Between Miami and us, it wasn’t really love at first sight. We have been living in Florida for 5 years now and we had only gone to Miami 3 times (once was to take a cruise).
The previous time we visited Miami, we were only there for a couple of hours, so we didn’t really do anything but stay around South Beach. The beach is nice and is definitely one of the best rated in Florida, but there are so many tourists and it is really cliché. I am talking about people driving down Ocean Drive with expensive rental cars and half naked women in the back seat. And I am not even kidding.
However we decided to give Miami another chance—and I am so glad we did.
This time, we opted to stay at the Clay Hotel on Espanola Way, which is a lovely area of South Beach (located only two blocks from Ocean Drive). The pink buildings are the cutest. The Clay Hotel was where Al Capone ran his operations. We were pretty excited when we learned about this fun fact.
We decided to do a tour so we could actually see other parts of the city. We figured that, having done that we could go back and explore on our own the areas we enjoyed the most.
Our tour started on South Beach. We drove down Ocean Drive and marveled at all the art deco buildings while learning about South Beach’s history. We were surprised to hear that most of the edifices of South Beach were built in the late 30s. We didn’t know it was so old.
We then headed to Little Havana, where the driver made a stop. Did you know that 90% of people living in Little Havana are Cuban? La Calle Ocho is the place to go, walk around, and watch people playing Dominos at Domino Park—you can even grab a Cuban coffee in one of the many shops. Make sure to stop by the Cuban Tobacco Cigar Co and see someone hand roll cigars. I didn’t try it, but I heard that Azucar is probably one of the best ice cream shops in Miami. It is also located in little Havana.
We then drove through Coconut Grove. We both had a big “Coup de Coeur” for this neighborhood. Coconut Grove is quiet and so charming. It has a unique atmosphere and an elegant lifestyle. It is one of the greenest areas in Miami.
We passed by Downtown Miami but didn’t have time to stop. We went back on our own and visited the New Brickell City Center. The new luxury mall opened back in November 2016. Make sure to stop by Brickell Marketplace where you will find multiple shops and stops.
We got dropped off at Bayside. Even though it is a pretty tourist-y area, we still enjoyed our time there. We ate lunch looking at the fishermen selling their catches of the day in the marina. Bayside Marketplace features lots of shops, restaurants, and entertainment places.
The second part of the tour was a boat tour.
We were able to admire Miami skyline (which is the 3rd tallest skyline in the US after New York and Chicago) from Biscayne Bay. We toured around different islands where wealthy people live. We were able to see the Port of Miami, which is the number one cruise/passenger port in the world. You can see the huge cruise ships ready to sail. If you are taking a cruise from Florida, there is a big chance you will be departing from Miami.
We were also able to catch site of different celebrities’ houses on Star Island, Fisher Island, Venetian Islands… All the houses are massive and have a wonderful view of the Miami skyline.
We went with “Miami Info Tours” and we chose the City and Boat tour package. It was really good. Both our guides for the city tour and the boat tour were amazing. They were really knowledgeable and shared lot of interesting information as well as fun facts about many places in Miami. It gave us a great glimpse of things to do in Miami other than the beach.
Coconut Grove is definitely on our list for our next trip to Miami, as well as Wynwood. We only went to Wynwood Walls, but there are so many more murals to see and pictures to take. The Miami Art District is a must-see.
I am sure we will be back really soon! We found another side of Miami that actually really appealed to us. We also had some great food (try Havana 1957 if you are into amazing Cuban Food) and experienced lot of great places.
Miami, I think I like you…a lot!