WELCOME TO MIAMI, FLORIDA
WRITTEN BY HEIDI SIEFKAS
Miami, Florida is a unique hybrid: a fast-paced, fashionable, late-night metropolis with strong ties to tradition and its niche communities. The mélange of cultures and lifestyles makes it completely único. From its Cuban and Caribbean influences to its vibrant art scene of Wynwood, the Design District, and the Art Deco District, Miami has a flavor for all tastes. The fancy sports cars, neon lights, and celebrities are eye-catching, but there’s more to see in Miami than the A1A and South Beach. ¡Dale!
Outdoor cafés and boutiques look extra special housed in the architecture of the Art Deco District.
A lifeguard stand/work of art on Miami Beach.
Miami got its name, Mayaimi, from the Te-questa tribe that first settled the area. It wasn’t until the arrival of the railroad extension in 1896 that Miami’s rapid growth commenced, and the seemingly overnight growth inspired the Magic City moniker. The population continued to expand and diversify with the first migration wave of Cubans in 1959. This was not the last wave of Cubans nor other major influxes from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and more. As a rather young city, these niche cultural influences have made their marks on every aspect of Miami’s culture. Comfort food is most likely croquetas (a fried dumpling of sorts made with a combination of on-hand ingredients), not chicken soup. Likewise, the most common flavor of ice cream is dulce de leche, not vanilla. When in Miami, do as the Miamians.
Art & Music.
Miami is a hotbed of a myriad of art forms. If you are searching for the best salsa and Latin jazz, look no further. Put on your chicest attire and head to the iconic Ball & Chain or the High Note Jazz Club at Cuba Ocho. Both are located on Calle Ocho in Little Havana. Be prepared—the nightlife in Miami starts late and sometimes continues until brunchtime. Art aficionados should pay a visit to the Art Deco District or attend Miami’s world-renowned art extravaganza, Art Basel. For an outdoor art experience, take a stroll through Wynwood Walls for a visual explosion of street art rich in cultural history, social issues, and vibrant color.
Food & Drink.
With a global fusion scene, Miami is a place to visit hungry. Although there are culinary gems on South Beach like Joe’s Stone Crab, head inland to the Miami Design District for top-notch eats. Don’t leave without trying the Mia Market, which is a gourmet food hall with a variety of global dining options as well as a craft cocktail bar. When in the 305, you must eat a Cuban sandwich and indulge in one or more tasty mojitos. Get yourself to Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) where you’ll find the most famous of all Cuban restaurants—the one every politician visits on the campaign trail—Versailles; however, locals would also vouch for staples like El Pub and El Exquisito. If you crave caffeine, Cuban coffee shops (small walk-up windows like in Cuba) offer a compact yet strong dose served in itsy-bitsy plastic cups.
With white sandy beaches, the Intercoastal Waterway, and Biscayne Bay, it is hard not to fall in love with Miami. The warm, aqua-marine-colored waters entertain swimmers, snorkelers, and watersport lovers. An ideal place to rent kayaks, catamarans, or bicycles is Key Biscayne. Enjoy the mangroves, palms, and vista of the downtown area known as Brickell. Up for an adventure beyond the city limits? A trip to Everglades National Park is in order. Not only is the park one of the most sought-after bird-watching areas, it is also the best place to get up close and hopefully not so personal with a Florida gator. Plan a stop at Shark Valley or book an airboat ride.
With year-round tropical temperatures, top-notch culinary delights, hot salsa and jazz clubs, and world-class shopping, Miami invites you to experience it all. Start with a day at the beach. Cross town to fuel up on global flavors in the Miami Design District. Swing by Wynwood for street art. Dance the night away in Little Havana. You’re invited. Bienvenidos a Miami.
Photography by franckreporter/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Deejpilot/E+/Getty Images, mariusz_prusaczyk/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Boogich/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Vladone/iStock/Getty Images Plus, ampueroleonardo/iStock/Getty Images Plus.
When to Go:
- December through April
Where to Shop:
- Lincoln Road, South Beach
- Miami Design District
- Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
Food & Drink:
- Cuban sandwich
- Cuban coffee
- Key lime pie
- Dulce de leche ice cream
- Guava and cream cheese pastelito (pastry)
Local Craft Brews & Wines:
- Wynwood Brewing Company
- Schnebly Winery
- Veza Sur Brewing Co.