If someone had told me l would like another place in America as much as l like Los Angeles, l would have laughed. “Not possible” would have been my answer. I would have had to eat my words though as we both really, really liked Miami. We had never been, so it seemed like a good idea to spend some time there after our cruise to the Dominican Republic. Federico had a photo shoot scheduled during the week, so we figured we might as well discover more of this breezy city.
I hadn’t bothered to do much research in preparation for the trip. Sometimes, just winging it is good for the soul. We arrived in Miami in plenty of time to catch the cruise and spent 2 nights at an AirBnB rental in the downtown area. It was a perfect spot. I highly recommend it to anyone staying in the Miami area. The room was spotless, the guys who owned the place provided everything you needed for comfort in the en-suite. We had lots of privacy as the owners were busy young men who were hardly home. We would definitely stay there again. Had we not already booked a boutique hotel for our stay after the cruise, we would have stayed there again. The hotel turned out to be excellent too, and was just 2 blocks to the beach.
Our week was spent eating, walking and enjoying the beach. The vibe of the city is infectious, a very cosmopolitan place. We found it to be very clean. I especially loved the greenery , the wide open spaces and the fresh air. There is definitely a lot of wealth in the city. A lot!!!! Exotic cars were plentiful, more than in L.A even, and that’s saying a lot! I was only disappointed that l didn’t get to see pink flamingos like in the “Miami Vice” intro :-) . Here are what we consider very impressive highlights of Miami in no particular order.
South Beach & Art Deco District:
For me personally, this is the most impressive highlight. Reading up on the history of this part of Miami Beach, l discovered that it had started out as farmland, coconuts specifically. In the 1980’s, this area was run down and crime ridden. It was by then a retirement community filled with old people on fixed pensions. The cocaine cowboys as they were known (think Scarface) quickly took over the area. A lot of the places were used on episodes of Miami Vice as they were already in shambles. Most of the 1930’s Art Deco buildings were demolished, and the rest were saved from developers by activists. In a stunning reversal, South Beach, or SoBe is now considered one of the wealthiest areas in the city and it shows. Trivia: The Jackie Gleason Show was taped from South Beach in the 60’s bringing it more fame.
No way could you mistake any of them for Venice Beach for sure :-) . The coastline was clean and offered plenty of space to sun bathe, swim or just chill. The water is so clear and reminds me of Malta. I totally enjoyed floating and even trying to swim. The fact that we were staying so close to Miami Beach was great and we spent a great deal of time in the water.
Lincoln Road Mall:
This is a mile long pedestrian only road in the downtown Miami area. It has an incredible number of shops, restaurants and galleries. It is basically the Miami version of the 3rd street Promenade in Santa Monica, just a lot bigger. If you’re a shopper, you will definitely enjoy doing so. Federico was happy as there is a Superdry store there as well as Adidas. For me, it was more about the people watching and drinking sangria :-). I probably wouldn’t have put this on the list, l found it okay, but not impressive.
Wynwood Art District:
As lovers of street art, we found the Wynwood Walls and the whole district very impressive. There sure is a lot of talent out there. There are works from over 50 artists from sixteen countries scattered all around the Wynwood Walls area. This has extended outside the walls itself, and entire buildings have become works of art.
We had an amazing afternoon walking around the district checking out the absolutely awesome graffiti masterpieces..yeah..masterpieces. Some of the murals were just jaw dropping. The district is home to over seventy galleries and twelve art studios. You’re bound to find something to like. I might make a post of just the murals at some point as there were lots that we liked.
As foodies, no trip for us would be complete without food :-) . Miami is home to a large population hailing from Cuba and other Latin countries such as Colombia and Peru. We love all food and the week was spent getting our fill of plantain, my favorite food in the world and is a staple in many of the countries, pork and breaded milanesa. We of course had to visit the ultimate Cuban Restaurant, namely Versailles on the world famous Calle Ocho in Little Havava area of Miami. We loved eating at the namesake ones in L.A. The food was just as good as we remembered it.
We did not take any pictures of Little Havana, save for my plate of food at Versailles. It was the first night and l was just hungry after the long flight. We had hoped to go back and explore properly, but we never had the time. Being in Miami felt like we were in a different country all together as Spanish was the dominant language. A lot of places that we ate at, the staff only spoke Spanish. Funny thing is, l understood that kind of Spanish. Totally unlike here where l am still at a loss ;-).
Our conclusion of the visit? We were duly impressed. We both felt that we could live in Miami. If we ever moved back to the States, we would definitely consider it. It is very laid back, vibrant and there lots of things to do. It might take me a bit to get over women walking around in bikinis and the skimpiest outfits all over the place though. Perhaps not in Miami Beach where we stayed as it is just really expensive there. Breakfast for two cost $25 on the average. One annoying thing that took us a couple of days to figure out was that tips were usually already included in the bill. We would unknowingly leave another on top of that ;-( . We kept wondering how people with regular jobs were able to afford living there. We are totally spoiled by the prices in Spain :-) .
Uber Car Service:
One more very impressive thing about Miami was Uber. It was really cheap to get around. Most of our rides were $4.00 or less, cheaper than a beer. The drivers were cautious, polite, friendly and gave us great recommendations. Most were from Cuba so l got to practice my Spanish too. We kept wondering how they turned a profit. This was way more convenient than renting a car. The drivers were usually there within two minutes to boot! Amazing!
Have you ever been to Miami? If so did you like it and would you live there? What do you think of this list of impressive Miami highlights? Did we miss anything that you consider even better? If you’ve never been, would you care to visit?