Miami is a hybrid of so many different cultures, meaning it's hard to remember which country you're in! Whether you're sitting at a bar in Little Havana listening to Cuban Jazz in the heat of the afternoon, or partying on the iconic Miami Beach, you will never be bored in Miami. Nicknamed the Magic City, Miami is the richest city in the USA, has had 'magic' growth since the 1920s, and is made up of some of the most beautiful Art Deco buildings. You'll feel like you're in a film and you'll want to stop and take pictures of everything, as you will see from this blog!
South Beach/Miami Beach
South Beach or 'SoBe' is the most notorious part of Miami and exactly what you envisage when you imagine the city. Famous for not only its golden beach, but designer boutiques, art-deco bars and hotels- it definitely is glamorous. I wanted to experience South Beach without spending a lot of money, so I took a few snaps to show you what I got up to.
Oliver's Bistro on West Ave is definitely a great spot for breakfast. Oliver's offers a toned down, ever so slightly healthier take on American breakfasts. Start your day right with a large glass of Sangria, just like I did. :)
Take a walk from Oliver's down to South Beach, where you will be greeted by classic vintage cars and convertibles, beach side cocktail bars and palms on palms on palms.
Miami Beach is home to a series of colourful lifeguard towers, and if you have time to stroll down 8.5 miles of the Atlantic coastline, you'll be sure to see a few (hundred!). We hired an umbrella here for the whole day for $20, but you can also get wind cabanas and beds for a bit more!
The term 'Miami Nights' doesn't come from thin air- this city comes alive in the nighttime. If you're stuck for places to go, try Wet Willies for frozen cocktails that will genuinely make your head spin, or if you want to experience a more Latin American night, start at Mango's Tropical Cafe, which has live entertainment. Then obviously there are the big clubs; E11VEN, Space, Story, LIV (don't go on a Thursday it was awful),
...and when you're hungover and looking for food- GO TO THIS PLACE. La Sandwicherie has the most tasty, affordable Cuban sandwiches, which are HUGE by the way. We also sampled other unhealthy variations of food, such as Five Guys, Cheeseburger Baby and iHop- all were delicious and so bad for you.
Wynwood Arts District
Miami's Art district is an essential stop on your itinerary- an area of old warehouses and buildings covered in murals, graffiti and street art. The murals illuminate the streets of Miami, making for great photo spots. Also did I mention- its free! :)
The streets of Wynwood are completely covered in statements from independent artists. I particularly liked this one...i wander why?
If you're tempted to buy any art, you're looking at $$$$$! I prefer to stand and stare.
We definitely need more Ice-Cream vans like this in summer! licks lips
...and if you're looking for some literary life inspiration, just look down! The pavements in Wynwood are over-printed with these poetic, romantic and sometime political messages.
If there is ONE place you should visit in Miami, its Little Havana. Mostly arriving after the Cuban Revolution, many Cubans fled to Miami and made it their own.Today, There are almost 1.5 million Cubans living there, and Spanish is the most common language in some parts of Miami. Aside from the amazing street art, you neeeeed to get to Little Havana, soak up the vibrancy (and the FOOD), and perhaps play a game of dominoes with the locals!
Pop into Los Pinarenos Fruteria for a thirst-quenching Coco Frio, and don't forget to walk down the road sipping on it to advertise for them!
Okay, so I actually only came here for this ice-cream joint- the Azucar Ice Cream Company! Spanish for 'sugar', Azucar is a tantalising den of candy and tens of flavours of ice-cream.
If I had a £1 for every time somewhere I've visited has claimed to have ''The Most Famous' or 'World's Best' dish/alcoholic beverage, I'd have many £££. In all fairness to La Esquina de la Fama, it may just have the world's best Cuban buffet, and offer an outstanding serve of food for around $14.
If you any time to get down to the lush area of Coral Gables, then you must visit the Venetian Pool! I wouldn't usually pay to go to a public swimming pool, but this one is incredibly beautiful. Entry is $15 for the whole day, though we manged to blag our way to only paying for one person because we arrived about an hour before closing! And this where I birthed (inflated) my pet unicorn (swimming float)- Castro.
As my boyfriend was taking pictures of me, I saw his jaw drop and his eyes freeze. Every time someone does this, I assume there's either an axe murderer or a gigantic tarantula behind me. So I slowly turned around, and saw this....
... a very large Iguana!! Look how pretty it is! Apparently these one-time pets imported from Central and South America are now very common in the Miami suburbs, living near water. Though including its tail, it must have been at least 3-4 feet long, I really wanted to make friends with it.
We were so incredibly lucky to be able to stay in our friend's apartment in one of the most prestigious private residences in Florida- Williams Island. Travelling as a full-time teacher is hard, as whilst you get 13 weeks holiday a year (trust me, we earn it!), the prices of going pretty much ANYWHERE in those holidays go up ridiculously on the last day of term (even from London to Brighton folks). Though you can find amazing deals in those times, we just made a call that we would not be paying an absurd amount of money on accommodation, especially as we decided to stop in New York for 3 days on our way here (blog post coming soon!). I would recommend booking your accommodation in Miami at least 4 months in advance for the best deals.
One secret to making my trips a lot less expensive than they could be is knowing when to make my own food! Enjoy the local cuisine, but then also recognise when you've spent a bit toooooo much on eating out.
Crandon Beach Park
What I would have loved to do if the weather and time had permitted, is to travel all the way down the Florida Keys, a group of Islands stretching across about 115 miles, connected by one road across the sea. Eventually, you will end up at Key West, the most southern point of North America, and only 90 miles from Cuba! However, that couldn't be done, but you can still visit a beautiful Key- Key Biscayne. Here is the stunning Crandon Beach Park, a quiet beach where you'll find people having evening barbecues, surrounded by a multitude of palms! What a dream.
Nikki Beach is the last bit of the stretch of Miami Beach, and is most famous for its beach club. We didn't really stay too long in the beach club, as whilst it was gorgeously decorated, it was overpriced and we just wanted to get to the beach! It is much quieter down this end of Miami Beach, and there are some very large fish right at the shoreline if that excites you!
Little Haiti, also known as Edison, is where, among other things, I had a life-changing meal! The area is home to a vast number of Haitians, and other Caribbeans, and has remarkable French-Creole features, from food, to street art, to record shops. Residents here have been able to hold on to their identity and heritage in so many ways.The dialect is so strong and spoken so quickly, and even I, who personally grew up around my swift-tongued Caribbean family, struggled to understand! Unfortunately, as in many cases in big cities across the world, Little Haiti is lined up as 'the next hot spot' on the gentrification agenda. Anyway- back to the meal!
As you can see, I'm really enjoying this meal. I had very little appetite on this trip, but I made room for the this traditional Bahamian and Creole food joint. Miami is only 50 miles from the first island of the Bahamas (dying to go there)!
So there we have it, 6 days in Miami, a cultural melting pot of such different people, a hub of street art and good food, a city that seems flashy on the exterior, but has the most intriguing stories to tell. There's still a part 2 to this America trip, as I mentioned previously, my New York blog will be up soon!
Thanks for reading, share if you like it, and let me know if I can include anything else!
- Flights: Booked Jan 2017 with STA Travel (Under 26 fare)- £499 (London-New York-Miami-London) for travel in May 2017
- Recommended mode of transport: Uber (Uber Pool is very affordable)
- Recommended daily budget (exc. transport): $60-80