We’ve never been to Miami .., and to be honest, we’ve never wanted to go. Posh, eye-boring city – that’s what we thought…and oh, boy, how wrong we were!
It’s been raining for too long in NYC, and we just couldn’t stand it anymore. Having bought a half of sun care supply and having learned all beach safety tips by heart (coz, sharks!) we escaped to Miami, ready to soak up the summer sun and energy of this radiant city…
There is way more to Miami than pool parties, late night dancing, and touristic restaurants of South Beach. There are beautiful beaches along all Miami’s coastline, colorful Art Deco architecture just about everywhere, and vibrant culinary and cultural scene influenced by a diverse population from around the world.
Miami Beach is a separate town that arguably consist of three boroughs: South, Middle, and North Beach. We stayed at a cute little hotel at Middle Beach, and were pretty happy with its young and easy atmosphere. The hotel’s Tiki bar was a perfect place to enjoy a good rum cocktail to end the day.
The location was great – easy access to South Beach by bike or 20 min walk along the boardwalk. Conveniently, the boardwalk runs from South Pointe Park all the way up to the North, which makes it a perfect running path along the beach.
South Beach seemed overcrowded and noisy for our morning swims and late romantic walks. Looking for alternatives we ventured up North, and really liked it there. North Beach is a hidden gem with white sand, azure water, and true community feel – rare people we shared the beach with were locals hiding from the day sun in the small beach cafes. More space, good food and reasonable prices make it a great option for a savvy traveller.
North beach is a real neighborhood full of authentic tasty fare, especially along the Collins Avenue. At Dolci di Sicilia, we had our morning coffee lungo and arancini – Sicilian crispy cheese-filled rice balls. Nearby, at Gemys, we snacked with light fried veggies while sipping cold Italian beer and chatting with the owner.
Trying to avoid the afternoon sun, we were exploring local art and culture scene while stopping for delicious food along the way.
The Art Deco Historic District of Miami has the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture built in the period between 1920 to about 1940. Candy-colored, wedding-cake like hotels and apartment buildings are worth checking out in both, sun-drenching daylight, and once the sun goes down, and the neon signs light up the beach. Here are some of our favorite Art Deco buildings you can’t miss!
The colorful art deco lifeguard stands are another Miami Beach landmark.
The food scene of South Beach, unfortunately, was rather mediocre. So, we went across the Bay, which separates the Beach from Miami. Yes, Miami and Miami Beach are two very distinct sides of the same coin, especially when it comes to food scene and culture.
Wynwood – Miami’s street art Mecca, and Little Havana – home to a large and vibrant Latin and Hispanic community, were our two favorite neighborhoods.
Wynwood is basically an outdoor museum showcasing large-scale works by world’s known street artists, like Retna, Alec Monopoly, Aiko, and many others. Galleries, private art collections, breweries, restaurants and bars, you can spend a whole day here feasting your eyes on street art, visiting art studios, and drinking craft beer.
Miami is the best place to eat Cuban and Latin food. Cardon y el Tirano in Little Havana offers innovative menu inspired by traditional dishes from all over Latin America. Shark meat arepitas, Piquillo Rellenos (stuffed peppers), and brussels sprouts sprinkled with rose water were to die for. Versailles is another authentic Cuban restaurant known for its Cuban classics. You can see many Cuban immigrants flocking here every night for a shot of strong Cuban coffee and best in town empanadas.
Being a bit of spontaneous travelers, for the last two days of our vacation, we decided to drive down through Florida Keys to enjoy endless views of aquamarine water, fresh seafood and island vibe atmosphere.
Marathon was a perfect destination for a day trip, located right in the middle of the Florida Keys, and the most populated island offering many attractions – quality beaches, amazing food fare, and 7-miles bridge, to name a few.
Sombrero beach with its calm water and shady groves of coconut palms was the ideal place to spend relaxing morning by the water. We ate at Fish Tales to escape the afternoon sun and enjoy the seafood simple fare. Their grilled wahoo fish, marinated in a secret smoky sauce, homemade Cuban bread and signature key lime pie were my absolutely favorite.
The Marathon’s biggest, or should I say longest attraction is its 7-mile Bridge. It is one of the most scenic drives in the country where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico. Bahia Honda State Park and beach was our final stop to enjoy swimming in its clear-blue water with breathtaking view.
P.S. No sharks have been spotted during our trip. Miami turned out to be a perfect destination to escape NYC fickle spring weather. I fell totally in love with Miami’s unique architectural wonder and vibrant culture. I hope this post will inspire you to take a trip down to Florida and find your own tropical paradise.