Miami Is Nice, So I’ll Say It Twice

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One of my travel goals for 2017 was to visit more of my egregious oversights in the United States. Miami was definitely one of my top priorities. But I had no idea that I’d end up visiting the city twice within a three-week span!

First, Cailin and I finished our February Florida road trip with two nights and one full day in South Beach. In early March, Jeremy and I hung out in the artsy Wynwood neighborhood for one day and one night after our cruise.

Yes, I fell in love with Miami. Such an interesting cultural mix, a cool art scene, amazing music in every direction, and the best urban beaches that I’ve seen in the United States. (I would say in the world, but Sydney’s got you beat, Miami. Sorry about that.)

The first thing that struck me about Miami was how dominant the Spanish language was. Obviously, I knew that Miami has a huge Latin-American community, but I assumed it would have a similar feel to Latinx neighborhoods like Washington Heights or Corona in New York — salsa music blasting from vegetable stands, tamale sellers on corners, quinceañera dresses in shop windows, loud games of dominoes on the sidewalk.

Miami had all of that — but it was even more Spanish. I was surprised how people frequently spoke to us in Spanish first, not English. And it surprised me a bit how a few drivers, restaurant workers, and hotel workers I chatted with didn’t speak a word of English. In New York, most new arrivals speak a few English phrases; in Miami, I found some people to just stick to Spanish.

Is this a criticism of Miami or the immigrants who have made Miami their home? Not at all! Not whatsoever. It’s just something that I noticed. But I will say that knowing some Spanish will make your Miami experience more enjoyable.

The second thing I noticed was how ridiculously good-looking people are in Miami. People here are hot, dress well, and take care of their bodies. The level of grooming is right up there with Italy! So many women in crop tops with long hair flying, either perfectly curly or pin-straight. Men in tight t-shirts and perfectly cut jeans with haircuts that must have cost a fortune.

South Beach

I feel like everything I know about pop culture told me that South Beach was the place to be in Miami. It’s home to clubs, restaurants, shopping, pro athletes, and (sometimes) the Kardashians — that’s pretty much an indication that stuff happens here.

Miami Beach is actually a different city from Miami proper, and you have to travel over a bridge to get there. Miami proper doesn’t have much of a beach.

South Beach is home to numerous boutique hotels, many of them known for their unique design. I looked into up-and-coming boutiques and one that just opened and offered us a complimentary stay is the Meridian Hotel, an Urbanica property just south of 5th Street.

This is my favorite front desk I’ve ever seen — I love the vintage suitcases.

The rooms were very modern — since my home is practically a West Elm showroom, I felt very much at home here!

There’s a cafe across from the front desk with free coffee (always a huge plus with me), plus lattes and lots of food for purchase…

And I got a delicious açai bowl, minus the carbs, for a healthy breakfast.

After breakfast, we headed straight to the beach. The Meridian is only a five-minute walk from the beach and they give you free chairs at Esteban’s Place (though not an umbrella — those cost $12).

Just look at that sand and water! Miami Beach is incredible. I’ve never seen a beach this nice in an American city.

The water was a little too cold for me in February, but that didn’t stop a lot of people from swimming. Miami Beach is also the place to spot highly attractive people running along the beach, if you don’t mind being a bit of a voyeur.

Later in the afternoon, we headed to the W South Beach for some time by the pool. I have some contacts at the W and I asked if we could spend the afternoon at the pool, and they kindly offered us pool passes.

And this, dear readers, is where I made the biggest mistake of my Florida trip. The W South Beach doesn’t offer pool passes to regular people; I only got one because I’m press. I make an effort to only write about activities that my readers can do themselves, so this wouldn’t fit the bill. I should have asked if pool passes were available for anyone to purchase; I am kicking myself for not thinking to do that. Where was my head?!

In short — if you want to use the pool at the W South Beach, you’ll need to stay at the hotel.

That said, this is an amazing pool, and one of the highlights of our time in South Beach. After so many days of driving, it was heavenly to kick back with a skinny margarita and veg out on a day bed, Kindle on my lap. If you’re going to South Beach, a fabulous pool makes the experience.

Cailin and I wanted to grab a Cuban sandwich while we were in Miami, so we asked some locals for suggestions. South Beach isn’t the ideal place — you should really go to Little Havana or Little Haiti — but we were urged to check out an adorable Cuban diner named Puerto Sagua.

That Cuban sandwich was the first time I had bread since going primarily paleo, and it was glorious.

When looking for restaurants that night, Cailin and I kept hearing the name CVI.CHE 105 pop up again and again. This Peruvian restaurant, located just across the bridge in downtown Miami, is famous for its varieties of ceviche. Jill from Jack and Jill Travel was also in Miami and joined us for dinner, the three of us splitting this platter of ceviches.

Worth it? Oh HELL yes. The ceviche is so delicate, it melts in your mouth. If I lived in Miami, I would eat there all the time — and I insisted on taking Jeremy a few weeks later.


Jeremy booked a place in Wynwood because it was supposed to be “the Brooklyn of Miami.” Brooklyn is a pretty diverse place, so I wondered which neighborhood it would resemble more. Once we got there, I realized it was undoubtedly the Bushwick of Miami! This is a neighborhood of artists, of brightly colored murals, of wacky shops and interesting nightlife.

The Wynwood Marketplace takes place Friday through Sunday — it’s a collection of local artists hawking their wares. If you’re looking for a unique piece of art of jewelry, this is a great place to visit.

Jeremy and I spent much of the day hanging out at Panther Coffee, one of the top-rated coffeeshops in Miami. We were there to work, but the people-watching was so damn good that we didn’t get much done!

I felt intoxicated by the atmosphere of Wynwood. So many cool people, good-looking people, artsy people, people of so many different ethnic backgrounds. It all fit together perfectly, and it was exciting, and I wanted to be part of it.

There are two other times that I felt like that. The first was the first time I went to Red Rooster and loved it so much that I decided to move to Harlem. The second was when I went to the Oakland Museum of California and watched families of all colors dance to hip hop with their kids.

While we were there on a Sunday night, it was hopping. There were lines around the block for clubs. One taco stand blasted 90s R&B jams, also known as my favorite music of all time, and I think I may have scared Jeremy with my enthusiasm for Jodeci and Ginuwine.

The Takeaway

I know this isn’t a remotely representative post about Miami — it’s just a brief look at two neighborhoods. I didn’t get to experience Little Haiti or Little Havana. I didn’t go on an art deco photography walk or take a day trip to the Everglades.

I will say, however, that these trips whet my appetite for the future. I am very interested in coming back to Miami for a longer duration to explore this fabulous city further.

Now — which major US travel oversight should I visit next? Nashville? Hawaii? Portland? Alaska? San Diego? Austin? The national parks of the southwest beyond the Grand Canyon? There are so many options!

More Florida adventures:

Key West, You Are My New Favorite

Seaside, Florida: Truman’s Pastel Universe

Solo Female Travel in the Florida Keys: Complete Guide

Essential Info: Rates at the Meridian Hotel start at $133 per night, which I think is great value for the location and amenities. I loved it there. Find deals on hotels in Miami Beach here and see all Airbnbs in South Beach here.

In Wynwood I stayed at this Airbnb for $120 per night before Airbnb fees. This is a nice little studio in the heart of the action, but don’t plan on anyone sleeping on the futon — it’s horrible. So it says it can sleep four, but plan on no more than two. Personally, I wouldn’t have felt super comfortable in that neighborhood as a solo female traveler, but I felt okay staying with a male friend. Find deals on hotels in Wynwood here and see all Airbnbs in Wynwood here.

Miami has some public transit, but it’s very much a car city. My friends and I got around via Lyft, which is much cheaper than New York!

Don’t visit Miami without travel insurance. Even if you’re a conscientious traveler, you could still be robbed or injured and travel insurance will save you financially if you need it. I use World Nomads for travel insurance on every trip I take and I recommend them highly.

Have you been to Miami? What did you enjoy about it?

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24 thoughts on “Miami Is Nice, So I’ll Say It Twice”

  1. The language barriers surprised me in Miami as well. When my sister moved there, she had a very hard time finding a job that didn’t require her to speak both English and Spanish. It was frustrating to her, but we both chalked it up to part of what makes the culture down there so interesting and fun.

    As far as your U.S. travel oversights go, I’m a huge fan of Hawaii. It’s a vibe unlike anything I’ve felt anywhere else. We were fortunate to go a couple of times while my uncle lived there, and I’d be curious to read your insights on U.S. colonization there. (If you haven’t already, read Moloka’i by Alan Brennert before you go.) Austin and Portland are pretty much exactly what you’d expect… I loooove San Diego. (Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been to so many of your oversights! I’m so impressed with myself. Ha.) I’ve overlooked many of the National Parks — still haven’t seen the Grand Canyon! Misadventures with Andi has done many great write-ups recently on southwestern parks since she just finished a year-long RV trip.

  2. I had a good time in portland, but unless you are going hiking and doing a bunch of outdoor stuff, i find it hard to fill more than 2 days or so there. I would love to see your take on hawaii!

  3. I spent a few days in Nashville last spring and loved it. I didn’t get to explore much beyond the downtown but I’m eager to return and check out The Gultch, 12 South and more neighbourhoods. There was something about the city that reminded me of my hometown of Saint John, NB, Canada. Almost like Saint John’s big brother moved south and went country. The only bar that got my repeat business on Broadway though was Robert’s Western World – that place is a gem.

  4. This is a great post about Miami, but my response is actually about your last question on where to go next, and as a Memphian I want to remind you that Memphis is also a wonderful city and has a lot of things to offer that Nashville doesn’t. I know that Nashville is trendy right now, but we have a lot of interesting history here in Memphis [not all of it good, admittedly, but most of it important], and we are the birthplace of both blues and rock and roll. And according to Alton Brown, we have some of the best food in the country 🙂 We get overlooked a lot because we’re not as flashy and because we do have a lot of issues we are continually working on, but Memphis is a great place to visit!

  5. Alaska! Go to Alaska next! I went for the first time two years ago and it was one of the best trips I have ever done – just completely mind-blowing scenery and the best place I have ever been for wildlife encounters.

  6. Miami was the highlight when we had a week long road trip in Florida! We had two days and we mostly spent it at South Beach – in July it was so hot and humid that being in the water was the only thing we wanted. 😀 We didn’t mind though… we’ve never ever enjoyed the ocean water temperatures as much as in Florida.

    For the other options you are thinking about, all sounds fabulous! We’ve been to Hawaii, particularly in Kauai and it is the most magical place we’ve seen in the world so far. And it was hard to believe how unspoilt it was! (Of course, we can imagine it takes a huge effort to keep it like that…) San Diego was also a nice surprise, it is so different from how we imagine American cities – and Balboa Park is one of the coolest urban parks we’ve seen so far. Alaska is still on our list though! 🙂

  7. Wow! I will have to add Miami to my ever growing list of places to visit. I drove through Miami when I was about 12 on a family holiday. We had planned to stop and spend a few hours there but we could not find anywhere to park in the entire city!! So we just drove around for an hour! I will 100% have to go back after your glowing review

  8. I LOVE this! I was in Miami briefly for a cruise port as well, and I felt like I didn’t get to experience the city at all. This post is filled with awesome gems, and the Meridian looks amazing, especially for the cost!

  9. I’m going to throw in Atlanta for consideration. There isn’t the charm and beaches of your favorites like Miami and Savannah. But the history, especially civil rights history, is unmatched by anywhere apart from maybe Birmingham. And there are so many cool things happening with old spaces finding new uses. But I’m biased 🙂

    1. Um, where are the carbs, exactly?

      That bowl has acai, berries, and chia seeds. All three of those ingredients are extremely low in carbs.

      What did you THINK was in it? Granola? Bananas? No thank you. Just acai, berries, and chia seeds.

  10. I LOVE Miami!! You are so right about how people just look so hot there! It was amazing to walk around, it felt like a movie set =o) I went on a food tour while in Miami with my mom and we had a blast too. We made a girls weekend out of our trip and now I have the fondest memories of Miami =o)

  11. Miami is the capital of South America in North America. On my way back to Norway from Colombia. I had some days in Miami. I just kept on talking Spanish. I started talking in English the uber driver was silence, then I started speak Spanish and everything was more fun again! 🙂

    Wynwood Art District is a beautiful way of turning neighborhood’s to more attractive and at the same time create safe and open space for all citizens to enjoy! We all love when something bad turns good!

    I love this part of the USA!

    Great writing as always, Kate!

  12. The national parks! There are so many beautiful parks to explore in the US. You really can’t go wrong! We just got back from New Mexico and it was better than we ever imagined.

  13. I went to Miami for the first time this year in February, and really enjoyed this post! I can relate to a lot of these experiences, and you’re spot on that the art is everywhere, and fantastic. You should definitely come to Cleveland next!! Such a recently thriving city and soooo much to see, but it’s so easy to get a glimpse in a weekend trip too 😀 Hit me up if you want someone to show you the good local spots 🙂

  14. We’ve been to Miami (during our roadtrip in Florida) last year. Unfortunately we didn’t visit Wynwood, but we did go to the Beach, Lincoln Road, and the Everglades! We’d like to go back in the future and see all the other highlights Miami has to offer :-). Nice blog, btw!

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