It’s been 9 glorious days in Miami. I’d harboured hopes of seeing more of Florida but Miami was so entertaining, I never left!
In my first Miami post, I listed my 10 first impressions of the city so here are 10 lasting impressions, after spending some time there that might be useful.
1. Nightlife in Miami is unbelievable, in the literal sense as well as the metaphorical! While New York doesn’t sleep because it’s always working, Miami doesn’t sleep because the party never stops! Most nights I was getting home at about 7 am or 8 am in the morning and not because we were at the last bar in town, everywhere was open, which was extra handy when we needed pizza in the early hours too! Most things, including the art fairs, opened at 11-12 each day so they’re very accommodating of the city’s distractions.
2. Food in Miami is great but this girl was hoping for some In’N’Out animal fries and there isn’t an outlet in town! (There is, however, a huge Five Guys, a Shake Shack and you know, proper food, but still – animal fries!)
3. The seafood is great in Florida, crustaceans especially. Even if you’re not sampling it at the seafront restaurants throughout the city, Whole Foods has great options for on the go too.
4. Partying at hotel lounges is the thing to do in South Beach and the staff were so lovely at all of the venues I visited (and there were many, many parties during Art Basel!). Over in Wynwood it’s more like London’s Shoreditch with lots of warehouse parties. Bizarrely it’s much easier to get into 5-star establishment parties in SoBe than it is in Wynwood, even when your name’s at the top of the guest list! I think the security was a bit insane in Wynwood, to be honest. One event I was attending got shut down early because ASAP Rocky turned up to party at it. The fire marshalls decided that this was a good reason to block all new guests from entering. It’s a bit topsy-turvy compared to going out at home but both areas offer completely different experiences so I recommend trying both – if you have the patience!
5. Wynwood is an absolutely incredible area of self-expression and community soul. Several people expressed how dangerous they felt it was at night before I visited but this was not the experience I had there. If anything the community came out in force and the vibe was like a carnival. I was never made to feel anything less than welcome whatever the hour. There is a lot of gentrification happening in the area but lots of projects and galleries opening up to safeguard the access and education of local art because of it too. Wynwood has more street art than I have ever seen anywhere on my travels – it’s a very important place to protect AND nurture!
(If you like Wynwood, be sure to visit Little Havana which, like its name, is a little version of Havana, Cuba with insane vintage cars included!)
6. Miami ladies bring the sunshine! If you love the street style of Rio or the Caribbean, you’ll love Miami! The diversity and warm weather mean everyone wears whatever the hell they want to and you can see people wearing almost nothing at all (sometimes actually nothing at all) as they saunter down the hot sidewalks and trainers and hot pants are very much acceptable eveningwear, even in top establishments. Miami girls told me their secret to looking beach perfect is sun oil with bronzer added. I didn’t have time to try it for myself but take my word for it, they look amazing!
7. It is impossible to stop silently replaying Will Smith’s Miami in your head. Impossible.
8. Uber pools are the best way to get between the mainland and SoBe and cost me around $3-4 each time. It’s been a big shock getting back to London where the same distance journey costs £17 in a pool!
9. You can see manatees and dolphins in Miami! They swim in and out of the bay regularly and the best place to see them from in my opinion is The Standard Hotel bar which has a jetty that opens out onto the sea where you can enjoy sundowners while watching phenomenal sunsets (the spa there is also SO worth visiting). You can paddleboard the bay during the day too.
I really, really love Miami. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s one of my all-time favourite destinations and I will definitely be back!
Frances Draskau – Founder, Photographer & Traveller at SoSheTravelled.com