The Good Life: 3 Nights in Miami, Florida

Price Point: ✪✪✪✪✪
Currency: Euro
Language: Spanish
Food To Try: Croquetas
Tipping: 5% for meals/round up on drinks
Where to StaySouth Beach
Transportation: Train(from Madrid to Toledo:35 Min)

Miami is absurd.

Drive just 3 hours south of Orlando and it’ll feel like you’ve arrived in a different country. Step foot on South Beach and it’s like you’ve gone back a couple decades.

Miami is a dysfunctional, absurd yet exhilarating concoction of people from all different backgrounds coexisting in tropical paradise. Why I never took the time to truly explore this city being born and raised in Orlando, I’ll never know.

“Miami is a melting pot in which none of the stones melt. They rattle around.” -Tom Wolfe

Growing up in Orlando with a large Hispanic population, I heard Spanish on a daily basis. In Miami though, the Spanish was… different. It belonged there. It flowed from the mouths of residents like it was a part of Miami’s identity, not just a minority language in a predominantly Caucasian population, like the rest of Florida.

Driving through neighborhoods such as Little Haiti you’ll think you’ve accidentally traversed the Caribbean. Head towards South Beach in all its faded art déco glory and you’ll see Hasidic Jews walking across the street to their synagogue perched beside a line of palm trees. Drive back over Biscayne Bay to Little Havana and you’ll find yourself in a verbal dance with the Cuban waiter trying to order a sandwich.

Much like the Porches and Mercedes zipping through the streets, our 3 nights in Miami went by in blur.

Getting Around:
Rent A CAR

Although Miami drivers will attempt to pass you in a car wash, having your own wheels is the easiest way to get around. Whether your coming down from Orlando or flying into Miami International Airport, a car allows you to go as you please since public transportation is a pain here. However, if the reputation of Miami drivers is too much to handle, no fear, Uber is everywhere. Be forewarned though, just like everything else in Miami, it can get pretty pricey.

Full Disclosure: I did almost get into a wreck here. Like I’m talking paper thin close. Moral of the story, driving around Miami sucks but the convenience outweighs the negatives. Also don’t eat chips and drive.

South Beach: Where Neon Goes to Die

Although far prettier beaches exist in Miami, South Beach is an iconic legend. As you drive down Collins Ave adjacent to the coastline, you’ll feel time passing back to Miami’s 80’s heyday through art déco pastel architecture. Although South Beach is saturated by tourists, we wanted to be close to the action and found a stellar one-bedroom apartment, private balcony included, right across the beach on Collins Ave for $125.00/night.

Grab a Pub sub (Publix sub for all you out-of-staters) and hit the beach. If you don’t feel like driving to Publix Super Market and to possibly one of the best things Florida has yet to produce (because let’s face it, there isn’t much else), there are multiple food kiosks dotting the beach. Although expensive, I can personally recommend the quesadilla and ceviche.

Feeling adventurous? Rent a longboard and skate up and down the South Beach boardwalk. Be sure to bring some cash along for the ride, you’ll inevitably want a spiked rum coconut from one of the “vendors” along the boardwalk. And by vendor I mean boardshort clad local with home grown coconuts and a handle of Malibu rum.

Edit: This wasn’t my first time at South Beach. After flying home into Miami International from Puerto Rico for a college spring break I wanted to check out the hype. The result? Getting adopted by a cougar lady at the Fontainebleau and thus invited to a Chilean soccer team party. This was after randomly selecting a hotel on my GPS. Little did I know that the Fountainebleau is one of the most expensive and notorious hotels on South Beach. A Miami afternoon in a nutshell.

A Bit of CUBA in Little Havana

Craving a cigar with a side of Cuban flare? Drive to Calle Ocho in Little Havana to fill yourself with nostalgic sights of old men playing dominoes in the park, citrus stands, Cuban restaurants, and of course cigar shops. Although it’s now legal to bring Cuban cigars back to the United States, it’s still unfortunately illegal to sell them. However with master rollers on deck, the homemade cigars found in Little Havana are almost just as good as the real deal. After chatting up the owner of Guantanamera Cigars & Cafe about his selection of cigars, we were offered free Cuban coffee and a chat on how “Cubans like our women thick, you American ladies be too skinny.” Thank you kind sir.
In Orlando we’re privy to some fantastic Cuban food joints. However my years of ordering cubanos y croquet’s did not prepare my taste buds for El Pub and the most savory media noche (cubano on sweet bread) I’ve ever bit into. If you’re feeling quite famished I recommend starting with their empanadas. Be warned though, English is not the first language in this neighborhood and my high school/college Spanish classes finally showed their worth here.

Live Music in Magic City

However what I didn’t expect showing up to a rap concert in the middle of Miami was the influx of 20-something white boys and the most polite mosh pit I’ve ever attempted to be a part of. “Oh hi there, sorry for bumping into you. Here let me block you from the pit.”*Insert intense eye rolling here.*

get Artsy Fartsy In Wynwood Art District

On the corner of SoFla meets hipster you’ll find Wynwood Art District, hands down my absolute favorite place we stopped during our 3 nights in Miami. My artsy senses started tingling the moment we parked the car next to colorful murals splattered on virtually every wall in the neighborhood.
Wynwood deserves an entire day and night devoted to exploring the area. Start your day with a pit stop at Panther Coffee – think locally owned Starbucks with a mustache and striped pocket tee.
Next stop: Wynwood Walls.

Have you ever seen that mural constantly plastered on Instagram with the haphazard pastel stripes (pictured below)? Look no further than Wynwood Walls to follow the million other selfies. Too bad muralist Mya Haynuk doesn’t get commission for the amount of times her wall graces the endless scroll of Instagram.

Now that you’ve gotten your dose of art, hit up the bars in Wynwood. Here’s a few we visited ourselves and others we didn’t have time for but had raving reviews from local friends:

  • Wood Tavern – free tacos from 6-9pm on Tuesday y’all!
  • Gramps – by the far taking the title of Most Hipster
  • Electric Pickle – deep house after dark
  • Brickhouse – doubles as a brewery for all you beer lovers

Party 305: Miami Nightlife

After spending hours outside soaking up the Florida sun, we ended up being a bit lame and didn’t hit the infamous club scene too hard that Miami enshrines. Miami could easily be considered the nightlife capital of the South. Save for New York, possibly for the entire East Coast. The biggest thing to keep in mind though, Miami is hella expensive. Like I’m talking $15+ a drink expensive.

While my favorite nights ended up being spent in Wynwood and the concert, here’s a list of go-to nightlife spots from Miami locals who know it best:

  • Espanola Way
  • LIV – Probably the most notorious club of them all inside the equally notorious Fontainebleau Hotel
  • Broken Shaker – We went here! It’s a cozy outdoor watering hole offering an assortment of specialty cocktails.
  • Craft Club Social
  • Club 50 – Mad expensive but this bar is worth one drink for the views of Miami from the 50th floor of the Viceroy Hotel. Tip: Dress to impress at this upscale bar.
  • Blackbird Ordinary

Bonus: Coconut Grove

Although we didn’t quite make it here, Coconut Grove came highly recommended by friends for its old canopy trees and historic Miami storefronts. It’s a little bougie but if you have some cash to burn, this is the place for it. Want more things to do in Miami? Check out this article by The Crazy Tourist of the top 25 things to do in Miami!

72 Hours in Miami, Florida 

  • Day 1: South Beach
    • Morning: Breakfast at Pink Panther
    • Afternoon: Rent a skateboard or bicycle and head down the South Beach boardwalk
    • Night: Broken Shaker

    Day 2: Wynwood Art District 

    • Morning: Panther Coffee
    • Afternoon: Wynwood Walls
    • Night: Head back out to Wynood for the night

    Day 3: Little Havana & Miami Nightlife 

    • Morning: Hit up the beach and food kiosks
    • Afternoon: Lunch, cigars, and Cuban coffee in Little Havana
    • Night: Tacos and drinks at Bodega, Club 50 later that evening

    BONUS DAY: Coconut Grove

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20 Comments

  1. Great post. I love Miami.

    Reply
  2. I love it. I live in Orlando as well and I didn’t go to Miami too often until last month and I really enjoyed it.
    I so agree with the Publix Sub. ??

    Reply
    • Finally someone else who understands the call of the Pub Sub!

      Reply
  3. My brother in law stays in Tampa and I have been to Miami so many times! It is indeed a lovely place where you can party like no ones watching! 🙂

    Reply
    • Haha I completely agree! It’s crazy that I’ve living in Orlando my whole life (except for college) yet this was the first time I made it down.

      Reply
  4. We have not had a chance to visit Miami yet. Miami seems like fun! Love the colorful murals. And the mini Cuba looks like a place to visit! Coconut Grove sounds amazing as well.

    Reply
    • It really is! I’ve grown up hearing all about Miami but never got to experience it for myself but I’m so glad I finally did. Well worth the drive down.

      Reply
  5. This is such a comprehensive guide, I love how colourful and friendly Miami looks. I’ve never visited, but I’d love to explore Miami and this part of the wider US.

    Reply
    • So colorful! I think that’s why I loved it down there, there’s much more culture than what you find in Orlando which heavily caters to tourists instead of cultivating our own identity outside of Disney

      Reply
  6. I’m from New York State, and I bet Miami’s relation to the rest of Florida is like New York City’s relationship to NY State. Utterly different from the rest, but probably the most interesting. I’ve never been to Miami, but I bet I would love it.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more! It’s funny though because Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida but Miami is always much more popular.

      Reply
  7. Looks like an artsy place. Have heard only about the beaches and nightlife there. Thanks for introducing the other side of Miami.

    Reply
  8. I still haven’t been to the American continent! A couple of my friends have been to Miami and loved the beaches there! Esp after Bay Watch Miami chapter trailer, its getting all the more attention! The street art here looks so stunning as well!

    Reply
    • Haha I didn’t know there was a Bay Watch Miami chapter! Too funny

      Reply
  9. Tons of funky street art and loads of lively places to hang around. Miami seems quite a lively place.

    Reply
  10. I’ve been to Miami many times but I love to explore its neighborhood such as Little Havana, Coral Gables. I totally agree with you that Spanish sounds like a first language in Miami as well as South Florida!

    Reply
    • I definitely want to head back down there sometime to check out more of the neighborhoods! I heard they also have some great little festivals as well 🙂

      Reply
  11. I am in awe of the street art here. Definitely vibrant and nice. Lovely tips that you have sshared in the post. Makes it easier for a lot of travelers.

    Reply
  12. Miami is the place to be. Such a wonderful place. Your post is very inspiring!

    Reply

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