Miami Carnival 2021 - Travel Guide (Hotel, Getting Around, Food & More)

(Updated Jan 2024)

Yes, I’m late as per usual but yes you’re going to enjoy this! Greetings everyone. Being busy has been an understatement but I’ve been enjoying life amidst Covid and we have so much to discuss and share! 

One journey that I experienced was Miami Carnival 2021. As you guys know, I attended St. Kitt’s Sugar Mas J’ouvert back in 2019 right before the pandemic started. Since then I’ve been itching to attend somebody’s carnival. That was when my J’ouvert cherry was popped and now my actual carnival cherry has been popped! 

Amazing, necessary, exhilarating, and life changing. Let’s get into this journey: 


I booked this trip extremely last minute. Literally a week before Carnival weekend on October 1st. What’s funny is that I was going back and forth like Aaliyah on whether or not I should go. Now while I pulled it off flawlessly and absolutely everything worked out in my favor, I would actually not recommend doing this for a few reasons (unless you’re okay with paying more than usual) I’ll explain further:

1. If you want to play mas, not pay too much for events, or join a troop for J’ouvert, it’s best to book early as possible before everything gets sold out and it will sell out quickly. 

2. Number one goes for airfare and hotel stay also. I got blessed because my airfare wasn’t that much at all. 

I enjoy travel packages so I don’t have to separately book my flights and hotel so I used Travelocity. I flew with American Airlines and stayed at the Freehand Miami. 


As stated, I stayed at the Freehand Miami. It’s a gorgeous place located in Miami Beach in the Mid Beach area. Freehand is a hostel and the company has numerous USA locations. Visitors have the option to stay in shared dormitory styled rooms or in private rooms like what I did. I would highly recommend staying in the dorms if you’re doing a group trip. Hostels are a lot more cost efficient. 

Freehand Miami has a restaurant called 27, a pool, is close to the beach and is honestly just like a classic hotel. My only complaint was that an alarm went off in the middle of the night, there was a brief issue with the water pressure and the nearby construction was noisy. Otherwise it was a great stay and I actually would return. 

Update: Apparently there is a lot of issues with the upkeep of many hotels in Miami Beach. Be mindful when booking. 

Here’s a video review of the room: 

@___dro__ Get into my stay at the Freehand Miami. It’s actually a hostel but there are options to have your own room (highly recommended if you’re a solo traveler or woman). 🏩🏝🛫⛵️ Gorgeous exterior decorated with art murals, affordable, right in the heart of Miami Beach near restaurants, night clubs, close to the beach & there’s even a chic pool! • • • • • #miamivacation #miamivacay #southflorida #miamifl #miamiflorida #thingstodoinmiami #miamibeach #miamibeachflorida #miamibeachvacation #miamihotel #miamihotels #hoteltour #hoteltok #miamitravel #miamitravelguide #floridatravel #floridavacation #floridavacay #hostellife #miamihostel ♬ SUMMER IN MIAMI - Pat Matrone & Massimo Scalieri


Unlike in the islands, J’ouvert Sunday in Miami started at 7am. I honestly can’t wait to go back to the West Indies to get up at 3am and prepare for the 4am shenanigans. I didn’t get back to Freehand until 5am from partying and I like my beauty rest so I didn’t get to J’ouvert until about 12pm.  

Tip: Despite the fact that I got to J’ouvert late because I got to my room late, the fact that I stayed on Miami Beach was a huge factor in arriving late and missing J’ouvert. Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT stay on Miami Beach for events that are on the mainland. It’s best to get a hotel or Airbnb close to the airport, downtown, Brickell, etc.

Carnival Sunday 

The big day! Finally playing mas. Like at J’ouvert, I arrived late to carnival dndndjdnndnr lost my band and all chile. I just got in where I fit in with another girl who came late and lost her band. I enjoyed the experience but I honestly feel like things were a bit conjested and the set up wasn’t the best to me due to the aesthetic. My next big carnival experience playing mas hands down has to be in the islands. The vibe is definitely different. 

Miami natives even told me that at this carnival in particular the main event is actually all of the fetes (parties). I enjoyed the after set so much better than the actual carnival. It was fun to cross the stage but once everyone, including the general admission folks, were outside partying it was a true vibe. For my single ladies, baby the fellas was OUTSIDE! I mean back to back FINE. Just keep that in mind if you want to go next year. 


As you all know I’m vegan, four years going on five years to be exact! Miami is a major metropolitan city with plenty of vegan restaurant options and I was here for it all. I only had time to actually sit down and eat at one restaurant in particular, Planta in South Beach, but everything was really good. As a Chicagoan we’re pretty boujee about our food so I was very impressed with how delicious everything was.

Another spot I got food from was SoBe Vegan. The food is on the junk food vegan side, but still good. I finally tasted a vegan hot dog thanks to them. 


As stated above, fetes are the main event for Miami Carnival weekend. More people seem to be enthused about the parties verses the actual parade and such. It’s highly recommended to get tickets at least a month ahead. 

I only went to one fete and even that was super last minute and all the way in Opa Locka. Apparently that is the trenches but we had a great time. It rained (it was outside) but was still a blast. 

Getting Around
Transportation wise, it’s recommended to rent a car or use ride share apps like Lyft or Uber. There is public transportation but it’s not as reliable in Miami as in major cities. 

Regardless, there will be plenty of traffic as Miami is one of the worst cities for traffic and the big weekend events will bring more visitors and therefore more traffic to the roads.  

I didn’t get to explore much because it was my first time in Miami and it was more laid back and chill than the typical partying every night scene but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. This trip changed my entire life and I’m so grateful for it. Can’t wait until next year! 



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