Discovering Miami’s hidden gems – we venture down paths less taken to discover Miami’s real treasures.
In 1912, two Miami visionaries, the Lummus Brothers, decided to develop the island. By 1920, the land boom had begun, and by the ’60s it had become a retirement community affectionately nicknamed, “God’s waiting room.” In the mid ’80s, and perhaps with the help of the popular TV series Miami Vice, South Beach (or SoBe) became one of the most affluent playgrounds for the rich and famous. While soaking up the sun, shopping at trendy stores and dancing all night long at exclusive and way-too-expensive nightclubs is a must for many visitors today, there is so much more to this luxurious, and culturally rich resort destination.
Here are some of the Faze favourites:
Of course, you can always visit a traditional museum, but SoBe boasts stunning masterpieces of street art in the Wynwood Art District, unlike anything you’ve seen before. Take a guided tour to get an in-depth perspective of the graffiti artists and the rules by which they respect their craft of tags, bombs, throw-ups and pieces. Wynwood Walls, a free outdoor street art museum, is curated to enhance the cultural experience of the area with murals by notable street artists from around the globe. Check out this Wynwood directory page for guided tours.
Be sure to walk anywhere from 18th St. and south along Ocean Dr. and Collins Ave. and appreciate the distinctive Streamline Moderne Art Deco architecture. It is one of the largest collections in the world and on the National Register of Historic Places. Have a quick read on the history of Miami and its architectural development to make the experience richer.
DID YOU KNOW…
Streamline Moderne Art Deco architecture was inspired by grand ships and nautical themes of the 1930s and emphasizes curves and long horizontal lines.
One of many nautical-style art deco hotels and buildings in Miami originally intended to replicate the early 20th century luxury cruise experience.
Villa Casa Casuarina — better known as the Versace Mansion is located on Ocean Drive in South Beach
With the rise of Fidel Castro and his comrades to power in the 1950s, many refugees fled Cuba and settled in Miami. Fortunately, the Cubans brought their tasty cuisine with them, and today many dishes are influenced by its distinctive flare. Explore the 25-block area of Little Havana for extra-authentic cuisine. Thanks to Charlotte Bakery for their delish empanadas!
Thinking of becoming a chef or want a real foodie experience? Visit the Miami Culinary Institute and discover its innovative techniques with a “green” philosophy of sustainability with optimal nutrition. Then head to the top floor to experience Tuyo Restaurant where they embrace farm-to-table practices and draw from food grown both locally and in the Institute’s edible organic garden.
A Colada with your friends: a Cuban espresso (usually presweetened) served in a large cup along with several smaller cups, so it can be shared. You’ll often find it served from a takeout coffee window where you can get your hit, then run.
A gourmet soup appetizer at TUYO at the Miami Culinary Institute
Felt a little peckish by the pool at the Tudor House Hotel, and the fish tacos were delicious.
Our Miami culinary tour (with SOBE Food Tours) began at Bolivar, with a ceviche, to start an afternoon to remember.
Fancy minimalist cuisine at the Miami Beach Caffe & Restaurant
Empanadas from Charlotte Bakery, home to a delicious array of South American influenced baked goods.
And who can say no to a extra-cold cerveza at the end of a long day of walking and eating. Courtesy of Bongo’s!
THE WILD SIDE
Don’t believe in locking up beautiful creatures? Neither do we! We checked out Monkey Jungle “where the humans are caged and the monkeys run wild.” The park is home to nearly 400 primates, most running free on its 30 acre reserve. It is an innovator of many of the concepts currently used for the design of zoological parks and is one of the few protected habitats in the U.S. for endangered primates.
I loved feeding the very cute squirrel monkeys! They’re found in the canopy layer in the tropical forests of Central and South America, are omnivorous and live to about 15 years old.
Editor Lorraine Zander shares some of her trail mix with the locals at Monkey Jungle, a troop of squirrel monkeys
Get up-close-and-personal with nature at The Fruit & Spice Park where you can take a tour and discover over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and nuts from around the world. But the best part is you can enjoy fresh ripe treats right off the trees (jackfruit tree seen here) or sample from the tasting counter inside the park store! And if you’ve got some extra time you can even take cooking classes.
A white ibis dares to walk beneath the low-hanging jackfruit (which is the world’s largest tree-born fruit!)
Cooking lessons at the The Fruit & Spice Park (the fresh-off-the-tree avocadoes were incredible!)
Who wore it better? Our part-time Faze writer Miranda Furtado would like to say that pythons should NOT be worn as boas. From our day trip to the Everglades Alligator Farm
A special thanks to Jennifer Haz, Allyson D, Anna, Hector and everyone at the GMCVB for making this an unforgettable visit!
All photography courtesy of the Nikon D3200 DSLR