Sleep before and after Miami, not during. There are too many places to visit and food to claim! During our trip, a whole lot of unseasonable rain tried to slow us down and failed. In fact, we took advantage of an entire city to ourselves. Imagine us frolicking on the empty beach with storms brewing, pool hopping during a torrential down pour, and exploring the streets of Miami with a beach umbrella. (See picture below – we actually thought it was from a picnic table. Midwest issues). While everyone sat inside waiting for the rain to pass, we made sure to compile a list of must-do’s for our fellow adventurers. Before we dive into all of the incredible things Miami has to offer — please excuse us while we call on our inner Beyoncé.
We decided to check out several hotel stays in our stint in Miami, ranging by various price ranges and locations.
Vintro Hotel South Beach: This hotel is owned by Hilton so we were a bit hesitant. Overall we were pleasantly surprised – Our experience was top-notch! Due to our over excitement when exploring new places and traveling together, we were up at 5 am in the rooftop hot tub and happily swinging on the colorful hammocks! Free drinks at arrival, bikes for any guest to use, unlimited coffee, water with fruit, and other small offerings available at all times. Their employees were kind and gave us a lot of freedom (trust us, we need it) and their amenities made for some great pictures! Near the elevator you’re greeted by a sign that reads “So F*ing Beautiful”, and we believed every word. The rooms are very modern (i.e. under glow bed lights) with good detail. This small boutique hotel is one block off the main South Beach Collins drag. If you want a little escape with happy, careful vibes then we definitely recommend this for the cost. Even better if you have Hilton points built up!
SLS South Beach: We checked out SLS next. A bit more expensive and a much larger hotel. Very centrally located and steps away from the beach. Although it was raining most of the time, this hotel still put on amazing pool parties with live music which turns into night clubs after dark. Two highly-rated restaurants are inside, Bazaar and Jose Andres. They have a friendly staff that were willing to take pictures of us in the pool…. in the rain…. holding an umbrella – we loved them! Overall, if you are looking for more of a party vibe then this could be good for you!
The Raleigh Miami Beach: Warning: As you can tell our hair kept getting crazier and crazier throughout the weekend. We let it run wild, just felt right! Anyway, about Raliegh… this centrally located place screams Art Deco! From the lobby to the pool design to the famous Martini Bar. This is a classic spot to stay in Miami. You can get what you want out of this hotel.. a relaxing family stay or a social party. It is large enough and diverse to cover all your needs.
Bodega: Two words – Go here. We heard great reviews and we had to try it for ourselves. When you arrive, it feels like you’re inside a tricked out taco truck. Cool, yet we were expecting a bar. We then started to notice people trickle in and out of a porta potty door marked “Banos”, so we followed suit. We immediately entered a large speakeasy.
This is the electrifying night life that locals live for. Great drinks, great music. Early in the night it’s relaxed with people sitting on the plush sofas. As the night continues it turns into a serious club. Dancing. Private party tables. The works. We now understand why there’s a taco joint connected to it – Perfect after-bar grub.
Being us, we spent a considerably large amount of time in the restroom making friends with strangers. Kels found some goodies in her purse from her latest Birch Box. Our restroom interactions went something like this – “Perfume samples, anyone? Do you need lotion? Take it! You should have it! Where do you suggest we put perfume? On our nose so we smell it all day? Does anyone in here need some lip gloss? It’s a really great lip gloss! Are anyone’s hands dry? We have some lotion samples here for you! Oh, nail polish! Anybody need some touch ups?” Everyone who left Bodega’s ladies bathroom that evening came out a new woman. You’re welcome, Miami.
The Social Club – This is great spot to brunch. They have a decent sized patio and their servers are very attentive (rare to find when the tip is already built in your purchase)! We ordered the Eggs Benedict and Surfcomber – Both great! Definitely get some coffee while you’re there too – It’s a great Cup A Joe. You’ll quickly notice that a lot of the restaurants on the South Beach strip are connected to a hotel. We suggest taking the time to wander the hotels before or after you munch! They’re each so different and their décor is elaborate. We came across one with an over-sized picture of Kim Kardashian in its lobby. Proud moment for Kanye.
Dolce Italian: To put it simply, we were spoiled. A friend that has lived in the city for 8 years invited us to dinner. We had no expectations and suddenly course after course appeared. In total about 18-20 different plates called our table home. All of our dished were incredible – If you’re a pizza lover, definitely ask for the star pizza! It’s not on the menu. However, Chef Paolo should know what that means!
The Local House: This restaurant hit the spot. We ordered the Basic Breakfast and it was the perfect way to start the day. Make sure your meal comes with breakfast potatoes! We still dream about them. Although the core of the meal was delish, we suggest staying away from the jelly – It tasted like cut up cough medicine in gummy bear form serve in a glass dish. Did that just make you cringe? Us too!
The atmosphere at The Local House had a feminine flair – The table setting resembled a modern tea party yet there were relaxed and fun people dining. The wall décor could fit perfectly in a woman’s home – It reminded us of a place you’d host a wedding shower or something. All the more reason to crack up when 5 Miami Dolphin players rolled in to dine. We get it, though. Those potatoes are good!
Sweet Liberty: This American cocktail bar was extremely memorable. Their unique mix of cocktails, creative American food and live music was the perfect combo to jumpstart our night. The atmosphere made us feel like we were in Texas, ya’ll. We ordered the Basic Bitch and the Pink Chihuahua to sip on – We’d definitely get them again! We also ordered the Swordfish Tacos and the Buns of Liberty Burger. The burger was incredible and as big as our heads – Order it, we dare you!
Havana 1957 – This Cuban cuisine had the vibes we were looking for. We went to the one off Lincoln Road and loved the cute strip of exciting restaurants surrounding it. Reservations might be needed – We were lucky and came before the storm of people! This restaurant combines the rich flavors of Cuban cuisine with the atmosphere of Havana in 1950’s, hence its’ name. Anything chicken at this restaurant will win your heart! Something to consider, though – We didn’t receive the best service, as their 18% tip is included in everyone’s order. We also checked our bank accounts when we returned home and we were overcharged. We’ve yet to resolve it. Solution – Keep the customer receipt just in case!
Parking: DON’T DO IT! Unless you plan on hitting up the Keys, Fort Lauderdale, or other parts of Florida, do not rent or bring a car. Parking is hard to come by and very expensive. Usually have to pay by the hour, $4 per hour. Instead, we recommend using Uber. Each of our uber strips were $6 or less.
Little Havana: Also known as the “Cuban District”, Little Havana is a neighborhood of many Cuban immigrants. While there, check out the fun storefronts, unique art galleries and colorful murals!
Miami Heat or Dolphins game: If you’re into sports like us, then you should definitely hit up a Heat or Dolphins game! It’s always a good time seeing how other fans rep their teams.
Coconut Grove: This bayside village is filled with cafes, restaurants, galleries and boutiques. It’s an extremely relaxed atmosphere with multiple parks nearby!
Brickell District: Away from the more crowded and touristy South Beach, locals and professionals often head to the boutique Brickell for happy hour, shopping, and good restaurants.
Wynwood Walls: A colorful district that has turned around in Miami over the last several years. It is a unique area with massive bright, colorful murals lining the streets. Hipster cafes with coffee and cute cocktails lining these streets. But be careful after dark, as this is an area they are still turning around.
The Standard Spa + Hotel: This relaxing getaway is the perfect location to snap some pics. There are photo opportunities around every corner!
Thank you for adventuring, Miami! On to the next city –