It's never particularly been on my list of destinations I dream about visiting. But as we are moving there in a couple of months for my husband's work, we thought it would be best to visit before hand.
I spent a lot of my time visiting the different areas of Miami and trying to find a place where I felt safe first and foremost. But also somewhere that was close to Jeremie's work and somewhere that I could go about my business without needing a car etc.
We stayed in SoFi (South of 5th) on South Beach while we were there and loved it! There was yoga twice a day at the beach, it was close to bike rentals, close to work for J. It was also close enough yet far enough away from all the night life. We could wander there in 10 mins and be in the thick of it all. But equally, we couldn't hear any noise where we were.
It was such a fun week exploring some of what Miami has to offer. I think we only scratched the surface of this amazing & unusual place! I am so looking forward to coming back and discovering more about this place and learning more about the culture & traditions. And of course enjoying some more delicious Mojitos by the beach...
South of 5th - Miami Beach
Starting with where we stayed. South of 5th is the nicest area of Miami Beach as it's calm, quiet & absolutely beautiful. There is the famous beach, a small harbour, high rise apartment/hotel buildings, South Pointe Park and the pier.
It is a lovely area to live in, but equally an ideal place to spend the day walking around. You can really take in the beauty of this stunning tropical city in this area. South of 5th also has several amazing food joints including the famous Joe's Stone Crab restaurant. However, it unfortunately wasn't open when we were there. I did however find some amazing vegan/vegetarian places!
I can't wait to come back here and find our future place!
Ocean Drive - Miami Beach
Ocean Drive is the famous strip on Miami's South Beach. The road is full of bars and restaurants which become a sea of neon lights come night time. Ocean Drive is situated next to the beach, so it's ideal for sipping a Mojito while people watching. Perfect after a day of sunbathing!
I wouldn't want to stay in the hotels here as it get's noisy with all the people drinking and the posh cars driving up and down. That seemed to be a popular thing - to hire a sports car for an hour or 2 and go back and forth up Ocean Drive. Not my idea of fun, but hey!
It is a beautiful part of Miami to visit either by bike or on roller blades. I think I'll buy myself a pair of roller blades when I'm over there for a fun way to visit Miami Beach!
The rest of Miami Beach
Miami Beach is so much bigger than I thought it would be. The stunning island took me around 2 hours to cycle from the bottom to the top. Cycling is a great way to get exercise but also a great way to visit the smaller roads and lesser visited parts of the city. It was so much fun cycling past incredible $30 million houses on the water front!
I particularly enjoyed North Beach as it was quieter than South Beach but just as stunning, with pristine white sands, swaying palm trees and bright blue water!
I also visited a lovely hotel for drinks one evening, the Lincoln Road Shopping Mall, walked past the famous Miami Ink (but didn't see Ami James) and ate in a restaurant on Espanola Way.
Little Havana & Calle Ocho - Miami's Cuban District
Calle Ocho is the main road in the Little Havana area of Miami. It's the Cuban district with lots of bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and cigar 'factories'. I say factories but I don't really know the word. The cigars are made by around 2-6 people on tables in the shop, and you can watch them being made, by hand.
Calle Ocho is also famous for Domino Park which is a small square where old Cuban men come to play Dominos and Chess. The men here were so warm and welcoming towards me - I even played a bit of Dominos with 3 of the men. I didn't realise it would be so competitive and taken so seriously!
I loved Little Havana and wandering the streets in this beautiful neighbourhood which is very different to SoBe where we stayed!
Wynwood - Miami's Famous Street Art Area
Wynwood is a pretty cool area of Miami and is very popular with tourists. The famous "Wynwood Walls" is an outdoor gallery showcasing some amazing street art which changes on an almost monthly basis.
These walls are great for OOTD (Outfit Of The Day) pics for Instagram as well as amazing backdrops for other portrait photography. My favourite piece was the elephant/octopus, pictured below.
Wynwood is such a cool & hipster place to be. There are lots of unusual bars and restaurants, including a Japanese/Peruvian fusion food restaurant called Suviche which was incredible! (Pics below in the Food & Drink section.)
Miami's Bayside, Downtown & Brickell
Bayside is a beautiful part of Miami. A harbour with lots of shops and restaurants, including Hooters which we went to for lunch! It's a lovely place to look around and spend an afternoon shopping.
I wasn't a huge fan of Downtown or Brickell. Brickell seems more modern and new with huge shopping malls and designer shops. Downtown, to me, seemed a little run down and past it.
There is the monorail in this part of town which is a fun way to explore the city from above and easily get from one place to another without the busy traffic on the roads. So if you do come to Miami, there are so many more fun things to see and do than Downtown & Brickell.
Miami's Venetian Pool & Coral Gables
The Venetian Pool in Miami is situated in Coral Gables and is a historic US swimming pool. It used to be a coral rock quarry but is now the largest freshwater pool in the USA. There is a beautiful waterfall, some grottoes and a small beach to relax on whilst at the pool. There are lifeguards watching the pool at all times (so it's safe for kids) and a cafe serving horrible food - so bring your own sandwiches! It costs $20 per person to enter the pool so it's best to go here for the whole day to get your money's worth!
The pool is situated in Coral Gables which is a lovely residential area of Miami. Quiet roads, huge houses and lots of greenery make this a lovely area for families to live in, but you would need car to get anywhere from here. Not a place for tourists.
* This is where J almost shit himself when he saw a snake!
Miami Food & Drinks
Miami food was a bit of a mixture for me. Some of it I loved, such as the Japanese/Peruvian fusion food of Suviche in Wynwood, and the Cuban Sandwich I ate on Lincoln Road. But some of it wasn't great such as the hotdog I ate at the American Football or the Burger I ate at Shake Shack. There seems to be a real mixture of amazing food and cheap, unhealthy fast food.
My faves were the sushi from Suviche, the Cuban Sandwich from Havana 1957 and the sandwich & juice from Under The Mango Tree.
As for drinks. You can't go to Miami and not have at least one Mojito. They are delicious and available almost everywhere! I also loved Jupina which is a pineapple flavoured fizzy drink!
American Football - Miami Dolphins
I know very little about American Football. I have watched 2 tv shows based on the sport on Netflix called Last Chance U and Friday Night Lights. So I knew the general gist of the game and some of the rules but I must admit, I spent most of the game wondering where the ball actually was.
Although I didn't always know what was going on, I did enjoy the atmosphere of the game. The cheerleaders were fun to watch, and I enjoyed people watching. The crowd got so into the game and were shouting at the referees decisions. I always find it funny how people get so passionate about sports!
Ps. the footlong hotdogs are not good but the alcoholic slushies are!
Baseball - Miami Marlins
So, similarly to the American Football, I didn't really know what was going on. However it was easier to follow as nothing really happened. I think in around 4 hours, there was a total of like 9 points.
It was strange to watch because basically they would throw the ball lots of times, which wouldn't get hit, then the guy would go to 1st base. Then the next player was up. Throw the ball a lot and not hit it, and move around.
And the most exciting bit, when someone actually hit the ball, we missed it as we were looking at something else on our phones. I am not in a hurry to rush back to Miami to watch another game, but I guess it was good to come and experience this.
Overall I loved Miami and I cannot wait to get back there to discover more areas of this diverse city. I loved how there was so much history, culture, art, nature and tradition in one place. I loved the different districts with their own sense of community and personality. You can go from downtown glass skyscrapers to Wynwood's bright grafitti walls. From the beautiful quiet pristine beaches to lively Little Havana. From huge American Football games to little old men playing chess. This city really has it all - and then some!
Favourite bits : cycling, evenings at the beach, sunrise beach yoga, delicious vegan food, inspiring Wynwood art, Suviche sushi, the SoFi area and of course being with Jeremie!
Least favourite bits : horrible food, being bored at Baseball, not understanding Football and being a sweaty mess all week.