Miami is unlike any other American City. A Mediterranean influence that inspired the early architecture and waves of immigration have lead to a distinct Floribbean Flavor. This comes together in this tropical climate as a rich tapestry of diverse cultures, and unique experiences across a beautiful backdrop.
Three days in Miami offers just enough time to experience a little bit of everything that his City has to offer.
Three Days in Miami – Day One
Begin in Little Havana, a community created by Cuban exiles where it’s easy to find a cafecito and Cuban sandwich for breakfast.
Miami’s strong Latin population means that this neighborhood isn’t kitschy, it’s simply an authentic area where restaurants make the food that the residents here enjoy.
The Cuban sandwich is a ham and cheese sandwich with juicy roasted pork, mustard and pickles added and served on Cuban bread. It has become the quintessential Miami Sandwich with a status like the hot dog in Chicago or New York City.
Little Havana borders Downtown Miami, a financial district with very little foot traffic compared to other down town areas in cities like Chicago and Seattle.
Nearby Bayfront Park is an urban plaza that hosts free yoga almost daily as well as the occasional concert. The nearby Metro Mover station is an easy way to explore downtown and avoid the midday heat by riding the elevated railway and stopping wherever seems interesting, from Overtown to the North all the way south to the Brickell Loop.
The dining is relatively standard for an American Mall, with the added Floribbean Flair from some of the restaurants along the waterfront.
The seaside setting is the perfect place to enjoy a few mojitos from the Mojito Bar, a restaurant with Latin flavor that uses Don Q Cristal Rum and fresh fruit in over ten variations on the cocktail that they’re named after.
At night, there’s live entertainment and views of the lit up Miami skyline in one direction and the lights of the Port of Miami in the other.
Three Days in Miami – Day Two
Wynwood has emerged as Miami’s Art District with outdoor murals, art galleries and more. An ideal start to the day is to navigate this former warehouse area and admire the street art while enjoying a cup of locally roasted coffee.
Panther Coffee is a third wave brewery that sustainably sources everything from their Central American coffee, to the macadamia milk that comes from a holistically run Australian farm.
The Salty Donut has a Coffee Director who creates espresso based beverages, flash chilled Japanese Ice Coffee and eighteen hour cold brew, but they’re known for their brioche donuts that are allowed to rise for twenty four hours before sometimes selling out within an hour from opening.
The standard donut has a simple vanilla glaze, but there’s also the same donut with a maple glaze, candied bacon bits, and a porter reduction from J. Wakefield, a Wynwood Craft Beer company. There’s a cake batter donut with maldon sea salt and a brown butter glaze as well as many more variations that include guava and cream cheese fillings, candied hazelnuts, and chocolate crème.
Exploring Wynwood is suitable in the morning but the midday Miami heat is the ideal time to visit Coral Gables, a Venice inspired suburb with Boulevards lined by Banyan trees, and attractions like the Miracle Mile and the Venetian Pool.
The Venetian Pool is a popular National Historic Place; a huge pool dug into quarried coral rock and fed by natural springs.
It’s surrounded by waterfalls built into the natural rock, tropical plants, and Mediterranean revival buildings originally built in the first quarter of the last century.
Nearby Coconut Grove is also home to some historic buildings worth visiting.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the former home of industrialist James Deering, it’s a Tuscan inspired mansion built near the water.
Opulent interiors inspired by Venice and Milan furnished with near priceless furniture means that just like at Saint Nicholas Abbey in Barbados; touching some items is not allowed.
The gardens incorporate sub-tropical plants suitable to Miami’s climate into the orderly layout of an Italian Renaissance garden.
On the grounds of The Barnacle Historic State Park is one of the oldest homes in Miami still in its original location, the Barnacle. Built at the end of the frontier era when all transport to Miami was done by boat, the home was originally a bungalow that was converted to a two-story house over time. Verandas on both floors offer views into Biscayne Bay.
While both Coconut Grove and Coral Gables have interesting dining spots and wine bars, the early evening is an opportune time to return to Wynwood, since some of the area’s attractions are only now opening.
The original craft beer company is Wynwood Brewing; Their graffiti-inspired cans and tap handles can be found all across the city at places that serve their core beers like the complex and crisp La Rubia Blonde Ale or a Belgian Style Ale named after an early Jesuit Settler to the area.
J Wakefield Brewing is an independently owned craft beer company created out of the owner’s experiments with home brewing and love for pop culture phenomenon like Star Wars.
One of their core beers involves adding coconut flakes to a traditional German Hefeweizen. Their season offerings include a Star Wars inspired stout with vanilla beans and ghost peppers that’s allowed to mature in bourbon barrels, as well as a strong ale brewed with pumpkin pulp and over six seasonal spices.
Concrete Beach Brewing is a project of A&S Brewing. Just like Angel City Beer, their partner company across the country, they combine the expertise acquired from being part of a larger group to an appreciation for the flavors and cultures where they’re based.
The stories behind their seasonal offerings gives insight into the way that they approach craft brewing.
Mango Biche Gose is a sour and salty beer brewed with green mangoes that’s inspired by a Colombian Street Food.
Bouvalay is a Bière de Garde that’s the result of a happy accident. As a Hurricane approached Miami and the entire city was evacuated, a batch of beer was left fermenting.
It bubbled away in a fermentation vat for much longer than planned, and there was no electricity to control the conditions. The result is a farm house style beer aged in French oak to balance the fruity esters.
With amazing beer, street art, and off the track bars, Wynwood is the ideal place to spend the second night in Miami.
Three Days in Miami – Day Three
With eclectic nightlife, historic buildings, and a wide range of dining options, the most exciting destination in South Florida is definitely Miami Beach. Exploring this series of barrier islands that make up this coastal city is the ideal way to spend the final day in Miami.
Laid back North Beach is the best place to start the day with breakfast. Manolo is a South American food chain with a morning menu that includes Spanish style tortillas, and Milanesas; an Argentinian fried steak that was brought to the southern cone by Italian immigrants.
Moving from North Beach to Mid Beach can be done by strolling along Collins Avenue or biking along the beachfront. There is also the option of a free trolley that runs along the entire length of Miami Beach.
The Miami Beach Boardwalk begins at Indian Beach Park and continues all the way to South Beach but there are many places along the way to stop for a swim in the ocean or enjoy a refreshing cocktail.
At the Confidante Miami Beach, the poolside restaurant serves sandwiches inspired by the American South along with cocktails with bourbon and moonshine that can be enjoyed poolside. The Broken Shaker at the Freehand Hotel & Hostel is also a great lunch spot in a more low key setting.
From the Lincoln Street Mall to Española Way are food choices for every budget. Taquiza serves blue corn tortillas and totopos that are made fresh every morning. Chapulines includes adobe marinated grasshoppers with guacamole, Al Pastor and Carnitas are made with grilled pork shoulder and served with fruit garnishes.
Ocean Drive is the image that all visitors envision before coming to this city; and a trip to Miami would be incomplete without admiring the art deco hotels that align the lower fifteen blocks along with the cars parked outside, usually immaculately restored classics or high end super cars.
Many of them have bars that allow you to enjoy cocktails at the pool or in a 1930s era hotel lobby. The restaurant at Avalon Hotel offers appetizers like charcoal-grilled octopus and jumbo lump crab cakes along with barrel aged batches of rye whisky old fashions, and hand crafted rum cocktails.
As the sun sets on the pastel-hued buildings, the street comes alive with vivid neon lights. With great food and drinks as well as the ocean just a footstep away, there is no better place to be at the end of three days in Miami.
Images of The Venetian Pool and the Barnacle are both from Wikimedia Commons, and image of South Beach at Night is from Flickr user Matt Kieffer.