A couple of weeks ago, we hopped on Big Bus Tours in Miami and were tourists for a day in our own city. I rode around town—we did roundtrip from Coral Gables to Coral Gables—with three jr. reporters for most of the breezy and sunny day, and if their barrels of laughter and the fact that not once was I asked, “are we there yet?” are any indication, then the tour is a definite success…for everyone from families to honeymooning couples.
The Big Bus Tours double-decker buses offer hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours in cities around the world, including Abu Dhabi, Budapest, Dubai, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, London, Paris, San Francisco, Shanghai, Vienna and Washington, D.C. How do you spot them among the litany of other double-deckers making their way through the world’s top tourist destinations? Easy—look for the red double decker with a big yellow B splashed across the side cupping an iconic symbol of the city it’s touring…in the case of Miami, a palm tree. When in Paris, look for the B with the Eiffel Tower, and in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge.
During our journey through Miami and Miami Beach, we hopped on the bus in Coral Gables, one of the city’s prettiest neighborhoods, and made our way through Little Havana, where the Cubans first settled at the onset of the Cuban revolution more than 50 years ago. The tour continues into Downtown Miami, with its glass skyscrapers, and right into the heart of Bayfront Park, where Bayside is home to Big Bus’ Central Station. It’s here where tour participants—if they’ve bought tickets for the Beach Loop—can transfer to the Beach bus that takes them directly to Miami Beach. Of course, if we were going to play tourists, we were definitely going to go full-throttle, so after a quick lunch at Bayside and a peek inside the Disney store (your clients will find plenty of shopping and dining opportunities at Bayside, an open-air shopping and dining mall that stretches along the city’s stunning waterfront), we hopped on another bus and headed to Miami Beach. I was impressed by how far up Miami Beach the Beach Loop runs, up to the landmark Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels (around 41st street); I thought it would swing through South Beach and call it a day. That’s a note to you, travel agents, that for clients staying mid-Beach, this is a great way to get to know the destination they are visiting and they’ll be picked up and dropped off right by their hotel. After arriving back at Bayside—with tousled hair from riding on the open-top bus—we hopped off and got back on one of the City Loop tours for the trip back to Coral Gables. We jumped on the highway—sort of a thrill ride when you’re on an open double-decker and you’re high over the city—and drove through the heavily tree-lined Vizcaya Museum area to then go through Coconut Grove, with its historic landmarks including the first Black settlement in South Florida.
During the course of the tour, buses offer either audio or live commentary. So your clients will get snippets of interesting information about the destination along the way. The best part, however, is the breathtaking views of the city’s attractions and neighborhoods, and of course, the fact that one can get off in a neighborhood that piques their interest and get back on when they’ve explored a bit. Buses run regularly, and our party didn’t have to wait more than five to 10 minutes to get on the three buses we rode on.
Big Bus Tours offers:
• 24- or 48-hour tickets
• Hop-on, hop-off facility
• Two loops with more than 20 stops
• Centrally located pick up/drop off spots
• Sightseeing of the city’s famous landmarks
• Entertaining commentary
• Commentary available in 12 languages
• Combo package deals that include a hop-on, hop-off tour with a top Miami attraction, such as a Biscayne Bay Tour; an Everglades Air Boat Tour; a Pirate Duck Tour; or Jungle Island.
Prices are: 48-hour Beach + City Loop ($49/adult; $39/child, 5-15); 24-hour Beach + City Loop ($39/adult; $29/child, 5-15).
Here’s a snapshot of what we saw along the way: