Miami is kind of like that hot 'n heavy relationship you had - years ago - that, still - to this very day - has you looking back and smiling. And, perhaps, blushing! Its warm, crystal-blue Caribbean waters - sexy Latin culture - exquisite nightlife, shopping, restaurants, and hotels - beckon. Forever lingering in your mind, just like the "one that got away."
If you're anything like me, then Miami seems to be the proverbial 'elephant in the room' any time you and yours are trying to decide where to vacation. It's always discussed as a potential option but, you wonder...What else is out there? So, you do what you did when you first fell in love...and run. Even though 'running' may not feel entirely right. You flee an already amazing thing in hopes of finding something/somewhere better. You're young. You want to experience new adventures and meet new people, all the while very anxiously awaiting those coveted passport stamps. This year, Cancun. Next year, perhaps that little place on the beach in San Remo. After all, unlike most hot 'n heavy relationships, Miami will always be there for you when you're ready to come back...
Years had passed since my last jaunt to Miami. It's not that returning hadn't crossed my mind. Because it obviously and absolutely had. Like, all of the time. But there was always something else - somewhere further away - that I wanted to see, first. To cross off of my 'bucket list,' if you will. Finally, after 12-years of one too many hum-drum vacations/destinations, I found myself, once again, in Miami's exotic, tropical midst. And from the moment I stepped off of that plane, I couldn't help but wonder, "Why did it take me so long to return? I love it here!"
Although I was in town for the SOBEWFF (meaning that most of my food and drink was consumed at events), I garnered some good tips and was even able to eat/sip at a few offsite venues during my 72-hour visit. So, without further ado, please enjoy some of my personal pointers and recommendations for, what is now, one of my favorite cities in the world.
Eats, drinks & cool sites:
- Breakfast buffet at Eden Roc's 1500 Degrees: promise me that you will snag a huge portion of the insanely delicious, life-altering sticky bun/upside down cake thing that is served in a chafing dish (close to the roasted potatoes and bacon/sausage trays). I would return to Miami for this breakfast buffet staple, alone. Period. No questions asked. Additionally, there are freshly-squeezed juices, tropical fruits, 'Ropa Vieja' Eggs Benedict, and much more. Fabulous.
- Enjoy great Cuban eats at Sazon Cuban Cuisine
- Frozen margaritas at Cabana Beach Club, Eden Roc: Whether you're staying at the hotel or not, stick around for a lazy day by one of the three pools. And, while you bask in the sun, make sure to order a frozen margarita from one of the adorable pool attendants. Trust me, it's one of the best versions of the concoction out there!
- Grab a cocktail at The Shore Club: you cannot beat the outdoor space or sexy vibe. This is South Beach at its best!
- Joe's Stone Crab: if time isn't of the essence, head to the take-away section of Joe's. Snag a seat at the bar, where you will receive "table service!" Otherwise, you'll have to wait in line and order at one of many counters. And find your own table/chairs, for that matter. Too much work, if you ask me.
- Snoop around the lobby and pool at the famous Delano hotel: because you have to, that's all.
- The Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables: take at least half of a day to enjoy some amazing sights in Coral Gables, one being The Biltmore Hotel. This palatial resort sits on a sprawling 150-acre property, and is home to a golf course and the largest hotel pool in the continental US!
If you have more time than I did, you should do this:
- Calle Ocho/Little Havana: I'm so bummed that I did not get to venture to "Little Havana" for an authentic Cuban meal, or the opportunity to bodega-shop and hop.
- Take a stroll along Lincoln Road
- Venetian Pool in Coral Gables: make it a point to go here after you visit The Biltmore Hotel! I can only imagine how much fun I'd have frolicking at this gorgeous, expansive, bucket list-worthy pool. Sigh.
- Visit (or at least snap a pic in front of) the Miami Police Department: if you're a die-hard fan of "The First 48," then you'll recognize the MPD building from the highway! I would have loved to have gotten to meet the detectives (...It's from watching The First 48 that I first learned about Cuban coffee - and I'm so happy that I got to try it! You should, too.).
- Cabs: Many cabs - but not all - now accept credit cards. However, there is an automatic $3 charge just for swiping your plastic! My advice? Carry enough cash to get by - but not enough to get mugged.
- Eat the local food! If you've never had Cuban food - and you carry a US passport - Miami is the ideal place to experience this fabulous cuisine (...because god knows you're not getting over to Cuba any time soon). At the very least, you must sample a Cuban coffee. I recommend a "cortadito," which is a shot-like amount of strong coffee, plus milk and sugar.
- Goggles: Miami's beautiful beaches are clear, turquoise blue. If you happen to wear contact lenses or have any desire to open your eyes while swimming, I highly recommend wearing goggles. Not only do they protect your eyes, but they also help you to see what's going on underwater. You may look like an idiot, but who cares - it's your vacation, not theirs! If anyone looks at you funny, flip 'em off! That's what I do.
- Sunscreen: Bring it. Wear it. 'Nuff said.
Oh, Miami, how I love thee. I can hardly wait until we meet again, and I promise never to allow more than a year's time to pass without us reuniting.
Until we meet again,
The Lunch Belle
PS: Do you have any tips/recommendations for Miami? Have you had the opportunity to visit any of the places on my "If you have more time than I did, you should do this" list? I'd love to hear from you!