Bienvenidos a Miami

Unfortunately, I was only in Miami for a total of 4 days and 3 nights, so I was unable to do everything on my bucket list. Honestly, I did not realize just how big Miami is until I arrived. This post will include my personal experience followed by recommendations from my close friends who live in Miami.

What I loved about Miami was it had the perfect balance of beach and exploration. The first day I spent entirely at the beach and was so burnt that the next day, I escaped the sun and explored the city. The last day, I split my day half and half with beach and exploration. From great food to the beach to museums to culture, Miami has a little bit of everything to satisfy every traveler.

Just a little bit of orientation..there are two parts of Miami: Miami and Miami beach. Miami is on the “mainland” that is separated by a bridge from Miami beach.

Miami is a huge city separated by various districts. Here are a few:
1. Wynwood/Design District. These are technically two different areas but they overlap significantly so for the sake of simplicity, I combined them.
3. Little Haiti
4. Little Havana
5. Buena Vista
6. Coral Gables. Although I did not visit here, I wanted to mention this because it was recommended as a great place for foodies. If not craving a super fancy meal (which they have plenty of nice restaurants in this area), POC Upscale Buffet has cheap prices for lunch.

Miami Beach is also separated into sections. The most populous (for tourists) is called South Beach, which consists of Ocean Drive, Lincoln Rd, and Nikki Beach.

How to Get Around:
1. Uber/Lyft. It seemed that Lyft was significantly cheaper. I recommend downloaded both apps before you go and compare!
2. Citi Bike. This seemed like a great idea, until looking at the price ($4.50 for the first 30 minutes, $6.50 for an hour, $10 for 2 hours, $18 for 4 hours, $24 for 1 day). Because I was traveling in a group, it was more economical to call Uber/Lyft.
3. Cars. We had a big group (10 people), so we had three cars with us. Luckily, our AirBnb gave us free passes to a parking deck. But parking was not that expensive, even near the beach. It was, on average, $10 for the day and at a great location to the public access points.

Where to Stay:
We found an AirBnb for $125 per person for 5 days which is a great price. But we also stayed in the University of Miami medical district, which was far from everything. Parking to go to the beach was not difficult at all. It was a pretty standard $10 for the day. This made sense for us because we had a group of 10 and had three cars. If I did it again with less people and no cars, I would have stayed on Miami Beach.

Day 1:
My friend picked us up from the airport and took us to Blue Bottle in the Wynwood/Design District for the most perfect breakfast- avocado toast and a latte. It took me back to San Francisco. This is also a fun area to walk around and window shop. Stores such as Tory Burch, high-end furniture stores, and art galleries. There’s fun art everywhere you look and a food court with swings! Afterwards, my friend dropped us off on Lincoln Rd, where we strolled down through the never-ending line of (mostly tourist-y) shops to the beach. We spent the rest of the day here before heading back to our AirBnb via Lyft.

Day 2:
My friends were headed to the beach, but I was WAY too sunburnt! Note: apply sunscreen (50 spf+) at least 3-5 times per day, even if you think you can handle it! They dropped me off in the Design District, and I began to walk up NE 2nd Ave towards Buena Vista. I weaved my way through the Design District and the beautiful mural walls. I popped in a few art stores, which were all lovely.

Once I arrived in Buena Vista, I was welcomed by beautiful Spanish architecture coupled with modern design and lovely flowers. As well as the cutest stores. There is a little “village” area called Upper Buena Vista. It is an indoor/outdoor wonderland with local stores, places to eat, a lovely “Wishing Tree”, and places to sit and relax. On this particular day, there was a lovely wedding happening!

Another store I really enjoyed (the yoga nerd in me) was Bagua Center. They sell sound bath “bowls”, incense, essential oils, and fun jewelry. They also host classes, workshops, and events throughout the week. The employees were so kind and invited me to sit in their garden in the back for as long as I liked. I would have stayed there all day but I continued to walk to Little Haiti, where I met up with my friends.

Little Haiti was something I was really excited about! Unfortunately, all of the shops were closed. It seemed odd, because it was a Tuesday afternoon and the town seemed very bare. Although, the Caribbean Marketplace was amazing! It is large indoor/outdoor building filled with authentic Haitian art and crafts for sale, Haitian food (yummy juice!), and Haitian music.

My friends and I took an Uber/Lyft to La Sandwicherie for lunch in South Beach area of Miami Beach. This place has an outdoor diner vibe- you can either grab and go or attempt to find an open stool to sit at the counter while everyone is crawling all over each other trying to order. We walked down Collins Avenue (and weaved through some of Washington Ave) towards Ocean Drive. Option here: visit Flamingo Park. We stopped at a restaurant on Ocean Drive that overlooked Lummus Park and got a drink. Note: EVERYTHING is more expensive in Miami! This was a fun spot for people-watching and feeling the salty breeze coming from the water. People are constantly walking by offering wrist bands and party packages. I typically always accepted the wristband, because wristbands usually mean you don’t have to pay the cover. Thank goodness we did!

After returning to the Airbnb to shower and change, we headed back to Ocean Drive for dinner and nightlife. If you go out early enough (before 8 pm), most places have “happy hour food”. The food isn’t great but it’s food! Then we walked around and tried to find a place with fun music, but the covers were anywhere from $15-$40. So, we went to the place where our wristbands would let us in for free, which was Cameo. Honestly, the DJ was one of the worst I had ever experienced, but we made the most of it and headed home around midnight.

Day 3-4:
Beach days! College students mostly stayed right off of Ocean Drive, which is also a short walk to Lincoln Ave and Nikki Beach. The beach was absolutely perfect- more waves at Ocean Drive a pier at Nikki Beach, shops, food. One morning, I did escape to Little Havana, because it was walking distance from our AirBnb. It seems like it is more of a place to grab dinner and nightlife, rather than a good place to explore during the day. It was a similar experience to what I describe Little Haiti to be.

Other “Local” Recommendations:

Wynwood.
Wynwood Yard – food trucks, concerts, events
Morgan’s – breakfast/brunch spot
Rooftops on 2nd Ave for Nightlife (ex: Astra)

Check GroupOn for excursions.
Recommended: Bayside Boat tours.

Food:
Presidente. This was recommended by our Uber driver. He said the best (and cheapest way) to find authentic Cuban food is to go to the supermarket buffets. Presidente Markets are located all over Miami.
Pinecrest, Vicky, Karla Bakery. These are quick, cheap on-the-go coffee places with yummy Cuban pastries and sandwiches.
Bavaria Haus. German food with great views of the river.
Kiki’s on the River. Greek
Komodo.
Bombay Darbar. Amazing Indian.
Sergio’s. Cuban and affordable.
Big Cheese. SO affordable and right in the University of Miami territory, so lots of college peeps.
Big Pink. In Miami Beach, and much better than the other tourist traps
Dreamer. On the beach, very “Instagram-able” acai and lunch.
Versailles. A famous Cuban restaurant in Little Havana.
La Sandwicherie. There are two locations- one in Miami and one in Miami Beach. A great item to grab on your way to the beach for a picnic.

Nightlife:
Purdy Lounge. Miami Beach.
Mama Tried. New, fun bar.
El Patio. Wynwood. Little ratchet if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Wharf. Pop-up bar.
Dirty Rabbit. Wynwood. Fun Hispanic music.
Concrete Beach Brewery.
Lincoln’s Brewery.
Las Rosa’s.
Wynwood.
Lagniappe.
Wine, live music.
Baby Jane. Cute place in Brickell.
Bar Louie. Midtown.
Shots.
Wynwood Diner.
Cute during the day.
Candela. Salsa your feet off!
Ball and Chain. Been around since Chet Baker played there. Great salsa and more. In the historic Little Havana.
Black Bird. A little ratchet as well.

“Instagram-able” Places:
Versace Mansion
Nikki Beach
Azucar Ice Cream
Faena Hotel.
Great Damian Hirst Gold Mammoth.
Ocean Drive. Old cars.
El Confidante Pool and Beach Umbrellas. From Dua Lipas music video.

“Instagram-able” Places:
Versace Mansion
Nikki Beach
Azucar Ice Cream
Faena Hotel.
Great Damian Hirst Gold Mammoth.
Ocean Drive. Old cars.
El Confidante Pool and Beach Umbrellas. From Dua Lipas music video.

Museums:
1. Institure of Contemporary Art.
Free. Design District.
2. Frost Science Museum. Brand new! $30
3. Perez Art Museum. $16
4. Rubell Family Collection.
Incredible gallery. Contemporary. $10
5. BASS. Miami Beach. Contemporary. $10.

Miami is vast, but I hope that does not discourage you. Even if you only have four days or if you have two weeks, Miami is nothing short of an experience!

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