled travelers in all parts of the United States.