Cosmopolitan Miami has much more to offer than just sun and beautiful beaches. The multicultural vibe makes it a place where you can experience a wide range of diversity. This is evident by the abundance and variety of restaurants. Seafood, Peruvian, Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, French restaurants are all available. Even traditional specialty foods like NY bagels, and Quebec poutine can be found for the homesick. Transplants, snowbirds and the multitude of different ethnic groups have all made their contribution to the unique and fast paced vibe of this city.
Miles of million dollar yachts are docked side by side along the canals parked outside as well as many miles of multi-million dollar condos. Competition for the influx of dollars is intense leading to condos with layouts by famous designers and restaurants offering creations by world-renowned chefs. Everything from elevators for cars to pet spas is available. Condos line the coastline from South Beach to Sunny Isles and resume in Hallandale, Fort Lauderdale and all the way up past Boca Raton. Luxury shopping venues are also abundant and offer valet parking and personalized shopping consultants. Luckily not everyone has to be a millionaire to enjoy Miami as more reasonably priced accommodations and venues are also available.
Miami is a bustling city with lots of activities. It’s the fourth largest urban area in the US with a population of just over 5.5 million over an area of approximately 1200 sq miles. With such a large population there is a multitude of entertainment venues large enough to accommodate the top performers and stars. You can find a wide variety of shows, concerts, casinos and much, much more. Museums are also plentiful — it’s only a matter of deciding which ones to visit.
Many outdoor activities are available, and with the wonderful Florida weather you can pretty well enjoy them year round. Golf courses and golf resorts, boat rentals and water sports, renting exotic cars, the list goes on. You are sure to find something to do. Our very favorite is without a doubt scuba diving and if you enjoy that too, the Florida Keys has some of the best wrecks and many shallow dive sites allowing for long leisurely dives. If that is not for you, many other water sports are available year-round or you can just hangout on the beach and relax. All the beaches are public with easy access and most have bathroom facilities and even BBQs and picnic tables. Just bring your chair or towel and umbrella and soak it all up! Don’t forget your sunscreen!!
Two beautiful but very different National Parks are easily accessible from Miami and are excellent choices for half or full day trips.
Biscayne National Underwater Park
The Biscayne National Underwater Park is located to the south of Miami and it’s an excellent choice for scuba diving, snorkeling and other water related activities. Many fishing boats and other charters departs from the marina.
Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park is located less than an hour away and is definitely worth visiting. Be sure to get there early enough to take the leisurely 2-hour tram ride through the Everglades. You can purchase your time-slot train tickets at the Visitor’s Center. The view from the top of the tower is amazing—it’s the best way to get an appreciation for the vastness of the Everglades and to hear the guide explain some of the history around waters being diverted and the ecological implications and on going efforts by the park and recreation team.
You are sure to see alligators and many exotic birds—the park is clean and easily walkable with wide footpaths and wheelchair accessible. You can also rent a bike to explore the park but be aware that during wet weather some paths may be flooded. After all, it’s the nature of the Everglades!
If you are short on time or if you arrived too late to catch the train, walk-up the paved pathway where you are sure to encounter some of the parks residents. Often basking in the sun next to the pedestrian walkway.
On your way back to Miami stop at one of the many establishments offering airboat rides on the waterways of the everglades for a different experience. It’s noisy and windy but it’s well worth it and a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else.
Another Miami gem is Little Havana. It is the perfect destination to immerse yourself in the Latin vibe. Experience some Cuban music, cigars and other Cuban delicacies. The many open-air restaurants offer Cuban coffee, delicious Cuban sandwiches, Mojitos and more. A gathering point for the locals is the Maximo Gomez Domino Park where friendly domino games are played on a regular basis. Having been to Cuba on many occasions it reminded us of this beautiful country. It’s a lovely area to visit.
If visiting something different is what you’re looking for, go check out Coral Castle and take the free narrative tour available in English, Spanish, French or German. The story is interesting: a 5-foot tall 100 pound Latvian-American man single-handedly built the castle, which is entirely made of coral. Edward Leedskalnin carved 1100 tons of coral stones using only handmade tools. He worked at night to keep his methods a secret—some believe he had extraterrestrial help! It took him 28 years to complete this labor of love for a woman who sadly never got to see it. When the site was completed, he would give tours to visitors for 10 cents. The Nine-Ton Gate that rotates effortlessly with one hand, the Polaris Telescope and the Sun Dial are all fine examples of his craftsmanship. Plan an hour or two for your visit.
Up the coast: Kennedy Space Center
For a day trip, try visiting the Kennedy Space Center. A 3-hour drive from Miami makes it feasible and worthwhile for those staying for a few days looking for something different. Look on their website for rocket launch schedules, but keep in mind that these are sometimes scrubbed due to wind or weather. That said, the center is an impressive site and certainly worth seeing on it’s own. If staying in Orlando, I would highly recommend this attraction. We will try again to see a rocket launch!
We are lucky enough to get to Miami often, so please check back regularly. I will be providing more updates.