Last Spring I was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to explore Miami. A place I had never been, but had been curious about. Like New York and LA in many ways, a city that’s been depicted in so many TV shows and films, I had visions of it being like being on a movie set for a few days. But saying that, I didn’t know what to expect at all. Would it look like the music videos and glam TV shows? Or was that all just fancy lighting and creative film work? Well yes it was, but also yes – it is like being in a fabulous movie in so many ways. Miami is such a colourful city and has this really relaxed vibe to it all. Just one more of the reasons I totally fell for it…
ONE: The Food
Of all the things I expected to be blown away by in Miami, the food wasn’t top of my list. But I was soon corrected. The food in Miami is incredible. Lots of seafood with cuban influences. Or ‘Floribbean’ as I overheard it being called. Whatever it’s called, the flavours of Cuba/Caribbean/Seafood/Florida combine to deliver food that tastes amazing – fresh, healthy but with a kick of spice so anything but dull. I was lucky to do a culinary tour when there (along with a series of amazing places for dinner and lunch too) and a few highlights. In fact, I think I may just need a full post dedicated to where to eat in Miami to round up my favourites. But for now, highlights – Peacock Garden Cafe in Coconut Grove, Bolivar in Miami Beach and the restaurant at The National Hotel South Beach (where we stayed for part of the trip).
Of all the amazing places we got to see in Miami, it was Wynwood that I loved the most. The colour and creativity was just amazing. Walking the streets, guided by www.miamisbestgraffitiguide.com was just fascinating. Plus of course, made for some awesome instagram photos. But that wasn’t what sold me. It was the stories behind each of the pieces of street art. The culture that goes with it and knowing that what I saw then, will now already have totally changed. Every flat surface (and many non-flat) is a potential canvas and there’s a dynamism to it all that’s really interesting. Knowing that each piece is unlikely to be there forever – but then the politics of it and who can paint over what and it’s a ‘diss’ to paint over some pieces. But others are fair game.
THREE: The nightlife
Now I’m not the worlds biggest party animal in general, but I’m more of a spontaneous party person. If fun is dictated to me, then I tend to go grumpy… like New Years Eve has to be the BEST.NIGHT.EVER. Nope. I’ll stay home, cheers. But go out for a couple of casual drinks or dinner and end up dancing away until the early hours? Yes please. Spontaneous nights are the best. Miami is the PERFECT place for that sort of fun.
From the colourful cafes of South Beach where you can enjoy and oversized cocktail or two, or even just a lovely dinner. To places like STK Miami, which is part restaurant/part night club all in one. With an amazing DJ that will make you in the mood to hit one of the Miami mega-clubs before you finished your steak. Or even the ultimate in spontaneous night that I had when there – after an amazing time watching the performers at Cabaret bar in The National Hotel, myself and Sabina (Girl vs Globe) couldn’t resist the invite to head out for some karaoke then on to Bodega… which on the front is an amazing little Taco place, but through a door in the back you’re led to a bar with dance floor space. Miami is the sort of place where there’s something to suit you, whatever your taste in nightlife might be and I love that.
FOUR: The Climate
Year round sunshine and balmy temperatures? As I sit at my desk with three layers on, wondering if it’s really weird to throw my dressing gown over the top too… I would gladly swap a UK winter (or Summer) for year round Miami sunshine. When we were there in April it was sunny most days, the tiniest bit of rain on one morning (over before you know it) and mid twenties upwards. GORGEOUS.
FIVE: The Architecture
It’s almost impossible to mention Miami without immediately thinking of the art deco style it’s famous for. The pastel hues and soft curvy edges are indeed very pleasing to the eye. I could have spent a day just taking endless photographs around South Beach. But it goes beyond just South Beach. The amazing Biltmore Hotel we stayed at the first portion of the trip is an impressive sight in itself. Imposing in Coral Gables (With it’s famous Al Capone suite in the top tower – where apparently he was well positioned to spot the cops and make a getaway before they arrived…). Not just the building though but the amazing swimming pool. At 23,000 square feet it was a famed destination in the 20’s and 30’s for ‘aquatic galas’ where synchronised diving from it’s high platform were a big crowd pleaser! Then of course there’s The Villa Casa Casaurina or ‘The Versace Mansion’ as it’s more famously known. Once the home of Gianni Versace before he was murdered on his own doorstep. Now it’s a restaurant with high end hotel suites.
Even as a write out this post I can think of so many other highlights of the trip. I have a whole host of travel posts in the works so if you’re planning your adventures for 2017 keep an eye out!
I was a guest of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has lots of useful information on places to stay and things to do in Miami. For more information, visit miamiandbeaches.com.
I was a guest of Thomas Cook Airlines, flying direct from Manchester Airport. Flights from Manchester to Miami start from £379.98 in economy and £619.98 in premium economy. Prices are subject to availability and valid for travel between May and June 2016. For further details and to book, visit thomascookairlines.com
Rates at The National Hotel start from £121 per night in low season. For more information www.nationalhotel.
Rates at The Biltmore start from £148 per night in low season. For more information visit www.biltmorehotel.com.