Welcome to Miami – Your South Florida Guide

In celebration of the beach, sunshine, and frozen beverages, my friends and I decided to meet up in Miami, Fl for a girls weekend. Having never been to Miami before I was excited to spend some time on the beach and get up close and personal with some of the worlds best people watching. We managed to cover a pretty large amount of Miami considering we didn’t have a car. Here are a couple of highlights from our trip along with a couple of tips that would help you get the most out of your South Florida vacation.

Let me first preface that Memorial Day weekend in Miami is a spectacle. We were told by a couple of locals that they usually leave town this weekend because of the influx of people coming to South Beach.  There were streets blocked off for the entire weekend complete with a full squadron of police on each block. If you are not coming to Miami to party then I might suggest picking another weekend, or do what we did and strategically avoid the chaos. We had no idea this was the case but were lucky to meet some people who pointed us in the direction of some areas with a “chiller vibe.”

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One of the chillest vibes on the beach was the Freehand Hostel which we stayed in for our trip. It is also home to one of the coolest bars in South Beach, the Broken Shaker. We spent our evenings by the pool sipping the daily punch special where the James Beard Award semi-finalist cocktail bar is serving up some of the most interesting cocktails I have ever tasted. The hostel in itself was a great place to meet other people and also provided a free breakfast which was a nice touch.

Images courtesy of the Freehand Hostel
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If there is one thing I can say about my friends that makes us the best travel partners its that none of us are picky eaters, we all love food, and we are all excellent sharers. I guess thats three things but they are by far the most important. So when it comes to dining the phrase “Treat yo’ self” is said at least once a meal.

//FOOD//

For brunching I recommend the highly awarded Yard Bird (shout out to Maria for making a reservation a month in advance). We split three dishes and four mimosas and it was the perfect amount of food to leave us full enough to pass out on the beach.

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We also got a chance to dine at the 27 Restaurant and Bar across the courtyard from our hotel. The 27 Restaurant serves family style dishes from every culture Miami has to offer. We tried their Venezuelan style Arepa Platter served with Ropa Vieja (stewed beef), cheese, avocado and delicious salsas which was amazing. The interior of the restaurant could best be described as a tropical hipster house that I wanted to take tons of pictures of but the lighting wasn’t quite ideal. So here are a couple of shots from their website because you just have to see how cute it is inside.

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We also trekked over to Little Havana to try the famous Versailles Cuban Restaurant where we got obscenely full on Cuban sandwiches and way to hopped up on Cortaditos. If the wait is long at this place they also have a cafe and bakery where you can order some fresh empanadas as your pre lunch snack.

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In the Arts District of Wynwood, we ate at the Wynwood Kitchen and Bar which serves diverse tapas that we of course were happy to share. They have a super hip large outdoor patio where you can dine amongst the street art of the Wynood Walls but their interior is just as great complete with works Shepard Fairey and Christian Awe. Some dishes we loved included the bacon wrapped dates, duh, the Maduros and the 48 Hour Crispy Pork.

Not to be missed for a quick bite was My Ceviche. A local chain doing what we decided was the Chipotle of Ceviche but way fresher and less likely to give you salmonella.

Also under more affordable and delicious was Taquiza serving authentic Mexican tacos in the outdoor patio of Hotel Eva. This place makes some bomb tacos and their own fresh chips or Totopos which are seriously the best chip I have ever had.

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In downtown Miami we stopped into Pawn & Broker to grab a cocktail with a roof top view. The drinks were really fun. They have a drink they have coined Giggle Water which is aptly served in a tiny porcelain bathtub. It was quite the experience.

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// TO DO//

By far my favorite activity of this trip was visiting the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. We would have never come across this place if it wasn’t for the fact that it was raining one morning and I happen to google “things to do when its raining,” but I would for sure say this should be on everyone’s list when visiting Miami. Vizcaya is like Miami’s version of Versailles situated on the Biscayne Bay outside of Coconut Grove. The 2oth century estate is surrounded by european styled gardens that are intermixed with the swampy florida forrest.  The interior of the house is gorgeous and unlike the Versailles Palace you can get really close to the artifacts. Or you can prance around the grounds picking out which room you would claim as your own.

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Although we didn’t get there during the day the Wynwood Walls are a definite must see. Biking through Wynood would probably be the best way to see all of the walls. There is also a ton of great food at the Wynwood Yard that hosts a variety of food trucks and live music.

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The beaches of Miami provided a wide range of people watching depending on what area you choose to set up camp in. We found some serenity down at the furthest South part of the beach near the South Pointe Pier. If you are looking for a wilder scene the beaches along Ocean Drive would surely keep you entertained. The best way to see all of south beach is by bike. I loved that Miami has Citi Bikes that you can rent and ride down the board walk. There is also plenty of shopping in the area at the outdoor Lincoln Road Mall.

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Except for being unable to locate Justin Bieber’s yacht I don’t think we really had any complaints about our time in Miami. I left the weekend feeling successfully sun kissed, really relaxed and so thankful to have such killer friends that make every trip the best one yet.

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