We had Miami on our bucket list for a long time before going there, above New York even. So when the opportunity had come to go to New York, we knew we have to make the time to somehow do a detour to the South. Miami needed to be one of our stops this year. Kind of like a now or never situation 🙂
We spent 10 days in Miami, 7 in the City and 3 in South Beach. From these ten days, I had to work for four of them and Victor for the entire time, so we cannot say we were the usual tourists having a vacation. So, this will not be a post representing a travel guide for Miami. This is a post about what we did during our free time from work and our impressions about it.
In Miami there are two main areas: the city and the beach, both very big with a lot of places to see. So we knew that if we want to make the best of our time here, we needed a car on our plate. Alamo was our friend once again for this part, reserving us the most amazing convertible.
Secondly, we needed work friendly accommodation that would also make us feel the city vibe. Fortune Hotel Suites was more than we needed for our stay. Besides having a room service that came in handy for breakfast or a great view over the city, it had a rooftop pool that was a good replacement for the lunch break. First impression of Miami was very positive and it created a feeling of excitement.
So let’s get into some of our activities and places that we have seen.
South Pointe Park
South Pointe Park is a good choice for watching the sunset. You can see the port from the distance, admire the city skyline or play with the stray cats you will find there. And believe me, there are a lot of cats (more than the ones at our home, wink wink).
There are a few restaurants that seem very cute to relax with a glass of wine during the evening, but what we liked the most is the green space where you can have a picnic or just chill with friends. It seemed a perfect place for Instagrammers, as a lot of boyfriends kept getting into uncomfortable positions to get a snap for their girlfriends on the rocks in the water. Sorry, Victor 🙂
Downside: it is very hard to find a parking place.
Directions to the park here.
We knew that going to Florida we should at least see some local animals. So an alligator park from Everglades seemed like the right choice. Well, it was, except the fact that the alligators didn’t want to show up (only the baby ones in the museum). So, we can just say it was just a nice boat ride into the wild nature. Not too shabby, I must say 🙂
The Park is situated at approximately 30 miles from Miami, so some form of transportation there is definitely needed. Some tours offer a bus ride, but the reviews about the lines and the hours for the drive are not that positive, so keep that in mind.
Our impression about the Everglades is that is a little expensive for what it offers (30$ per person), but maybe we would have thought differently if we would have seen some alligators. The heat above 35 degrees Celsius did not help either.
The views were nice, but as Romanians, we have the Danube Delta with much better views in the swamps. So, you cannot blame us that, in the end, we were kind of expecting more.
We have written about Wynwood Walls and the district of art where it is situated in our previous post here.
I think this was one of my favourite places in Miami, as I thrive over colourful places and street art. The whole district actually seemed from another world, dominated by it. Totally different from the other part of Miami that is more opulent.
The museum was free and quite nice to visit at lunch time as it was not too crowded and we could take a lot of pictures without other people in the back ground. The mojito bar across the street it was also something very welcomed in the Miami heat at that hour and we would highly recommend it.
Directions to the walls here.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
This place is the most peaceful in Miami. The museum represents the old home of a reach family that once lived in the city which is now open for visitation. The best part is not the museum, but the gardens around it. It makes the decor for most of the brides that get married in Miami and also the girls celebrating their quinciañera.
We spent there almost 3 hours, just because it was so relaxing. There is enough parking place if you go there by car and also a cute white terrace for having a snack. If the terrace is not your favourite, don’t worry, as the garden has enough places for you to sit and admire the views. If you’re lucky enough you might even see some wild southern animals.
My absolutely favourite part of this trip! I would do it at least few times over again. We have written about our journey of a one day trip to Key West in a previous post here.
Doing the trip through Florida Keys in just one day (being a remote worker has its own disadvantages) was great but extremely tiring. It might get away from the fun because towards the end of the day, we were not able to enjoy it fully. We would recommend to do this in at least 3 days to be able to take in all the stops along the way.
Our favourite stops were Marathon Key, Bahia Honda Key and, of course, watching the sunset in Key West. Just remembering this makes me want to plan another trip to the Southern USA.
Miami City Downtown
My first impression about Miami Downtown is that it looks a lot like New York, but full of palm trees. There is this feeling that everyone is rich there, owning expensive convertible cars and leaving in a penthouse with a rooftop pool. And the funny thing is, it might actually be true there.
Just taking a walk through the city, day or night, is impressive. If you are lucky enough to have your walk in the right parts of the city, you might even get the chance to see Jennifer Lopez or Justin Timberlake relaxing in their homes on the water.
The streets are very clean, the restaurants packed with people at all times and the boutique stores selling clothes you could only wear in this city. There is a feeling of a constant party in the air and it seems the city never sleeps. We liked that a lot!
South Beach is the part of Miami where, you guessed it, there is the beach. Our expectation about it is that it would be a more exotic location. The reality is: it is more a party place than a beach place. We are not quite the people to spend hours in the sun, so for us a beach should have some breathtaking views to keep us into one place. That is not the case in South Beach.
What we liked about the area was the openness of the people. There is always someone starting a conversation with you and just socialising. The food in the restaurants was also different than the fancy dishes served in the city. The specific was more cuban and it told a different story.
The beach distinguishes itself from others by its lifeguards houses that are colourful and with different shapes. Definitely the most Instagrammable things in Miami.
Driving in Miami
Well, driving in Miami is a very unique experience that deserves special mentioning. Everywhere you would drive, both in the city and at the beach, it seems that everyone is having a party in the car. We were also lucky enough to have a convertible one on our plate, so this made it twice the excitement.
Our favourite part was driving over the bridges at sunset, on Ocean Drive at night time or in the city at any time. Of course, driving to Key West has its own place in our hearts.
Just being in the car, listening to some roadtrip music and admiring the views around us makes us happy. And Miami is definitely the perfect place for that.
Area 31 is a rooftop restaurant and bar. It would not usually make the cut as a specific destination, but it won our hearts by having the most impressive views over the city at both sunset and night.
The restaurant was quite fancy and it required a reservation in advance, but it was our last night there and we wanted to finish our trip big. A nice part is also that after 21 o’clock there is the happy our on the rooftop bar with a whole party happening there so you can also feel the what Miami is famous for.
We definitely recommend to check-out Area 31, if not for food or drinks, at least for the views that it offers. Directions here.
So, what impressions did Miami leave upon us?
- Miami Beach is not an exotic destination, even though we believed it so for some time.
- Miami is visited by people all around the world. We were very impressed to hear Romanian being spoken so often around us. We even met coincidentally with some people we know.
- The rooftops are amazing everywhere, every hotel having a pool or at least a restaurant. Almost every rooftop has a view.
- The people are very fun and open, a thing that we do not experience to often in Eastern Europe.
- The food is amazing, no wonder everyone recommend it to us. Our favourite still remains the pulled pork. The plantains were also very good.
- We felt quite comfortable working there and it seemed we had time to do a lot of things, in spite of having also a lot of work.
- On Ocean Drive there is always a party.
- Driving in Miami and around it is quite a beautiful experience.
- Almost every parking has a valet.
- The beach is not crowded and if you stay in a hotel near it, you can have a spot saved for you everyday.
- The ocean water is very warm. I don’t like staying in the water that much, but in Miami it was actually very pleasant.
- Parking in South Beach is expensive and hotels usually don’t have it included. The tax is always for 4-5 hours (no matter if you stay just half an hour) and is usually 20-30 dollars depending on the day. Tip: if you know you are going to be there for at least 2 days, you can make a deal with the parking supervisor and pay a better price.
- We regretted staying for 3 days in South Beach. It is more expensive than staying in Miami City and we felt it was overrated. If you have a car on your plate is better to stay in the city and then drive to the beach if you feel the need. Even the parking tax is worthy than actually being accommodated there.
- You hear a lot of stories that Wynwood district is not that safe. We actually felt safe there and the people were more relaxed.
- Doing the Florida Keys trip for 2 or 3 days is a must when going to Miami.
- There’s all kind of alcoholic drinks in South Beach and they do some big cocktails to be shared among the people from the table. The bigger, the better.
We know there are a lot of activities and places we still have not seen in Miami, but our feeling about it is still a positive one. Whenever someone asks us about our trip to USA, we still mention it as a favourite, even on the same level as New York. So if you have a trip to the Southern America, Miami is definitely the place to do a detour.
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