Miami. City of glitz, glamour and giant…cocktails. Yep, the Pina Coladas there are huge. What were you thinking?
As Americas’s 5th most visited city, Miami is no quaint little town and it doesn’t do things by halves, so if you’re heading there – get ready for an extra large serve of, well, everything really.
If I had to use one word to describe Miami, it would be…vibrant. Vibrant in its landscape, its history, its culture and in the half a million Miamians who call it home. The city itself is undergoing many changes, which is exciting and if you if you really want to get to the nitty gritty of the vibrancy behind it…then here we go:
Miami Art Deco Historic District
Lining South Beach’s famous Ocean Drive are rows and rows of candy coloured hotels. Hundreds of them, and most of them only a few stories tall. In fact, Miami Art Deco Historic District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world, so as a self-proclaimed ‘art deconian’, I was in heaven. (ps: just made that term up btw)
For all the tackiness that comes with South Beach, these architectural delights bring a real charm back to the area in all the grandeur that comes with them. And the glamour.
These hotels were built in during the 1920s and 30s, but the later additions of bright neon lights are what makes them come alive when the sun goes down, capturing the playful essence of Miami City.
What I loved most is the fact that many, if not most, of the new hotels, are maintaining the same kind of architectural style. Either by renovating older hotels or building new ones with similar features.
Faena Hotel, a billion dollar project by da bomb hotelier Alan Faena is a perfect example of this. Designed by no one more fabulous than Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, Faena is decadent in every aspect. Especially their indoor bar ‘The Living Room‘ which is an opulent mix of jungle fever and Americain styles. I dare anyone to go in there and NOT want a champagne in hand, immediately.
By the way there are 480+ hotels in Miami available via Booking.com.
Wynwood Walls & Art District
Up and comer Wynwood is like the cooler, edgier younger brother of South Beach. It’s recent gentrification, urban look and epic collection of bars and restaurants are flipping the city around, with increasing numbers of tourists preferring to spend their time here over South Beach. And I don’t blame them.
The street art is pretty damn epic too, with colourful graffiti that pops up everywhere as you weave in and out of the streets, unable to decide on your favourite pick of the bunch.
But The Wynwood Walls, an outdoor, walk-through gallery type spot makes it a little easier. It displays seriously good art on each of its many walls – which have all been commissioned to specific artists. These artists ‘own’ the wall for a set period of time and are free to paint whatever and whenever they like.
Not surprisingly, this is an Instagrammers playground so it’s not that easy to get a shot of your favourite wall because chances are there’ll be a few girls lining up for a seflie or a boomie (yep, yep guilty as charged).
Oh and all that walking can really strike up a hunger so when you’re done being a graffiti critic, head to kyu for some lunch and sake!
The ahem…abundance of flesh
Never have I ever seen so many bold choices in fashion and lifestyle than in South Beach. Don’t get me wrong, I salute the women who have donned their fishnet body suits, with nothing but their leopard print kini’s underneath, their gold stilettos, heading straight for the beach bars on Ocean Drive in hopes to find their very own Papi Chulo, I just, well, I mean…ladies – you sure are something special.
And then there are the men. Men who’ve never skipped arm day, or leg day, pec, back or neck day. Anywhere else and these guys would stick out like sore (and over-inflated) thumbs, but here, they blend in with the scenery, allowing you to just take it in and think…only in Miami.
Cuban culture is completely infused into the city of Miami. Stemming from the influx of migrants who came over following the Cuban revolution in the late 50s. 70 years later and the Cuban community is absolutely killing it. They’ve certainly made Miami a hub for their amazing Cuban culture.
The heart of all of this Cuban influence is Little Havana – particularly a strip called Calle Ocho. For a really authentic Cuban experience, you can’t miss it. Here’s why – Cuban jazz, Cuban cigars and old Cuban men playing dominos talking about Castro.
My favourite spot on Calle Ocho is the Ball and Chain for their Jazz. Not just any jazz, the really really cool jazz. The bar is a real establishment, having staged the godfathers and mothers of Jazz including Chet Baker and Billie Holiday. Plus their Cuban-inspired cocktails are the shiz, so treat yourself to the Mojito Criollo, then go next door to Little Havana Cigar Factory for a Cohiba Robusto.
Anyhoo, that’s my take on Miami. Have you been to Miami? How did you enjoy it?