6 Things to Do in Miami
With its year-round sunshine, soaring temperatures and miles of glittering coastline cradled by towering skyscrapers, Miami has long held the title of Florida’s most glamorous destination. But there’s more to this sun-drenched metropolis than cocktails on the beach and all-night partying. A melting pot of Cuban heritage, gritty urban neighbourhoods and glitzy Art Deco architecture, a visit to Miami is a sure-fire way to inject some spice into your life. Here are the top six things you should experience during your stay in the Magic City.
Try a Traditional Cubano
Cuban influence is as much a part of Miami’s identity as Art Deco architecture and buzzing beach culture, with everything from the music, to the coffee and the food taking inspiration from the 1.2 million Cubans that call the city home. No visit to Miami would be complete, then, without trying a famous Cubano sandwich. A mouth-watering mash-up of crispy toasted bread, tangy cheese and salty cuts of pork, it’s a veritable taste sensation (even in 30-degree heat). The best I found were in Little Havana, at no-frills restaurant Versailles, a pillar of the neighbourhood that’s been serving Cuban delicacies since 1971. Boasting a world-famous recipe that was even featured in the 2014 movie Chef, it won’t disappoint.
People Watch on Ocean Drive
With a prime spot overlooking the golden sands of South Beach, Ocean Drive is truly a destination unto itself. A glitzy mix of sidewalk cafes, bars and even Versace’s former residence, it’s an eclectic area of the city that attracts tourists and locals in their droves, so it’s little surprise it’s become one of the city’s best places for people-watching.
We went for Happy Hour, where supersize cocktails are on every menu and the streets are still jam-packed with the post-beach rush. Pull up a pew, sink a sundowner and gaze at glamorous people zipping past in fancy cars, bikini-clad locals weaving in and out of pedestrians and bikers with music blaring as they speed on to their next destination.
Go Gaga for Graffiti
When it comes to the best street art in the world, you’d be hard placed to beat a collection as eye-catching as Miami’s Wynwood Walls. Located in what was once a slightly sketchy downtown area of the city, the vibrantly decorated walls have recently transformed the neighbourhood into a certified graffiti mecca. You’ll see dozens of walls-turned-canvasses covered top-to-toe in awe-inspiring artwork, expertly crafted using a pick ‘n’ mix palette of colourful prints. There are dining destinations on-site and tour guides available to help you learn more about the artists and their visions, so it’s easy to spend a day here soaking up the creative atmosphere. In December, the whole place comes alive with the annual Art Basel fair during which top artists are let loose to create new, jaw-dropping pieces for a 12-month residency.
See How the Other Half Live
Thanks to its long-held status as a playground of the rich and famous, Gilded Age mansions and colonial-style villas are a dime-a-dozen in Miami, the biggest and best of which are situated on Star Island, a palm-tree lined, man-made islet sprinkled with multi-million dollar crash pads (with a list of star-studded residents that reads like an Oscars nomination list). Having housed everyone from Gloria Estefan to Sylvester Stallone and Will Smith to Lenny Kravitz, a boat tour around the island is a must-do for any music and film fanatics. Be sure to see if you can spot any of the stars as you cruise along the coastline - just don’t forget to pack your sunscreen.
Admire Art Deco Architecture
It’s no secret that South Beach is synonymous with Art Deco architecture. Ever since the trend brought dozens of this unique-style building to its shores in the 1950s, this stretch of the city has been renowned for its pastel-hued landmarks, replete with neon signage glittering along the beachfront. While it’s easy to get snap happy with every building you pass, I’d highly recommend booking an audio tour so you can get a snapshot of the history of some of the most iconic structures as you walk the storied streets.
Explore Downtown with a Difference
In previous years, SoBe (South Beach) has been the go-to destination for culture, art and entertainment in Miami, but recently the downtown area of Brickell is giving the area a serious run for its money in the style stakes. Don’t be fooled by its Financial Centre status, beyond the skyscrapers lies a treasure trove of attractions sure to surprise and delight visitors – from rooftop bars to upscale shopping and art galleries to pop-up restaurants. I’d recommend visiting Italian food hall La Centrale to sample to-die-for pasta dishes before window shopping at Mary Brickell Village and ending your day taking in some of the city’s best views from 40th floor rooftop bar Sugar.
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